Samuel Goldman: Another Very Surprised Conservative

Samuel GoldmanZack Beauchamp seems to have pissed off Ezra Klein. Over at Vox, he’s been getting these assignments to hang out and talk to conservative intellectuals who he needs to treat as though they are anything but entirely part of the problem. Most recently, I noted him talking to healthcare “expert” and eternal Young Republican Avik Roy, Avik Roy Cries Into His Beer. And this week he was stuck talking to George Washington University political theorist Samuel Goldman, A Conservative Intellectual Explains Why the GOP Has Fallen to Donald Trump.

That headline is deceptive. Samuel Goldman didn’t explain anything. The whole interview was an extended apologetics session for the conservative movement. Oh how surprised Samuel Goldman was that serious conservatives like himself weren’t what was actually powering the conservative movement! How could they ever have known?! Well, one thing they could have done would be to look at the last 50 years of the Republican Party. They might have noticed how the Republican Party would be dead if it weren’t for all the southern segregationists moving from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

Samuel Goldman Don’t Know Much About Political Science

But how could a professor of political science have had access to that kind of information. I’m sure that such history is withheld from all the faculty at George Washington University. It’s either that, or it’s that it has been really convenient for “principled” conservatives like Samuel Goldman to have ignored the racist power that allowed them to get their tax cuts and wars and “Christian” values. It strikes me as very much like Captain Renault in Casablanca. “I’m shocked — Shocked! — to find that gambling is going on in here!

What I said about Avik Roy could just as easily be said about Samuel Goldman, “But did it really take Donald Trump to make Avik Roy realize that the Republican base wasn’t actually in it for the tax cuts they never got? For the deregulation that caused them to lose their jobs? For the lead in their drinking water that mentally retarded their children? I don’t think so.” It’s just so much nonsense.

Hate Trump But Love His Policies

In the end, I doubt very seriously that either Roy or Goldman will be bothered if Trump gets into office and signs Paul Ryan’s budget and appoints extremist judges. What the two of them don’t like is that Donald Trump makes explicit the lie they’ve been telling for years: that the people who vote their way don’t give half a stick of crewed gum about “limited government, social conservatism, and a strong military.”

What has caused all these conservative intellectuals to be so surprised by the rise of Trump is still going on with them. They won’t admit to reality. Samuel Goldman dismisses the fact that black voters aren’t in the Republican Party as being the “result of a very specific history.” Yeah: a history of being racist.

Samuel Goldman Don’t Know Much About Economics

And he doesn’t engage with economics at all. He claims that “the truth is nobody really has any idea.” Well, just because Goldman doesn’t known anything about about economics (undoubtedly because he wants to continue to play the “Who knows?!” game) doesn’t mean the rest of us are so inclined. As Mark Thoma has shown, there are actually policy reasons, Why the Economy Does Better Under Democrats.

The Future of Conservatism Is Like Its Past

But Samuel Goldman does see a replacement for the old conservative movement. He sees three things. First, there is nationalism — but not the racist kind — just something that stands up to the open-borders crowd. Second, there is some kind of anti-PC politics. Third, there is a “realistic form of foreign policy.” If this sounds kind of pathetic, it’s not surprising.

First, there really isn’t an open-borders crowd outside of the collective conservative fever dream. Anti-PC is just another term for racism and other forms of discrimination. It’s guys unhappy that they are looked down on for making sexist comments. It’s people thinking they are losing out because of minorities. As for the realistic form of foreign policy, I think that would be the Democrats.

To be fair, Samuel Goldman doesn’t say that he is happy with this replacement. But the fact that he thinks “political correctness” is a issue of sufficient importance to talk about says much about him. It says that just as before, he’s willing to feed the beast in the name of tax cuts and regulation cuts and individual rights cuts. In other words, he’s just another conservative apologist.

Odd Words: Berdache

Berdache Ceremony - George Catlin

We’ve made it to page 25 of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition. And you know what? I knew all the words except for one: berdache. But I have a feeling other people know this word. It’s so modern and edgy.

Beyond Berdache

The page was filled with be- words: bereft, beseech, besmitch, bespoke, betide, betrade. Geez! Very disappointing. But I’m quite glad to learn berdache. With so much discussion of people who see their gender as different from their sex, it’s good to remember that things have always been that way. Social conservatives want to pretend that it is all some kind of liberal conspiracy and that everyone would be exactly the same if they weren’t given “ideas.”

So onward with the word of the day: berdache.

Ber·dache  noun  \bər-‘dash\

1. an American Indian tribesman who adopts the clothing and duties of a woman.

Date: 17th century.

Origin: from the French bardache, which goes back to an Arabic word that seems to describe a sex slave, which itself goes back to a Persian word for a prisoner.

Example: Men who were poor hunters, possibly berdaches, procured bark for the cabins, ran errands back to the town where the old people were left, made wooden bowls and dishes and clay tobacco pipes.John Lawson


From my brief reading, the word “berdache” is meant to indicate not a discrete individual or form of behavior but rather the continuum of people and their behavior. In recent years, the term “two-spirit” has become popular. But it is important in such matters to remember that there is no such think as an American Indian or Native American. There are 562 federally recognized tribes in the United States. And I don’t know how many there were when the Europeans began their invasion. But the diversity of cultures in North America was enormous. So when discussing “berdache,” we want to be careful about making too many assumptions. It is a word used to describe a lot of different behavior from an outsider’s perspective.


I screwed up and did Page 25 when I should have done Page 24. I’ll do Page 24 tomorrow.