To date, this is how the very few interactions I've had with Never Trumpers have gone, because I want to talk about the Before Times. About how things got the be the way they are. And they manifestly do not.
In their telling, the history of the Republican Party is as follows:
Buckley drove out the heretics.
Then St. Reagan the Law Giver set down the Articles of Faith. Tax cuts, good! Guns, good! Deregulation, good! Abortion, bad! Socialism, bad! Democrats are misguided fools or worse!
Then...buncha stuff really not worth talking about. Yadda yadda yadda.
Then, suddenly and inexplicably...Trump!
I cannot in good conscience recommend listening to Mona Charen and her Center/Left-Center/Right posse of Bulwark goofs trying to keep up the pretense that their little clutch of weirdos represents the hopes and wishes of millions of Americans who inhabit the Enlightened Center...
...while at the same time rending their garments over the fact that they're finally getting all that the Reagan the Law Giver promised.
But I can tell you that it's fucking gold.
And if you're new here, you need to be forewarn that this blog routinely ventures into the Forbidden Zone of the Before Time in order to explain how things got to be the way they are.
Democrats are crazy, commie loons who don't represent real Murrica. This is the foundational lie on which the modern GOP and the mainstream media were built. And more importantly, it is an eternal lie. A fixed point -- a navigational constant -- in the Conservative political constellation by which all political and ideological journeys are plotted.
So the fact that Bill Clinton delivered on more of the Republican agenda that any recent Republican president was never going to matter. To them he would always be a pot-smoking Commie and History's Greatest Villain who, with the help of the sinister Mrs. Mao Tse Clinton, were forever secretly plotting to destroy Murrica.
This is also why it was never going to matter how far sideways, backwards or polydimensionally Barack Obama was willing to bend, or how earnestly (and foolishly) how was willing to embrace the malignant Conservative "Extremes on Both Sides" framing, or how assiduously he courted the good opinions of Conservative Beltway pundits, or how many of the Republicans own policies he was willing to enact in the name of compromise.
Obama was the embodiment of literally everything every Sensible Serious Conservative (who are now Never Trumpers under contract to MSNBC) said they were looking for in a Democrat...and they spent eight years carping about him, lying about him and doing everything in their power to destroy his administration. Because to them he would always be the Kenyan commie usurper and History's Greatest Villain who, with the help of the sinister Mrs. "Moochelle" Obama, were forever secretly plotting to destroy Murrica.
Because no matter what the facts are, for Conservatives, Democrats will eternally be crazy, commie loons who don't represent real Murrica. And I know this because more than 30 years ago, Newt Gingrich laid the GOP's strategic vision on the table for everyone to see.From the venerable, sclerotic The New York Times in September of 1990
The Politics of Slash and Burn'Sick.'' ''Traitors.'' ''Bizarre.'' ''Self-serving.'' ''Shallow.'' ''Corrupt.'' ''Pathetic.'' ''Shame.'' The group that urged political candidates to use these epithets has since regretted suggesting the word ''traitors,'' in response to inquiries from the press. But the others were allowed to stand; they appear in a glossary that a conservative Republican group recently mailed to Republican state legislative candidates.
The group is Gopac, the G.O.P. Political Action Committee. Its general chairman is Representative Newt Gingrich. With the pamphlet, ''Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,'' comes a letter from Mr. Gingrich himself. Its message to candidates: Step up invective. Use words like these to describe opponents. These words work....
I know this because after Republican rode Gingrich-style politics to victory in 1994, the Republican Party explicitly honored Rush Limbaugh and Conservative Hate Radio as their keys to victory. And him his valedictory, Limbaugh told his zombie army exactly how they should comport themselves from now on. From the NYT, December 1994 (emphasis added):
Republicans Get a Pep Talk From Rush Limbaugh
BALTIMORE, Dec. 10— To all the advice for the new Republicans coming to Congress, add this from Rush Limbaugh: A hostile press corps lurks inside the Beltway.
"You will never ever be their friends," the talk-show host warned most of the 73 Republican freshmen at a dinner here tonight. "They don't want to be your friends. Some female reporter will come up to one of you and start batting her eyes and ask you to go to lunch. And you'll think, 'Wow! I'm only a freshman. Cokie Roberts wants to take me to lunch. I've really made it!' " The audience laughed.
"Seriously," he added. "Don't fall for this. This is not the time to get moderate. This is not the time to start trying to be liked."
The freshman class, which included not a single "femi-Nazi," one of Mr. Limbaugh's favorite epithets for supporters of women's rights, whooped and applauded, proving itself one big fan club of the man it believes was primarily responsible for the Republican avalanche in November.
Mr. Limbaugh was made an honorary member of the class as its members tonight finished a three-day orientation here sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and Empower America, two conservative Washington research organizations.
Barbara Cubin, an incoming freshman from Wyoming, told Mr. Limbaugh that because 74 percent of the nation's newspapers had endorsed Democrats, "talk radio, with you in the lead, is what turned the tide." On behalf of the women in the class, she gave him a plaque that said, "Rush Was Right." He also received a pin like the ones the freshmen wore, saying, "Majority Maker."
"Rush is as responsible for what happened here as much as anyone," said Vin Weber, a former Representative from Minnesota, now of Empower America. Citing a poll taken after the election by Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, Mr. Weber said that people who listened to 10 hours or more a week of talk radio voted Republican by a 3-to-1 margin. "Those are the people who elected the new Congress," he said...
In closing, he asked his audience to "leave some liberals alive" as artifacts so that "we can show our children what they were."
I know this because:
“Bipartisanship is another name for date rape” -- Grover Norquist, onetime adviser to Newt Gingrich and Republican Tax Pledge enforcement thug, citing an axiom of House conservatives. -- Denver Post, May 26, 2003
"I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." -- Also Grover Norquist
So, let's review. Democrats are 'Sick.'' ''Traitors.'' ''Bizarre.'' ''Self-serving.'' ''Shallow.'' ''Corrupt.'' ''Pathetic.'' ''Shame.'' with whom, obviously, no compromise is possible. The media are part of the Liberal conspiracy and cannot be trusted. Now is not the time to be moderate. However our new Conservative overlords do promise to keeps some of us alive to display, as in a zoo, to teach future generations about the horrors of Liberalism.
And government is the source of all evil.
And Democrats murder babies for fun and profit.
And you need to be heavily armed because the Liberal gun grabbers -- who are definitely commies -- are coming for you. In fact -- OMG!-- I think I hear Barack Obama outside your door...right...now!
And tax cuts and deregulation are the universal solution to all problems. They will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the vile New Deal and Great Society programs will have passed away.
And packing the courts with Federalist society extremists goons to achieve the outcomes they want is a good thing. Even if you have to outright steal a seat from President Obama to do it:
3/ The Senate can and must deny Obama the chance to make an appointment to the Supreme Court. We have both the votes and the power to do so.— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) February 13, 2016
And every single one of your favorite Never Trumpers not only went along with this filth, but reveled in it. Were in the vanguard, for decades, each doing their bit to spread this plague into every dank, racist corner of the country. And in every dank, racist corner of the country this sensibility grew and metastasized, yielding them more money, more viewers and more votes. Or did you think Rick Wilson paid for his home and his other home and his boat and his plane with PayPal tip jars and GoFundMes?
But all the monstrous and very profitable lies about of the extremism and villainy the Democrats automatically give rise to this corollary: if the Democrats are deranged and therefor unappetizing to "normal" Murris=cans , then there must be some large number of Sensible Centrists and Independents who have been left stranded outside the two-party system.
Golly, y'know, there are probably millions of them. Hell, as long as we're just making shit up to balance the political formulas we're conjuring out of thin air, who knows, why couldn't there even be tens of millions of these imaginary Centrist ideological wraiths out there, just beyond the limits of our senses. We can't quite pin down who they are...or where they are...or what they believe...but for our fairy tale to work,we have to posit that they're really, really mad at The Extremes on Both Sides -- which, when it comes to actual Democratic party policies we can't really identify any that qualify as "extreme" in any sense of the word...but whatever.
You know the joke about the physicist, the engineer and the economist awho are re stranded in the desert? So? Well here you go.
They're starving. Suddenly, they find a can of beans. They want to open it, but how?
The physicist says: “Let’s start a fire and place the can inside the flames. It will explode and then we will all be able to eat”.
“Are you crazy?” says the engineer. “All the beans will burn and scatter, and we’ll have nothing. We should use a metal wire, attach it to a base, push it and crack the can open.”
“Both of you are wrong!” says the economist. “Where the hell do we find a metal wire in the desert?! The solution is simple: just assume we have a can opener”…
They spent half a century using their money and their media to beat on the American polity as if it were a pinata. And now that it has begun to give up the gifts they once prized above all else...all they can do is bitch and moan.
Consider that Michael Steele, who was hired by the racist Republican Party hired to publicly front for them...and who was subsequently run out of his party when they decided to just lean into the racism...is still a Republican. He still pretends that he heroically drove all the racists out the the party during his tenure. And like every other Never Trumper, who managed to lose their entire party, Steele still just can't stop bitching that Democrats refusal to morph into Republican-lite
"...and another political party that [Democrats] that quite frankly don't know how to do politics. I think right not the way I see the world is, it is a challenge. And not blowin' smoke and tootin' horns here, but Lincoln Project warned of this in 2020! Not just 2022!" -- Michael Steele
Wow Mikey! Y'all figured out the GOP was fucked-in-the-head as early as 2020! Well take a fucking bow. Are there any tangible rewards for genius are rare as yours?
Reed Galen in the aforementioned podcast: Well Michael I wanna thank you for joining me today. Before we let you go today, where can our viewers and our listeners find you online? Where can we find your podcast? And when can we find you on the air.
Steele: ...and certainly MSNBC is my haunt. I'm there quite a bit, which is always a lot of fun. On pretty much every show, every day at some point.
Of course he is.
And consider that for decades anti-choice Never Trumpers like Charlie Sykes have been militating for the stripping women of their basic rights by overturn of Roe. And yet, now that his wish has finally been granted by the Trump Supreme Cult, Sykes is having a big ol' sad over the fact that his anti-choice movement is continuing to push us further and further into Gilead, rather that spontaneously transforming into a kindly, open-hearted, persuasion-based movement.
Apparently poor ol' Charlie never noticed the decades of hysterical protests, clinic bombing, abortion provider murders and increasingly draconian laws being passed by Republican neanderthals designed to make it virtually impossible to operate a clinic regardless of what Roe said.
And consider that, no matter how bad gun massacres have gotten in this country, we on the Left are still being told to sit down and shut up and wait because we're not qualified to speak on the subject. David Brooks from 2018:
So if you want to stop school shootings it’s not enough just to vent and march. It’s necessary to let people from Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at all points. There has to be trust and respect first. Then we can strike a compromise on guns as guns, and not some sacred cross in the culture war.
In 2018, the year Brooks penned this tepid, Centrist drivel, there were 308 mass shootings.
US mass killings hit a record high in 2019: 'This seems to be the age of mass shootings'
Shootings never stopped during the pandemic: 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades
50% jump in active-shooter incidents from 2020 to 2021: FBI
The US had 647 mass shootings in 2022. Here's the full list.
There have been more mass shootings than days in 2023, database showsThere have been 146 mass shootings so far this year.
No Labels Makes Initial Investment in Bipartisan Presidential TicketThe dark money group has spent millions of dollars preparing for a possible ticket with Sen. Joe Manchin as its presidential nominee in the event of a Biden-Trump rematch.
How the ‘No Labels’ Gambit Could Wreck the 2024 Election
New 'No Labels' Movement Seeks Bipartisanship...No Labels' "founding leaders" include Nancy Jacobson, a longtime Democratic activist and wife of Democratic pollster and Hillary Clinton campaign adviser Mark Penn; Kiki McLean, a former Clinton adviser and communications director of the Democratic National Committee; David Frum, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush and editor of the conservative FrumForum.com; and Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Bush, GOP Sen. John McCain, and the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, a Democrat.
...Although No Labels sounds like a progressive high school’s Model U.N., its heavy hitters are serious adults -- or at least white male adults. Among the 16 billed speakers at last week’s official launch in New York, there were three women and no blacks, notwithstanding an excruciating No Labels “anthem” contributed by the Senegalese-American rapper Akon. (Do find on YouTube.) The marquee names on hand included Michael Bloomberg; Senate Democrats (Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, the incoming Joe Manchin of West Virginia); moderate Republicans drummed out of office by the Tea Party (Charlie Crist, Mike Castle); and no fewer than four MSNBC talking heads. Despite Bloomberg’s denials, some persist in speculating that No Labels is a stalking horse for a quixotic 2012 presidential run. At the very least the organization is a promotional hobby horse for MSNBC.
“Morning Joe” plugged No Labels with an alacrity to match Fox News’s Tea Party boosterism (if not Fox’s decibel level)...
Its two prime movers are a political consultant, Mark McKinnon, a veteran of the Bush and McCain campaigns known for slick salesmanship; and a fund-raiser, Nancy Jacobson, who, along with her husband, the pollster and corporate flack Mark Penn, helped brand the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign as a depository for special-interest contributions.
No less depressing is the No Labels veneration of Evan Bayh, the Democratic senator from Indiana who decided to retire this year rather than fight for another term. For months now, Bayh has been positioning himself as a sacrificial lamb to broken Washington; when he made the rounds plugging No Labels last week, he was greeted as a martyr on MSNBC.
The Center Strikes Back: David Brooks NYT Column Heralds Emergence of No Labels-Led "New Center"-No Labels Set to Unveil New Center Coalition at Unprecedented Bipartisan Leaders Meeting in DC on Dec. 5-In the wake of a historically divisive election, No Labels is making an aggressive play to unify citizens and leaders around a "New Center," a development described in this morning's David Brooks The New York Times column. No Labels is set to unveil leaders of the New Center on December 5 in Washington, D.C. at 1787: Constructing the Peace After the War, a first-of-its-kind leaders meeting featuring members of Congress, mayors, governors and leaders from across the country.
In describing the current political climate, Brooks suggests that "what's about to happen in Washington may be a little like the end of the Cold War—bipolarity gives way to multipolarity. A system dominated by two party-line powers gives way to a system with a lot of different power centers. He says, "The most important caucus formation will be in the ideological center."
Brooks draws on a recent memo written by Brookings Scholar and No Labels co-founder Bill Galston and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol who defined the New Center as:One that does not split the difference between Left and Right but offers a principled alternative to both. Its core tenets—Opportunity, Security, Accountability, and Ingenuity—can respond to the challenges of the present and chart a path to the future … We do not know what policies a New Center will yield. Nor can we predict what institutional form or even party alignment it will take. But the alternative to a coherent and effective New Center is a degree of public discontent that could end by undermining democratic self-government itself...
Joe Lieberman's 'No Labels' Group Has Labeled Donald Trump a 'Problem Solver'Here's some stupid for lunch.
A No Labels third-party bid in 2024 is dangerousA No Labels ticket would be a stalking horse for an extreme MAGA Republican candidate.
No Labels group raises alarms with third-party presidential preparationsIt has money, name-brand political backers and declines to describe either President Biden or Donald Trump as acceptable candidates.
Look Who’s Fighting: Third Way Puts the Beatdown on No LabelsThe centrist Democratic group forms a united front with its more liberal counterparts to trash a third-party candidacy that could elect Trump.
No Labels’ Pitch to Donors Pretends Joe Biden Doesn’t ExistA video obtained by TNR tries to suggest that both parties are being captured by extremes—but somehow forgets to acknowledge the sitting president.
The Terrifying Threat That No Labels Will Reelect Trump Why is a mysterious group building a political doomsday device?
No Labels Has a Genius 2024 Plan That Would Kneecap Biden
No Labels’ Real Label: Vanity Candidates ‘R’ UsClaiming that no real centrist could vote for either Biden or Trump, it’s got its own spotlight-craving pol (Joe Manchin) waiting to pounce.
The No Labels Party Can’t Give Up on the Conservative Dream of Post-PartisanshipJoe Lieberman wants a “commonsense, moderate, independent” politics in America, to be advanced by his group No Labels. It’s a bankrupt “post-partisan” vision that has no solutions to any of the multiple dire threats facing Americans.
Charen: But first off I want very much to address something that is out there. It's been a little bit below the radar but Matt [Bennett, Executive Vice President of Third Way] has been following it very closely. Namely there is an effort by a group that calling itself No Labels that is launching or attempting to grease the skids for a third party candidate. They have 70 million dollar War chest they've already achieved ballot access in a number of states Arizona Colorado Alaska and Oregon it has signature Gathering efforts underway in other states and the idea is to present a third option Beyond Democrat and Republican a moderate political choice for those who dislike both Trump and Biden. So Matt, fill us in on this who's behind it and why are you so exercised about it.Bennett: Thanks for having me Mona. Bill Galston can talk a little bit more about who No Labels is. Actually Bill's been very involved with them until recently because I think like me he's quite concerned about this presidential bit, but No Labels started and has done quite a bit of good work in the center trying to bring Republicans and Democrats together...
Bennett: The reason that we're so worried about [No Labels running a third party presidential candidate in 2024] is not because we think that their ticket, no matter who's on it, could actually win the election. They absolutely positively cannot win the election.
Bennett: No third party candidate has won a single electoral vote in 50 years and no third party candidate -- including one who's chiseled into Mount Rushmore -- has ever come close to winning an election.
Bennett: Our concern is not that they will win. Our concern is that they will serve as a spoiler. And what has us most concern is that there's all kinds of evidence that they would serve as a spoiler benefiting the Republic ticket which at the moment looks like it's going to be Trump and hurt the Democratic ticket which is almost certain to be Biden and Harris so that's why we're so worried about this.Charen: Can you explain the role of Mark Penn?
Bennett: I will attempt to do so
Charen: Bill Galston, you as, Matt mentioned were involved in founding No Labels but you have since distanced yourself from them.
Charen: So let me just read you a quote from Joe Manchin who people have been talking about as a possible No Labels candidate in 2024 and then have you respond. Quote "If enough Americans believe there is an option and the option is a threat to the extreme left and extreme right it will be the greatest contribution to democracy I believe I don't rule myself in and I don't rule myself out." Well what's wrong with that, Bill?Galston: Well in principle nothing, in practice everything.
Galston: The No Labels effort I think responds to a genuine problem and that is that the polarization of the two political parties that has occurred over the past two generations has left a lot of people in the middle feeling quite dissatisfied.
Galston: We have, for 150 years, have essentially the same two-party system. A lot of Americans aren't thrilled with the two political parties for reasons that I can not only understand but assent to but, in my judgment, there is a profound asymmetry between the two political parties.
Charen: I'm just wondering what can these people be thinking when they must know that this pipe dream about actually electing a moderate is just that, and yet the chances are it's going to improve the chances of trump returning to the Oval Office.
Linda Chavez: I mean I look at Joe Lieberman, who's somebody I have always admired you know and...
Chavez: I understand the frustration that the two-party system -- particularly the way it is now constituted -- does not give us proper choices. We get candidates who skewed to their base in both parties and end up with the great middle of America where I think most of the people on this panel find themselves without candidates who represent our views and who will promote the kind of policies that we approve...