More than a few people have been bothered by my consistent skepticism about the good faith of most Never Trump conservatives. If any of them had abjured 40 years of insane Republican economics, and 40 years of weaponized bigotry, and 40 years of vote-tampering under the color of law, and if any of them had evinced a desire to change American conservatism from a profitable poisonous grift to an actual governing philosophy that didn't require a Thorazine the size of a manhole cover, I'd have felt differently.
(To be fair, Max Boot came as close as anyone to fulfilling this checklist, and people like John Weaver tried gamely to hold onto the party's sanity for it.)
But, through it all, I had the sense that most of them were more concerned with damage to the brand than with the damage to the republic. This was a revelatory weekend for people who believed as I did. Let's go to the videotape.
First, Erick Erickson dropped this bunker-busting dungbomb at the Resurgent.
Some of my concerns about President Trump remain. I still struggle on the character issue and I understand Christian friends who would rather sit it out than get involved.
Wait for it.
But I also recognize that we cannot have the Trump Administration policies without President Trump and there is much to like. President Trump delivered on tax reform. He delivered on regulatory rollbacks. He delivered on undermining Obamacare. He delivered on moving the embassy in Israel. He delivered on withdrawal from the Paris Accord. He delivered on withdrawal from the Iranian agreement. He delivered on shifting American foreign policy focus to the Western Hemisphere to deal with Venezuela, Cuba, and other hotspots. He delivered on solid executive appointments, including to the judiciary.
Grab all the pussy you can as long as more of the wealth gets pushed upwards. Conspire and collude with thuggish autocrats as long as I can maintain control over every woman's ovaries. So Ryan Zinke can steal everything in Interior that isn't nailed down? The Eighth Commandment can take a seat while we carve uranium out of the Grand Canyon. What's three dozen indictments compared to hearing Justice Brett Kavanaugh's pronouncements for the next 30 years? Render unto Caesar the crooks that are Caesar's.
Moving along, we find that the briefly unemployed Never Trumpers who have clustered at The Bulwark have found a new plutocrat to love.
Which brings us back to Howard Schultz. He may not know how much a box of Cheerios costs, (hint: $3-$4 for an 8.9 ounce box) but at the moment, Schultz occupies an almost unique position among presidential candidates: the rational center.
In case it's eluded these lost and wandering conservative knights errant, the "rational center"-indeed, the center itself-has been moving under their feet this whole time. Senator Professor Warren's wealth tax is polling in the 70s, and it's polling in the high 50s among declared Republicans. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 70 percent top marginal rate also is very popular. So, naturally, the response has to be to support a wealthy buffoon who wants us to call billionaires "people of means." If that's the "rational center," let's all buy oversized shoes and red rubber noses.
And, finally, there was a very weird episode over the weekend from Steve Schmidt, who also has signed aboard the S.S. Venti Dipshit. From The Daily Beast:
Things were tense. Schmidt had said that he wouldn’t be involved in any presidential campaign, but that he would be leading a 501c4 dedicated to building a third party movement funded by Schultz, “movement” being the key word in their mind. He gave no heads-up to Jordan and Levine about Schultz’s announcement. Schmidt railed at having to defend himself on his podcast with a stream of curses a source present in the studio said consumed six minutes. Told that listeners were castigating him for joining an effort that could help re-elect President Trump and that he owed them answers, Schmidt finally settled down enough to take about 30 minutes to answer questions from Jordan, normally his co-host, and Levine, the executive producer.
Levine asks about the 70-percent marginal tax rate proposed by Warren that Schultz called ridiculous. “Yes, ridiculous, confiscatory, anti-growth,” Schmidt says. That prompts Levine to ask the question that evidently hits a nerve. “Will Derek Jeter or another athlete not hit another home run because they’re going to get taxed at 70? What’s the economic behavior that he thinks is anti-growth, other than his own pocket?” “This is bullshit,” Schmidt exclaims. “I’m not doing this.” “Steve, you’ve got to answer the questions,” Levine says. “I’m not,” and with that Schmidt slams down his headset and abruptly ends the interview. He threatened legal action against the studio if the interview airs, according to a source involved in the discussion. When his legal threat failed, he offered to buy the recording, according to the source. The studio refused.
Those deeply afflicted with the prion disease that has eaten away the higher functions of the Republican Party thought they'd found a way to stop it, but Never Trumpism has proven to be the ideological equivalent of anti-vaxxers. The disease rages on.
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