New at American Clarion: Disappointment in Paul Ryan Provides Clue to America’s Current Mess

Wilfred McClay of the University of Oklahoma best summarized the root cause of conservatives’ unpleasant choice for president this fall: “when a political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising essential topics, the electorate will soon turn to ‘unrespectable’ ones” like Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, the punditry remains slow to recognize this, and nothing symbolizes its cognitive dissonance more than the reactions to House Speaker Paul Ryan supporting Trump despite Trump’s attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel. The past few weeks have been filled with fears and lamentations over the threat to Ryan’s standing as, Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes puts it, “the intellectual leader of the conservative movement in the GOP.”

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg sums up the sentiment in writing that it’s “more difficult for me to write than it should be” that Ryan’s “a disappointment”:

[P]hilosophically and temperamentally, I’ve long felt that Ryan is my kind of politician, and that judgment didn’t change after getting to know him (which is rare, given how most politicians are all too human). His vision for government’s role and the kind of party the GOP should be has always resonated with me, even if I didn’t agree with him on every policy or vote.

It should tell you all you need to know about the sorry state of the Right that disappointment in Ryan took this long for so many.

Read the rest at American Clarion.

Stephen Moore on GOP Elites’ Sheer Idiocy

Stephen Moore of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity nails it at the American Spectator:

What is maddening about the Clinton and Trump gaffes is the reaction by the brain trusts of their respective parties. When Hillary promised to lay off tens of thousands of coal miners, the left knew she had stepped in it. But did you hear Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid denounce her as an an out of control imbecile who has just threatened the jobs of middle class union workers?

Did they clamor that one more of these unforced errors and she would be “disqualified” from the race? Did they rush on MSNBC and CNN and demand a retraction?

Of course, no. No. And No. Never. They aren’t stupid. Like the worker bees, they did everything to protect the queen bee. They worked together to change the subject, denounce Trump, reassure voters that Hillary really does care about working class people. She’s even met some.

Nearly everyone dutifully parroted the party line: what Hillary really meant to say was blah, blah, blah.

That’s called damage control.

The Republicans are, by contrast, pathetic wimps. They are so terrified of and traumatized by the “racist” charge, that they threw the GOP nominee under the bus so that the media wouldn’t label them bigots too. They foolishly piled on to the media and Democratic attack. The media didn’t have to call on Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton ‎to excoriate Trump. House Speaker Paul Ryan lashed out at Trump for his “racist comment.” Marco Rubio and others did the same. Jeb Bush called for Trump to “retract” his comments.

They seemed to be saying: see how racially progressive I am. I just denounced Donald Trump. He’s the Republican racist, not me. ‎That’s statesmanship for you.

Question: Does anyone believe that this strategy will bring a stampede of black and Latino voters into the party? Do they think this will get the media off their back?

Amen. All they had to do was say something along the lines of, “I believe Mr. Trump was merely referencing Judge Curiel’s membership in an organization with a political agenda against him that they themselves frame as advocacy of their Hispanic identity, and he simply chose his words poorly.”

Just say that, and voila! You’ve criticized Trump and put his comments in perspective without giving hundreds of reporters an excuse to write headlines about you advocating the election of somebody you just called racist.

This is not complicated, Speaker Ryan. Not complicated at all. Donald Trump is horribly wrong about a great many things, but one of his favorite lines is dead right: “our leaders are stupid.”

Why is Truth Obvious to Conservative Readers but Not Conservative Pundits?

It’s really remarkable, in a depressing sort of way, how many of the comments on articles at leading conservative websites are consistently more insightful than the articles themselves. Today’s example comes from Dan McLaughlin’s recent National Review piece on how #NeverTrump needn’t have been inevitable — not because the people who knew better had numerous opportunities to prevent Trump’s rise, mind you, but because Trump could have been someone he’s not.

Thank God commenter Patrick could see the obvious:

Flip it around: NeverTrump needn’t have been inevitable if mainstream Republicanism, including other major presidential candidates, had recognized the same important issues that Trump and Santorum realized and championed them in a more mainstream way than Trump is capable of doing.

In retrospect (except that retrospect was actually spect to millions of us a year ago) NeverTrump could have been avoided and Trump could have been stopped just by, as Ann Coulter forcefully prescribed last summer, “Taking his issues away from him and beating him with them.” But 14 Trump rivals ignored or mostly protested his policies. Cruz followed along timidly in his wake, doing nothing to make Trump voters prefer his half measures to Trump’s full ones. Santorum himself had always been leading the way on working class conservatism, but he was damaged goods having been caricatured as a religious obsessive with no other interests, and few Republcians were even aware of what he stood for.

As for Ryan, McConnell, the RW pundits, think tanks and donors, they were Trump’s best allies in assuring voters that they wouldn’t dream of adopting any of Trump’s policies. They went on record as giving him a monopoly on populist conservatism. And the voters believed them.

In putting the onus on Trump, you’re assuming this 70 year-old dog is capable of learning new tricks. That’s not realistic. He’s been an erratic, bombastic blowhard and gadfly his entire life. The solution never was for Donald Trump to become someone he’s not. It was for someone who’s not Donald Trump to start standing up for ordinary Americans instead of Wall Street and other special interests. That didn’t happen, so Trump won by default, the two sweetest words in the English language.

I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that comment is the single best thing I’ve read on the Internet in a month.

Sadly, instead of starting the Right’s long-overdue housecleaning to make sure we never wind up in a mess like this again, so many of the people whose shortsightedness forced us into this ugly choice are instead devoting all their energy to increasingly-implausible fantasies about convention revolts and third candidates that will correct none of our root problems and instead give Hillary the opportunity she needs to make us all irrelevant by turning the Supreme Court solidly against our freedoms and amnestying enough new Democrat voters to keep control for generations.

Sigh.

New at American Clarion – Trump Won Because Conservatives Let Him

Now that we’re stuck with the ugly choice of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, we’re long overdue for a chat about just how easily this mess could have been avoided. Shocking though it may be that such a cartoonishly unqualified and un-conservative figure could sweep the Republican nomination, it was inevitable that the mistakes and blind spots that establishmentarians and conservatives allowed to fester for years would eventually blow up in our faces.

Most agree on the first cause: feckless Republican leaders, whose record of surrender has made their base desperate for someone to take a wrecking ball to Capitol Hill, and doubtful that anyone from within the party could suffice. So when Trump swept in sounding like that someone—and making immigration, the issue on which party and base are most divided, his centerpiece—of course he forged an emotional bond impervious to subsequent reviews of his record.

It’s not Trump’s fault nobody stepped in to fill that demand first—even Ted Cruz, who fought the establishment from day one, underestimated the stridency he needed to project, or how moves like his poison pill amendments to the Gang of 8 bill would backfire.

Read the rest at American Clarion.

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.

Should You Vote for Donald Trump?

After decades of lackluster presidential nominees who embodied various diluted forms of center-right thought, this year we finally had an authentic, passionate movement conservative to rally around in Ted Cruz. Finally we had an opportunity to restore the Constitution, liberty, and prosperity; to take real steps toward ending the massacre of abortion, to shrink government rather than slow its growth, to turn the tide of America’s culture war and put the Left on the defensive for a change. Finally we had our chance to vindicate conservatism against the cancerous moderation espoused by the Republican establishment.

And we blew it. Thanks to a perfect storm of primary voters letting themselves be conned by a clown and divided among a half-dozen mediocrities and vanity candidates, and too few conservative leaders willing to show leadership and make clear that Cruz was the only serious choice, instead we’re now stuck with Donald Trump as the GOP nominee for President of the United States. A choice so manifestly terrible that it seemed inconceivable a year ago. Yet here we are.

So patriots have a decision to make: hold our nose and vote for Trump to protect the country from Hillary Clinton, or stay home to protest Trump’s lack of character, competence, and conservatism? My answer has wavered back and forth over the past year, so I hope this review of all the arguments for and against will help similarly conflicted conservatives find a definitive answer.

Before diving in, let’s dismiss two unserious options out of hand: voting for Hillary Clinton (such a despicable, asinine idea that those who’ve written and published it should be ashamed of themselves), and voting for a third-party or independent candidate (no, not even that obnoxious imbecile Austin Petersen who gives Glenn Beck such a tingle up his leg). It’s simply delusional to believe the latter could actually become president, so if you’re doing it for the symbolism it’s functionally no different than staying home. If you absolutely must put down another name at the ballot box, at least choose a deserving and likely future nominee by writing in Ted Cruz.

(Caveat: if by some bizarre, infinitesimal, miraculous twist of fate a quality conservative somehow uncovers the secret path for an independent candidate to reach the White House, I of course reserve the right to take that back and revise the conclusion of this post.)

That said, let’s begin. Continue reading