Republicans Have No Principles But Still Aren’t Popular

Republican Carl PaladinoThis last week, there are two connected bits of news regarding the national Republican Party that I find really interesting. The first is that Paul Ryan has endorsed Donald Trump. The second is Trump’s stunning comments about US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel. I know that humans are tribal, but I just don’t see how anyone who is paying even a little attention can stay Republican.

Let’s start with Ryan. Christian Schneider at USA Today called the endorsement a jarring sellout. He seems particularly upset that Ryan laid out certain goals that Trump needed to make progress on in order to get Ryan’s endorsement. Christian asked, “In the 10 days before the endorsement, Trump floated discredited conspiracy theories about former Clinton adviser Vince Foster’s death and attacked the ethnicity of a judge overseeing the Trump University case. Are these what pushed Ryan toward capitulation?”

I don’t know why Schneider is surprised. Remember back when Paul Ryan was deciding whether he would be the Speaker of the House? He made certain demands of the Republican caucus. In particular, he wanted the assurance of its members that they wouldn’t undercut him the way that they had John Boehner. But the caucus members were unwilling to provide this assurance. Ryan took the job anyway.

But people are wrong to mistake this exhaustion for normalization. It’s clear to me that Donald Trump is just the Carl Paladino of presidential politics.

Ryan’s really the perfect Republican. He’s more than willing to have principles. But if those principles cost him even the smallest amount, they are gone. Power is what matters to Paul Ryan. And there is no upside to standing athwart Trump, yelling, “Stop!” Many commentators have claimed that Ryan will regret his endorsement in six months. But that’s nonsense. The only price that Ryan could pay would be for not supporting Trump. So all Ryan’s talk of “goals” was just his usual political theater — a show for the Villagers who are convinced that he is “thoughtful.”

And then there’s Donald Trump. He thinks that Judge Curiel can’t be fair to him because of the judge’s Mexican ancestry. And when given the chance to walk the statement back, Trump went on to claim that a Muslim judge would be unfair to him as well. The truth is that Trump is just the poster boy of privilege, and any time he doesn’t get what he wants, it means that someone is being unfair to him. For most candidates this would be seen as a major gaff. But there is so much exhaustion with Trump that it’s considered about what you would expect.

But people are wrong to mistake this exhaustion for normalization. It’s clear to me that Donald Trump is just the Carl Paladino of presidential politics. You may remember that Paladino ran for governor of New York in 2010 and only managed to get one-third of the vote. In his case, no one was surprised by anything he did. But it didn’t make those things any more acceptable to the voters.

So the Republican Party elites can pretend that everything is okay — just as a dysfunctional family pretends that dad isn’t a drunk. USA Today can report, Paul Ryan Hopes Trump Endorsement a Turning Point in Race. But barring an economic collapse, Trump is going to go down in flames in the general election.

Josh Barro Is Blinded By His (Elite) Privilege

Josh BarroLast Thursday, Josh Barro tweeted out something really offensive. But before I get to it, I just want to note that he needn’t fear that he will lose his job. You see: he’s a conservative. Unless he comes out with the n-word, nothing he says will matter. Remember that Ted Nugent can repeatedly threaten assassination against the president and nothing happens to him. Meanwhile, two liberal writers have lost their jobs in the last two weeks because they weren’t nice enough.

But Josh Barro won’t get fired for taking a strong stand against democracy. Because only liberals are ever held to account for what they believe. And when Josh Barro makes a bold stand in defense of the powerful, well, that just makes him all the more worthy for a promotion. How long will we have to wait until he becomes managing editor of The Washington Post?!

It’s interesting how “the masses” are simply the Republican Party in the mind of Josh Barro. And then, let’s look back at this Republican Primary. It’s true that Donald Trump is gauche. But how exactly is he categorically different from anyone else on the Republican Party’s “deep bench”? Barro told us more than he knows when he tweeted this out. Like most conservative elites, what is unacceptable is just a matter of style — never of substance.

But I wouldn’t bring this up at all except that this truly vile tweet led me to find another Josh Barro tweet. This one is equally vile, but it is more interesting in its total lack of self-awareness. It is from two and a half years ago, so at least inconsistency isn’t one of Barro’s sins:

In one way, I agree with this — but it is such an obvious thing that it does bear tweeting. A professional plumber (an “elite”) has better judgment about what is causing a toilet to overflow than an average person. But that’s as far as it goes. The problem with people like Josh Barro is that they think “elite” isn’t a situational title. This is why we see successful business people listened to with reverence when they pontificate about the educational system. The truth is that Bill Gates knows quite a lot less about education than the average teacher.

Josh Barro must, at some level, realize this. He is, after all, a reasonably smart guy with a great education and pretty much every intellectual advantage a person can have. But all of this does fold into why Josh Barro is an elite — why he is Senior Editor at Business Insider. And that reason is because he is the son of the very famous (conservative) economist Robert Barro. Do you know where Josh got his bachelor’s degree (In psychology!) from? Harvard. Would it shock you to learn that Robert got his PhD from Harvard?

I’m sure Josh Barro would take offense at this (he has skin as thin as Donald Trump’s), but he’s a royalist. And that makes him a great example for the modern conservative movement. It used to be said that conservatism evolved from Edmund Burke. I think that was true up until about 40 years ago. Since then, the conservative movement has regressed back to Burke. Josh Barro might use different language, but at base, he thinks God wants things the way they are. It’s just that Barro’s God is meritocracy, and his career has nothing to do with having a rich, famous, and powerful father.