New York Times gives a platform to NeverTrump Matthew Continetti
Bias is immediately apparent in the title of Matthew Continetti's December 18 (December 20 print edition) New York Times guest essay: "Will Trump Ruin a Red Wave in 2022?"
Mr. Continetti, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (supposedly a conservative think-tank in Washington, but perhaps an anti-Trump mindset transcends its ideological moorings?), wrote an essay full of self-contradictions. For example, he implies that Trump-supporters are a "conspiratorial fringe" and calls the rhetoric of Trump allies "questionable and extreme." Yet Continetti also noted that "Mr. Trump remains the central figure of the G.O.P." and, before ending the piece, acknowledged that "Republicans appear either unwilling or unable to treat the former president as a figure from the past[.]" (This observation was apparently written down five days after the I&I/TIPP Poll found that 60% of Republicans wanted Mr. Trump to run again in 2024 — a poll result not mentioned by Continetti.)
One senses that going through the writer's mind is the thought: "Those conservative populists still want him, dammit." Throughout his essay, he places the blame on Donald Trump and his supporters for the infighting in the Republican Party, and I infer from this that Continettti's real beef is with conservative populism, with its belief that The Swamp needs to be drained, that the Deep State must be brought into the sunlight.
He writes, "Republicans worry about internal strife and outlandish messages[.]" Or "[t]ime and again, the biggest obstacle to a red wave hasn't been the Democratic Party, it's been the Republican Party." And "Republican leaders continue to fear Mr. Trump and his supporters[.]" And he writes that by Trump ally David Perdue seeking the Georgia governorship over the incumbent, Brian Kemp, Democrat Stacey Abrams will benefit. And this: "Mr. Trump's imitators within the [Republican] party are a font of endless infighting and controversy and they undermine the authority of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy."
Continetti is silent, however, as to the likely cause of this "internal strife" and "infighting." Nowhere in his polemic do the names Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger appear, nor does Continetti offer details on what the internal fighting is all about. He cannot bring himself to acknowledge that it is the NeverTrump cabal that would demand that Republicans form a circular firing squad. He cannot write that the real obstacle to a "red wave" is that reef marked "Never Trump."
What Continetti gives the reader is what the Democrats are very good at shoveling: "conclusory allegations," not factual ones. Without facts to serve as a foundation, conclusory allegations collapse of their propaganda weight.
But the difficulty with Continetti's commentary does not end with baseless attacks on Republicans who believe, with Madison, in Federalist No. 57, that officials should stand close to the people, not over them. Continetti, more than halfway through his essay, offers this bit of sage (but only in part) advice:
If Republicans campaign on a unified message that applies conservative principles to inflation, the border, crime, education and health care, they ought to avoid being tagged as the party of extremism, conspiracy, and loyalty to Mr. Trump.
The second part of that sentence is emphasized by me because all of the components of Continetti's "unified message" are part and parcel of the Trump agenda. Continetti might have wondered just who those "Republican leaders" are who fear Mr. Trump and his base. He would have pointed out that whoever wins Georgia's Republican gubernatorial primary should be in a good position to defeat his Democrat opponent, whoever she is. And he would have explained that those who denounce the GOP as "the party of extremism [and] conspiracy" are the Democrat merchants of mendacity in Congress, in the media, in entertainment circles, in Big Business and Labor, and in academia. (On the matter of conspiracy, what were the four years of the first Trump term but the occasion of the Democrat anti-Trump conspiracy that began June 2015 — and continues to this day?
There is one further point to illustrate the contradictions in this paean to Pravda-like propaganda.
After calling for a unified GOP message (along the lines of the Trump agenda, mind you) Continetti, without objection, reported that Mitch McConnell, the Senate's Republican leader, wants to delay drafting the GOP agenda until after the congressional midterm elections next November. Writes Continetti:
[McConnell's] worried that specific proposals are nothing but fodder for Democratic attacks. What should worry him more are rudderless candidates who allow their Democratic opponents to define them negatively[.]
With this passage, Continetti dissolves, I think, into meaninglessness. He seems to criticize McConnell's reported plan to delay drafting a GOP agenda for all Republican candidates to run on — but does not raise the obvious question: is it the mark of a leader to put off a program of action for the common good because he fears the names Republicans will be called by the likes of a Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Adam Schiff, and Jamie Raskin? These anti-liberty members of House and Senate will denounce any legislation put forth by the GOP — except legislation that rubber-stamps the anti-freedom program of action demanded by the left. The Democrats along with all elements of the anti-liberty left hate Donald J. Trump precisely because he stands firm against their plan to transform America from the land of opportunity to the land of tyranny. Plus, he will not turn the other cheek. When a leftist spews ad hominem insults at him, Mr. Trump responds and raises the ante. If his first term has proved one thing, it is that Donald J. Trump will not be intimidated — even if he must stand alone. And shame on Republicans for not rushing to Mr. Trump's defense against the "slings and arrows" of Democrats' mendacious accusations.
Just one last rejoinder to Continetti for giving Times readers as pathetic an excuse for an op-ed article as ever appeared in the paper. In mid-article, he predicts that Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, like Arizona's Blake Masters and Ohio's J.D. Vance, "may secure the MAGA base by forfeiting viability in the general election." Apparently, the likes of a Matthew Continetti have difficulty with the aim of conservative populism, "Making America Great Again."
Yet, perhaps there is a clear message in Continetti's screed: if a "conservative" appears in The New York Times, he has to be a NeverTrump polemicist.
A big spending bill with many new programs has failed in the Senate.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) December 19, 2021
Not the end of the world.
Biden is still president. Democrats still control the Senate. Republicans are still a threat to democracy. Progress can still be made in many policy areas.
Keep calm and carry on.
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