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At night, Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam’s showroom hosts illusionists, concerto pianists, song and dance acts, and run-of-the-mill cruise entertainment. But it was during the day the real stage action occurred as the “O.N.T.P.’s of the Caribbean” (Original NeverTrump Pirates) sat on panels discussing what historically may have been the craziest election cycle of our lifetimes. The Weekly Standard’s post-election cruise included an impressive collection of conservative writers, editors, pundits, politicos, and a few non-Weekly Standard surprises.
Bill Kristol, Steven Hayes, Chris Caldwell, Erick Erickson, Matt Continetti, Mollie and Mark Hemingway, Michael Graham, Mary Katharine Ham, Jonathan Last, and Michael Ramirez blew our minds with surprising insights and opinions I didn’t expect. Up until the election much of this crew were, shall we say, not fans of the now President-elect. Very few openly predicted he would win but this group was particularly critical of the well documented, normally campaign-killing personal failings of Donald Trump. Some of this group attracted a healthy dose of conservative backlash, even to the point they and their children took incoming vitriol and insults at local supermarkets. (Come on, people… really?) However, to be fair, they simultaneously reported on America’s cultural divide, trite political correctness, the media’s leftist activism, the domestic and foreign policy failings of the Obama administration, the lackluster economic recovery, and of course their disdain for Clinton Inc.’s moral and ethical shortcomings.
After the stunning election results, the right needed a homecoming for all conservatives no matter the candidate they preferred. Adults can respectfully disagree, as many did during the election, but grown-ups acknowledge no single candidate will make everyone happy. So for a week we broke bread and tilted back more than a few adult beverages with those individuals whose former complaints about the Republican nominee have now taken an about-face. The message: State houses, Congress (both House and Senate) and now the White House are controlled by Republicans and conservatives. The time is now to put our differences behind us and get to work reversing eight years of Obama damage. To a person, everyone was pleased with the election results, no matter their pre-election predilections. Many agreed with my summation: “Of the original 17 GOP candidates, Trump was my 17th. However, Hillary was 18th.”
While we all came together, we were also cognizant that our priorities may have been different. Maybe our primary issues were SCOTUS, the economy and free markets, the ever-growing centralized government, or loss of religious liberties. For some it was simply being fed up with political correctness and identity politics being stuffed down our throats foie gras style. Maybe it’s a push against entitlements and the nanny state; as De Tocqueville presciently suggested, America’s failure would occur when Congress ends up bribing voters. Others felt they wanted to send a message to the New York-Washington DC corridor elites that America is not just found in blue-city cocktail circuits or adult day care facilities (formerly known as institutions of higher learning), but across a massive swath of states, cities and towns where people work damn hard supporting their families while facing increased small business regulations and anything but “affordable” healthcare, yet never benefiting from the administration’s cronyism. In all cases, to a person, no one appreciated being told that because they would not support a corrupt career political opportunist, no matter her sex, they are deplorable racist, sexist homophobes who drink at the well of the alt-right.
But for whatever their reason, we are now all together embarking on an unlikely political journey that is truly unpredictable.
We had the good fortune to interview much of this impressive group and will be releasing the series of sit-down interviews on Ricochet.com, WhiskeyPolitics.net, and The Weekly Standard. I would like to thank Weekly Standard’s Catherine Lowe and Ricochet’s own Melissa Praemonitus for their support.
Through this series you will find articles and long-form video interviews with some most prolific political minds of our generation, from Weekly Standard’s Senior Editor Bill Kristol, The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson, Weekly Standard Senior Writers Steven Hayes, Mark Hemingway and Chris Caldwell, two-time Pulitzer award winning conservative artist Michael P. Ramirez, Ricochet’s Molly Hemingway (now Senior Editor at The Federalist), Weekly Standards Podcast creator and host Michael Graham, and Editor in Chief at The Washington Free Beacon Matt Continetti.
Incidentally, some fascinating Weekly Standard passengers crossed our paths and we were also able to interview them. ABC and CBS Political News Editor Linda Breakstone, Political Strategist Rick Berman (the reported inspiration for the movie Thank You For Smoking), and as linked above, an in-depth and transparent discussion with the 39th Solicitor General, the iconic Ken Starr, famous for his tenure as Independent Counsel during the Clinton Administration. After filing the Starr Report, the allegations of Bill Clinton lying under oath lead to his impeachment by the House of Representatives. This interview covers a wide array of subjects including SCOTUS, the FBI’s Clinton investigations, President Clinton’s impeachment, Senator Jeff Sessions, free speech, the death penalty and rape on college campus.
It was a long week with very few moments of relaxation (the ship’s pool looked very nice). I hope you enjoy watching my less-than-professional self during this series as much as I enjoyed asking the questions many of us have had as we read and see these good people daily on our teevee’s.