Trump Exceedingly Unlikely to be Removed from Office, No Matter What

A leading conservative makes a truly bizarre defense of the President.

Daniel McCarthy, editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review, takes to the The National Interest to caution “Don’t Believe the Doomsayers About Donald Trump.”

if you’re very old, you might remember when President Donald Trump was about to be removed from office because of orders he gave Michael Cohen for paying off women like Stormy Daniels. For months Daniels and her own lawyer, Michael Avenatti, were hailed as Trump-slayers by the president’s enemies. And then… the suit Daniels had brought against Trump was dismissed, and she owed him $292,000 in legal fees, as well as a smaller penalty.

Now the same cocksure pundits who were certain l’affaire Stormy was the end of Trump are dizzily excited about a BuzzFeed story that cites two anonymous law-enforcement sources claiming that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress about meetings concerning a Trump Tower project in Moscow. This time Trump’s really, really going down, isn’t he? Why, it’s obstruction of justice, hiding collusion—and any day now that pee tape is going to leak…

The problem with all this excitement is that the people who feel it have a years-long track record by now of confusing desire with reality. Anonymous, supposedly law-enforcement sources who may be breaking the law themselves to leak about an investigation to the press should be viewed skeptically, as should Cohen’s own claims. A very clear paper trail would be needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump ordered an obstruction of justice. And even then, unless there is something far more serious behind the obstruction, it will not amount to a politically impeachable offense. Democrats didn’t impeach Bill Clinton over his obstruction of justice and proved lying under oath during the Paula Jones-Monica Lewinsky-Kenneth Starr saga, after all. Democrats themselves established the precedent that lying and obstruction about petty private matters are not impeachable offenses.

Impeachment is an entirely political process, with a political prosecution—the House of Representatives—and a political jury, the Senate. All the breathless legal analysis on TV and Twitter counts for exactly diddly squat. The Democratic House gets to decide whether to bring impeachment charges; a Republican Senate gets to decide whether Trump is removed.

I’m largely with McCarthy to this point, with the huge caveat that “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” is not the burden in impeachment cases; indeed, even the preponderance of the evidence standard for civil trials is arguably not required. But he’s right that impeachment is entirely political and that it’s exceedingly unlikely anything we now know or presume would be sufficient to get two-thirds of a Senate with 54 Republicans to vote to remove the President.

I don’t understand McCarthy’s next argument, however:

The president’s foes make a mistake here, too, because they fundamentally do not understand the Republican voters they deplore and despise. Democrats and other Trump haters want to believe there is a moral consensus in this country, and that they, of course, speak for it. Therefore, as embarrassed as Senate Republicans might be, they have to impeach Trump because morality demands it, and the voters who put Trump and the GOP Senate majority in office will either go along or don’t really count—they’re just Russian robots.

As a then-Republican, I thought morality required removing Bill Clinton from office for both the affair with an intern and, especially, for the repeated lies to the public and perjury under oath in covering it up. While I think that was the a priori consensus, I can understand why Democrats thought removing him from office was too severe for those offenses, especially in the face of repeated Republican overreach.

As a current independent, I think repeated collusion with the Russian government to advance personal interests above those of the nation is impeachable. Ditto instructing one’s attorney to lie under oath to investigators and Congress. I can understand why supporters of the President would be very skeptical of those charges, especially since Democrats and we NeverTrumpers have been questioning Trump’s fitness for office from the earliest days of the campaign.

What I can’t understand, however, is how a conservative intellectual could argue that the actions charged against Trump, if true, would be morally acceptable. I know of no modern conservatism that would countenance such crimes.

McCarthy continues with what strikes me as a strange tangent, indeed:

Yet this week as the latest wave of Trump impeachment hysteria was swelling on the left, a story created by the Huffington Post on an entirely different subject was much more revealing about the state of the country: the HuffPost reported, as if it were scandalously newsworthy—as indeed it is for that site’s editors and presumably most of its readers—that Vice President Pence’s wife is teaching at a Christian school that requires a commitment to traditional Christian sexual morality from its pupils and staff. In other words, homosexual practices and promoting what Christians view as sinful is not permitted at the school.

The HuffPost is a news-with-views site and a left-of-center one. But once HuffPost broke this story, the Washington Post and other mainstream outlets picked it up and increased attention to it. This is one way news is made. But even though it’s news, not explicit opinion or advocacy, the assumptions embedded in the idea of what’s newsworthy here are prejudicial to ordinary Bible-believing Christians—their views, and their attempt to live by them, are noteworthy whenever a public figure is connected with them (even as marginal a public figure as the “second lady”) because they are scandalous. Within living memory, this was the attitude many publications had about homosexuality itself. The values have been reversed: homosexuality is now non-controversial (except perhaps when a non-leftist is gay), Christian belief and practice is controversial enough to be newsworthy.

In this instance, I can honestly see both sides. Given the current state of the law, I find it uncomfortable, if not downright weird, to have a Vice President and Second Lady working for organizations that are anti-gay. There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of gays and lesbians employed by the federal government, a significant number of them in our armed forces. Having the wife of the man first in line to the Presidency effectively endorsing anti-gay bigotry is unconscionable. And, yet, McCarthy is right: such views were the norm until quite recently and are still widely held, especially in the South and rural America.

McCarthy follows with a non-sequitur:

Why would the Christians who vote for Republicans ever permit anti-Trump liberals to claim to speak for them? Not only is there not a moral consensus between liberals and Christian conservatives, but it should be obvious that believing and practicing Christians have much more to fear from liberal government and liberal social intolerance than they have to fear from lies about a real estate deal in Moscow that never came together.

The president’s foes don’t have to like this reality, but for their own mental health, they ought to recognize it. Conservatives will not abandon Trump because they condone bad behavior but because they understand Trump’s behavior as far less dangerous to their lives and consciences than the political and social agenda of the president’s critics. This is the mirror image of the way liberals tolerated Bill Clinton’s behavior because they understood the alternative to be Republican government they would be contrary to their own deepest beliefs.

But Trump is himself violating the longstanding values of his own constituents. That Bill Clinton got away with despicable—although I would argue less dangerous to the public—behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with whether Trump’s behavior. Further, it’s not as if removing Trump from office means Nancy Pelosi or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would assume the Presidency. Indeed, it would go to that icon of conservative moral virtue Mike Pence.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Democracy, Donald Trump, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    News flash: the idea of principled conservatives has always been a lie. 100% of ‘principled conservatives’ are now anti-Trumpers and they are a disappearingly small percentage of the total of so-called conservative intellectuals.

    Conservatism in this country has always been fundamentally racist and misogynist and driven by greed and fear of the other. All the magazines and all the think pieces and all chin-stroking bullsht from all the bought-and-paid-for think tanks has been and continues to be bullsht. They don’t believe in small government or balanced budgets or character or dignity or history or the constitution. They believe in white men getting more. WMGM. That’s the beginning, middle and end of these poseurs.

    Of course their arguments fall apart, they aren’t intended for honest or thoughtful or intelligent people, they’re only written as cover for WMGM.

    22
  2. charon says:

    But he’s right that impeachment is entirely political and that it’s exceedingly unlikely anything we now know or presume would be sufficient to get two-thirds of a Senate with 54 Republicans to vote to remove the President.

    I think it’s true Trump could get away with suborning lying to judicial proceedings, suborning lying to the FBI etc.

    But suborning lying to Congress? Institutions tend to be pretty protective of their turf, and even highly partisan Republicans might find being themselves lied to something even partisan hacks might not stand for. It would make them look weak, and even hack politicians are usually pretty full of themselves.

    1
  3. @charon:

    We have no proof that Trump suborned perjury.

  4. Modulo Myself says:

    And, yet, McCarthy is right: such views were the norm until quite recently and are still widely held, especially in the South and rural America.

    I would question that. I grew up surrounded by homophobia. But I also went to a public school where nobody was making us sign oaths about beliefs, and the goth boys weren’t being interrogated or viewed as threats because they painted their nails black. We learned, for example, about evolution even though that was ‘controversial’. The world was not set-up around resisting change, which is what the fundamentalist Christians are promoting 24/7. And that’s why they don’t like articles written about them because they seem content to brainwash kids in order to inflict their dogma. And that’s why these morons will support Trump. He’s a buffer against change.

    5
  5. Mark Ivey says:

    “News flash: the idea of principled conservatives has always been a lie. 100% of ‘principled conservatives’ are now anti-Trumpers and they are a disappearingly small percentage of the total of so-called conservative intellectuals.” -Michael Reynolds

    Truth…….

  6. @James: It actually isn’t a non sequitur. He is arguing that despite Trump’s many failings, many Christians will stand by him because his administration will help continue their moral positions (anti-homosexuality and anti-abortion, see, e.g., Kavanaugh). And he is arguing that liberals stood by Clinton’s immorality because he would support liberal causes.

    On one level he has a point, and is correct in terms of how people actually act in terms of politics, especially (as I keep saying) in a system that forces a binary choice.

    Of course, a lot of the problem remains that socons have told us that “character counts” and that the end should not justice the means, but they have now decided otherwise.

    11
  7. @Michael Reynolds: A lot of intellectual conservatives (I would have once thought of myself as such) want to argue that principled conservativism is really just a specific manifestation of classical liberalism (equality of humanity, natural rights, free markets, etc.) with some traditionalism (e.g., family and religious values thrown in, and that modern liberalism went too far (often in terms of taxes and attacking traditions).

    But, the reality is that “conservative” political movements simply see to conserve existing power structures and balk at changes in power dynamics. So, yes: the erosion of power of straight, white men has been central to rank-and-file conservativism. It is why taxes are so central: any redistribution of wealth or any attempt at broad-based social policy is power-erosion.

    17
  8. charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We have no proof that Trump suborned perjury

    Reading skills much? That was not my point, I was disputing the idea that nothing could produce a Trump conviction. (We also have no proof that he did not. Or, maybe, he used someone like Don Jr. or Hope Hicks or whoever as a cutout.)

    5
  9. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But, the reality is that “conservative” political movements simply see to conserve existing power structures and balk at changes in power dynamics.

    In the real world, they exist to frustrate social mobility in general, and specifically to keep the specific people on top continuing on top.

    4
  10. Teve says:

    Not only is there not a moral consensus between liberals and Christian conservatives,

    well that’s certainly true. People like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffress etc are among the shittiest people in America.

    11
  11. James Joyner says:

    @Modulo Myself: I’m talking solely of anti-LGBTQ sentiments, not the whole orthodoxy.

    @Steven L. Taylor: That’s fair. I think of it as a non-sequitur because the alternative to Trump isn’t Pelosi or AOC but Pence–who’s an actual Christian fundamentalist.

    @Michael Reynolds: I tend to side with @Steven L. Taylor on this one. It’s certainly true that conservatives, like anyone else, are more likely to enforce their values when breaches are committed by their political opposition and more likely to excuse them when committed by allies. But I think there always was and continues to be a values platform outside of simple racism and nationalism. In my more conservative days, I was more on board the national security and economic platform than the cultural one, but I wasn’t entirely unsympathetic to it, either.

    2
  12. @James Joyner:

    That’s fair. I think of it as a non-sequitur because the alternative to Trump isn’t Pelosi or AOC but Pence–who’s an actual Christian fundamentalist.

    Indeed. But this present moment is striking because it underscores that for most voters, and apparently some commentators, the ends do justify the means (or they will just rationalize the means to get to the ends).

    3
  13. Teve says:

    All the magazines and all the think pieces and all chin-stroking bullsht from all the bought-and-paid-for think tanks has been and continues to be bullsht. They don’t believe in small government or balanced budgets or character or dignity or history or the constitution. They believe in white men getting more. WMGM. That’s the beginning, middle and end of these poseurs.

    Of course their arguments fall apart, they aren’t intended for honest or thoughtful or intelligent people, they’re only written as cover for WMGM.

    WhenI was young and naive I thought people like George Will were sophisticated intellects. I now understand who they are: high-IQ functionaries paid handsomely to use large vocabulary, erudite references, and complex sentence structure in service to greed and bigotry and the plutocrats.

    12
  14. charon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Some more points:

    1) The standard of proof is not the same for impeachment as for criminal proceedings.

    2) People like Adam Schiff are plainly going to be investigating. If he finds persuasive evidence, the public pressure for impeachment proceedings would be hard to resist, regardless the likelihood or lack thereof of conviction.

  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    While I believe there is a path to Trump’s impeachment it will require a, yet to be found, inflection point. Buzzfeed’s lying to Congress story may have provided it, until Mueller’s denial took the air out of that balloon. Future revelations as to what Trump and Putin discussed may provide it. But we’re not there yet.

    McCarthy and other conservative pundits have been hyper ventilating over the Huff Post, Karen Pence article. That is nothing but creating a distraction to take Repug supporters attention away from the bad news that pours out about Trump everyday.

    2020 will provide a solution for getting rid of Trump/Pence.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think of it as a non-sequitur because the alternative to Trump isn’t Pelosi or AOC but Pence–who’s an actual Christian fundamentalist.

    A good point. He wouldn’t put it this way, but McCarthy’s reasoning would likely be some version of Pence is a dweeb, but Trump is mas macho.

    2
  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @James Joyner:
    I think the ratio of people who profess belief in Proposition X to people who actually believe proposition X and are willing to act accordingly, is about a thousand to one. Profession of belief is mere posturing in the vast majority of cases.

    The obvious example is Christianity, where many profess belief and a tiny percentage actually live those beliefs. They claim to believe that death is merely the portal to an eternity of bliss. . . and yet they will endure physical and mental agonies and bankrupt their families to eke out another ten minutes of life. Do those people really believe? No, of course not, they know full well that death means death and they’re terrified because they’ve spent their lives avoiding the truth and in the end the fairy tales don’t seem to hold up.

    If you say you believe in balanced budgets and run up a trillion dollar deficit in a time of peace and prosperity you never actually believed in balanced budgets. You were using a balanced budget as a stand-in for something else, generally a resentment against some other who you think is getting more than you. Your ‘beliefs’ were nothing but a cover story concealing your actual agenda and actual beliefs.

    I won’t deny that there is a fair amount of this on the left, but nothing approaching the Niagara of hypocrisy and self-deception that constitute conservatism.

    11
  18. drj says:

    Conservatives – McCarthy included – really, really should STFU already about Clinton.

    Because you never, ever hear them about the Iran-Contra Affair and the subsequent Bush pardons.

    I could have lived with a Clinton impeachment if:

    a) the Starr investigation was more than a fishing expedition to get the Democrat out of the White House by any means possible;

    b) Republicans would actually care about the rule of law when it concerns one of their own. (See also: Bush Jr and torture.)

    You just can’t have one set of rules for Democrats (lying about blowjobs is sufficient reason to nullify the results of an election) and another rule for Republicans (lying about illegal arms sales and and approving torture should be swept under the rug or even condoned).

    If illegal conduct warrants punishment, then that rule should apply to all. And if it doesn’t, I’m much more willing to overlook the blowjob than the illegal arms sales or torture – as, I am sure, any person who is not a raging hypocrite would.

    15
  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @James Joyner:
    Incidentally, I believe both of you were those rare actual conservatives, but you’ve seen the reality of your disconnect from the great bulk of voters. You had genuine beliefs but you were – I’m sorry to say – fools, for imagining that you were representative of anything but a minuscule percentage of the Right. It’s like you were marching at the head of a parade and didn’t notice that the people marching with you were carrying swastika banners.

    I genuinely respect both of you, but the phrase ‘useful idiots’ comes to mind. The cover intellectuals like you provided helped to conceal something evil. And it’s not like you didn’t have sufficient evidence to reach that conclusion earlier, the Left has been telling you that – without you intending it in the least – you were shills for racists, misogynists and fascists.

    I love Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin and all the other honest conservatives now working to stop Trump, but you are all complicit. You are the Dr. Frankensteins who only too late saw what many saw much earlier: that you were building a monster that would inevitably turn against you.

    10
  20. @Michael Reynolds: This would make for a more interesting and fruitful face-to-face conversation, I think.

    All I can say for myself is that I have tried over time to assess the evidence before my eyes on these issues while doing what any thoughtful person ought to do, which is try and sort out how much of what I thought was true was, in fact, true.

    The degree to which I am willing to be assessed as one of your Dr. Frankensteins is another matter, even if I understand your basic point.

    FWIW, my shifts in thinking came to maturity in the second term of the Bush administration, not with Trump.

    7
  21. James Pearce says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I think there always was and continues to be a values platform outside of simple racism and nationalism.

    Not only is this true, but those values (the non-racist, non-nationalist ones) are more common while the racist/white nationalist stuff is relegated to the fringes. (Less relegated these days, it’s true…but relegated nonetheless.)

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The degree to which I am willing to be assessed as one of your Dr. Frankensteins is another matter, even if I understand your basic point.

    “Don’t let anybody tell you who you are, you tell them who you are.”
    – Kamala Harris

    3
  22. Teve says:

    As long as he doesn’t attack Iran, I’m fine with Trump remaining in office for the next 100 weeks. Let people, young people especially, get a good hard look at who the Republicans are. That will have dividends for the next 40 years.

    3
  23. @Michael Reynolds:

    You had genuine beliefs but you were – I’m sorry to say – fools, for imagining that you were representative of anything but a minuscule percentage of the Right.

    I will say one more thing: I have always understood that there is a disconnect between serious political analysis and mass politics. As I constantly harp: the US system provides a binary choice. If at time point X one is convinced that Party 1 is the best bet for furthering one’s preferences, that does not make one responsible for all of Party 1’s sins.

    To be blunt, being a supporter of George H. W. Bush, and at one point thinking that George W. Bush would be a reasonable continuation of the father was not crazy-town.

    Also: did I have some naivete about politics in my 20s and into my 30s? Sure, I did. Who didn’t? Did I have foolish views at times? Without a doubt (the Iraq War is the pinnacle of my public stupidity in this regard). (And if I am going to be honest: I almost certainly hold naive and foolish views now–don’t we all?).

    All I, or anyone else, can do is try and learn.

    7
  24. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But this present moment is striking because it underscores that for most voters, and apparently some commentators, the ends do justify the means (or they will just rationalize the means to get to the ends).

    I think it is fair to say, for most people the ends justify many means, but not all means. It’s the entire basis of compromise, and I’m very wary of the people who are so pure that they cannot accept a little dirt on their lily white clothes of purity. Those people are monsters.

    If you cannot accept a little moral compromise, you will never accept a political compromise.

  25. @Gustopher: I am fond of saying that compromise is the essence of democracy, so I am not dissing compromise (indeed, I am not sure how you inferred that from my statement).

    1
  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We have no proof that Trump suborned perjury.

    But we do. He did it in plain sight, on twitter. He praised the people who didn’t turn “rat”. He has been busy threatening Cohen’s father-in-law should Cohen testify to congress. This is evidence. It might not be sufficient for conviction in a court of law, but it certainly should be sufficient to impeach a President and convict him in the Senate.

    3
  27. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I genuinely respect both of you, but the phrase ‘useful idiots’ comes to mind. The cover intellectuals like you provided helped to conceal something evil. And it’s not like you didn’t have sufficient evidence to reach that conclusion earlier, the Left has been telling you that – without you intending it in the least – you were shills for racists, misogynists and fascists.

    A shrill, obnoxious person shouting “you’re a bunch of racists, nazis, and misogynists” or “you’re an idiot” is likely to make the target dig in their heels more. See the “basket of deplorables” comment, and its backlash. It was true, but it wasn’t helpful.

    Especially when the alternative sounds reasonable. The Republican line wasn’t “keep the minorities in their place” it was “equality of opportunity, not a guarantee of results”. It takes a long time to see how unequal the opportunities are. They spent years focus grouping and testing to find the right phrases to make people agree.

    I’m not going to go all James Pearce with “be excellent to one another”, or “it’s all the Democrat’s fault that Republicans are repugnant”, but I do think the liberals have been completely outclassed in marketing. And that some of the liberal response has been worse than useless.

    We need better think tanks. Not just focusing on how to improve health care access to all people for lower cost, but how to bottle up big nuanced ideas into small, positive slogans.

    4
  28. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You clearly seem to think “the ends justify the means” is a bad thing. It gets a bad rap. I’m just pointing it that it’s really just a different phrasing of compromise.

    Sometimes, the ends really do justify the means.

  29. Modulo Myself says:

    @Gustopher:

    What compromise is possible? Right-wing Christians are free to do what they want. They just can’t use religion as an excuse to discriminate. Also, secular people are allowed to talk about their dogmas. The only compromise these people want is a theocracy.

    1
  30. MarkedMan says:

    I take second to no one in my continuous proclamation that the real fault in our system isn’t Donald J. Trump, but that one of our two governing Parties, the Republican Party, is so corrupted as to be unable to prevent his ascendency to the leadership of the Party, or to oppose his vile and obscene policies afterward, but instead pat themselves on the back for using this catastrophe to advance the interests of polluters, racists, the incredibly wealthy and the religious fanatics.

    But. (You knew there was a but coming…) The Republican Party may have fallen to abysmal depths, but is not unique. Any organization that obtains power, whether it be political, religious, or even sports related, attracts vile creatures who seek to use that power to advance their own interests. What our founding fathers realized is that it takes a combined effort of governing regulations, transparency, norms and constant vigilance on everyone’s part to keep a government (or any other organization) from being co-opted by evil. The modern Republican Party is a textbook example of how an organization can lose it’s way, but it is folly to believe that it is because Republicans are uniquely evil or corrupt. The fact that sleaze balls like the Koch brothers, the Mercers, the Fallwells, and on and on, are attached to the Republicans is not because they share it’s central philosophy, but rather because they have been able to corrupt it’s purposes to their own ends.

    2
  31. @Gustopher: The context was the way in which Christian fundamentalists are willing to support Trump. And hence, I wrote “But this present moment is striking because it underscores that for most voters, and apparently some commentators, the ends do justify the means (or they will just rationalize the means to get to the ends).” Christian fundamentalists typically argue against the ends justifying the means, but they have changed their tune of late.

    As to what I think about ends-means, I think that means do matter, but I do not insist on the purity thereof.

    1
  32. @Gustopher:

    Sometimes, the ends really do justify the means.

    Yes, this can be true.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    What I can’t understand, however, is how a conservative intellectual could argue that the actions charged against Trump, if true, would be morally acceptable. I know of no modern conservatism that would countenance such crimes.

    Congratulations! You have now met such a version of modern conservatism. Moreover, you have met someone who has stated pretty plainly that he doesn’t give a f–k about morality as long as his political goals are being met.

    At the risk of being redundant, the character of a government is at the root a reflection of the values of the citizens of the country. The same is true of political movements and philosophies.

    2
  34. al Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Don’t let anybody tell you who you are, you tell them who you are.”
    – Kamala Harris

    Kamala is exactly right.

    Democrats have often conceded defeat by letting Republicans define what a Democrat is. It is important to remember that your critics and your opposition define you in order to dismiss you and ultimately defeat you. This is exactly why I thought Michelle Obama’s exhortation, “when they go low, we go high,” was dangerous bulls**.

    On the basis of her reminder alone I’m interested in Kamala Harris as a possible candidate – president or vice-president – in 2020. Have no idea what will happen in the next 18 months but … yeah.

  35. JohnSF says:

    Time to renew an oldie here: why American Republicans are not conservatives:

    American Republicans often call themselves conservatives.
    Are they? Really?

    What, originally, did Republicans support? A written constitution, freedom of speech, democracy, rationalism, minimalist government, free markets, internal free trade, legal equality, freedom of religion and no established church, natural rights of man, separation of powers, independent judiciary, property rights, etc.

    I’d argue these are all thoroughly liberal stances.
    In origin the US has two liberal parties, historically one flavoured more by populism (and a pinch of social democracy), and the other by corporatism/elitism.

    Onto a liberal basis Republicans melded corporatist elite politics. And then spatchcocked a Spencerian/Sumnerian plus corporatist variant of liberalism onto a sordid political melange with rent seekers, short-termist exploiters of the commons, evangelical godbotherers, incoherent populists, half-arsed quasi-fascists, racists and (least blameworthy of the pack) nostalgists and the heirs of sectional depression.
    Oh, yes, and, gawd save us, libertarians pop up and assert they are reclaiming Republicanism from the corruption of corporatism. Which would be fine, only they never really guarded their flank against the crazies.
    Stir well, turn the gas up to ten, leave to cook, add a pint of vulgarity and … Come on Down, Mr Trump!

    It is IMHO precisely because Republicans never have been conservatives that they are collapsing into political incoherence, and therefore in danger of flirting with some very nasty types of politics.

    1
  36. DrDaveT says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Right-wing Christians are free to do what they want. They just can’t use religion as an excuse to discriminate.

    Since Hobby Lobby, they can do that too.

    3
  37. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Not only is this true, but those values (the non-racist, non-nationalist ones) are more common while the racist/white nationalist stuff is relegated to the fringes.

    Sure; that’s why support for Colin Kaepernick is so widespread among ordinary Republicans. Oh wait…

    I would love to live in the world you think you live in.

    3
  38. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: There is also that little bit about ‘loyalty’ that he discussed with Director Comey.

    But who’s counting?

  39. JohnMcC says:

    A passage from Mr McCarthy’s article as quoted above drew my attention. The conservative intellectual says “…believing and practicing Christians have much more to fear from liberal government and liberal social intolerance than they have to fear from lies about a real estate deal in Moscow….”

    Could it actually be a ‘conservative’ and ‘intellectual’ belief that (to take a worst-case but not-unlikely scenario) that Christians look at two possibilities: First, their President lied to them to get elected and then proved to be a pawn/puppet/asset of an adversary nation, but second that the alternative is that there would be some inconveniences to their living their chosen lifestyle in terms of schooling and public accommodation and such. And that they are OK with having made that trade-off in favor of the Russian asset? Really?

    I am astonished to hear that from the mouth/pen of Daniel McCarthy who I would have said probably loves America.

    Sad about all those traitorous Christians, Mr McCarthy.

    1
  40. James Pearce says:

    @al Ameda:

    Kamala is exactly right.

    Truly. While the quote may seem to be some inspirational platitude about self-definition, it does double-duty serving as a reminder not to be an obnoxious name-calling twit.

    (FTR: I like Harris enough to think she should stay in the Senate, but not enough to get behind her presidential run. Same for all the other Senators who are running. Four words: Stay in the Senate. We need em there.)

    @DrDaveT: Back to Kaep, huh? This is all clear in hindsight, but Kaep’s protest was divisive and unhelpful. It didn’t help him, it didn’t help the country, and it certainly didn’t help police violence.

    That’s the world we all live in.