Tag: Charlie Sykes

Useless Useful Idiots: Whither The Bulwark and The Dispatch After Trump?


Ever since Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign began to look like it was more than a promotional stunt for his reality show and began to take on the shape of a real run at the White House, there were voices on the Right condemning the whole idea of a Trump presidency. The Right’s most concerted effort took the form of National Review’s “Against Trump” issue, and most on the Right remain critical of the President’s failings even if they support him generally. (This is a marked difference from the last Democrat president, who received virtually no significant criticism from members of his party while in office.) But a sizable group of Republicans (excuse me, “former Republicans”) abandoned their party and became “Never Trumpers” – they were so exorcized by the idea of Donald Trump personally that they could no longer support their party. Some, like Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin, completely altered their beliefs and values because they hated Trump so much.

And from this sprang a whole new cottage industry of Republican-hating Conservatives. A niche craft that once belonged only to David Brooks and David Frum suddenly burst open with a whole field of carpetbaggers toting elephant guns: Charles Sykes, Mona Charen, Jonah Goldberg, George Will, Noah Rothman, Joe Scarborough, just to name a few. And with it has come two political websites to challenge the likes of NationalReview.com, CommentaryMagazine.com, and Ricochet.com: TheBulwark.com and TheDispatch.com.

Member Post


Charlie Sykes is a good guy. He means well. He’s sincere and cares deeply about civility. In case you’re new to planet earth that means I’m about to say something mean about old Chuck. Of the various center right podcasters running around in the wild woods of the web he stands apart with an uncanny […]

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One Man’s Impact


On December 19, radio host Charlie Sykes completed his last broadcast for WTMJ in Milwaukee, WI. His last hours on the air were adorned with encomia from some of the leading figures his show had helped to incubate: Reince Preibus, Scott Walker, Ron Johnson, and Paul Ryan, among many others. For three and a half hours every day for 23 years, Wisconsinites got the Charlie Sykes catechism: free markets, rule of law, school reform, free speech (and anti-PC), and strong families. The policy meal was substantial and nourishing, but that didn’t mean the taste was bland. Sykes delivered information with just the right soupçon of humor and entertainment, and, of course, a hearty serving of Green Bay Packers hits.

Along with five other conservative talk radio hosts, and with the help of the Bradley Foundation (whose headquarters are in Milwaukee), Sykes helped to create a climate of opinion in Wisconsin that led to actual policy results. With the steady, smart, daily spadework of persuasion, Sykes opened his microphones to conservative reformers in politics, education, and the courts. Long before the “blue wall” crumbled in the 2016 electoral map, Charlie Sykes had been scaling the ramparts of Wisconsin’s entrenched liberal fortresses.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Sykes regrets the boost he gave to Sheriff David Clarke, calling him his “Frankenstein monster.” And there were election setbacks. “After 2008,” he recalled, “I told people that conservatives were going to be invisible for a while. But, with time, our ideas would be back.” It didn’t take long. In 2010, Republican Scott Walker won the governorship, and improbably enough, egghead Ron Johnson (heavily promoted by the Charlie Sykes radio show) defeated Russ Feingold for the US Senate. Paul Ryan was a frequent guest on Sykes’s air as well as on a Sunday TV show Sykes hosted. Ryan honed his message on the Charlie Sykes show.

Battleground Wisconsin


shutterstock_157978994If Senator Ted Cruz is to defeat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, he must defeat him in Wisconsin on April 5th: There is no other way to read the primary calendar. For those who have followed this state’s role in American politics over the past few years, this is an end deeply ironic and yet completely fitting.

The latest poll shows a one-point race. Trump will not win any near-majority in Wisconsin (he averages in the low 30s), but he has a base. It is notable that Governor Scott Walker was among the few who took Trump seriously early on. Perhaps that insight came from his own experience with the forces propelling Trump’s rise: Walker understood the vast influence of certain voices in the conservative media, the salience of the immigration issue, the desire for a fight, and the power over the conservative imagination of the Left’s most hated enemy. In Wisconsin, Trump’s core appeal is to voters in the northern part of the state, away from the influence of the Milwaukee media market. These are largely moderates with little party loyalty, a kind of voter Walker held three times but has struggled with in polls this past year.

As Craig Gilbert explains, though, nothing is assured this year and — with Kasich dividing the opposition — Trump’s support fits the traditional profile of the losing candidate in a Wisconsin Republican primary. The outstate is overmatched by the deep-red high-turnout counties around Milwaukee and Waukesha in the southeast; i.e., Scott Walker’s political base, the anchor of one of the most effective conservative movements in the country, which has built a fundamentally different dynamic in Wisconsin politics. As influential talk-show host Charlie Sykes explains,