I want to build up good things here, not just tear down bad things. But sometimes, demolition must precede rebuilding. So here goes.
Starting with Sarah Palin and the spread of Fox News, the G.O.P. traded an ethos of excellence for an ethos of hucksterism.
The Republican Party I grew up with admired excellence. It admired intellectual excellence (Milton Friedman, William F. Buckley), moral excellence (John Paul II, Natan Sharansky) and excellent leaders (James Baker, Jeane Kirkpatrick). Populism abandoned all that — and had to by its very nature. Excellence is hierarchical. Excellence requires work, time, experience and talent. Populism doesn’t believe in hierarchy. Populism doesn’t demand the effort required to understand the best that has been thought and said. Populism celebrates the quick slogan, the impulsive slash, the easy ignorant assertion. Populism is blind to mastery and embraces mediocrity.
The rot afflicting the G.O.P. is comprehensive — moral, intellectual, political and reputational. More and more former Republicans wake up every day and realize: “I’m homeless. I’m politically homeless.”
There are so many apt quotes from this David Brooks column I couldn’t choose one. Please read it. The moral self-immolation of the GOP is now, I think, complete. https://t.co/54z1Zsl6vQ
— Alan Jacobs (@ayjay) December 8, 2017
I did that waking up politically homeless nearly 13 years ago, but it wasn’t all that agonizing. I never put too much stock in the ability of politics to create heaven on earth. I’d never been a party activist, but rather an activist for the conservative side of “social issues.” I had tried not to burn bridges to Democrats,
believing imagining against growing evidence that their abortion fanaticism was an anomaly. Insofar as I registered on local party officials, it probably was as gadfly and pest.
So I went from straddling as a notional Republican to straddling as an independent. No big deal.
My sympathies go out, though, to the True Believers who’ve just seen some ugly GOP truths they can’t un-see. That happened to me in religion, not crypto-religious politics, and it’s disorienting.
I remember Watergate pretty well, and I don’t remember anything like this level of journalistic carelessness back then. The constant stream of ‘bombshells’ that turn into duds is doing much more to damage the media than anything Trump could manage. https://t.co/SA3Frx4KNE
— Walter Russell Mead (@wrmead) December 8, 2017
The Twitter atmosphere around these Russia leaks and scooplets does not exactly encourage the people publishing them to do due diligence.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) December 8, 2017
So CNN misreported the date of the Wikileaks email that @DonaldJTrumpJr received, meaning that the entire point of the story — that the campaign might have gotten advance warning of the leaks — is wrong. Wow. https://t.co/oiXngwHZAq
— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) December 8, 2017
“In the twisted worldview of modern Values Voters – you can’t vote for a Mormon, but you can shill for a credibly accused pedophile.” Nancy French in part of a Tweet storm about Roy Moore’s nasty spokeswoman, Janet Porter.
To quote Greg Forster, “The evidence against Moore is so overwhelming that if evangelicals are going to posit the existence of a vast conspiracy to frame him, they owe Dan Brown an apology.” https://t.co/Q0PHd4Vlnw
— Justin Taylor (@between2worlds) December 8, 2017
Reminds me of the “Values Voter” who wrote me — while I was in Iraq — to tell me I wasn’t a patriot because I backed Mitt in 08. It was that important to have a “faithful Christian” in office. He’s all-in on Trump now. https://t.co/3vBN4K2pdL
— David French (@DavidAFrench) December 8, 2017
- David French seems to get it on sexual harassment.
- Sexual Revolution Working Out Great, Reports Nation Full Of Perverts
- As Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” I dropped the New York Times a few months ago because I was going nuts trying to read three national digital newspapers daily. But everyone writes about stories in the New York Times—David Brooks and Ross Douthat in particular in my circles—so I had to (a) re-subscribe, (b) brush up on how to beat metered paywalls (a/k/a steal NYT content), or (c) miss out on some of what’s important in public affairs. I chose (a). You’ll be seeing more here from its pages, positive and negative.
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I would a thousand times rather have dinner with secular liberals of a certain temperament than with a group of religious conservatives who agreed with me about most things, but who have no sense of humor or irony.