From a review in Sunday’s NYT Book Review, by Damon Linker, of a book about the famous conservative intellectual William F. Buckley, and his relationships to various presidents of the United States. The review is titled “William F. Buckley and the Odyssey of Conservatism”.
The review references
what Buckley himself described as his greatest achievement: purging the conservative movement of “extremists, bigots, kooks, anti-Semites and racists.”
Fast forward to now, as conservatives defend Donald Trump, and by implication all the extremists, bigots, racist, etc., who support him. An op-ed essay, in the same paper. If Liberals Hate Him, Then Trump Must Be Doing Something Right, by Charles J. Sykes.
There is no intellectual basis for conservatives, or at least the Republicans, any more. Trump isn’t a conservative; yet
While there are those like Sean Hannity who are reliable cheerleaders for all things President Trump, much of the conservative news media is now less pro-Trump than it is anti-anti-Trump. The distinction is important, because anti-anti-Trumpism has become the new safe space for the right.
Here is how it works: Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”
For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of airtime on conservative media is not taken up by issues or explanations of conservative approaches to markets or need to balance liberty with order. Why bother with such stuff, when there were personalities to be mocked and left-wing moonbats to be ridiculed?
There is no intellectual debate anymore in American politics (outside perhaps op-ed essays in the various papers and magazines); American conservatives especially are a prime example of sticking up for one’s tribe, no matter how intellectually or morally bankrupt, and demonizing the other.