ACF PoMoCon #34: Angelo Codevilla

 

So I talked to the most vigorous polemicist I know, Angelo Codevilla. I read him for decades in the Claremont Review of Books, and recently in American Greatness, the Tablet, and elsewhere. He’s got good news: Cancellation is a two-way street–the more of us are cancelled, the weaker the position of the oligarchy and their media minions becomes, since they are a small minority. To those who deny us respect we should deny respect in return. We talk about about media, education, the need for political leadership, the corruption of the CIA and FBI, and about good horses and bad riders.

.

Published in Podcasts
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 28 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The cancel-beast must be fed. Once they have run off their initial targets, who’s next?

    • #1
  2. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Love it:  “Devalue Harvard!  Tell ’em to go to hell.” 

    But even wealthy conservatives are too scared to do that:  https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/the-miseducation-of-americas-elites.

    Thanks for reminding me to read his essay;  I had been meaning to for some time:  https://spectator.org/americas-ruling-class/  

    • #2
  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Glad you enjoyed his spiritedness–the man is nearing 80, still fiery, & conservatives are much more inclined to listen to his advice now than in the previous generation!

    You’re right that even rich conservatives, who need have no fear of losing a job, still obey the liberals who despise them. Perhaps in this generation, this will change. As Angelo says–clarity is worth a lot & the 2020 election showed that way more people were willing to go against the oligarchy than in 2016.

    • #3
  4. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    Love it: “Devalue Harvard! Tell ’em to go to hell.”

    But even wealthy conservatives are too scared to do that: https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/the-miseducation-of-americas-elites.

    Thanks for reminding me to read his essay; I had been meaning to for some time: https://spectator.org/americas-ruling-class/

    I read the spectator article at least once a year

     

    • #4
  5. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Glad you enjoyed his spiritedness–the man is nearing 80, still fiery, & conservatives are much more inclined to listen to his advice now than in the previous generation!

    You’re right that even rich conservatives, who need have no fear of losing a job, still obey the liberals who despise them. Perhaps in this generation, this will change. As Angelo says–clarity is worth a lot & the 2020 election showed that way more people were willing to go against the oligarchy than in 2016.

    rich conservatives who obey the left are not real conservatives

     

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Well, we need to make more REAL CONSERVATIVES…

    • #6
  7. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Well, we need to make more REAL CONSERVATIVES…

    fair enough

    If you are rich and don’t have to fear job loss, why so timid?

     

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I am not rich, nor do I have that kind of job security. I’m not timid, because, lacking those things, I don’t have much to lose…

    • #8
  9. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    I am not rich, nor do I have that kind of job security. I’m not timid, because, lacking those things, I don’t have much to lose…

    Titus: I apologize for not being clear.  I wasn’t referring to you specifically. I was referring to the other ‘rich people who have job security’ who are timid.  I was not targeting you for being timid.

    Harvey C-minus Mansfield says professors with tenure are timid.  One benefit of tenure is to be bold not timid yet most tenured professors are worried about saying the wrong thing or offending the wrong group or being politically unfashionable.  Tenure has made professors more not less intellectually lazy and weak

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Oh, I see what you mean. The rich will be bolder when there is a popular demand for it, which mostly means dealing with state-level things in politics & with cultural things in the press–we mention some of the changes in the podcast, but in general the point is to encourage honorable conduct… If it is the case that Americans want to hold on to their freedom & self-respect, they will demand that those who have gotten rich in America treat America with respect; they will accordingly honor those who really are public spirited, patriotic, who take risks on behalf of the common good…

    Related is the punishment for cowardice–if conservatives cannot get the stomach to humiliate rich people who don’t, but should stand up for America, we’re likely to just see this shameful stuff go on–the biggest corporations in America putting money & effort into publicly humiliating the country.

    Praise & blame go together, as Prof. Mansfield would say.

    I’m sorry to say, the only reliable ways I know of getting at things of this nature are indirect–if you want political change, you need a change in education. But in my experience people want easy changes now & will not invest in anything long term. Of course, since I’m neither rich nor secure, people can point out that my ideas are worth nothing but poverty & they should instead listen to the rich, so it’s back to the problem we started with…

    • #10
  11. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Oh, I see what you mean. The rich will be bolder when there is a popular demand for it, which mostly means dealing with state-level things in politics & with cultural things in the press–we mention some of the changes in the podcast, but in general the point is to encourage honorable conduct… If it is the case that Americans want to hold on to their freedom & self-respect, they will demand that those who have gotten rich in America treat America with respect; they will accordingly honor those who really are public spirited, patriotic, who take risks on behalf of the common good…

    Related is the punishment for cowardice–if conservatives cannot get the stomach to humiliate rich people who don’t, but should stand up for America, we’re likely to just see this shameful stuff go on–the biggest corporations in America putting money & effort into publicly humiliating the country.

    Praise & blame go together, as Prof. Mansfield would say.

    I’m sorry to say, the only reliable ways I know of getting at things of this nature are indirect–if you want political change, you need a change in education. But in my experience people want easy changes now & will not invest in anything long term. Of course, since I’m neither rich nor secure, people can point out that my ideas are worth nothing but poverty & they should instead listen to the rich, so it’s back to the problem we started with…

    As Angelo stated, we have to mandate school vouchers/choice/charter schools.  Let parents guide their children’s curriculum not the lazy corrupt bloated evil teachers and their union leaders

     

    • #11
  12. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    I hate to say this but Angelo is correct: Trump ffuucckked up by handing the keys to Fauci.

    Trump succeeded by being bold and listening to his instincts.  Instead he lost his nerve and caved to Fauci and Birx.

    His initial instinct was to open everything up by Easter 2020, April 12

    • #12
  13. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Morning Titus and Mr.B,

    Mr. B, you know, we like Prof Higgins, are attempting to make Titus into an American.  So one does not apologize for giving Titus a hard time, giving Titus a hard time is not only good for him, but the equivalent of working in a shop or on the construction site, a typical American life.

    Concerning Fauci, analysis is way too simple.  With or without Fauci, Trump looses.  A year ago 100K+ dead, now we are 500K+ dead and we would be at this level no matter what, whether we had Fauci or Bhattacharya.  The virus was going to kill the older folks no matter what we did, the masks might have helped a little, lock downs have not shown themselves to be effective.  If we imagine no Fauci and replace him with Bhattacharya, will the death toll be significantly different, no.  Trump looses because of the death toll, he gets the blame fair or not.  

    Titus you did well with Codevilla, he is not the easiest interview.  There was a comic called Mutt and Jeff, first screen Mutt asks Jeff what is he going to do with that big block of marble, Jeff says that he is going to carve an elephant.  Mutt then asks how he is going going to do that, Jeff says, “I’ll just chip off everything that doesn’t look like an elephant”.  Last screen a pile of rocks.  So calling for good leaders, is a cartoon analysis.  In contrast when would it be ok to call for mediocre leaders.  Will good leaders emerge at our call, how do leaders emerge, maybe look a Reagan, movie star.  So we look for one of the highest paid movie stars of the past, who are savvy about the deep state, and can pass as upper class (don’t let him talk like a factory worker because fu if you can’t take a joke).  I think when we expect simple solutions we will be disappointed.

    • #13
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Jim,

    good to hear from you again–you’re of course right, whoever doesn’t want a hard time should just keep his opinions to himself & not try to out-American Americans. I’m a pretty good sport, I’d say, but I need much more experience with ordinary people before I tell myself the world needs to cut me some slack…

    I think Angelo has much more wisdom, just like the cartoon you mention, than you allow. For one, most of us aren’t calling for great leaders. & anyone not drunk can see that Americans mostly elect super-mediocre or just bad leaders & are kinda proud of themselves for it!

    When is it ok to call for mediocre leaders? I think, most of the time–people just wanna get on with life without being browbeaten by demigods–this is why most American presidents are non-entities. Decent, perhaps, patriotic, I’m pretty sure, but they were mostly creatures of the times, the parties, the intellectual fashions, & therefore obsolete, so that kids would die before remembering which Harrison was which or who Fillmore was or what have you. It’s not the kids’ fault–they just realize the local sports hero has more seriousness in his choices & actions than these politicians…

    But in a crisis, that getting on with life is hard. The ordinary losers that got America into a Civil War have been forgotten, which might be what they deserve; the extraordinary Lincoln will live in memory unless America commits suicide. Partly, fixing a crisis is so hard because people cannot swallow their pride & start shouting out loud for great leaders. So anyone with talent looks on & thinks, if people want Cuomos or other vicious losers, they can have’em! Or most GOP Governors–forgotten before they leave office, yet busy by their worthless ambition to prevent real talent from emerging…

    So I agree with you that talking through leadership is long & hard–one can read Angelo’s many volumes for the foreign affairs side of things, which is his specialty…–but we’re not failing at the super-difficult tasks: We’re failing at the simple tasks. We need to realize that our self-respect demands friends who are touched by greatness, not only the flattery of noticing nobody better than ourselves…

    • #14
  15. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I think Angelo has much more wisdom, just like the cartoon you mention, than you allow. For one, most of us aren’t calling for great leaders. & anyone not drunk can see that Americans mostly elect super-mediocre or just bad leaders & are kinda proud of themselves for it!

    I have been struck very much by the fact that times such as these call for a great leader, but we didn’t have one anywhere in the world.  Some of the governors did well.  Trump did well on the logistics side, but he is not one to explain, inspire and reassure. We should have been called upon to be brave but we were not-we were lied to and coddled and told to cower.  We did not have a Churchill or a Reagan. 

    • #15
  16. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Drama of the times isn’t over, either. Now people who don’t want to serve woke capital have to organize, primarily in the conservative states. Leaders needed!

    • #16
  17. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Drama of the times isn’t over, either. Now people who don’t want to serve woke capital have to organize, primarily in the conservative states. Leaders needed!

    It starts locally. School choice. No more government operated schools 

    • #17
  18. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Afternoon Titus,

    I know with Mr. Codevilla the conversation is not exactly something you can control.  However, asking for good leadership is not a well thought out.  Picking out who will be a good leader is not as easy as picking a good basketball player, and even in basketball Micheal Jordan was picked third in his NBA draft.  Think about Reagan,  he did not win because the country thought that he was going to be a good leader, he won because the country got sick of Carter.  Recall that Richard Allen when he met Reagan, he was gobsmacked when Reagan explained that his foreign policy plans for USSR were, “we win and they lose”.  No one thought that Reagan was going to be formidable in any arena, he was a mouth piece, just an actor, and amiable dunce.  Allen was not alone, who could have know that Reagan would have been right about strangling inflation, and willing to take an elector beating in 82.  Knowing in advance who will be a great leader or a disastrous leader is hard, my picks for the worst in the last 80+ years would be LBJ and W.  Morally, LBJ and W are opposites, yet their choices made possible horrible outcomes, with horrible lasting effects.  Who saw that Reagan was going to be so good and W was going to be so bad.  I don’t think these things are oblivious.  If Codevilla thinks it is easy, tell us.

    It is true we are in a dangerous time and the need for good leadership is urgent.  It is also true that if our survival is dependent on a Churchill, then we have been making many missteps for a long time.  It seems we imagine that there is some political Chuck Norris out there who will come in and abolish the dept of ED and the FBI.  This is just a super hero fantasy, we have yet to get rid of one dept of govt ever, it would be better to discuss the path how to get better leaders.  If we had a bench filled with good young leaders, that would be a good thing.

    • #18
  19. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Jim, I agree in part with what you say, but I think your interpretation of political action is upside down. It’s precisely because things are as difficult as you say that those of us who have any seriousness should plainly & openly do the best we can to ask for leadership. Political action doesn’t mean, I can guarantee you success or if I can’t, then you’re not suppose to do anything. Political action means you have to take your chances with the best available, trusting others. Without the call for leadership, insistent, repeated, serious people in institutions cannot really recruit talent. They have no assurance that the people is with them.

    Now, where I disagree with you–Reagan was a two-turn governor of the nation’s most successful, most influential state, & then very gamely disputed the ’76 GOP nomination. He had made his sentiments known nationally as early as ’64, very publicly, in his famous speech ad for Goldwater. Somehow, this doesn’t feature in your analysis of his rise to national attention: Perhaps you should be less gloomy & be more respectful of public activity.

    I agree that the obstacles to judging leadership are great. But I’m not willing to throw away popular elections. So we either call for leadership & do our best to persuade the electorate where they should place their trust (on a provisional basis, given terms of office), or we can not even do that–indeed, do nothing at all.

    • #19
  20. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Jim, I agree in part with what you say, but I think your interpretation of political action is upside down. It’s precisely because things are as difficult as you say that those of us who have any seriousness should plainly & openly do the best we can to ask for leadership. Political action doesn’t mean, I can guarantee you success or if I can’t, then you’re not suppose to do anything. Political action means you have to take your chances with the best available, trusting others. Without the call for leadership, insistent, repeated, serious people in institutions cannot really recruit talent. They have no assurance that the people is with them.

    Now, where I disagree with you–Reagan was a two-turn governor of the nation’s most successful, most influential state, & then very gamely disputed the ’76 GOP nomination. He had made his sentiments known nationally as early as ’64, very publicly, in his famous speech ad for Goldwater. Somehow, this doesn’t feature in your analysis of his rise to national attention: Perhaps you should be less gloomy & be more respectful of public activity.

    I agree that the obstacles to judging leadership are great. But I’m not willing to throw away popular elections. So we either call for leadership & do our best to persuade the electorate where they should place their trust (on a provisional basis, given terms of office), or we can not even do that–indeed, do nothing at all.

    Milton Friedman used to say we need the ‘wrong’ politicians to do the right thing

     

    • #20
  21. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Morning Titus,

    Always good to hear from you, I hope your are having a good spring, we were in our 20’s this morning yuck, but next week in the 70’s.  I think we will disagree about Reagan.  Perhaps this is a matter of interpretation.  I agree that we should work to get the best leaders we can, knowing that there will be disappointments.  

    Glenn Reynolds frequently  observes that our current leadership is the worst, I am not sure if this is historically true but it seems close to the truth.  So I am left wondering how to get better leaders, wiser leaders.  Following Buckley’s advice, I have voted for who I thought was the most electable conservative candidate. I voted for McCain, Romney, even Ford.  Remember Ford was our Biden, LBJ said that “Ford must have forgot to wear his helmet while playing football” and it was said that Nixon picked Ford as his VP to insure that he (Nixon) would not be impeached.  Ford also was made into a joke of clumsiness on SNL. We have followed Buckley’s advice and we end up with folks who represent the “ruling class”.  So we want leaders who will represent the average Joe, which means we might consider that the normal means of selecting leaders might not get us the leaders we need. Following Codevilla’s thinking, maybe we should make our picks on good looks,  just kidding, but that might explain Reagan.  

    Mr. B makes a good point, we need to build a system that even the average self-absorbed leader can’t mess is up too much.

    • #21
  22. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    Morning Titus,

    Always good to hear from you, I hope your are having a good spring, we were in our 20’s this morning yuck, but next week in the 70’s. I think we will disagree about Reagan. Perhaps this is a matter of interpretation. I agree that we should work to get the best leaders we can, knowing that there will be disappointments.

    Glenn Reynolds frequently observes that our current leadership is the worst, I am not sure if this is historically true but it seems close to the truth. So I am left wondering how to get better leaders, wiser leaders. Following Buckley’s advice, I have voted for who I thought was the most electable conservative candidate. I voted for McCain, Romney, even Ford. Remember Ford was our Biden, LBJ said that “Ford must have forgot to wear his helmet while playing football” and it was said that Nixon picked Ford as his VP to insure that he (Nixon) would not be impeached. Ford also was made into a joke of clumsiness on SNL. We have followed Buckley’s advice and we end up with folks who represent the “ruling class”. So we want leaders who will represent the average Joe, which means we might consider that the normal means of selecting leaders might not get us the leaders we need. Following Codevilla’s thinking, maybe we should make our picks on good looks, just kidding, but that might explain Reagan.

    Mr. B makes a good point, we need to build a system that even the average self-absorbed leader can’t mess is up too much.

    We need leaders who hate living in DC, guys who are willing to fight and get dirty like Reagan, Newt, Trump

     

    • #22
  23. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    Morning Titus,

    Always good to hear from you, I hope your are having a good spring, we were in our 20’s this morning yuck, but next week in the 70’s. I think we will disagree about Reagan. Perhaps this is a matter of interpretation. I agree that we should work to get the best leaders we can, knowing that there will be disappointments.

    Glenn Reynolds frequently observes that our current leadership is the worst, I am not sure if this is historically true but it seems close to the truth. So I am left wondering how to get better leaders, wiser leaders. Following Buckley’s advice, I have voted for who I thought was the most electable conservative candidate. I voted for McCain, Romney, even Ford. Remember Ford was our Biden, LBJ said that “Ford must have forgot to wear his helmet while playing football” and it was said that Nixon picked Ford as his VP to insure that he (Nixon) would not be impeached. Ford also was made into a joke of clumsiness on SNL. We have followed Buckley’s advice and we end up with folks who represent the “ruling class”. So we want leaders who will represent the average Joe, which means we might consider that the normal means of selecting leaders might not get us the leaders we need. Following Codevilla’s thinking, maybe we should make our picks on good looks, just kidding, but that might explain Reagan.

    Mr. B makes a good point, we need to build a system that even the average self-absorbed leader can’t mess is up too much.

    The ‘wrong’ candidate is anti-establishment

     

    • #23
  24. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Morning Mr.B,

    I am not sure what you mean by the ‘wrong’ candidate is anti-establishment?  I do think that it is possible to look at Reagan and Trump and see that candidates who have atypical lives for a politician can be better that the usual lifetime political candidate.

    • #24
  25. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    Morning Mr.B,

    I am not sure what you mean by the ‘wrong’ candidate is anti-establishment? I do think that it is possible to look at Reagan and Trump and see that candidates who have atypical lives for a politician can be better that the usual lifetime political candidate.

    the ‘wrong’ candidate is someone who isn’t a career politician, i.e. they had real jobs before seeking public office

     

    • #25
  26. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Ordinarily, I’d recommend to find people in their 50s, still tough enough physically, since politicking takes a lotta time, but having gone through enough things to have more grit than silly hopes.

    But this time around, I’m hesitant. Maybe America needs some young leaders, 40, or even under, given the types of things that have been changing all at once in the coalition, the social structure, the in-migration, the economic trouble, the foreign policy trouble, & the tech, too. Not that young men would have much to recommend them in general. But if we’re asking about the type of man, the politician, I think the rare men we need now are somewhat likelier to be young.

    • #26
  27. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    Ordinarily, I’d recommend to find people in their 50s, still tough enough physically, since politicking takes a lotta time, but having gone through enough things to have more grit than silly hopes.

    But this time around, I’m hesitant. Maybe America needs some young leaders, 40, or even under, given the types of things that have been changing all at once in the coalition, the social structure, the in-migration, the economic trouble, the foreign policy trouble, & the tech, too. Not that young men would have much to recommend them in general. But if we’re asking about the type of man, the politician, I think the rare men we need now are somewhat likelier to be young.

    Ron DeSantis

     

    • #27
  28. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Here’s hoping!

    I also think well of Senators Cotton & Hawley.

    I hope we find a few more officeholders who are at least likely to do some good.

    One thing I notice is there are almost no serious conversations with any of these politicians anywhere in the conservative press. Of course, I’m a nobody, I don’t have them on speed dial. But I’d be more comfortable cheering for them if some famous, serious people talked with them for the benefit of those of us who are on the receiving end of politics…

    • #28