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I refer here to the Andrew Klavan podcast featuring Jonah Goldberg as his guest. If you haven’t listened, I recommend it. It’s revealing of just how the priorities of Principled Conservatism Inc. are distorted and what a low opinion PCI has of people on its own side of policy issues and basic values.
I will try to emulate Andrew Klavan here and give a fair assessment of Goldberg’s views without using the type of loaded language he uses in the interview to accuse his own side of malfeasance. And that’s what he does — accuse. He doesn’t really make arguments for his anti-Trump positions other than his strong opinion that Trump is doing it wrong! Neither does he explain his minimization of the Flynn matter in comparison to the three major crises we face (his list): Pandemic, economic, and social chaos in the streets.
Let me start by explaining my own prioritization scheme. I fold the Flynn Matter into the entire Russia-Ukraine-Impeachment-Hoax, Obamagate complex. I’ve read enough to believe that, whatever Michael Flynn’s personal and professional failings (that Jonah asserts deserved scrutiny), he posed a threat to Obama administration officials which is why the FBI had to neutralize him. Destroy him. This was of a piece with the Obama administration/DNCs successful subversion of the peaceful transition of power for, arguably, the first time in our nation’s history since the Civil War. Donald Trump didn’t have a single day of honeymoon (remember the pussy hat march the day after?) and the jackals have been at his heels every moment since his inauguration.
Now, maybe other Trump-supporting right-wingers will put pandemic, economic failure, or social chaos above the crisis in constitutional law and order, but it’s #1 for me. And part of my reasoning — and, yes, I’m going to argue from authority here — is listening to constitutional law professor Hugh Hewitt, and John Yoo, and Richard Epstein — these fellows who are no Trump sycophants. They seem gravely concerned with the January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting where President Obama seemed not only informed about the subversive operation, but to be actually directing it. Hugh Hewitt says he’s always been reluctant to use the term, “constitutional crisis,” and he’s obviously distressed that it applies in this case.
The whole idea that Michael Flynn was a Russian agent or that the Trump campaign had the wherewithal (even the organizational competence) to enlist the Russians to influence the election — or that Putin would even have preferred Donald Trump to Hillary “Reset” (“Overcharge” in Russian) Clinton is ludicrous. The Russians wanted to sow chaos in our election process and the Democrats and the Obama cabinet and department heads obliged.
So here’s my prioritized list of crises:
- Subversion of constitutional law and order at the highest levels of our government
- Cultural and social decay (Jonah’s riots in the streets) — subversion of (common) law and order at the lowest levels of society
- Economic disaster (from which we will not recover without law and order)
Finally, I want to (roughly) transcribe some of what Jonah said and provide my comments.
In the category of accusation and bad faith assessments of right-wingers who support the President:
“People who love Donald Trump want to give themselves permission structure[?] to just dismiss real criticism.” — this was in response to Klavan saying he understands why Jonah would hate Donald Trump and Jonah being accused of “irrational hatred.” [I don’t even know what “permission structure” means, but I’d say it’s a straw man that supporters consistently dismiss “real” criticism. It’s also condescending to say “people who love” the president rather than call us “Trump supporters.]
[Supporters] “tune out legitimate criticism.” [This presumes Jonah knows what is a “legitimate” criticism and that Trump supporters universally tune them out.]
He said twice, once at the beginning and once near the end: “People get to pick the media outlets that tell them what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. [Again, presumes that Trump supporters are not hearing the other side (Jonah, I guess) and that Jonah knows what we need to hear. It seems to me it’s almost impossible for any conservative to lack exposure to the opposing side, given the heavy preponderance of progressive media, entertainment, and education outlets.]
[McEnany] “makes things worse. . . When it was in her interest in her career to be anti-Trump, she was anti-Trump. . .” and then the opposite. [presumes that McEnany is a grifter and an opportunist. Jonah makes it sound like no one who works on behalf of this president can be sincerely supportive or ever have changed her mind about him. — almost the definition of bad faith.]
“[McEnany] is a surrogate for Donald Trump and those coronavirus task force press conferences. Trump tried to turn those into mini-rallies for two hours per day. It took weeks for aids to explain it wasn’t helping.” [Wasn’t helping whom? Again, Jonah presumes he knows the right way to conduct the office of the presidency in a pandemic crisis — or at least he knows Donald Trump is just doing it wrong!]
“He was doing a disservice to the country during a pandemic and now Kayleigh gets to go on and do the same shtick and to change the narrative to — not about the pandemic, but about Flynn.” [Yeah, wow. It’s about time someone took control of the narrative from the Left. You would think a conservative would appreciate the effort. Also, Flynn and Obamagate turn out to be way more important than the pandemic — see above. Also see Rod Rosenstein’s Congressional testimony and the reaction to it of Republican senators.]
“Amazing at a time of three crises: pandemic, economic calamity, crazy riots and urban unrest — Donald Trump wants to simply play the same narrative game for the same 34% of the country that sticks with him no matter what.” [When should we NOT stick with the duly elected president who is advancing our agenda? When he subverts the rule of law or turns against us, but otherwise? When he tweets something Jonah finds offensive? I don’t Twitter and maybe Jonah should give it up for his own sanity. Is it always a “cult” to support a president’s actions of which you approve, even when you note his flawed character, and choose not to talk about it much?]
“Whether a strategy or he’s incapable of playing the role of president to the entire country the way the entire MM core celebrates that he’s doing this — tweeting works for him.” [Condescending, offensive, and false. Donald Trump’s policies have benefited the entire country — see pre-COVID unemployment among minorities, for example. Maybe Jonah would rather have someone like Obama “pretend” to be president of the entire country while subverting the rule of law and using identity politics to divide and conquer, but I’ll take Trump’s actions favorable to the entire country, thank you. I don’t care about his tweets!]
“Turns away more voters than he attracts with all of this shtick.” [Maybe, but we won’t know until November. Presumptuous and, frankly, arrogant given how wrong pundits have been about all things Trump (he can’t possibly win, he’s an authoritarian, he’s mentally unstable, . . .)]
“I don’t see why a lot of people can’t see it. It’s all performative. He wants to be a pundit. He keeps talking about how he has total authority, but he doesn’t want any responsibility for all sorts of things. And he’s not acting like a president and she’s there [McEnany] to celebrate that fact.” [He’s not presidenting right!! Yes, we’ve heard this before. He’s affecting changes we want to see, so we’re not terribly concerned about his style. At least, not unless he actually loses because of it in November. But, I still won’t find Biden voters’ choice respectable just because they disapprove of Trump’s style. I’ll believe their decision is ridiculous and dangerous.]
“You’re supposed to, at least, you are now everybody’s president, not just the people who love you the most and excuse all of your wild and ridiculous behavior because it generates liberal tears mugs for you guys. There’s got to be something more to the presidency than that.” [Like policy? Like appointments? Like avoiding foreign wars by targeted shows of force? Like devolving power back to the states? Or encouraging Congress to do its job? Yes, I agree, there’s more to the presidency than style points for making liberal (leftist) cry. That’s just icing.]
“My problem was, you had a reporter asking Kayleigh a very specific question: ‘What authority does the president of the United States have to override governors’ — which the president had just said. He said, ‘I’m gonna override the governors if they don’t reopen the churches’ and reporters asked Kayleigh ‘where does he have that authority?’ SPOILER ALERT: he doesn’t, and she dodged the question. . . she hedged. . shucked and jived about it. She said it must just be because you guys don’t want to see churches reopen and you don’t like religion and went with the boob bait.” [Yes, we’re all such boobs for believing the Left (Democrat governors and mayors) don’t like Christianity and Judaism (ask the Jews in de Blasio’s NYC) and would like to keep our churches and synagogues closed. And, last I checked, the President has authority over the Department of Justice, which is commissioned to protect our Constitutional First Amendment rights. So, yeah, I think he could override governors who won’t let us congregate in our faith communities, but will let us congregate in Costco.]
“Now, the thing is there was a time when cons. . . like all of the stuff that you want the media to do? Properly? All this stuff that Mollie Hemingway and all these people who say the media is so terrible? Asking where the president gets the constitutional authority to be able to override the governors and order churches opened — or closed — is a perfectly legitimate question. And rather than answer it, she pivots to this sort of talk radio nonsense.” [Nonsense. Got it.]
“What I’m not gonna do for this president or the frickin’ GOP is lie for them. Or constantly say, ‘Yeah, what he did was bad, but the real issue is X.’ But X is either a red herring or a distraction or just more fan service.” [Subverting constitutional law and order — a sitting administration of the opposing party using the power of the IC to conduct a counterintelligence operation against its duly elected successor — is not a distraction nor is it “fan service” to prioritize it. It’s the most dangerous thing to have happened in our politics in our lifetimes. It is an attempted coup and an assault on self-rule.]
In the category of painfully obvious assertions:
[Kayleigh McEnany] is a surrogate for Donald Trump. [Well, yes. Why does every president in modern times get a press secretary who is a “surrogate” except Donald Trump?]
“I don’t see myself working either for or against either party. . .” [Yes, noted. If you’re not for us, you’re against us in this life and death struggle to wrest the republic from the Left.]
“I haven’t changed my position on anything!” [Also noted. Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin. . .]
In the category of offensive terminology:
“Fawning about Trump.” [said about McEnany]
“Fan service” [said about the NYT and Trump supportive outlets]
“Simply looking to have their priors confirmed.” [about Trump supporters]
“Same shtick” [McEnany press conferences compared to coronavirus briefings]
“Plays great in the echo chamber on the Right.” [McEnany press conferences]
“Sticks with him no matter what” and “cult of personality.”
“MM core” [had to look this up, but apparently MM stands for mutual masturbation. Nice.]
“Saul Alinsky envy”
I will cut Jonah some slack, given that this was not a long-form interview and there were many more questions Klavan could have asked and Jonah could have answered. But, what I heard has provided affirmation of what I have thought about Jonah’s position all along: he finds the President insufferable and he can’t get past it. Too bad, because we’re going to need all hands on deck to defeat the Left this fall. It’s not above cheating and every manner of power play and isn’t inclined to let happen again what happened in 2016 — that is, to let the people decide. Jonah’s priorities are disordered.Published in