Authentic Convictions: Where They Aren’t

     Many in the Right were surprised and worse when a veritable legion of “conservative” commentators reacted with dismay to the ascension of Donald Trump to the Republican nomination for the presidency. For some of that number, their objections approached rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth fury. Those selfsame commentators followed their dislike of Trump with a peculiar dislike of everything he did as president. That President Trump’s policies were squarely in the conservative mainstream seemed not to matter to them. They were his policies; therefore those soi-disant “conservatives” had to disavow and condemn them.

     But the Trump Administration’s policies, especially those the president put in place by executive order, were good for the nation. They promoted prosperity, jobs, the return of various manufacturing industries to American shores, the enlargement of our ability to meet our own fuel needs, the control of our southern border, healthful adjustments in our relations with our allies and with NATO, and other things conservatives had been advocating for some time. For “conservative” commentators to deplore them was beyond puzzling. Yet big names from the Right’s Punditocracy did so repeatedly. Some even collaborated with the Democrats’ attempts to force Trump out of office.

     There were other things going on at the same time, including the failure of several venerable conservative outlets, such as The Weekly Standard. Mind you, that publication had been on the downslope for some time, being repetitive, uninformative, and not terribly attractive for any other reason. However, it crashed and burned when its leading lights turned against President Trump. Several of its contributors, plus a few from National Review, gathered under a new heading, The Bulwark. That publication has proved to be about as “conservative” as Nancy Pelosi.

     The emissions of the NeverTrump “Right” are about as conservative as the NeverTrump Left. Its members have put their support behind all manner of things conservatives have always found to be abominations. Some of them have even endorsed the “right” to abort all the way up to the moment of birth. Good-hearted Americans of a conservative bent have looked incredulously upon this wholesale defection of “conservative” pundits from venerable conservative positions. Had the philosophical basis of conservatism been refuted somehow? Have we in the Right been wrong all along?

     Not to my way of thinking. But then, I’m not paid to orate here. The NeverTrump “Right” makes its living from its op-ed writing. Its commentators needed a paying perch to replace the one that had been yanked out from under them. As the old sailors say, in a storm any port will do.

     But a port that appeared welcoming when the winds were at their worst can prove uncomfortable after the storm has passed:

     It’s been a tough few days for Bulwark writer-at-large Tim Miller:

     Be it my matter-of-fact tweet about generally opposing abortion (we’ll get to that) or my stridency in lambasting the abandonment our friends in Afghanistan, I guess I’ve ruffled some feathers. (“Tim, you used to be so balanced,” they say. I did? Are you sure you have the right Tim?)
     This has been a tad disorienting because I thought we had a nice little deal going, whereby my new friends and I could disagree, even passionately, on assorted policy matters—but we stayed friends because we agreed on the biggest things and the biggest threats and our little alliance is too important to our democracy for it to fray.

     To be perfectly transparent with you, the breakdown in our deal has left me feeling kind of blue.
     On the one hand I get it. It’s tough out there in our grand digital battlefield, where disagreement can feel like desertion. Plus when your fellow soldier used to fight for the other side, there is always a flicker of doubt, a mistrust, a fear that they just might unsheathe their katana and slice your backside.
     On the other hand, I have to say it is a little weird. I’m a freaking open wound over here, people! I’m getting dumped by old pals, spilling my guts over past mistakes, changing my views on some things, and getting all John-Boehner-teary-eyed for weeks after we slayed the coral dragon together. Yet some of y’all still are apparently concerned I might flip a switch and jump on Team DeSantis or something? Really?!

     I hope my Gentle Readers will forgive me for the spate of schadenfreude the above plaint has brought me. I find it hard to feel pity for someone who disavows the majority of his “strongly held convictions” for the sake of a paying post from which to pontificate to the public. Perhaps you feel the same, in which case we can do penance together. Is February 30 next year good for you?

     It’s one thing to confront the evidence, re-examine some conviction, conclude that you’ve been wrong, and explain why you now think otherwise. It’s another to reject essentially the whole of your philosophy because you dislike the style of the man who’s become their foremost representative. Worse yet is to do it for money. Detecting the insincerity beneath such an about-face isn’t hard for anyone of normal intelligence and discernment.

     But perhaps a retired engineer turned novelist who is not and never will be admitted to the Punditocracy has no place criticizing his “betters.” At least, we can be reasonably sure his “betters” would say so. They would get paid for it.

     Have a nice day.


    • Mike Austin on September 9, 2021 at 7:12 AM

    That Tim Miller fellow is quite the beta weakling. I searched for his image and found it. Wow. Please Francis, spare yourself that.

    I ventured over to The Bulwark and looked around a bit. The only phrase that can encompass it is “group insanity”. I imagined a room filled with rabid apes, all gleefully typing away, patting themselves on the back and giving themselves awards.

    The Z Man has been at the throats of the so-called “conservatives” at National Review and The Weekly Standard for a long time. They can’t stand him, and he repays them in kind and with interest.

    1. Well, Mike, to be perfectly candid, were you to see a photo of me, you might class me with Miller, so let’s not judge the human book by its fleshly cover. Few full-time writers are paragons of physical fitness.

      The Bulwark is apparently supported by some rather far-left magnates. In the usual case, you have to please the boss with your output, whether it’s cheese, cognac, or commentary, so the dynamic is easy to understand. The salient thing here is to be aware of where the “conservatives” at that publication have been and the opinions they once professed, compared to where they are today, the company they keep today, and the things they say today. The about-face is near-total.

    • Mike Austin on September 9, 2021 at 7:46 AM

    “let’s not judge the human book by its fleshly cover.”

    True. It was a cheap shot.

    “Few full-time writers are paragons of physical fitness.”

    I’d never thought about that. I am no full-time writer, just a teacher retired in 2019 after 27 years in that racket. Since my time in the USAF (1972 – 1975) I have been addicted—if that is the correct word—to staying fit. Don’t really know why. It is strange, in that if I go one day without either walking or bike riding or floor exercises—or all three—I feel lazy and lethargic. And then I am very hard on myself the next day. To wit: Yesterday I rode my mountain bike 24 miles, walked two miles and did a set of floor exercises including 100 crunches. This morning I can hardly move. Thank God for  aspirin and vodkas and orange juice.

    I recall what so many priests have told me after Confession, “Mike, you are too hard on yourself.” I don’t know what to do about it. Maybe nothing.

Comments have been disabled.