The Party’s Over?

Well, it’s another week that we must bring you yet another sobering meditation on the state of the Grand Old Party. Today, the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger stops by to discuss his recent column Obama’s Greatest Triumph (it’s paywalled, but the gist is that The president is “is now close to destroying his political enemies—the Republican Party, the American conservative movement and the public-policy legacy of Ronald Reagan.”). Then, the Mad Dog himself, Kevin Williamson joins to discuss chaos in the family, and chaos in the state, his Twitter battles, and of course, The Donald and the corrosive effect he is having on the party and politics in general. But it’s not all bad news – Could Tom Cotton be the solution to a contested convention? We sure hope so…

Music from this week’s episode:

The Party’s Over by Nat King Cole

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  1. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ricochet Audio Network: The president is “is now close to destroying his political enemies—the Republican Party, the American conservative movement and the public-policy legacy of Ronald Reagan.”).

    Over the last week or so I’d been trying to come up with a post about this, and then Henninger came along and stole my idea!

    I do think that one of Obama’s goals since the beginning of his administration has been the destruction of the Republican party, so this may be an even greater legacy of his than Obamacare. To paraphrase Yes Minister [I think], Islamic terrorists may be the opposition, but Republicans are the enemy!

    • #1
    • April 1, 2016, at 1:30 PM PDT
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  2. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    Mr. Henninger’s evident distaste for Ted Cruz’s Senate tactics sounded to me a bit like WFB’s description of liberals who say they’re willing to listen to the other side and then are shocked to find out there is one. He was elected to go there and break up the cozy club.

    Also does Mr. Henniger’s last comment that Hillary is moving toward Elizabeth Warren mean that in 25 years he hasn’t noticed that Hillary’s leftism pretty much pegs-the-meter? Her differences with Warren are only of the ‘what the boobs will accept ‘ variety.

    • #2
    • April 1, 2016, at 2:36 PM PDT
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  3. Fred Williams Inactive

    James, nice crack to Dan Henninger about the WSJ “Mansion” section. My sentiments exactly.

    • #3
    • April 1, 2016, at 3:40 PM PDT
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  4. James Lileks Contributor

    Fred: thanks! Couldn’t resist.

    • #4
    • April 1, 2016, at 5:00 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The thing that Rob and Mr. Henninger don’t understand is that people are beyond the math. They’re not interested in vote counting. They’re actually interested in revolution.

    The left has long abandoned democracy except where it suits them. They’ve set up the courts as a super legislature. We now sue our way to new “rights.” Screw the governors, screw the states, screw the Congress. It’s down to five people with a creative view of the Constitution.

    Doing the math, playing the game, following the rules hasn’t got anybody anywhere. Even playing by their rules we lose. We had a majority on the court for the Obamacare decision and still found a way to go all FUBAR when the GOP CJ went all wobbly.

    When the left gets their SCOTUS majority and decide it’s time for the Justice Department to authorize the ATF to start the confiscation process all bets are off.

    • #5
    • April 1, 2016, at 6:37 PM PDT
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  6. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noDJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Lileks came very close to using “shan’t” and “dip switches” in the same sentence. Now, that would have been an accomplishment.

    • #6
    • April 1, 2016, at 6:58 PM PDT
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  7. KC Mulville Inactive

    Say it does go to a brokered convention. Have we given any thought to how nauseous the networks will cover it? Buy stock in Tums.

    If it does go “brokered,” it’ll become Deal City. How ironic it’ll be if Cruz out-deals Trump, or anyone out-deals the two of them. This could be the Game Theory SuperBowl. Either way, I suspect Trump will bring his lawyers and threaten all kinds of lawsuits.

    • #7
    • April 1, 2016, at 7:00 PM PDT
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  8. Larry Koler Inactive

    EJHill:The thing that Rob and Mr. Henninger don’t understand is that people are beyond the math. They’re not interested in vote counting. They’re actually interested in revolution.

    This is so true. Isn’t it interesting how so many people are not in the least affected by the wonky reasons to not support Trump? The wonks just don’t seem to believe us when we tell them. They are like a broken record, pretending that their detailed analysis of Trump’s latest utterances is going to turn the tide.

    In a way, this is the same disconnect that the right has with the left, too. They engage with the left on the seeming merits of the intellectual debate that is offered up by the left. What they never seem to learn — like Charlie Brown with the football — is that the left (Lucy) has no interest in the football but only in making fools of the conservatives.

    • #8
    • April 1, 2016, at 7:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    EJHill:The thing that Rob and Mr. Henninger don’t understand is that people are beyond the math. They’re not interested in vote counting. They’re actually interested in revolution.

    The left has long abandoned democracy except where it suits them. They’ve set up the courts as a super legislature. We now sue our way to new “rights.” Screw the governors, screw the states, screw the Congress. It’s down to five people with a creative view of the Constitution.

    Doing the math, playing the game, following the rules hasn’t got anybody anywhere. Even playing by their rules we lose. We had a majority on the court for the Obamacare decision and still found a way to go all FUBAR when the GOP CJ went all wobbly.

    When the left gets their SCOTUS majority and decide it’s time for the Justice Department to authorize the ATF to start the confiscation process all bets are off.

    They can have my guns bullets first.

    • #9
    • April 1, 2016, at 7:21 PM PDT
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  10. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    No, Rob. Mitt Romney won the 29% of voters known as independent by 5 points, 50%-45%.

    • #10
    • April 1, 2016, at 9:22 PM PDT
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  11. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noDJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I dunno, guys, sometimes I want to slap you all up silly…

    The Republican Party died in back 2006 when it lost control of both the house and senate in a big way, when GWB took the blame for the WMDs that ended up in Syria, and the party was befuddled by the financial mess instead of holding the Dems responsible, and then ran John McCain, who after suspending his campaign against a guy who’s never had a job before, moved on with the inspiring new slogan, “You have nothing to fear from an Obama presidency.”

    That’s what death smells like.

    At the same time, you probably didn’t notice that the Democratic party has died. Voter participation is way down, the thoroughly uninspiring frontrunner is about to be indicted, the second choice isn’t even a Democrat, and they can’t recruit anybody else. The party is corrupt as hell and basically gone communist. They probably don’t actually want to win so they can blame the Republicans instead of being at the wheel when all their ObamaStuff collapses.

    So yeah, I think the GOP has mostly recovered from death and is in surprisingly good shape.

    • #11
    • April 1, 2016, at 10:33 PM PDT
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  12. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael MinnottJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So let me get this straight. For decades we were told that Hispanics and Asians were natural conservatives; pro family values and empty vessels just itching to be filled with Austrian economic theory. Tens of millions of said immigrants later and you flippantly declare that our country is now decidedly left of center “national socialist” as if it were just some random occurrence completely divorced from immigration policy.

    Open borders conservatives and libertarians have only succeeded in slitting their own throats…and ours along with them.

    What a folly we bought into!

    • #12
    • April 1, 2016, at 10:47 PM PDT
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  13. Douglas Inactive

    There seems to be a lot of “Let Them Eat Cake” attitude among the Right’s movers and shakers. Henninger sounds that way. Williamson has redefined his career along those lines. A lot of bitterness that the Proles are no longer taking orders. Well, tough. They’d better get used to the white trash revolting for awhile (insert all your Mel Brooks “They stink on ice” quotes here). Rob is right. The GOP is dying, and good on it. It was long overdue. Parties rise and fall, and are replaced by other parties. Faster, please. And to use Williamson’s book title, he’s only half right: the end really is near, but it’s not going to be awesome. It’s going to be a big, painful mess, and I don’t think anyone that would write for Ricochet would like how it will probably shake out.

    • #13
    • April 2, 2016, at 12:38 AM PDT
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  14. Jim Beck Member

    Rather an off week guests and hosts.

    • #14
    • April 2, 2016, at 5:44 AM PDT
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  15. Titus Techera Contributor

    Jim Beck:Rather an off week guests and hosts.

    Mr. Beck, what do you mean!, our hosts nodded through Mr. Williamson’s shtick where politics turns into economics, conservatism turns into libertarianism, & then he calls perhaps the majority of the electorate national socialists. Good manners, good taste, historical scholarship, a bit of political philosophy–none of these things matter any more. Does America need more of the hysteria that gets folks to call each other fascists & Nazis?

    It was a moment to stand up, sit down, & shake one’s head while slow-clapping. The man as much as said, permanent minority status is the most desirable future pending the Second Coming: The man’s not for turning!

    But as a stranger who’s only learned American history from books, I cannot help but ask: Is Reagan a national socialist for propping up Harley Davidson, to say nothing of anything else? How about Lincoln–he led the party of tariffs! How about Washington: His man Hamilton was for protectionism & whiskey taxes. I suppose these men can be called half-baked–too stupid or uneducated about the free market. Or cold to its appeals for nefarious reasons! But are we sure we are the people who get to call everyone else uneducated?

    This substitute for thinking on politics & this deep, abiding need to preclude any concern with prudence–they really are, as I said, cause to stand up, sit down, & clap slowly. A performance for the ages–it seems prophetic to me.

    • #15
    • April 2, 2016, at 6:57 AM PDT
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  16. Jim Beck Member

    Good Afternoon Titus,

    Always a pleasure, and we all are pleased to have you as a visitor soon.

    Concerning Kevin, he says it’s part of marketing to offer his address as a chance for a punch-up to an anti-fan. Well recalling my work experience, I think he should grab his crotch and say “I’ve got your bat right here, chump, what are you going to do about it?” To have so much extra time, and such poor judgment that he cannot tell the difference between Joe Pyne and Rush.

    There is a saying from the countryside in China, “If you are with three people, you can learn from one of them”. Kevin proudly says that he only pays attention to the opinion of a few folks, it shows. And I am supposed to be concerned about poor Kevin’s future health, you know being a twitter warrior is high stress, I suggest for Kevin and Rob to read “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Sapolsky. I would rather not have someone who is in the cave with me telling me his interpretations of the shadows. Except for VDH maybe, we have all been surprised by Trump. I could use someone who actually has had a factory life or a rural life experience like VDH, or has been outside the cave with those three people in the countryside. I am in the cave, it has been ages since I worked in factories or construction, I am old, so I do not know what Trump’s success really tells us. I would like to spend time with folks who were curious and not so smug. It is disappointing to see folks parading their status and wisdom.

    • #16
    • April 2, 2016, at 8:02 AM PDT
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  17. Saint Augustine Member

    You know, Augustine didn’t just live a good life while the old civilization crumbled. He also wrote the books and preached the sermons that charted the course taken by the next civilization.

    It would be overly simplifying, though not exaggerating very much, to say that Augustine is the hinge on which history turns from Roman civilization to medieval.

    Speaking of Augustine and segues, there’s this neat little book coming out about how he started off being that hinge.

    • #17
    • April 2, 2016, at 8:13 AM PDT
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  18. Hang On Member
    Hang OnJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I think a certain faction within the Republican party is dying — the part Henninger and the Wall Street Journal represent with their three-legged stool. And it’s a good thing.

    One question I wish you had asked Williamson was about abortion and whether women should be punished. The standard line of those on the right is that the women are victims and should not be punished. Williamson’s view of the white working class is that they should get over themselves and get a job even if that means moving, i.e., they aren’t victims of anything. Would be interested to see if his views are consistent.

    • #18
    • April 2, 2016, at 8:29 AM PDT
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  19. Titus Techera Contributor

    Hang On:I think a certain faction within the Republican party is dying — the part Henninger and the Wall Street Journal represent with their three-legged stool. And it’s a good thing.

    One question I wish you had asked Williamson was about abortion and whether women should be punished. The standard line of those on the right is that the women are victims and should not be punished. Williamson’s view of the white working class is that they should get over themselves and get a job even if that means moving, i.e., they aren’t victims of anything. Would be interested to see if his views are consistent.

    He’s actually pretty good on abortion–from a Catholic or Christian perspective.

    But on to the more important thing, you’re not the only one who thinks we’re not gonna see more of the old ’80s coalition ever. Here’s my long rant on the end of this kind of thinking.

    I think Mr. Williamson is a much better poster child for the old way than is the WSJ guy, however eminent or at least venerable he is. With the NR guy, you’ve got it straight like bourbon: You’re either for a flat tax or you’re a national socialist from Washington down to Reagan–all national socialists. Sure, it’s a crazy way to think about politics, but it’s good for the faith.

    • #19
    • April 2, 2016, at 8:43 AM PDT
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  20. Titus Techera Contributor

    Jim Beck:

    Hello, Mr. Beck, you’re very kind & I owe you thanks. (By the way, our long conversation over the holidays about Europe & America is gradually coming to fruition as something: Podcasts, essays, I’m not sure yet, but I keep writing & working on it.)

    So yeah, Kevin Mad Dog Williamson should know– he probably knows, he’s a journalist–but then Pyne was two generations back. He’s a really good journalist, but he does not seem to care much about politics. Probably, that’s just not possible for libertarians: They think that really, it’s economics, & it can be arranged in a satisfactory way.

    Basically, that the problem with people is that people think there’s a problem with people. It would all go away if only people could listen to reason or self-interest or reasonable, enlightened self-interest–self-interest rightly understood! But they almost never do. These people want recourse to necessity, so that people do not get a choice, because they basically believe there is no choice: Economics works by necessity.

    But for this kind of reduction of politics to stuff that mutilates understanding, he would do the kind of work you & I & so many others need him to do. I cannot go do this, so I’m not in a position to tell other people to do it. But when he does work to figures out what’s going on, hes at his best. Ask him his opinion–it’s depressive stuff.

    • #20
    • April 2, 2016, at 8:57 AM PDT
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  21. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Yeah the Republican Party is totally dying. That’s why they control 60 percent of the Governors and how many state legislatures, the house and the Senate.

    Just don’t panic.

    • #21
    • April 2, 2016, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Titus Techera Contributor

    Saint Augustine:You know, Augustine didn’t just live a good life while the old civilization crumbled. He also wrote the books and preached the sermons that charted the course taken by the next civilization.

    It would be overly simplifying, though not exaggerating very much, to say that Augustine is the hinge on which history turns from Roman civilization to medieval.

    Speaking of Augustine and segues, there’s this neat little book coming out about how he started off being that hinge.

    You need to talk with Mr. M & Ryansplain it all on Ricochet, live on tape, as they used to say!

    • #22
    • April 2, 2016, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • Like
  23. Matt Y. Member

    I don’t know if the Republican party is dead; maybe its current iteration is dead. I doubt there will be a new, third party to replace it; the electoral rules are rigged to support the current two-party system.

    I’m hoping it’s not dead. I’m still whistling past the graveyard I guess – hoping that, if someone other than Trump is nominated, he/she can still win this year. After all, polls with other candidates (Cruz and Kasich) still show them to be at least competitive with Clinton. Maybe Trump can be denied, he can’t get on the ballot as a third party candidate because it’ll be too late, and then nothing too earth-shattering will happen. Or maybe, if the GOP loses this year – with or without Trump – this will prove to be a one-time phenomenon, a disruption that only Trump was able to effectively pull off, and by 2020 the right will be tired of losing and ready to support a reasonable nominee – like the Democrats in 1992. That could be just wishful thinking. Whistling past the graveyard, as I said.

    • #23
    • April 2, 2016, at 12:36 PM PDT
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  24. Matt Y. Member

    There are things about the GOP that should change, I’m not denying that. I’m not really a fan of either the establishment or the entertainment wing of the party (I’m defining “the establishment” as the donor class, WSJ, social moderate/liberal types who enforce the dogma that conservatism always means tax cuts for the rich, and not as Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, or Nikki Haley, i.e. good people with conservative ideas that the donor class often supports). But I guess I can’t make myself give up on the party yet, or on 2016.

    • #24
    • April 2, 2016, at 12:37 PM PDT
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  25. Douglas Inactive

    Matt Y.:I don’t know if the Republican party is dead; maybe its current iteration is dead. I doubt there will be a new, third party to replace it; the electoral rules are rigged to support the current two-party system.

    If history is any indication, what will typically happen is that the replacement for the GOP will start as a third party, and siphon off GOP members as the GOP dies off. Those in the current GOP that find the new party appealing will leave, and those that don’t will either become Democrats or Libertarians or start yet another meaningless third party. The major two party equilibrium will be restored after an election cycle or two. Federalists -> Whigs -> Republicans -> Party X.

    • #25
    • April 2, 2016, at 2:48 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. Larry Koler Inactive

    Jim Beck:Good Afternoon Titus,

    Always a pleasure, and we all are pleased to have you as a visitor soon.

    Concerning Kevin, he says it’s part of marketing to offer his address as a chance for a punch-up to an anti-fan. Well recalling my work experience, I think he should grab his crotch and say “I’ve got your bat right here, chump, what are you going to do about it?” To have so much extra time, and such poor judgment that he cannot tell the difference between Joe Pyne and Rush.

    There is a saying from the countryside in China, “If you are with three people, you can learn from one of them”. Kevin proudly says that he only pays attention to the opinion of a few folks, it shows. And I am supposed to be concerned about poor Kevin’s future health, you know being a twitter warrior is high stress, I suggest for Kevin and Rob to read “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Sapolsky. I would rather not have someone who is in the cave with me telling me his interpretations of the shadows. Except for VDH maybe, we have all been surprised by Trump. I could use someone who actually has had a factory life or a rural life experience like VDH, or has been outside the cave with those three people in the countryside. I am in the cave, it has been ages since I worked in factories or construction, I am old, so I do not know what Trump’s success really tells us. I would like to spend time with folks who were curious and not so smug. It is disappointing to see folks parading their status and wisdom.

    Nice, Jim. Well explained.

    • #26
    • April 2, 2016, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Peter Gøthgen Member
    Peter GøthgenJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have to say that I found Peter Robinson to be positively uplifting.

    Firts, his reference to St. Augustine didn’t seem like defeatism. It was an inspiration – even in the face of the material world crumbling, a focus on what is truly important allows one to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. For my own part, it made me think that as long as I have my family everything will be just fine.

    Then, at the end, when he referred to Trump as looking tired, I couldn’t help but think of this brilliant scene from my second favorite Doctor.

    And I will third James’ call for a Mansions section which is more practical than aspirational.

    • #27
    • April 2, 2016, at 5:24 PM PDT
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  28. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    ‘ In a way, this is the same disconnect that the right has with the left, too. They engage with the left on the seeming merits of the intellectual debate that is offered up by the left. What they never seem to learn — like Charlie Brown with the football — is that the left (Lucy) has no interest in the football but only in making fools of the conservatives.’

    Amen. The left has been telling us for 50 years ‘ the issue is not the issue, the issue is never the issue , the issue is the revolution’ Republican leadership refuses to listen or even to realize that the Democrats look at them not as colleagues but as enemies

    • #28
    • April 2, 2016, at 6:40 PM PDT
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  29. Larry Koler Inactive

    Rightfromthestart:‘ In a way, this is the same disconnect that the right has with the left, too. They engage with the left on the seeming merits of the intellectual debate that is offered up by the left. What they never seem to learn — like Charlie Brown with the football — is that the left (Lucy) has no interest in the football but only in making fools of the conservatives.’

    Amen. The left has been telling us for 50 years ‘ the issue is not the issue, the issue is never the issue , the issue is the revolution’ Republican leadership refuses to listen or even to realize that the Democrats look at them not as colleagues but as enemies.

    Exactly.

    “But, gee they’re so nice to me in the cloak room. And I play tennis with them, too. I don’t get it.”

    • #29
    • April 2, 2016, at 6:45 PM PDT
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  30. Douglas Inactive

    Larry Koler:Exactly.

    “But, gee they’re so nice to me in the cloak room. And I play tennis with them, too. I don’t get it.”

    I’m sure everyone has their own example, but for me, the incident that proved Republicans are often suckers and chumps when dealing with Democrats was the defeat of one of my state’s senators, Jeremiah Denton.

    Denton was a retired admiral and ex-Vietnam War POW whose story of captivity (When Hell Was in Session) was made into a TV movie, with Hal Holbrook as Denton. This was a man who had commanded men in battle, and been tortured by some of the most duplicitous, cunning enemies on Earth, the Vietnamese Communists. This was a man who had seen the worst in the world, and had been around the block a few times.

    So when he lost his re-election campaign in 1986, there was the inevitable postmortem: how did he get beaten?

    His comments to the press were stunning. He never saw it coming. He never saw the ruthless campaign against him from the state’s Democrats. He was surprised because he had the impression that his Democratic Senate colleagues wouldn’t do anything to undermine him, because they told him that they liked him. And he believed them. “These people really like me, they really wish me well” he told an aide, who later recounted this to the press.

    Contd…

    • #30
    • April 2, 2016, at 7:30 PM PDT
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