The ‘Respectable’ Right’s Collusion Bait-and-Switch

As I’ve been saying for a long time now, NeverTrump’s nonstop wailing about the supposedly declining integrity of the conservative movement might be easier to take at face value if they themselves didn’t lie all the time. This week saw the emergence of an especially duplicitous new talking point.

As the conspiracy mongering continues to rage over Donald Trump supposedly conspiring with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election, skeptics have pointed out that essentially the only thing NeverTrumpers have to hang their hat on is the June 2016 meeting to hear out a Russian lawyer’s claim to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Foolish and wrong, certainly, but not evidence that the Trump campaign learned of, condoned, or encouraged any illegal Russian activities, or that it promised anything to the Kremlin in exchange for support. So various Trump supporters and collusion skeptics have reiterated this week that if this is what passes for “collusion,” it’s a nothingburger:

The NeverTrump reaction was as predictable as it was pathetic. David French did what he does best — straw-manning:

Jonah Goldberg highlighted Hemingway in particular in a July 27 G-File audaciously titled, “Who Cares about Truth Anymore, Anyway?” He characterized her argument as “the allegation Trump colluded with Russia is suddenly no longer an insane conspiracy theory and slander, it’s not really a problem at all.”

Jake Tapper, the MSM hack NeverTrumpers pal around with because they don’t really mean any of their own rhetoric about honesty, boosted Goldberg’s attack:

All of this is dishonest on two levels. First, this isn’t a new argument from collusion skeptics at all; Hemingway, for instance, has been saying the same thing at least since last October.

Second, these people know damn well there are multiple usages of the word “collusion” flying around, and that the Trump Tower meeting is neither what conservatives are talking about when they express skepticism nor what the vast majority of Trump’s accusers mean by the term.

How do we know this dishonesty is premeditated? For one thing, it would strain credulity for any professional political analyst, particularly a “conservative” one, to be so unfamiliar with the basics of the argument.

For another, in Goldberg’s case Andrew McCarthy explained this very point to him on the same day Goldberg attacked Hemingway, in response to his direct questioning:

When I said that turning to a foreign government for campaign dirt was not “collusion,” I meant it was not the collusion that is the rationale for the Trump-Russia investigation — specifically, the cyber-espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 campaign.

To be clear, collusion is literally just concerted activity. It can be made to sound sinister, but it is not necessarily good or bad, criminal or innocent. It’s just people doing stuff together.

A subset of collusion is conspiracy. Conspiracy is a crime. Technically, it is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime — the conspiratorial agreement is a crime even if its criminal objective is never realized.

Now, French’s tweet predates both Mollie’s comment and Jonah’s swipe at McCarthy*, but again, French is (at least) competent enough to be aware of the distinction. Even if he wasn’t, he retweeted the McCarthy swipe (but not McCarthy’s answer), so it’s not as if he wasn’t following along.

Evidently, debating opponents’ actual positions instead of knocking down caricatures is not among the ethical principles our betters are concerned with preserving in the Age of Trump.


*Speaking of which, publicly calling out a National Review colleague for ridicule as a supposed hypocrite instead of privately reaching out to express a good-faith concern (in doing so including a gratuitous highlight of something McCarthy had already clarified was just a verbal mix-up, doesn’t exactly seem like a great moment in professionalism.

Advertisements

Lies, Damned Lies, and NeverTrump: A Defense of Dennis Prager

Note: an abridged version of this column appears at The Federalist Papers Project.

Dennis Prager set the conservative blogosphere ablaze last week with a column asking why there are conservatives “who still snipe (or worse) at President Trump,” who “remain anti-Trump today” despite the fact that for the next three and a half years, he’s our only means of getting national conservative policies across the finish line.

Prager’s first suspected reason:

While they strongly differ with the Left, they do not regard the left–right battle as an existential battle for preserving our nation. On the other hand, I, and other conservative Trump supporters, do […] To my amazement, no anti-Trump conservative writer sees it that way. They all thought during the election, and still think, that while it would not have been a good thing if Hillary Clinton had won, it wouldn’t have been a catastrophe either.

Exactly right, and a crucial point that NeverTrumpers, for all their self-righteousness, never seriously addressed.

Prager’s conclusion:

They can accept an imperfect reality and acknowledge that we are in a civil war, and that Trump, with all his flaws, is our general. If this general is going to win, he needs the best fighters. But too many of them, some of the best minds of the conservative movement, are AWOL.

I beg them: Please report for duty.

Amen! This column was a much-needed reminder of the big picture, which NeverTrumpers tend to sorely lack. And sure enough, a string of pundits jumped at the opportunity to demonstrate that they’ve done no introspection whatsoever since the election. Continue reading

New at the Stream – Message to #NeverTrump: Your Vote Isn’t About You

Few truisms are more maddening than, “get out and vote, no matter where you stand!”  It’s popular in schools and non-partisan initiatives aimed at getting young people involved in democracy, as if “letting your voice be heard” is a noble end in and of itself — never mind that elections have real consequences for the freedom, safety, health and livelihood of other people.

The ballot box isn’t a personal survey; if one doesn’t understand the issues, not voting is manifestly the more responsible choice. Rejecting feel-good, self-validating pap like this was one of the things I admired about the conservative movement … but then the 2016 election happened.

It’s understandable that Donald Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination, despite his incoherence on policy and atrocious character, has so appalled conservatives that many say they can’t bring themselves to vote for him even against Hillary Clinton. Until recently, I was one of them.

But at some point, disgust has to give way to sober reflection on what happens after January 20, 2017, and the latest round of hype over National Review’s David French as a potential independent candidate only gives conservatives an excuse to delay that reflection.

Read the rest at the Stream.

Bill Kristol Is Even More Delusional Than I Thought

I wasn’t expecting any good to come out of Kristol’s desperate search for an independent presidential candidate….but this is so, so much dumber than even I was expecting.

I like David French a lot — he’s a smart, serious conservative, a combat vet, a religious liberty lawyer, and one of National Review’s better analysts. But if an actual officeholder or past candidate’s chances of winning the election were already extremely remote, how is somebody with no name recognition outside of right-wing wonk circles going to make a dent?

Don’t tell me about pie-in-the-sky scenarios about the Electoral College turning the decision over to the House (which not only would require an absurdly specific win/loss ratio to happen, but would probably result in Trump anyway). Tell me how this makes President Hillary Clinton less likely. Tell me how conservatives recover from a leftist 6-3 (or worse) Supreme Court majority and enough illegals-made-voters to give Democrats a permanent national majority.

I get it. I hate Trump too. I stayed on board with ‪#‎NeverTrump‬ for as long as I could. I’ve gone through all the anger, confusion, depression, and desperation over how horribly wrong this election has gone. But after gaming out how all the scenarios play out, I simply can’t conclude that staying home or voting independent/3rd-party/write-in would end in anything but a net disaster for the country’s future.

All we can do now is bite the bullet. It pains me to say it, but right now the cretinous orange buffoon is the only weapon at our disposal with which to stop Hillary Clinton from giving the Left a lifetime stranglehold on the federal government. So vote for him, hope that his selfish political interest (NOT nonexistent personal principles) force him to follow through on his biggest promises, prepare to go back to #NeverTrump in 2020 if he betrays us (hell, let’s plan on primarying his second term anyway), and spend the next several years fixing our mistakes as a movement that got us into this mess in the first place, so we’ll never squander an opportunity like a Ted Cruz again.