Wehner: Republicans are “Living Within the Lie”


Conservative public intellectual Peter Wehner reflects on today’s impeachment hearings. Here is a taste of his piece at The Atlantic:

We are facing a profound political crisis. What the Republican Party is saying and signaling isn’t simply that rationality and truth are subordinate to partisanship; it is that they have to be obliterated for the sake of partisanship and the survival of the Trump presidency. As best I can tell, based on some fairly intense interactions with Trump supporters, there is no limiting principle—almost nothing he can do—that will forfeit their support. Members of Congress clearly believe Trump is all that stands between them and the loss of power, while many Trump voters believe the president is all that stands between them and national ruin. In either case, it has led them into the shadowlands.

For those of us who are still conservative and have devoted a large part of our lives to the Republican Party, it is quite painful  to watch all of this unfold. Perhaps too many of us were blind to things we should have seen, or perhaps the GOP is significantly different now that it was in the past, when it was led by estimable (if imperfect) individuals like Ronald Reagan. Whatever the case, we are where we are—in a very precarious and worrisome place.

You can be critical of the Democratic Party and believe, as I do, that it is becoming increasingly radicalized while also believing this: The Republican Party under Donald Trump is a party built largely on lies, and it is now maintained by politicians and supporters who are willing to “live within the lie,” to quote the great Czech dissident (and later president) Vaclav Havel. Many congressional Republicans privately admit this but, with very rare exceptions—Utah Senator Mitt Romney is the most conspicuous example—refuse to publicly acknowledge it.

“For what purpose?” they respond point-blank when asked why they don’t speak out with moral urgency against the president’s moral transgressions, his cruelty, his daily assault on reality, and his ongoing destruction of our civic and political culture. Trump is more powerful and more popular than they are, they will say, and they will be targeted by him and his supporters and perhaps even voted out of office.

The answer to them is that it is better to live within the truth than to live within a lie; that honor is better than dishonor; and that aiding and abetting a corrupt president implicates the aiders and abettors in the corruption.

Read the entire piece here.

What Happened to the Never-Trump Republicans?


A few still exist, but most of them have lined-up with their Trump-controlled party.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear from people who did not support Trump in 2016, but today defend him and his policies with vigor.  Lawrence Glickman, a historian at Cornell University, provides some historical context to help us understand why these never-Trump Republicans like Ben Shapiro, Glenn Beck, and Erick Erickson went “extinct.”

Here is a taste of his piece at The Washington Post:

The very same thing happened in 1964, when party loyalty and ideological similarity convinced moderate Republicans to embrace the controversial candidate upending their party. In the late spring that year, as it became increasingly likely that Sen. Barry Goldwater (Ariz.) had a clear path to the Republican nomination for the presidency, twin fears gripped the then-formidable moderate wing of the party: first, that Goldwater might bring catastrophic loss to the Republican Party, and second, that if he were to win, it would bring a dangerous man to the White House.

But rather than going to war against Goldwater, the moderates, led by former president Dwight Eisenhower, first vacillated in their criticism and then relented, ultimately offering active support for their putative enemy.

Their actions help explain how a shared enemy and ideological affinities often lead political figures to overcome doubts they once had about the fitness and extremism of the leader of their party.

Of the moderates, Eisenhower’s behavior is especially telling. He should have been leading the charge against Goldwater. After all, the Arizona lawmaker and author of “The Conscience of a Conservative” had denounced the social welfare policies of his administration as a “dime-store New Deal.” And according to the journalist Theodore H. White, author of “The Making of the President” series, “Eisenhower was appalled at the prospect of Goldwater’s nomination.”

Yet the former president refused to publicly or explicitly denounce Goldwater. Instead, he whipsawed from private criticism of Goldwater to loyalty to his party, seeming to endorse even some of Goldwater’s more extreme ideas.

Read the entire piece here.

Actually, Carly Fiorina, What You Said About Hillary IS An Exxageration

Here is Carly from last night’s debate:

Imagine a Clinton presidency. Our military will continue to deteriorate. Our veterans will not be cared for. And, no, Mrs. Clinton, that situation is not exaggerated. The rich will get richer. The poor will get poorer. The middle class will continue to get crushed.
And as bad as that picture is, what’s even worse is that a Clinton presidency will corrode the character of this nation. Why? Because of the Clinton way: Say whatever you have to, lie as long as you can get away with it.
We must beat Hillary Clinton. Carly Fiorina can beat Hillary Clinton. I will beat Hillary Clinton. And under a President Fiorina, we will restore the character of this nation, the security of this nation, the prosperity of this nation, because as citizens, we will take our government back.
She definitely know how to play to the GOP base.

Is There Anyone Left for Pundits to Compare to the Republican Party?

Michael Schaffer, writing at The New Republic, has come up with a list of “novel comparisons for the GOP ultras” who he believes started the whole government standoff.  Here is the list:

Colonel Walter E. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now  (Ross Douthat, New York Times)

V.I. Lenin (Jonathan Chait, New York)
Leon Trotsky (Richard McGregor, Financial Times)
The Weather Underground (David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)
Maoists (Michael Hirsh, National Journal)
The Know-Nothing Party (Paul Rosenberg, Salon)
Sonny Corleone from The Godfather (Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post)
Osama Bin Laden (Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post).
The Jacobins (David Corn, Mother Jones)
The John Birch Society (Christopher Parker, The Monkey Cage)
Joe McCarthy (Carl Bernstein, Morning Joe)
Occupy Wall Street (Michael Gerson, The Washington Post)
Poujadists (John Cassidy, The New Yorkers)
Conservative American Republicans (Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker)
Major T.J. “King” Kong from Dr. Strangelove (Jason Cherkis, Huffington Post)
Wow!  I think there is a lesson in here somewhere about the dangers of pursuing a “useable past.”

A Few Random Observations from Last Night’s GOP Convention

  • Sorry Chris Christie, you had your chance to run for president. Didn’t anyone tell you that you were not in Tampa to accept the nomination? 
  • If my Twitter and Facebook feeds are any indication, the incivility and venom of the culture wars are just as much a problem for the Left as for the Right.  Political conventions bring out the worst in people, especially people with access to social media.
  • Anne Romney:  “Tonight I want to talk to you about love.”  Chris Christie (immediately following): “Tonight, we choose respect over love.”  Woops!
  •  When did the Heartland Fox News guy become governor of Ohio?
  • Forget about the unofficial religious test for office, what about the “I had a hardscrabble, working-class life” test for office?  
  •  The Convention tweet of the night comes from Bobby Griffith: “Hofstadter/Lasch 2012.” 
  •  The commentator quote of the night comes from Mark Shields on PBS:  (paraphrased): “In just 30 minutes Americans got to know Chris Christie better than they know Mitt Romney.