Some Messages from CPAC

What is CPAC telling us about the contemporary conservative movement?

The following are stories that have come to my attention regards events at the American Conservative Union’s annual event, CPAC.

1. Mona Charen is Booed and Given Armed Escort to Leave

Via USAT:  Columnist escorted out of CPAC after calling out conservatives for supporting Trump, Moore

Charen, who was speaking on an all-women panel titled “#UsToo: Left Out by the Left,” rebuked conservatives for excusing the behavior of both President Trump and Alabama Republican Roy Moore.

“I’m disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites on sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women,” she said. “And because he happens to have an ‘R’ after his name, we look the other way, we don’t complain.”

She also criticized Republicans who endorsed Moore, who was accused of pursuing and assaulting teenagers while he was in his 30s.

“You cannot claim that you stand for women and put up with that,” she said.

Shouts of “not true” came from the audience afterward.

She also was booed for criticizing the invitation of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen to the event (in fairness, she did also receive some applause, but the boos took the day, especially at the end):

So, a prominent conservative is booed at CPAC for denouncing sexual assault and for criticizing extreme nationalism.  No doubt part of the animus aimed at Charen is that she is a NeverTrumper.  But, then again, that shows the degree to which the conservative movement has been shaped by Trump (as well as the degree to which the conservative movement was fertile ground for Trump in the first place–that is to say, Trump is as much a symptom as a cause).

Charen’s Republican/conservative credentials are clear (from her own column today in the NYT):

I’ve been a conservative my entire life. I fell hard for William F. Buckley as a teenager and my first job was as editorial assistant at Buckley’s National Review, followed by stints writing speeches for first lady Nancy Reagan and then working for the Gipper himself. Looking toward the 1988 race, Vice President George H.W. Bush wasn’t conservative enough for me. I went to work as a speechwriter for Representative Jack Kemp in 1986.

So you’d think that the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, would be a natural fit. It once was. But on Saturday, after speaking to this year’s gathering, I had to be escorted from the premises by several guards who seemed genuinely concerned for my safety.

What happened to me at CPAC is the perfect illustration of the collective experience of a whole swath of conservatives since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. We built and organized this party — but now we’re made to feel like interlopers.

The whole piece is worth reading.  I will note the following brief, but damning, observation about Le Pen’s invitation:

So it has come to this: a conservative group whose worst fault in years past may have been excessive flat tax enthusiasm now opens its doors to the blood and soil nationalists of Europe.

2.  Michael Steele is Called out for being Black

Ian Walters, Communications Director for the ACU, said the following: “We elected Mike Steele to be the R.N.C. chair because he’s a black guy. That was the wrong thing to do.”

I would recommend the video, as the passion behind the remark undercuts, in my opinion, later claims that he was simply inarticulate:

Steele and ACU’s Chairman, Matt Schlapp, discussed Walters’ comments on a SiruisXM radio program.  Quite frankly, Schlapp made it worse.  While he apologized for Walters’ statement, he does what so many conservatives seem to do:  they turn around a race-based remark and attitude and ask the black person why they are making it about race.  The video is 9+ minutes long, but is worth a watch, in my opinion.

Steele is rightly indignant about Schlapp’s tone-deafness on this issue (and that is the best interpretation for Schlapp’s response).  From Deadline’s write-up about the interchange:

Schlapp attempted to smooth things over but only seemed to dig himself and his organization deeper into the muck. He called Walters’ comment “unfortunate words,” and repeatedly professed his love and friendship for both Steele and Walters.

“It’s not ‘unfortunate,’ ” said Steele. “Call it what it is. It is stupid to sit there and say that we elected a black man chairman of the party…Do you know how that sounds to the black community?”

“I’ve spent 41 years in this party. Forty-one, all right?” Steele continued. “I have taken crap you have no idea about, and I have carried this baggage. And for him to stand on that stage and denigrate my service to this party, and for you as a friend to sit there and go, ‘Well, you have been critical of this party.’ There is only one word I can say, and I can’t say it on this air.”

Schlapp suggested that Steele was unpopular among some conservatives because of his lack of support for Donald Trump. “You have not been very graceful to the Republicans and conservatives in this room for a very long time,” Schlapp said, prompting Steele to snap,”What the hell does my race have to do with any of that, at the end of the day? What does the color of my skin have to do with anything you just said?”

Schlapp, conceding that Walters’ comment was “not our best moment,” advised Steele not to ”jump to the conclusion that just because people use inarticulate words that they have it in for you.”

“I didn’t say he had it in for me,” Steele said. “It’s just stupid.”

BTW, to describe Walters simply as using “inarticulate words” is to downplay a pretty direct statement by Walters that Steele’s election to RNC chair was pure tokenism (especially in the context of Obama’s election–again, see the clip of Walters).  I recognize that Walters in also a person of color, but that strikes me as irrelevant here (and I mention only before someone in the comments tries to deflect from the broader point).

Really, the standard defense against racist language and arguments tends to be some claim of inarticulateness, or of misspeaking.  These ring hollow.

And Steel is right:  criticize his RNC tenure all you like and criticize his current commentary all you like.  But Steele is also right:  the comments, and Schlapp’s defense, come across as utterly dismissive of race as an issue, and reinforces the signal that the black community constantly hears from the GOP.

Another noteworthy element is that Schlapp criticizes Steele for criticizing Trump, which is just more evidence of what I have noted more than once:  Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, not the other way around.

3.  President Trump Promotes Xenophobia

During the campaign Donald Trump would read the lyrics of a song, “The Snake” based on one of Aesop’s fables.  In the song a woman saves a snake she find in the wild, and the snake eventually bites her. He re-created that for CPAC.

WaPo describes the following from the campaign trail:

Trump’s performances of “The Snake” take on a relatively common routine. After listing the dangers of refugees, terrorism and “the wrong people” coming into our country, Trump will take out a piece of paper and display some of his showmanship, which is part carnival barker, part parent hoping to scare a child straight and part Fox News host.

“You ready?” He asked an adoring crowd in Ohio.

“Who likes ‘The Snake’?” he asked another group in Pennsylvania. “Has anybody heard ‘The Snake’? Not that many! Should I do it again?”

[…]

Trump likes to emphasize the last line, taking gusto as he repeats the snake’s words:

” ‘Oh, shut up, silly woman!’ said the reptile with a grin. ‘You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in,’ ” Trump will say, his voice often rising to a growl.

Usually, the crowd cheers. Other times, it breaks into a spontaneous chant of “U-S-A!” At CPAC, the audience gave Trump a standing ovation.

The video of the entire thing at CPAC, including the direct and unambiguous connection of the lyrics to immigration in a broad way, is below.  If you have not seen this, I recommend watching it in full:

Somehow I had missed this particular bit of performance art from the campaign, so was especially struck by the President of United States (not just a candidate for office) so clearly promoting xenophobia with gusto to a cheering crowd (I find that an unnerving combination).  Indeed, the crowd is more concerning than is Trump.  I would note that he displays far more emotion here than, say, in denouncing neo-Nazis or in expressing concern over mass shootings.

The best case scenario here is that Trump likes performing that poem in that way because it gets a huge reaction from his crowds (and, quite frankly, the only guiding principle I am certain Trump has is that he loves to be loved by a crowd).  Even in this best case scenario, however, the crowds love the xenophobia.  The worse case scenario is that Trump is actively promoting xenophobia to an adoring and accepting audience. Neither of these is a comforting scenario. It is one thing to have strong views on border security, it is yet another to equate immigrants with treacherous, poisonous snakes who will betray American kindness and give back death in return.

I suppose someone could say that the lesson here is simply that we can allow people into our country who can be harmful, so we should be careful.  This is true, as logic dictates that this is a possibility.  But such a reading is highly charitable.  The way the lyrics are read, and the clear context provided by the President is to stoke the crowd with xenophobia.  The message is:  hate and fear the immigrant, because they might kill you.  How is this commensurate with American values? (But, of course, this is the administration that doesn’t like the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty).

Again:  security is one thing, fear and loathing is another.

A side note, as the linked WaPo story notes, the song’s origins:

Trump might be surprised to learn the origin of the song. Long before he used it as an anti-immigrant poem, “The Snake” was just a simple tune, a parable open to interpretation.

The lyrics were written in the 1960s by [Oscar] Brown [Jr.], an outspoken singer, songwriter, social activist and former Communist Party member from Chicago.

His work has been described as a celebration of black culture and a repudiation of racism. He wrote the lyrics for drummer Max Roach’s 1960 album ”We Insist! Freedom Now Suite,” one of the first jazz records to deal heavily with the growing civil rights movement. Brown directed stage shows that cast gang members and other teens from poor neighborhoods in Chicago. And he created the musical adaptation of a play about a black militant leader that made it to Broadway with Muhammad Ali as the lead.

Conclusions.

So, what are the messages here?  In the above we have several key examples that suggest that the contemporary conservative movement is hostile to women and blacks, is pro-nationalist, and revels in xenophobia.

And before someone tells me that CPAC is to be dismissed because it is comic-con for conservative nerds, please note that one of the data points here is the President of the United States and note that CPAC is a gathering that brings in numerous elites in the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Note, too, the cheering crowds and the lack of repudiation of these messages from broader conservatism.

There was a time that I (naively) discounted charges of sexism, racism, and xenophobia within the GOP.  I certainly understood that many who held such views might vote Republican, but did not see a major strand within the party as being motivated my racial animosity.  It is very difficult to make that case at the moment.

Look, I have friends, colleagues (yes, at a university), and family members who identify as Republican. I do not think that they are on board with the racism, sexism, and xenophobia noted above (indeed, I expect they would all react to these issue the way I used to:  to minimize and then pivot to issues of policy preference*).  Further, a lot of people simply do not pay attention to these things.  Indeed, most probably have no clue about CPAC or the individuals involved.  And, perhaps most important of all, our party system’s binary nature keeps pushing all voters to make a dichotomous choice.  This leaves a lot of well intended persons voting GOP despite all of these concerns.  This is already a very long post, so I will not get into a lot about institutional dynamics, but I will note that the problem at the moment for these voters is that their choices are as follows:  continue to vote Republican because of general policy preferences (e.g., taxes, abortion, etc.), vote Democratic because of opposition to Trumpism and its allies (which is difficult do when you sincerely disagree with elements of Democratic policy positions), vote third party (which will have an effect only if enough current Republicans are willing to vote their consciences while allowing Dems to win**), or don’t vote at all.

The fundamental question is, however:  what should be the reaction to these messages from CPAC?  I don’t think we can dismiss them as unimportant.  Is this where the contemporary conservative movement is headed?  Is this where it has already arrived?  If one is conservative/prefers Republican policy preference in broad strokes, what does one do?

Set aside partisan preferences and ask: is it healthy for a major American political party to be moving in this direction? Note that this is more than Trump (again:  note the cheering crowds, because they vote).


*To be clear, I think that generalized demonization of political opponents, especially in the current polarized climate is unproductive.  To continue to repeat a core political truth:  our system presents a binary choice and voters choose to vote for either party in a given contest for any number of reasons (even when a candidate is highly problematic), and so it is unfair and unproductive to assume the worst about why someone voted as they did. However, as I have done here in the post, it is utterly and totally fair to point out and highlight the actions of party elites and hope that voters see and understand what is going on and to make appropriate decisions in light of that information.

**If there are factions of Republicans who want to change their party, the electoral options are limited.  One option is to mobilize in the primaries to effect who is nominated.  The second is to be willing to have the GOP lose in the hopes that losing leads to reform.  This could happen by voting Democratic, voting for a third party that would siphon substantial votes from the GOP, or via large scale abstention.  All of these require coordinated effort to work.  I am not sure that the NeverTrump folks are large enough or well organized enough to accomplish this goal.

I would note that in terms of likely efficacy, voting Democratic is the easiest pathway (a more concerted NeverTrump approach in 2016 might have averted the Trump presidency, given the margins in that election).

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Gender Issues, Race and Politics, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Facebones says:

    What happened to me at CPAC is the perfect illustration of the collective experience of a whole swath of conservatives since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. We built and organized this party — but now we’re made to feel like interlopers.

    Frankenstein, meet monster.

    Seriously, Charen thinks the worst thing Republicans did in the last 50 years before Trump was support a Flat Tax too much? This glides by Buckley’s well known racism, the Southern strategy, the Second Iraq War and birtherism. It is ludicrous even by low standards of the National Review that still finds space for Dinesh D’Souza and Jonah Goldberg.

    You helped build it. Own it.




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  2. James in Bremerton says:

    The GOP has grown so ugly and radical it will earn the drubbings it will receive in 2018 and 2020. It also faces felons within it own ranks as Mueller’s work continues. Trump only adds more arsenic to the I.V., even as his supporters have been betrayed

    Watching social media dispose of the NRA has been fascinating. In less than a year, the platform that millennials built has taken out the KKK, nazis, confederates, sexual harassers, and pedophiles. Who’s next?

    There is nothing normal about CPAC, nothing mainstream, nothing anyone can sustain. It’s all rage against the dying of the light they know is coming. Millennials hate the GOP and the NRA. Nothing “conservatives” have to say means anything to them.




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  3. James Joyner says:

    I agree with about 98% of the above.

    Minor quibbles:

    1. It’s long seemed obvious that Michael Steele—and, frankly, many blacks embraced by Republicans (Herman Cain, Alan Keyes, Alan West, Ken Hamblin, Thomas Sowell, etc.)—were tokens. Not so much that they weren’t thought of as genuinely conservative and likable but that they were touted so fervently to demonstrate that the GOP couldn’t be racist.

    2. CPAC has been bonkers for some time, even when the mainstream GOP was nominating relatively moderate candidates.




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  4. Ben Wolf says:

    The only important thing to draw from what you’ve described is the now-total divorce of the Republican Party from the traditional liberalism of which both parties were born. Even granting the history of the country in repeatedly violating that tradition, the ideals of individual liberty did provide a foundational basis in American political life. What we’re seeing is much more in line with banana republic fascism.




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  5. @James Joyner:

    Minor quibbles:

    1. It’s long seemed obvious that Michael Steele—and, frankly, many blacks embraced by Republicans (Herman Cain, Alan Keyes, Alan West, Ken Hamblin, Thomas Sowell, etc.)—were tokens. Not so much that they weren’t thought of as genuinely conservative and likable but that they were touted so fervently to demonstrate that the GOP couldn’t be racist.

    I take the basic point, but as defenses go, that isn’t much of one, yes?

    But I think is noted in the Sirius interview, he won the sixth ballot, which would not indicate a purposeful tokenism, per se. But the party was more than happy to have a black face, to be sure.

    2. CPAC has been bonkers for some time, even when the mainstream GOP was nominating relatively moderate candidates.

    This is true, but I suppose part of my point is that recent years the mainstream GOP has become more like CPAC than the other way around (ditto, if you will excuse the term, in terms of the harmonization of talk radio talking points and the mainstream party).




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  6. @Ben Wolf:

    The only important thing to draw from what you’ve described is the now-total divorce of the Republican Party from the traditional liberalism of which both parties were born.

    This requires more discussion, and is something I have been thinking about for some time, but yes, there is very much something to this.




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  7. @James in Bremerton:

    it will earn the drubbings it will receive in 2018 and 2020.

    We shall see. The GOP has a number of institutional factors that protect it. And, as we saw in 2016, those institutions do not necessarily produce the actual will of the voters.




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  8. drj says:

    The fundamental question is, however: what should be the reaction to these messages from CPAC? I don’t think we can dismiss them as unimportant. Is this where the contemporary conservative movement is headed? Is this where it has already arrived?

    Yep. This is what modern-day conservatism is.

    If one is conservative/prefers Republican policy preference in broad strokes, what does one do?

    First, you ask yourself what will cause the most fundamental, long-term harm to the body politic: xenophobia, racism, and sexism (as well as a complete disregard for factual truth); or a somewhat higher corporate tax rate.

    Second, you vote accordingly.

    Sometimes, less-than-ideal choices have to be made…




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  9. Ben Wolf says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I meant to write “most important thing” rather than “only”. My apology for the jerkish phrasing.




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  10. Monala says:

    Another data point: A Cato analyst was booed and shouted down for presenting data that shows that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native born Americans.




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  11. James Knauer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Well-taken. I would add “blue wave” depends on something Democrats have been historically unwilling to do: turn out for mid-term elections.




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  12. PJ says:

    @Monala:

    Another data point: A Cato analyst was booed and shouted down for presenting data that shows that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native born Americans.

    From the linked article:

    Still, speaking to TPM after the panel wrapped up, Bier said he still believes in the power of facts and research to convince conservatives of the benefits of immigration.

    I guess a woman in the audience made a correct judgment about Bier (though it was about something else Bier said.)

    “Sweetie, you’re too young to know,” one woman called out




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  13. Scott F. says:

    Look, I have friends, colleagues (yes, at a university), and family members who identify as Republican. I do not think that they are on board with the racism, sexism, and xenophobia noted above (indeed, I expect they would all react to these issue the way I used to: to minimize and then pivot to issues of policy preference*). Further, a lot of people simply do not pay attention to these things. Indeed, most probably have no clue about CPAC or the individuals involved. And, perhaps most important of all, our party system’s binary nature keeps pushing all voters to make a dichotomous choice. This leaves a lot of well intended persons voting GOP despite all of these concerns.

    What is the well intended conservative to do? You it owe to the country to convince your friends, colleagues, and family that in the current dichotomy to choose Republican is to choose all you decry coming out of CPAC. Until the GOP faces some consequences for the Trumpism they’ve embraced, there is no incentive for a reverse of course. General policy preference is too weak a justification in the face of the deplorable (yes, deplorable) factions that now hold the power in the Republican Party.




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  14. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    in terms of the harmonization of talk radio talking points and the mainstream party

    Collectively talk radio, Fox NC, sites ranging the spectrum from right wing to Gateway Pundit and Infowars are in charge and tell the pols what they must do.

    Like Dr. Frankenstein, the GOP is not in control of what they built.

    @drj:

    First, you ask yourself what will cause the most fundamental, long-term harm to the body politic: xenophobia, racism, and sexism (as well as a complete disregard for factual truth); or a somewhat higher corporate tax rate.

    People who get their information from the conservative media bubble do not know what the truth is because they are basically in a cult, and it is in the nature of cults to prevent the followers from accessing outside information. (They are constantly indoctrinated to hold the MSM like NYT, CNN etc. in contempt and to disregard). Outsiders can’t deprogram this cult, it is up to them to figure it out themselves.




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  15. gVOR08 says:

    @drj:

    First, you ask yourself what will cause the most fundamental, long-term harm to the body politic: xenophobia, racism, and sexism (as well as a complete disregard for factual truth); or a somewhat higher corporate tax rate.

    What @charon: said. They see it as a choice between real Americans and Crooked Hillary. If I believed the nonsense they believe I wouldn’t have voted for Hillary either.




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  16. Leonard says:

    Shapiro called out Trump at CPAC and had the crowd eating out of his hand.




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  17. MBunge says:

    It’s hard to improve on Facesbones comment, but here’s a few extra points.

    1. There is little more pathetic than losers lecturing winners on how to behave. NeverTrumper LOST in the primaries. They LOST in the election. And CPAC is pretty good evidence that they’ve been losing ever since the election. Yet what consistently characterizes the comments of NeverTrumpers are arrogance, entitlement, and an assumption of authority which is disconnected from reality.

    I mean, Mona Charen thinks she and NeverTrumpers like her ” built and organized” the GOP and/or conservatism? Okay. Let’s grant that. So what did Mona Charen and her ilk give us over the last quarter-century? Bill Clinton and Barack Obama sandwiched around around a man who could very well wind up as the most destructive U.S. President of the 21st century. Donald Trump has almost seven years to go but he’s still got a long way to go to even approach the carnage left in the wake of George W. Bush.

    2. Anyone who think the GOP of Donald Trump is more racist than the GOP of Jesse Helms is a damned fool.

    3. You allow a broken immigration system to LITERALLY change the demographic make up of America at the same time the country experiences decades of stagnant wage growth and rampant income inequality, and then you have the audacity to label the entirely predictable response “xenophobia?”

    Mike




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  18. gVOR08 says:

    Is there a point that Conservatism has alienated everybody except James O’Keefe and David Duke, and Duke’s not too sure about O’Keefe?
    The Peoples Front of Judea.




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  19. Tyrell says:

    It has been apparent to me that the traditional Republican conservatives are in a state of flux. I do not and have never believed Trump to be a true Republican conservative, based on his history.
    The CPAC meeting shows that there is probably a lot of Republican conservatives just waiting for the proper structure and organization. May I make a suggestion? The Southern Democratic party! Conservative, traditional, Constitutional based. The party of Fulbright, Johnson, Connally, Nunn, Carter, Ervin.




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  20. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    Anyone who think the GOP of Donald Trump is more racist than the GOP of Jesse Helms is a damned fool.

    Even Jesse Helms’ GOP knew to use the dog whistle.




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  21. @Tyrell:

    I do not and have never believed Trump to be a true Republican conservative, based on his history.

    On the one hand, I get that,

    On the other, he is currently the head of the Republican Party. (And this is the hand that matters in this conversation).




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  22. @gVOR08:

    Is there a point that Conservatism has alienated everybody except James O’Keefe and David Duke, and Duke’s not too sure about O’Keefe?

    Except, there is still massive approval of Trump among GOP voters. There is no mass abandonment coming.




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  23. charon says:

    @gVOR08:

    Devin Nunes has been saying stuff about the Schiff memo that is ridiculous, but there is method to it. The people inside the conservative information bubble believe him, and that’s the point, no matter what other people think of that nonsense.




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  24. charon says:

    @Tyrell:

    I do not and have never believed Trump to be a true Republican conservative, based on his history.

    That does not matter. He is doing whatever the right wing wants, that is all that matters. That is why they don’t care about the scams, the sexual harassment, the adultery etc. – they get what they want, so, so what?




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  25. Hume's Ghost says:

    “Seriously, Charen thinks the worst thing Republicans did in the last 50 years before Trump was support a Flat Tax too much?”

    Was thinking the same thing. If only we could return to the halcyon days of kind, decent, intellectually honest CPAC speakers like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and crypto-fascist sounding orgs like the Youth for Western Civilization. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2009/02/26/right-wing-youth-group-debuts-cpac




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  26. Barry says:

    @MBunge: “Let’s grant that. So what did Mona Charen and her ilk give us over the last quarter-century? Bill Clinton and Barack Obama sandwiched around around a man who could very well wind up as the most destructive U.S. President of the 21st century. ”

    Her ilk would include you. 90-odd percent of Republicans were on board with him, until ~January, 2016.

    You’re just singing the old song that right-wing policy can never fail, it can only *be* failed.




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  27. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    “First, you ask yourself what will cause the most fundamental, long-term harm to the body politic: xenophobia, racism, and sexism (as well as a complete disregard for factual truth); or a somewhat higher corporate tax rate.”

    Even before you can do that, you have to care that xenophobia, et al. matter to you more than how much you pay in taxes. Republicans–of all stripes, to what I can see–don’t.

    Noting Dr, Taylor’s comment about the GOP having become more like CPAC, may I note that this may be an effect of the numbers of people who, having been Republicans in the past, are so disgusted with the party that they simply left? If so, I have a question for those who are still doing “but I’m not like that:” Then why are you still there?




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  28. An Interested Party says:

    It’s long seemed obvious that Michael Steele—and, frankly, many blacks embraced by Republicans (Herman Cain, Alan Keyes, Alan West, Ken Hamblin, Thomas Sowell, etc.)—were tokens. Not so much that they weren’t thought of as genuinely conservative and likable but that they were touted so fervently to demonstrate that the GOP couldn’t be racist.

    And by doing that we see exactly how racist the GOP really is…by the way, Schlapp’s defense of odious comments was completely pathetic…and this is supposed to be one of the major voices for conservatism in this country? Yikes…

    Anyone who think the GOP of Donald Trump is more racist than the GOP of Jesse Helms is a damned fool.

    Oh? Is that why we have a major voice in the GOP/conservative movement defending racist comments as “inarticulate words”? Or how about the leader of the GOP telling stories comparing immigrants (primarily people of color) to deadly snakes? You really have to be an incredibly delusional f@ck to defend Trump as you do…




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  29. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Uhh..no; what the RNC wanted was the relative safety of having a black face through which they could criticize the first Black President. After they won the mid terms and it was clear they had no one that could seriously challenge Obama–Steele became expendable.

    As we say in my neck of the South “Shouldna been messin round with them white folk anyway”




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  30. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MBunge: What planet do you live on dude? The GOP ain’t got two nickles to rub together for black people and haven’t since the 60s. That includes the racist GOP of Jessie Helms and Donald Trump. Neither party of either era wants black people in the party nor have a platform that addresses concerns of the community–frankly they really can’t if they did they’d loose the poor white folk overnight. The GOP is the one place where that crowd is publicly allowed to feel superior to black and immigrants.




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  31. @Jim Brown 32: All I was noting was that the RNC did not directly hire Steele to be the token.

    Look, the bottom line here is that Walters basically made a Kinsley gaffe and Schlapp simply confirmed it more or less. I get that.




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  32. Robert Prather says:

    @James Joyner: CPAC was bonkers in 2010 when they let the John Birch Society back in.




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  33. Kathy says:

    I think I will live long enough to find out what happens when a nuclear-armed country has a civil war.




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  34. MBunge says:

    On the subject of conservatism and NeverTrumpism, I just read something by Kevin D. Willamson over at National Review. We can all agree it’s hard to get more traditional American Right and anti-Trump than that, correct?

    Well, in the midst of a stream of consciousness screed, Williamson attacked the federal creation of the interstate highway system. He literally wrote that it shouldn’t have been done. He wrote that in 2018 and National Review published it online for the whole world to see.

    It seems to me THAT is an important thing to keep in mind. Donald Trump has said some crazy stuff, but does any of it compare to a supposedly educated citizen of 21st century America offhandedly declaring “Interstate highway system? Who needs it?!?!”

    And please, don’t somebody pretend that Williamson wanted private enterprise to do it on its own. The only thing more bonkers than deriding one of the greatest advancements in economic development and personal freedom in human history is to plunge into some totally anti-historical fantasy that anything at the time would have replaced it.

    Mike




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  35. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Tru dat!




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  36. Kari Q says:

    @Scott F.:

    but I will note that the problem at the moment for these voters is that their choices are as follows: continue to vote Republican because of general policy preferences (e.g., taxes, abortion, etc.), vote Democratic because of opposition to Trumpism and its allies (which is difficult do when you sincerely disagree with elements of Democratic policy positions), vote third party (which will have an effect only if enough current Republicans are willing to vote their consciences while allowing Dems to win**), or don’t vote at all.

    What is the well intended conservative to do?

    This is any easy question to answer, actually, and several of my friends have answered it: do not vote for the Republican until and unless it returns to traditional conservatism and ceases to be the party of racism, sexism, xenophobia and fascists. My best friend from high school is a religious conservative, strongly pro-life, and believes in small government. She also has a biracial son and is terrified for him. She’s going to be voting for the Democrats this year, for the first time ever.




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  37. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MBunge: All that the National Review being ” more traditional American Right and anti-Trump than that” shows may be the long term intellectual moral, spiritual, and intellectual poverty of Conservatism and the GOP by extension.




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  38. Kari Q says:

    There was a time that I (naively) discounted charges of sexism, racism, and xenophobia within the GOP. I certainly understood that many who held such views might vote Republican, but did not see a major strand within the party as being motivated my racial animosity.

    Thank you for having the courage to face this and admit the truth that racism, sexism, and xenophobia have always been strong factors in the Republican Party. It’s never easy to admit that you were wrong about something like this.

    People I know personally have been in the same position. They were not racist, sexist, or xenophobic, so they assumed that those can’t be the motivations of anyone in their party for disliking of Obama, hating Clinton, or opposing immigration. They have principled reasons for their opinions, so they assume that everyone did. Even when it was glaring obvious (to me) that those principled reasons were being used a screen for people who just didn’t like anyone who wasn’t a straight white man, they would not even admit the possibility.

    Some have admitted they were wrong, some haven’t. They are all, however, uncomfortable with where the party has gone. Of course, I don’t think I could maintain any sort of relationship, even nodding acquaintances, with someone who was happy with today’s GOP.




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  39. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    it will earn the drubbings it will receive in 2018 and 2020.

    We shall see. The GOP has a number of institutional factors that protect it. And, as we saw in 2016, those institutions do not necessarily produce the actual will of the voters.

    I wonder if war with North Korea will start in October. If it does, what will happen in November?




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  40. @Kari Q:

    I don’t think I could maintain any sort of relationship, even nodding acquaintances, with someone who was happy with today’s GOP.

    I would note that such an attitude is likely to make things worse–insofar as the more we view each other as enemies the worse our civil discourse is going to get (indeed, this is the kind of thing that Russia interference in our politics on social media is trying to create).

    I understand the basic position, and I suppose it very much depends on what “happy with today’s GOP” means–happy about what and to what degree.

    We cannot discount the degree to which people rationalize their political identities. And, again, in the context of what boils down to two choices, it may very well be that one thinks one’s policy preferences are served by one side and not the other.




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  41. @MBunge: Let me start with agreeing with you. I think that that interstate highway system is a major achievement and deriding it is an odd choice, to be kind. Likewise, I do not see any particular reason to put the National Review on a pedestal.

    But, out of an honest attempt to understand, I am going to sincerely ask as to what point you are making.




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  42. KM says:

    @MBunge:

    You allow a broken immigration system to LITERALLY change the demographic make up of America

    OK, stop right there. That is xenophobia no matter how you try to nuance it. The definition is LITERALLY fear of people from other countries so yes, Bunge it’s xenophobic. There is NOTHING in the Constitution that says this country must maintain your preferred racial/ethnic makeup and you’d best be grateful for it since I’d bet my next paycheck your ancestors include at least one person who would have been “unacceptable” not too long ago. The alt-right likes to push a “White European” false history completely disregarding that scant decades ago a lot of the “whites” claim that heritage *weren’t* “white”. Irish, Italian, Polish, Czech, you name it – they didn’t count and still don’t in some backwoods places.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few decades the definition of “White” got expanded yet again. The people you hate on today might be the newest members of your tribe tomorrow!




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  43. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Anyone who can look at the racism, xenophobia, and sexism which is displayed by the Republican Party and its leaders on a near daily basis and think “I like what I’m seeing. I am glad to be a part of this” isn’t someone I want to know. I can accept someone looking at that and deciding to vote for the party any way – barely – but being happy about it? No, that’s a bridge too far.

    Add in the attacks on basic democratic principles and institutions, and I am resigned to the feeling I expressed. I truly never imagined I’d end up feeling that way, but this is where we are.




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  44. @Kari Q:

    Anyone who can look at the racism, xenophobia, and sexism which is displayed by the Republican Party and its leaders on a near daily basis and think “I like what I’m seeing. I am glad to be a part of this” isn’t someone I want to know.

    Well, sure. But the reality is that those things are not what a lot of Republican voters find appealing, and don’t see when, for example, taxes are cut, the stock market is up, or Gorsuch sworn in.

    I am not making excuses for, say, Trump’s racism (clearly not), but I am saying that just like feminists could find a way to rationalize Bill Clinton at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, so too can many GOP voters rationalize a lot of what is going on now.

    We need to be careful about what we criticize and how.

    Ironically, a great way to empower the ugly side of Trumpian politics is to demonize all political opponents.




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  45. Kari Q says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Honestly, I begin to think you are willfully misunderstanding me to make an object lesson, so let me be clear:

    If someone is racist, sexist, xenophobic, and sees no problem with undermining democracy, I am extremely unlikely to want anything to do with that person. That is the sort of person I am talking about.

    just like feminists could find a way to rationalize Bill Clinton at the height of the Lewinsky scandal, so too can many GOP voters rationalize a lot of what is going on now.

    And those aren’t the people I’m talking about. I am talking those who embrace the hatred, not those who remain in the party in spite of it.




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  46. @Kari Q:

    Honestly, I begin to think you are willfully misunderstanding me to make an object lesson

    I am sincerely not trying to do that.

    And I understand. (Mostly I am concerned, in a general sense, as to what I see as a self-reinforcing polarization spiral and I am trying to figure out how to navigate it).




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  47. @MBunge: @KM:

    You allow a broken immigration system to LITERALLY change the demographic make up of America

    OK, stop right there. That is xenophobia no matter how you try to nuance it.

    Indeed: that is xenophobia.

    To the broader point, who is “You” in the original sentence?

    The reality is that our immigration system is where it is because Congress cannot come to a consensus. I see not a purposeful plan in what we have, but rather about 20 years of kicking the can down the road.




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  48. Tyrell says:

    @An Interested Party: “how racist the GOP party is”: okay, so that is why a Southern Democrat party is a viable choice. Sensible conservatism, traditional American values.




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  49. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    Southern Democrat party is a viable choice.

    Since passage of the 1964-65 civil and voting rights legislation, Southern Democrats have routinely become Southern Republicans.

    So … Are you talking about guys like Jeff Sessions or Trent Lott? Or guys like Doug Jones in Alabama.




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