The Hollowness of the Conservative Intellectual Elite

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 July 14, 2017|
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The rise of Donald Trump not only highlights the fecklessness of the political class but also the blindness of the conservative intellectual elite.

Conservatism Inc., the vast apparatus of thinks tanks, policy journals, and periodicals that have formed the intellectual foundation for the Right over the past few decades, has failed to deliver on its promise to provide a coherent theoretical foundation for conservatism. Put simply, we’re not well served by continuing to recite from a checklist.

This is unfortunate. Intellectual considerations often serve as the basis for political action.

As statesmen deploy their judgment in order to secure the interests of the people, men of thought should be able to provide them a solid and accurate account of present realities and possibilities for the future. As Lincoln stated in the opening of the “House Divided Speech”: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.”

A recent interview featuring Arthur Brooks, however, shows how intellectual conservatism has fallen far short of this goal.

Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, and he is certainly well-meaning. But he does not seem to realize that his ideas lack a constituency beyond AEI’s donor base. And even if his project had popular support, it would wither in the face of the Left’s nonstop onslaught.

In an extended conversation with Ben Domenech of The Federalist, Brooks shows his estrangement from political realities early on.

He first argues that if President Trump abandoned Twitter, the country could begin focusing on “serious” issues such as the latest tax credit proposal. Presumably, Americans also would have more free time to read the avalanche of white papers being cranked out by AEI researchers.

But prior to the election, how many people paid attention to these things? Where was the rush to read Mitt Romney’s 59-point jobs plan in 2012? Where was (and is) the constituency behind House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” proposal, which to this day remains mostly unpopular with vast swaths of the American public (to the extent they’re even aware it exists)?

In fact, when has Brooks’ vaunted constituency of “serious” people ever appeared in American history? Politics even at its peak has never looked like Plato’s Academy, where reason and dialogue were said to reign supreme and passions were kept under lock and key.

Instead, politics is largely about securing the people’s interests amidst ever-changing conditions, which James Madison made clear in Federalist 10. Though interests should be rooted in something higher than mere unrestrained will, securing them is nevertheless the key to political success and the perpetuity of the nation.

Pet Theories Won’t Cut It
The inability of well-meaning but strangely utopian intellectuals to speak about politics in this manner explains a great deal about why, prior to Trump, the Right was in such sorry shape.

In order to craft a solid basis upon which a statesman can take his stand, intellectuals should develop policies that are informed by the actual concerns of citizens—not upon the pet theories and theoretical concerns of their donors that are abstracted from the everyday lives of average citizens.

Brooks provides a clear example of this. Throughout his interview with Domenech, he leaves the impression that political choices in the realm of economics come down mainly to a choice between an unfettered free market and statism. But these stark options have never been before anyone in Congress, and they have nothing to do with our current situation—which is far from being a capitalist economy.

In the latest issue of American Affairs, the editors note how this rhetoric has hampered the debate over health care policy:

We have not had a ‘free market’ health care system in this country for decades, and obscuring that fact only makes it more difficult to improve the system. Today’s small cartel of health insurers no longer offers any meaningful market in the choice of health insurance, which for most people is chosen by their employer anyway. In most circumstances, the choice of actual medical care is hardly governed by market principles.

While the free market has undoubtedly been a great boon for the United States in the past, speaking about policies using abstract language pinched from graduate seminars about Austrian economists is unhelpful in the extreme.

As Irving Kristol once wrote, “The Founding Fathers and Adam Smith…could not have interpreted the domination of economic activity by large corporate bureaucracies as representing, in any sense, the working of a ‘system of natural liberty.’”

However, unlike commentators such as National Review’s Kevin Williamson, who thinks poorer communities “deserve to die,” at least Brooks seems interested in helping people hurt by unfettered globalization, though his unrestrained admiration for “free trade” is divorced from traditional American trade policies.

Now we come to Brooks’ misunderstanding of the nature of the Left.

In the most telling part of the interview, Domenech tells Brooks about a recent run-in he had with a student while he was attending the Aspen Ideas Festival. Upon learning the student attended Middlebury College, Domenech asked what she thought about her fellow students shouting down Charles Murray, the distinguished political scientist. She responded that she had no problem with the actions of her colleagues because Murray’s “white nationalist” views should not be allowed in a public forum.

All Brooks could muster in response was an exasperated sigh.

How can conservatives, to quote Brooks quoting Barack Obama, “be our brother’s keeper” when their views are likened to the KKK on many college campuses across the country? How can Brooks’ kind of conservative win the hearts of his opponents when antifa thugs are hurling Molotov cocktails toward anyone who violates their safe campuses and cities?

Brooks has no answers. And one more meeting with the Dalai Lama isn’t going to provide him with any.

Enough Moral Equivalence
A
Cold Civil War (a term first coined by Michael Walsh) has been brewing for quite some time. The conflict has only intensified with Donald Trump’s election. Instead of facing the truth of the Left’s intolerance and utter disregard of the democratic norms they claim to cherish, Brooks slips into moral equivocation, blaming the Left and Right equally for our current state of affairs.

Around the midway point of the interview, Brooks argues that Americans noting the media’s absolutely disgraceful reporting by shouting “fake news!” is the equivalent of college kids shouting down and attacking speakers on college campuses. But since when has noticing the media’s hostility to the views of Americans who don’t reside on the coasts ever been comparable to infringements on natural rights through actual violence?

Brooks is far from alone in his moral confusion. In fact, it seems that gaslighting of this magnitude is the tie that binds elite circles on the Right together.

For example, just after the attempted assassination of Republican congressmen during a baseball practice, U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) implied on CNN (where else?) that the Right was just as culpable as the Left in fomenting a culture of violence.

The obvious problem with this tactic of denying reality is that the Left doesn’t care about Brooks’ and Flake’s hedging and will continue on in their quest to defeat the Right by any means necessary. This is why, against such defeatist strategy, David Azerrad of the Heritage Foundation has argued the Right needs to “adopt a much more confrontational approach against progressives and their allies in the public and private sectors.”

Bottom line: Brooks and the conservative intellectual class need to get in touch with the American mind.

Instead of making John Rawls’ theory of justice—i.e., helping the least advantaged—the purpose of government, they should return to the American Founders’ idea that government should secure the rights of everyone to enjoy their lives and liberty and to pursue happiness.

Speaking in vague terms about human dignity and bromides about “pulling people out of poverty” should be quickly discarded as well. The former is an abstraction that has no particular connection to the American character, and the latter idea doesn’t jibe with the American spirit of manly independence and self-reliance seen in the lives of such men as Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington.

The tendency to tell the small cadre of donors what they want to hear is always strong, but the concerns of Americans as a whole must always be front and center in the minds of conservative intellectuals.

About the Author:

Mike Sabo
Mike Sabo is a recent graduate of the Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship at Hillsdale College. He and his wife live in Alexandria, VA.
  • Scot Albrecht

    An

    • txcon1

      Totally agree. Conservatism, Inc. and it’s political arm, the Republican Party, are really only interested in who’s passing out spots at the trough. If it’s Democrats, that’s unconstitutional and suppressing freedom. When its the Republicans, it’s “shut up.” A pox on all their houses.

      • bc3b

        With the girly men at National Review, political correctness always tops conservative values.

        • Peta Johnson

          Let’s face it – Obama is meant to have interfered in the election of the present Pope – first liberation theologian and first Jesuit – and NR – Bill Buckley’s old magazine – can’t sniff it out.

        • sirpatrick

          National Review has been one of the biggest disappointments to me before, during and after the election. For years they preached to not just support the most conservative candidate , but the most conservative candidate that could win. Then they go #nevertrump…disgusting..

        • Girly men…very apropos comment

      • The Demon Slick

        The 2 parties are an illusion, a scam to fool voters. There is only one party, the corruptocrats. And now finally there’s another, the Trump party.

    • ek ErilaR

      Go easy on the property rights stuff.

      For every Gen. Henry Ireton on our side, there are also five, or more, Col. Thomas Rainborowes. Many a good republican movement has foundered on the question of property rights. Property tends to be held by the gifted and the elite, but they never more than 15% of any population.

      • Marshall Gill

        You don’t understand. “Property” is more than just land. Your car is property and so is your furniture. Most importantly, your MONEY is your property. You really don’t want to “go easy” on keeping your own money unless you are a thief or a parasite eyeing someone else’s property.

        • ek ErilaR

          Yeah, and the Supreme Court has from time to time said welfare benefits are property.

    • sweetmusic

      I don’t think Conservatism, Inc. is progressive; I think people like Brooks are inhibited by the prestige afforded to the left in intellectual circles. They want to belong to the club so their punches are pulled, they drift into equivalence thinking, blaming equally the left and the right for the present mess while articulating some impossible ideal. NeverTrumpers in particular are smug as well as arrogant.

      • BanBait

        And don’t forget, if you don’t toe the party line, you don’t get invited to all of the best cocktail parties, and that just wouldn’t do at all.

        • Osa

          Never mind cocktail parties or “snob-value” of “intellectual circles.” — It’s the media stupid.

          Conservative establishment has been living well by playing the role of professional losers (Washington Generals in Decius Mus’ Flight 93 founding article) “representing” media-accepted “opposition” within increasingly PC-fascist dominated & crazy-progressive driven American “public debate” It was a small (& politically inconsequential) niche – but pay & benefits (NR cruises, etc.) were OK & the hours were pretty good too.

          Now – when Trump-challenge created real opportunities for some movement toward return to commonsense & the “progressive” establishment’s absolute dominance of US political life is threatened – their MEDIA leaders & PC-enforcers have gone full berserk.
          Most of the establishment conservatives (who were never fighters or particularly principled) know where their bread is buttered and “run for the hills” as Never Trumpers firmly siding with the establishment media or, at best, Krauthammer-equivocate: “It’s mostly Trump’s fault that the media are screeching for his impeachment.”

      • kenpuck

        Jonah Goldberg is the pin-up girl for this contingent, and Stephen Hayes carries his purse.

        • Billygoattincan

          Krauthammer is the worst. He has a seductive intellect but at his core he hates Trump and what Trump stands for. He is insidious and disingenuous, and the sooner he is fired from FNC Special Report, the sooner that network can return to conservative respectability.

          • vladdy1

            Thanks for that. Have thought it for a looong time. He gets such praise every 1 in 50 times he agrees with the people.

          • Peta Johnson

            Krauthammer was Fritz Mondale’s speech writer, basically grew up as a Canuck, attended college there and wrote for “The New Republic”. He is erudite. But the idea of his defining conservatism is the equivalent of the Dalai Lama ruling on Roman Catholicism.

        • Peta Johnson

          Jonah makes me sick. He pretends that he is disinterested and impartial, when all it’s about is his ego. The President counterpunched him and he has lost his sanity.

        • Peta Johnson

          Talk about putting lipstick on a pig!

    • Peta Johnson

      I see the President in a different light. Reagan beat the Soviets and ushered in a 20 year boom. I expect Trump to beat the Islamists and usher in a 20 year boom. It never pays to bet against the USA – albeit I wish we’d facilitate California’s secession.

      • Gerald Smith

        Fuck that. Declare them in rebellion and arrest the state gov and occupy the state. Any political prisoners (including most of the 9th circuit) can be given shovels for the network of reservoirs and water control facilities needed in Cali. I understand they all support the low carbon, healthy outdoor lifestyle so they should enjoy it for the rest of their hopefully short lives.

        • Peta Johnson

          I understand your extremism, but actually, it would be good to let them go in peace. As Margaret Thatcher said – “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money [to spend].”
          California would hit the brick wall soon enough and until something like Venezuela happens to a Blue State, they will just keep on going. That is why it was despicable for Speaker Ryan to bail out the bond holders in Puerto Rico – leading to big profits for Mitt Romney and friends.

          • Christian Conservative

            Yes. Cut ALL of California’s Federal funding for ALL programs. Then do something revolutionary: instead of redirecting the money that would have gone to California to some other program, simply don’t spend it at all. Reduce the size of government! What a concept.

    • JHX

      The problem with Conservative, INC is that they too are progressives.

      A bunch of them are. We are witnessing the death of the Neo-Conservatives, and they are from and of the left.. The final shots in a battle Pat Buchanan won and Donald Trump is his first term.

      • vladdy1

        Good one. My library includes books from Pat decades ago about the possible fall of Western Civilization.

    • kenpuck

      The elites, relaxed in their oak-paneled smoking room, are sipping 100-year-old Spanish port and puffing away (albeit reservedly) on their Upmanns. Suddenly the door bursts open, and a wild-eyed man with a striking shock of golden hair shouts, “The building is on fire!”

      The dean of this pharaonic group, ensconced most comfortably in his overstuffed, Moroccan-leather Chesterfield wingback chair, looks up slowly from his brandy snifter and fixes the bumptious interloper with an icy stare: “Perhaps so. But tell me, sir, do you know which fork to use with the fish course?”

  • Whiskey Sam

    We could use more pragmatic thinking and less theoretical thinking on the Right. Great article!

  • RJones

    Looking forward to more from this author…much appreciated perspective. I couldn’t agree more that conservative “elites” are morally confused and need to be shoved aside. I also think they suffer from a severe case of narcissism. They simply cannot deal with the fact that they led themselves down the wrong path and got lost. That doesn’t happen to the best and brightest who see themselves as modern day saviors. Their snarly, vituperative, endless criticisms comprise the key indicator. It might be possible to appreciate their perspective if they’d simply shut up and carry some weight, but I guess this would be tantamount to admitting they were wrong…impossible for narcissists.

  • Robert Curry
  • Sam McGowan

    The problem with Conservative, Inc. is that with a couple of exceptions, none of them represent American conservatives, the “real Americans” from the area De Tocqueville said was America’s real strength – the land west of the Appalachians and east of the Rockies. They are nearly all East Coast and most of them are Jews. Their idea of “conservatism” is actually a right-wing version of progressivism adopted from Europe, which is no surprise since they are children of recent (post Civil War) immigrants. Few Americans have ever heard of them, much less pay attention to them. Incidentally, American Greatness needs to be very careful about also being out of touch – this site needs the voice of Americans other than media and academics.

    • bc3b

      You perfectly described the neocons, who are in no way conservative. The neocons abandoned the Democrats stopped supporting Israel. On most matters the neocons are closer to Democrats than Republicans.

    • CaptSmith415

      Jews aren’t “real Americans”? Seriously?

      • GK Stevens

        Not what he said. And you know it.

    • Kenny A

      “They are nearly all East Coast and most of them are Jews. Their idea of “conservatism” is actually a right-wing version of progressivism adopted from Europe, which is no surprise since they are children of recent (post Civil War) immigrants.”

      Such as Jared Kushner.

    • D4x

      Jewish German migration to America between 1840-1848: many were peddlers, or small shopkeepers west of the Appalachians, and in the ante-bellum South. Mayer Lehman was one such German Jew, who was able to join his brothers in New Orleans in 1850: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayer_Lehman
      Quite a legacy. The Lehman Bros that collapsed in 2008 had not been managed by a Lehman in decades.

      My point is that you are using the wrong stereotypes to justify another wrong stereotype. Please try to leave “Jewish” out of it, unless you are naming specific people.

  • roastytoasty

    Here are 2 other articles about conservative elites.

    Matthew Continetti gives himself away as an insufferable elitist:
    http://freebeacon.com/columns/one-sentence-explains-washington-dysfunction/

    The Hoover Institute’s Bruce Thornton gives faux-conservatives a hard time featuring a photo of Matthew Continetti’s daddy-in-law, William Kristol: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267273/nevertrump-outrage-disappointed-elite-bruce-thornton

    Burn these do-goodin do-nuthins to the ground and salt the ashes…

  • Sayford Ford

    the problems started with bill buckley who sent chrissy to yale-after he wrote a book about how horrible yale was,instead of one of those small colleges in the back of nat’l review,not enough rich libs i guess,(2) refused to create a militant right wing
    student group student a la sds( i’m a former member) bill loved to hang around rich libs,who worshiped the ground he walked on

    • bc3b

      If Bill Buckley was anything, he was an elitist. Imagine how uncomfortable he would have been at a VFW picnic in a place like Warren, MI or Lorain, OH.

  • Bette

    There is great merit to this article. The Trump election is a sign of the exasperation of Americans, not only Republican Americans. But, where is President Trump exhibiting any more knowledge on our domestic problems than those criticized here. His lack of attention to the healthcare matter is exhibited in his formulaic comments of support for this or that; the question is does he even know that we have been single payer for the most part for so many years? Does he know Rcare is giving astronomical amounts of money to insurance companies to support the illusion that new Republican insurance will be better than Ocare? Does he know that this new plan will fail as well and the end result will/might be the incorporation of Medicaid, Rcare and Medicare with the ultimate result single payer in total?
    Does he know that incorporation of all of the above into single payer gives the feckless Congress, both sides, an easy way out of the collapse of Medicare in 17 years or less? Does he know these people fight first for their jobs, not the country? Does he know that Congress keeps their special health insurance plan, while we the other Americans have to scratch to find coverage that is affordable and actually useable? Why isn’t Trump speaking on these matters as eloquently as he spoke in Poland?

    • sweetmusic

      This is totally unfair. In the past 6 months he has put a conservative on the SC, pulled out of TPP and the Paris Accord, put NAFTA back on the table, gone full-speed ahead on energy production, eliminated regulations that posed major impediments to small businesses, pushed NATO members to begin paying their fair share, restored a missile defense system in Poland, given neocon warmongers short shrift as policy-makers, defeated the Isis caliphate in Iraq, gave new life to Obama’s notorious red line in Syria, reduced illegal immigration to a trickle while beginning at last to build the wall, reduced the size of government, especially at the VA, the EPA, and the State Department–and virtually destroyed the media’s credibility by calling out its fakery and unfairness. Judge Trump by his actions, not by what the lying media promulgates.

    • Kenny A

      As to your final question, Messrs Bannon and Miller were writing the Warsaw speech in their heads for a decade. The Nationalist Party are far less interested in health policy issues except to the extent that domestic populism generates support on which to base advances on fronts dearer to the Nationalist cause.

    • APR

      I think the battle between Trump and his Republican rivals in Washington DC is coming soon. Either that, or he suffers the fate of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. And I think there is more cunning in Trump.

  • bc3b

    There is a growing division between the conservative elite (Conservatism, Inc.) and many rank-and-file conservatives who now view themselves as nationalist populists.

  • Marty S>

    The Conservative Right fights the Left with coats and ties and morally proper weapons. The Progressive Left fights the Right in battle fatigues with any weapon that will destroy their opponent. Common sense would reason who the winner of this contest will be. Until the conservative establishment realizes they are in a civil war for survival and starts fighting with the same firepower used by the Left, no elite white papers or post graduate studies or right wing blog posts will change the route to destruction the conservative establishment seems to be taking.

    • Adobe_Walls

      It’s not enough to be better than they are, we must be better AT IT than they are.

    • JustData

      Yep, I hired a counter-punching street brawler as my President on purpose. I want him to tweet MORE, to talk to us directly MORE, to bust up the corruption/graft hog trough MORE and faster.
      Dems think 2018 and 2020 will be the same boomerang they got in 2010 and 2014 but they’re wrong. Obama never said America first; he tried to make America last, to damage us. Dems won’t beat MAGA, and corrupt RINOs like McCain, Graham, and Flake won’t either.

      • vladdy1

        Yes Yes Yes!

      • APR

        Still I wonder why there is no pushback on the opposition. Who are they (Trump, Pence) telling/asking that the leaking should stop? Why not start prosecuting people until the leaks stop?

  • SpeedMaster

    “Conservatism” caught the Globalism disease. It was fatal.

  • bmarie55

    The way they attacked the only proponent of a return to American principles was an eye-opener for me. That they would prefer Hillary Clinton is inexcusable and totally selfish.

    • dagny

      It showed their “virtue”.

      • Archimedes

        Duchess, It’s good to “see you around” …

  • L.B. & F.M.

    Excellent conclusion!

  • Simon Kalathara

    On-Target!

  • Puddle_Glum

    In the conservative intellectuals you’ve named what proof is there that they’re capable of taking in the concerns of Americans as a whole? Are any of them even close to what we would rightly call a renaissance man? I don’t imply fraud but true, and probably faultless, incapacity.

    Brooks takes a female high school graduate to a gourmet sandwich shop and has to leave because she’s uncomfortable with the choices of Italian cured meats. To everyman Italians these are standard fare. Something more is going on if Thurginer should scare me.

    She is an abstraction, in the end, because she’s not knowable by him the way people are knowable to each other who, even if separated by class, are not so separated by Super Zip. Can you see him taking a working class male to lunch? Me neither.

    And last but not least, conservative intellectuals and I do use that term loosely, have aided and abetted the fictionalization of Americans by having neither the wit or will to take Minorities’ philosophy.

    • APR

      Sorry, but that was David Brooks, the token mild sort-of conservative retained by the NY Times, who took his friend to the sandwich shop with the pretentious ingredient names. This Brooks is Arthur Brooks.

  • 2summer4

    Add the insufferable Hugh Hewitt to the list of “conservative” elites. His best buds are lefties from NBC or people like Arthur Brooks. Why else would he have a show on MSNBC and never show up on Fox. He tries very hard to hide his disdain for Trump.
    Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt Praises Obama for ‘Superb’ Mosque Address | Mediaite

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/conservative-radio-host-hugh-hewitt-praises-obama-for-superb-mosque-address/

    • Kenny A

      One should try to distinguish between conservative intellectuals and right-branded media personalities.

  • ladychurchillusa

    Great article. I have been saying for awhile it is time to leave utopian theories behind and get behind a Trump pragmatism we can all live with. This search for the grail is getting exhausting and I for one want us as Americans to have a good life. That cannot be achieved if all you do is stare and your navel and pray for utopia. Trump is doing what he can to make this a better country, get on board or get out of the way.

  • CaptSmith415

    So I assume AEI didn’t offer you a job?

  • TheGipper

    From my perspective, the establishment Republicans are a bunch of surrender monkeys. They have no passion for anything that I can see. They get most of their votes simply because they aren’t Democrats. Perhaps they have noticed that the first time a candidate came around who looked like he MIGHT do what he said he would do during the campaign, the voters gave him both the nomination and eventually the presidency. I really hope we can get rid of at least a little of the dead weight in the primaries next year. Candidates who will actually fight for what their voters want are needed, not those who all too quickly throw in the towel and run around mumbling about government shutdowns.

    • APR

      Even Mike Pence comes across as a bloodless, colorless politician with the smooth phrases and disarming chuckle. He has no passion. He reminds me of Dukakis (1988, for the young).

  • Travvy

    “As Irving Kristol once wrote, “The Founding Fathers and Adam Smith…could not have interpreted the domination of economic activity by large corporate bureaucracies as representing, in any sense, the working of a ‘system of natural liberty.’”

    They couldn’t have fathomed Television, Cars or Jet Aircraft, either.

    So, what’s your point?

  • GK Stevens

    Superb! Hillsdale is turning out thinkers.

  • Peter63

    Conservatism Inc. has long been a forum for people who want the rewards of a role in public life without doing any significant FIGHTING. Just like most of the GOP in Congress.

    • Kenny A

      So you’re out there hurling the molotov cocktails the other direction?

  • Karl Marx

    I think about what kind of job someone like Paul Gottfried would have done on a Fisk like this and can’t help but conclude AG is just another kind of Conservatism Inc. What exactly are you guys doing to fight? All you do is talk, and since you won’t talk about Cultural Marxism, you’re not much use.

  • Peta Johnson

    It is important that there be intellectual research. Lord Keynes’ remarks about “practical men” being disciples of some unknown (to them) deceased economist is transparently right. But Hayek’s addition – that it requires a statesman to turn libertarianism into an electorally attractive program – is exactly right. President Trump is that statesman. Just as President Reagan was. It is noteworthy that both had suffered divorces and both have roots in show business.
    As for AEI, Brooks is arrogant in not seeing the narrowness of his own expertise.

  • Literally Hitler

    The only good shitlib is a dead shitlib.

  • Old_Blue_64

    There are so many “Never Trump,” so-called intellectuals to mention, including Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Jonah Goldberg, Kevin Williamson, David French, and I could go on. They live in an ivory tower just as detached from reality as the liberal university intellectuals they claim to despise. Politics is the art of the possible, not the art of coming up with the best lie or sound bite. It is also not “my way or the highway,” as that is the road to paralysis and ruin. That’s where Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders live, opposite sides of the same coin.

    If these “intellectuals” don’t start defending our president and his programs, we may all fall to ruin with, God help us, the next Democrat president.

  • polmom

    “Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, and he is certainly well-meaning. But he does not seem to realize that his ideas lack a constituency beyond AEI’s donor base.” Herein lies the crux of the problem of politically correct conservatism, not just AEI, but most all of the supposed conservative publications and think tanks. None of them have a sufficient subscriber base or grassroots support to be independently sustainable so they must subject themselves to “donor therapy” in order to maintain a steady income.

    “Donors” represent corporate interests whose primary goal is shareholder return. They seem to believe if they just precede their strategies to secure rent seeking opportunities with the word “free”, they can lasso decision makers throughout RINO land to advocate for their missions. Being “our brothers keeper” seems to be quite a lucrative business for corporate and business interests who relish the idea of receiving preferable treatment and a steady flow of revenue through noncompetitive pursuits. Apparently, any commodity, product, service that is mass consumed is amenable to government/corporate partnerships to skim the top for profits and expand the reach of government. Win-win for them–lose-lose for citizens and freedom.

  • TrustbutVerify

    Conservative Inc., aka the Never-Trumpers, prefer those who speak well of conservative values and what should be done as opposed to anyone that they don’t approve of for one reason or another and who actually DOES conservative things …like Trump. He has advanced conservative interests more than W ever did and certainly reversed Obama and prevented Hillary. They should be singing “Hosannas” to what has happened rather than lamenting the purity of its inception.

  • Julie Chovanes

    Securing the rights of everyone is something the Left agrees with too, I am sure.

    • cynthia

      Nope. If you are a Christian baker, you don’t have rights.

    • JHX

      HAHAHAHAH…. Good one!

  • obadiah_edomite

    Author doesn’t have a clue about the real conservative intellectual elite: rush, sean, levin and trump’s guru, dr. michael savage.

    • polmom

      “Elite” implies status and privilege. Conservative talk radio has none of that outside of their audiences’ ardor and, in fact, are routinely ostracized and demonized by elites and constituents of both sides.

  • Lihot

    Translation: Brooks is a total cuck. Name one thing that the American public wanted “conserved” that has been conserved. Cucks like Brooks can’t even keep naked men out of their daughters’ locker room. Brooks needs to read less Paul Ryan and a little more Theodore Beale, if you get my meaning.

  • ian Chapman

    The fundamental issue with the Conservative Intellectual Elite is (as others have noted), they actually share the Progressive’s desire to CONTROL govt and use govt to control the levers of power and the people. Ostensibly this is to remove them, but since when has any govt program under either party been removed once implemented (hint: Zero).

    What sets both apart is they both view themselves as Philosopher Kings and thus morally, and intellectually *entitled* to rule, and politics is the crude but necessary tool to get the rubes to keep you in power. This is why much of the Conservative Elite *despise* President Trump in much the same way elites in the past despised Theodore Rosevelt and Andrew Jackson.

  • chatmandu7451

    The Mainstream Media, aka “Fake News”, controls the narrative in this country. The MSM will determine what a majority of the people see, hear and read. The people only know what the “Fake News” media wants them to know.

    • Chris706

      But not as much as it used to. The multiplication of news sources, like this one, is freeing us from thier control. We are not there yet, but it is getting closer.

      • JHX

        Yeah.. When all that was available was a handful of network channels and a few papers? They were on easy street.. You could shape the whole country’s view of the world with a system like that, because they were the only window to that world for most people.

        I sometimes wonder: If they knew how the internet would change things, would they have allowed it to be created?

  • chatmandu7451

    The Mainstream Media has failed at its job of protecting the American people from the corruption and abuse of our government. The MSM was given special privileges under the Constitution to hold our government accountable. Instead, the MSM has aligned itself with one side of our political equation and only holds the other side accountable.

    • JustData

      Lefty MSM doesn’t just fail to hold the left accountable, they lie, cheat and scheme to aid and abet the lefty fascist and globalist policies.
      They’re nothing short of evil.

  • chatmandu7451

    The republican elite have become nothing more than RINOs, who can’t change with the times. The RINOs in congress don’t want to change a thing or be held responsible for making a decision. For the RINOs it’s all about hanging onto their power and big money supporters.

  • Done With It

    If the AEI was of any use, it would have figured this out on its own. You think they don’t know these things? Of course they do. They are putting out information their donations want to read.

    They are no different than climate scientists producing studies that will earn them additional funding.

    The AEI (and the others in their field) is a corrupt establishment organization of absolutely no use to citizens.

  • Walpurgis

    The capitalist horse pulls the socialist wagon. For around the last 10 years the wagon’s weight is too much for the horse to pull. And the whole thing takes place on an incline where eventually the wagon will start to drag the horse backwards.

  • thesheeplewillhavetheirsay

    I used to really like people such as Brooks, Krauthammer, etc. Now I literally can’t stand them, and I don’t ever give them even one second of my time.
    If Trump has done nothing else, he has helped to hasten the great winnowing which the conservative movement and Republican Party have long needed…..

    • JHX

      If Trump has done nothing else, he has helped to hasten the great
      winnowing which the conservative movement and Republican Party have long
      needed…..

      True.. All it needed was a leader. Trump did it so easily! He defeated so many experienced pols, with the establishment seal of approval, the first time out of the gate. They never knew what hit them.

      That’s how weak they were.. A reality TV star can steal it all away in a single election.

      • vladdy1

        And the 30 years of experience dealing with regulations, taxes, global legislation and cultures, working people, etc. helped. (His foray into Hollywood was so successful that at times we forget the rest.)

  • Sarah Laughlin

    These pieces from Mike Sabo are so predictable. He loves to be critical of “conservative, inc” but really this “recent graduate of Hillsdale College” (when did he graduate? At least a year ago) seems to be jealous of their success and wants to be one of them. He lives in the beltway and graduated from a school known for producing think tankers.

  • JHX

    Bottom line: Brooks and the conservative intellectual class need to get in touch with the American mind.

    Why bother when their job is to circumvent it? Their think tanks and nonsense publications are nothing more than an attempt to get lawmakers to ignore their own constituencies. Thank God almighty that people are finally waking up to this false dialogue the “conservative elites” have been having with one another and just cast them all out.

    Trump did this.

    He was the opposite of the polished robo-pol. By completely exposing himself to the American public, he was judged to be a good man who deeply cares about America and acts in good faith. The fact that he also revealed some bad habits and a temper only served to certify this revelation as the genuine article, and America responded by giving him their seal of approval and qualifying him to lead.

    Likewise, in their (almost religious) zeal to bring him down, his detractors also revealed themselves completely. America saw these people as monsters who have a barely concealed hatred for them and for what they think and believe. At best they saw a bunch of self dealing incompetents.

    People like Mr. Brooks see Donald and his flaws exposed to all, and puzzle because he has been accepted regardless of this. What they miss is the latter part. That they have been exposed as well.

  • Ridonkulous101

    Excellent, as far as it goes. Perhaps a follow-up on the concept of “think tanks”, their origin, funding, and perceived vs. actual purpose in society and government today is warranted.

  • Mark Hamilton

    Great article. Williamson is particularly loathsome. The lame commenters that worship his screeds at National Review need to get out more. When he is not writing hit pieces against specific women, he’s pretending to be an expert on issue after issue just like the rest of the useless punditocracy.

    That the conservative intellectual “elite” has lost its way is obvious. They bray about the Founders incessantly, but somehow support endless foreign interventions, unlimited immigration and worship at the altar of “free trade”, which in actual application has been at best a very mixed blessing for your average American.

    At any rate, the fundamental problem with these eggheads is that even when they are right in principle about something like free trade, which in theory should work in a way that is a clear net benefit to all, they are ignoring the practical realities of actual life. When you tell tens of millions of Americans who are natural GOP voters to essentially stuff it because they are just casualties of Adam Smith’s invisible hand you end up losing elections. Then your precious policies don’t get enacted anyway. Instead, you get even more state intervention from the Left and this country ends up farther in the hole.

    • Severn

      Virtually every single position of the Official Conservative Movement is sharply at odds with the words and deeds of the Founders. Free trade, for instance … the Founders were firmly against it, and were staunch mercantillists and believers in tariffs.

    • JHX

      Great article. Williamson is particularly loathsome.

      With few exceptions, so is the whole of NR now.

      Anyone remember Williamson assaulting a woman in the opera and throwing her cell phone? HE calls Trump petty and childish. LOL!

  • cbl1984

    Conservatism, in the final analysis, does not work nowadays in practice. It’s about the theories of small government being applied equally everywhere, but in practice it is NOT about applying small government everywhere. Take oil subsidies: why in heck are we supposed to provide oil subsidies to the big rich oil companies, while at the same time, arguing against a culture of entitlements? The same with the bank bailout of 2008. The same with this new health care bill where it will apply to all but where Congress is exempt from it. The same with fighting two wars OFF budget to make it look like the deficit is artificially contained.
    As for tax cuts, these may have worked in a world where America was the only game in town, but since globalization, a company can get more bang for the buck by shifting jobs overseas than by creating jobs through money gained through a tax cut. Therefore a tax cut without rules of where the money has to be spent is useless. Don’t get me wrong: there may still be a moral case for certain tax cuts but it’s nonsense to believe that simply reapplying Reaganomics again will get the economy booming again with no new additional ideas!

  • Severn

    Trying to shoehorn contemporary American political arguments into a libeal-vs-conservative paradigm is never going to shed any light. What we are really experiencing as a replay of the Optimates vs Populares in ancient Rome. Perhaps VDH can write an essay on it. One striking similarity – Julius Ceasar was a Populares politician, and was murdered by the Optimate Brutus. In the infamous play currently running on Broadway Ceasar/Trump is murdered, to the satisfaction of the optimates in the audience.

  • olderwiser

    One can be faithful to the ideals of conservatism while supporting a pragmatist. The guiding principle is, “Must be present to win.” If the presidency is held by an America First pragmatist who is generally sympathetic to most conservative values, undercutting the President violates the guiding principle. Arthur Brooks, et al, are living out a fantasy if they truly believe that opposing President Trump will yield a different President more in sympathy with conservative ideals. If the Never Trump conservatives continue in their conservative purist opposition, they will not be present at all in his successor’s Administration. And if they are not present, conservatism will lose, and lose badly – the Senate, the House, and the appointment of Supreme Court Justices will all be in the hands of the liberal progressive fascists.

  • George Turner

    Not long ago climatologist Judith Curry linked an interesting and related essay that goes right to the heart of this topic.

    The Effective Politics of Keeping it Real

    Why real nobodies are more powerful than repressed somebodies (the internet epoch has hardly begun).

    It once made sense for professional intellectuals to bite their tongue in exchange for the influence they could gain by conforming to the dominant language. For a while, this was arguably rational and defensible—perhaps even a game-theoretic necessity for anyone sincerely interested in cultivating a genuinely public and political intellectual project. While it’s obvious the internet has changed the game, old stereotypes die hard and continue to constrain human potential well after their objective basis has disappeared. In particular, the contemporary stereotype of the public intellectual as a self-possessed professional who regularly appears in “the media” to speak on public affairs in the royal language, is a contingent product of the postwar rise of mass broadcasting (one-to-many) media. In much of the postwar period, the classic “mass media”—newspapers, radio, television—had extremely large, mass audiences and where characterized by high costs of entry. This technical and economic environment offered huge rewards for speaking the dominant language within the paramaters of respectable opinion. It was probably with cable television that a centrifugal tendency began the processes of fragmentation, polarization, and decentralization that would eventually bring us to where we are today.

    Today, there is no longer any mass audience to speak to through dominant channels, overwhelming majorities do not trust mass media, and even the cognitively fragmented semi-mass audiences that remain will only listen to what they already think. Not to mention the masses probably have less power today than anytime in the twentieth century, so why bother even trying to speak to the masses? As a young academic, if I play by the rules for the next 10 years so that I might be respected by influential academics or gain access to regularly speaking on BBC or something like that, I would have sacrificed all of my creative energy for quite nearly nothing. As far as I can tell, today, the idea of biding your time as a young and respectable intellectual, to one day earn a platform of political significance, appears finally and fully obsolete.

    The whole thing is good.

  • mistermcfrugal

    Let’s make this simple, if you hate Trump, you’re a leftist, no matter what lie you attempt to make us believe. All MSM wants if for people to hate Trump, whether from the right or left. When you cooperate, you’re just another leftist.

  • jjcassidy

    I think this article shows that the conservative intellectuals have lost effectiveness because they’ve lost their ability to actually make a point (what any intellectual endeavor should be about). They have somewhat absorbed (not an intellectual activity, but socialization happens to everyone and anyone) the liberal values and pretense to “intellect” that a true intellectual will tend to test himself with. And, it seems, they’ve also absorbed the concern about the maintenance of cultural signifiers, a gloss over the sinew of analysis. They are so used to their orbits on the margin of liberal society, that when liberal society moves, they move as well.

    Just take a look, in the sandwich article so roundly ridiculed by Brooks recently, he criticizes the social markers as providing a burden to entry, only 8 years after saying how great it was that Obama had sharply creased pants–what is that if not a social marker? Brooks seems now relegated to writing pieces about unwinding his unwitting cluelessness, such as an apparently inferred connection between a lack of a college degree and familiarity with the names of deli fixings that any Bronx elementary kid knows from the local deli (I’m told).

    The Italian sandwich fixin’s are an attribute of the coast culture and the gourmet upper-class requirement for out-of-the-normal foods–or at least names and preparations. In other words, we’re talking about socialization. Brooks article appears more to be a confession of his own entrapment in fun-house mirrors of social expectations (also not intellectual) as his only intellectual feat.

  • Bill Ireland

    The writer begins by mentioning Donald Trump’s appalling Twitter habit, and contrasts that with the “effete” posturings of the conservative elite. Maybe the president’s tweets really are more “in touch with the American mind.” But is that the part of America we want to encourage? Childish, petty, vindictive, illiterate and boorish–is that how conservatives should present themselves?

    • jjcassidy

      Donald Trump could be all that and it still wouldn’t address the relevance of supposed conservative intellectuals, which is what the article is about.

    • JHX

      Childish, petty, vindictive, illiterate and boorish–is that how conservatives should present themselves?

      I’ll take it. Because the cosmopolitan elite haven’t conserved a damn thing.

      And frankly, they’re just petty and vindictive as Trump. Even worse. They’re just more tactful about it.

    • Severn

      Childish, petty, vindictive, illiterate and boorish–is that how conservatives should present themselves?

      That is exactly how you and the other neverTrumpers present yourselves, though you lack the self-awareness to know it. Trump, who made billions in real estate and then defeated the combined Democratic-Republican-MSM Uniparty apparatus, cannot seriously be described as ‘childish” or “illiterate”, and he’s a lot less petty, boorish, and vindictive than his critics are.

  • Dixie_Pixie

    What is “Conservatism Inc” good for when as a social / political movement when it has no followers ?
    Outside of Utah, Evan McMullin as the #NeverTrump candidate was getting less than 2% of the vote when on the ballot.
    “Conservatism Inc” is in impossible trouble if they can’t out-draw Jill Stein of the Green Party.

    What “Conservative Inc” needs to do is sit-down and revamp its core philosophy to make it relevant to how the people of America actually live. In accordance of the needs and wants of the American Public. Until they do that, they are merely hood ornaments on the American Globalist Empire.

  • Dixie_Pixie

    To demonstrate the cluelessness of the “Conservative Intellectual Elite”, the Iraq War was supposed to be Grand Experiment in re-constructing a nation to “Conservative Intellectual Elite” specifications.
    After 14 years no one wants to concede it was a total debacle.
    To do so would be to admit Conservative Ideas simply do not work in the real world.

    Conservatism (2000 –> 2008) was given a try and it failed.
    Liberalism / Progressivism (2008 –> 2016) was given a try and failed.
    So neither was voted into power as the Trump Presidency.

    Neither the Progressives nor the Conservative Intellectual Elite has yet to understand what happened to their tidy, cozy world.

    • JHX

      Conservatism (2000 –> 2008) was given a try and it failed.

      The apogee of the Neocons. The zenith of their control. It fell apart so quickly. America fired multiple warning shots across their bow. The Neos replied that these people were stupid, or possibly “appeasers” or “with the terrorists”

      Since they refused to listen and to learn from their mistakes, we all were fired, twice. (Thus setting the stage for Emperor “I Won!”)

      I think the biggest mistake the Republican and Conservative establishment made following that was not throwing Dubya Bush under the political bus where he belonged. They refused, and America threw them under the bus instead.

      • Dixie_Pixie

        Thanks JHX.
        What I find as amazing is Washington’s desire never to admit an ideological mistake.

        So even after 16 years in the Middle-East, no one in Washington will admit failure.
        No one has the guts to pull the plug and cut America’s losses.
        So America keeps blundering from one disaster into another in the vain hope it will turn out alright in the end.

        • JHX

          It is pretty amazing to watch. I mean, we ever saw Islamic democracy take root in Egypt. And it was so appalling I found myself cheering a military coup, FFS..

          I have to believe they’re just being bribed or something? Nothing else makes sense. They’re not THAT stupid, are they?

          • Dixie_Pixie

            How is it that during the Muslim Uncivil War lasting decades that Washington does not see our “Good Buddies” and ally, the Saudi, is one of two major belligerents. And even worse than the NAZI.

            Yet it goes un-noticed in Washington. Like the stunned amazement at millions fleeing Wahhabi Genocide. Or the effect of having all the “Moderate” Free Syrian Army soldiers trained by Saudi Arabia, promptly defect to the Jihadists and ISIS.

            Yet not a word is spoken about such matters in Washington.
            Yep….The drone-plinking campaign in Yemen was a game-changer in warfare according to Obama.
            Except it grew into a full-blown Saudi–Yemen War.
            Not a word is spoken in the MSM.
            Its Russia–Trump 24/7 / forever.

          • JHX

            Actually, based on the Bushes kissing all over the Saudi Royals and the donations to Hillary’s charity? I think the Saudi’s are the ones bribing them.

            They may not be alone, but they have the money and the most to gain from this regime change circus.

          • Dixie_Pixie

            In 1945 a deal was cut between FDR and Bin Saudi for America to drill for oil in Saudi Arabia. In return for American protection the money from the crude oil sales was to be put into New York Banks as “investments”.
            After over 70 years those “investments” grew to over tens of trillions of dollars. As a result the Saudi are one of the biggest investors of Media and News companies.

            He who has the “Gold” makes the “Rules”. Its a Wall Street adage.
            The Saudi are “Golden” as far as Wall Street and the New York Banks are concerned.

        • polmom

          But, what if “failure” translates into higher defense spending, establishment of American presence and influence in Muslim countries and, fuel for replacement migration of western countries. Then its winning by design.

          • Dixie_Pixie

            Not even a Marvel Super-Villain could come up with a evil plan like the “Endless War on Terror”. Marvel Super-Villains do have some standards.

  • Trump pushed National Review and that sector into irrelevance. I no more mourn the passing of the superannuated conservative elite, such as it was, than I mourn the doom of the Whigs.

  • Billygoattincan

    Long live Mike Sabo. A credit to Hillsdale College. The conservative elite are now indistinguishable in terms of policy prescriptions from RINOs. Thanks for the article exposing the long history of uninterrupted intellectual decay of the erstwhile conservative elite.

  • Wow — conservative intellectual elite (itself an oxymoron) is blind

    The rise of Donald Trump not only highlights the fecklessness of the
    political class but also the blindness of the conservative intellectual
    elite.

    Conservatism Inc., the vast apparatus
    of thinks tanks, policy journals, and periodicals that have formed the
    intellectual foundation for the Right over the past few decades, has failed
    to deliver on its promise to provide a coherent theoretical foundation
    for conservatism. Put simply, we’re not well served by continuing to recite from a checklist.

    Consider this as a possible explanation: Conservative:

    holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.

    adjective:
    synonyms:traditionalist, traditional, conventional, orthodox, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool, hidebound, unadventurous, set in one’s ways; More

    noun
    1. a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.

    Now think of stupid. Unwilling or unable to learn new stuff. This might explain why less than 10% of scientists, whose life’s work is dedicated to exploring and learning about new stuff identify as conservative or republican. And before some apologist embarrasses himself with a comment about how scientists work for government or elite institutions: Well yeah they do. They are, judging by salaries, not the best of the bunch, and amount to less than 13%. The rest are in non-profits or private industry (70%)

    But you may be on the road to recovery. The first step in fixing a problem is recognizing that you have one — viz. Mind numbing stupidity. As just two examples. Most of you still do not think that gays are fully human, and are doing everything in your power to limit their rights. Even better, over 50 years after the civil rights act you are still doing everything in your power to disenfranchise blacks.

    Hey here is a third one. You seem to think that by limiting women’s access to birth control you can reduce the number of abortions. That in itself, takes stupid to entirely new levels https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194801/

    • Oh — yet another instance of stupid. At an even greater level than the one that believes that by limiting access to birth control you can reduce the number of abortions. This one presents evidence that most conservatives / republicans really are dumber than almost all life forms on the planet, since almost all life forms, including insects, microorganisms and plants are moving to cooler parts of the planet, either towards the poles or higher elevations. (That percentage who are dumber than other life forms is about 80%)
      http://dnusbaum.com/AGWdeniers.html

  • Tom_in_SFCA

    Fantastic article. Here in the Bay Area leftists physically attack any public expressions of non-leftist thought and do so with the support of local government. We conservatives are now fighting back. Literally. To update Margaret Thatcher, “First you smash ’em in the mouth, then you win the argument, then…” David Brooks can get bent. I know that if some antifa creep sneaks up on me and smashes my head open with a bike lock, Brooks will never know or care. I will keep my own counsel when deciding how to be a political activist in the face of this threat.

  • vaccinia

    The reality being…..eGOP & Progs are merely two different sides of the same coin.

  • JohnnyClams

    The conservative “movement,” so called, has been corrupted from the start by its money mills of recruitment, think tanks, corporate and foundation dependency, and the like. It’s as much a business (a way of making money or getting on the gravy train) as anything.

  • Stephanie Falcone Lynch

    This is really spot on.

  • dwpittelli

    “unlike commentators such as National Review’s Kevin Williamson, who thinks poorer communities “deserve to die,” at least Brooks seems interested in helping people hurt by unfettered globalization”

    False dichotomy. Williamson makes a distinction between people who are in need of help, and places, such as isolated towns near played-out gypsum mines, which no longer have an economic reason for being. A big part of helping the remaining people in such places is encouraging them to move to where there are jobs.

    • PubliusII

      I disagree wholeheartedly with Williamson regarding Trump, who’s a badly needed wrecking ball aimed at the Deep State.

      But Williamson’s recommendation is exactly right: that if you’re out of work in a place where jobs no longer exist, move away to where the jobs are — any jobs. Pack up and go, or just go. That’s the only way to survive. And frankly, it’s the American way, established long before the United States even existed as a political entity.

  • nofreelunch

    Common Sense: Sound knowledge derived from experience and observation rather than study. Intellectuals of all stripes have very little. Those who have not tested their ideas in the crucible of life experience, are ignorant of their ignorance.

    • hoosier1234

      Maybe at least half of their committees ought to be Deplorables who could straighten out their thinking that our nation is limited to big cities and their political ineptness and self-made problems.

  • When the leadership of the GOP slammed the Tea Party, then betrayed us in 2013-2016, they showed they didn’t give a damn about the principles (or they lack them altogether) of the Republican Party. That, and the imperial presidency of Barack Obama gave us Mr. Trump. Kid Rock just announced that he’s going to run against Debbie Stabenow in MI for the US Senate in 2018.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a1ce3727dd2746dd5812ec7850e2d6d6637b3baa4a38fc5005be39f5da458016.png

    that’s his agenda. That will resonate here in MI because regulations are strangling business into the ground.

  • Carl Eric Scott

    The criticism of Brooks is fine, and on point. The malicious mis-characterization of a point Williamson made is not. And the continued trend of lumping all conservatives who opposed the election of Trump into one neat category, to be associated with the likes of Flake’s wimpery, or Bill Kristol’s loss of sanity w/ respect to Trump, is contemptible. Sabo writes about us with no more fairness than that Middlebury barbarian accorded to Murray.
    I expect as much from 60% of AG’s commenters, but not from one of their writers.

    • CaptSmith415

      Amen.

    • W_T_P

      This is the very sort of white glove elitism that proves Sabo’s point. If you fail to learn from this article, and if the #NeverTrump crowd continues in this manner, get ready for even more Trump and maybe a President Kid Rock right behind.

      I don’t necessarily like it either but it has been coming for decades now. Conservatives refused to fight. They hide behind the Will/Rove model of “never go to war with people who buy ink by the barrell”. I will say this for Trump, he did and he won. As Lincoln said of Grant, we cannot spare this man, he fights.

  • ignatz

    This might has made sense a few months ago, but now with Trump proving all the negative apprehensions the conservatives had about him this line of argument is quickly growing irrelevant.

  • Nice post. Tweeted it out to Brooks’s attention: https://twitter.com/BadgerPundit/status/887380982080425986. Wouldn’t hurt him to read it.

  • Richard AndSharon

    Milton Friedman: Intellectuals demand to have free choice but wish the will of the government monopoly on violence to control others. (or thereabouts)

  • Sweet_Lou

    An unfair summary of Kevin Williamson’s thoughts on poor people and poor communities.

    Williamson recognizes the need to help the poor, but argues that some towns are not going to be revitalized with any reasonable amount of aid.

    In the article to which you link, he uses as an example a town which lacks the resources and advantages to thrive — and this town has lacked these resources for a long time.

    Williamson does not advocate letting poor people die, but he also asserts that there are some life choices that just will not allow for a person to escape poverty. Staying in a locale which lacks economic opportunity is often one of these choices.

  • FaCubeItches

    “Bottom line: Brooks and the conservative intellectual class need to get in touch with the American mind.”

    The problem is that they don’t want to. The “conservative intellectual class” largely views the American public as mindless thugs/faceless drones who need their guidance. Getting in touch with the American mind defeats the whole point of being an elite – not having to deal with, or even consider the existence of, the dirty plebians.

  • W_T_P

    “Brooks is far from alone in his moral confusion. In fact, it seems that gaslighting of this magnitude is the tie that binds elite circles on the Right together.

    For example, just after the attempted assassination of Republican congressmen during a baseball practice, U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) implied on CNN (where else?) that the Right was just as culpable as the Left in fomenting a culture of violence.”

    This. And to my mind the root of such is in the schools in which entire generations, from boomers to millennials, were raised. The culture of so-called non-violence where “all fighting is wrong” and “it doesn’t matter who started it”. A culture of absolute non-violence will always favor the agressors. This attitude has been instilled in Americans at a very young age. I have serious doubts at this point that it can be rooted out.

  • Herein82

    This is why Trump won the primary. All the other Repubs were walking focus group and think tank slogans, and the people had enough of it. Trump actually emobidied a lot of the Left wing anger and won over Left wing voters in the mid west, the middle America the left and right wing think tanks disdain.

    I once had a discussion with an intellectual economist from a major think tank. This was 2002. He said that jobs leaving the country to Asia, etc., aren’t important because the US will develope some new technology to takes its place. I asked that if our jobs are mobile, wouldn’t innovation be mobile too?

    He just kind of dismissed this. Because he knew he was wrong and was feeding this rube a bunch of b.s.

    So screw think tanks, screw Kristol, screw Williamson.

    • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

      He wasn’t wrong, he just didn’t understand the subject well enough to speak on it.

      • Herein82

        Ok, explain it then. This should be good.

        • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

          The conditions necessary for job movement aren’t the same as those necessary for innovation “movement”.

          A factory can be built anywhere, but the resources necessary for innovation include a strong educational system, natural resources, and favorable regulation among others. They are more varied and diverse, especially the educational requirements.

          Add to that, the people doing the innovation are high achievers with choices. They will not tolerate being asked to do work in third world countries. Factory workers have no such option.

          So, in short, those, and other factors, make innovation so different from employment that comparing them like you did is simplistic at best, and useless at worst.

          Now, go ahead and post your “nu uhhhhh!!!” of a reply. This definitely will not be any good.

          As an aside, you don’t know me, you asked me to explain something to you, and acted like a prick in the process. I had every intention of telling you to screw, but you’re that little turd who would try to portray that as something stupid, like me being afraid to respond or being incapable of making my case.

          So, now that I’ve shown why you were wrong, NOW screw.

          And as a second aside, I fully expect you to tantrum at me and insist you’re right. I don’t care. I know better. I just proved it.

          Credentialism is for idiots. Stop it.

          • Herein82

            Talent and brainpower can be transferred anywhere, which is why China went from a third world economy in 1989 to a global tech hegemon now.

            And the first world countries, in order to increase profits, make that happen by moving all that talent and education, etc over there by educating foreigners here or training them there.

            Add the internet and global comm to the mix.

            Everything is mobile. And if that is the case there is simply no way anyone can guarantee that so called free trade helps any nation with a high standard of living.

            So frankly you are the one who doesn’t get it.

            And you’re the one who acted like a prick, assuming you know more on a subject. Obviously you don’t.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            “Talent and brainpower can be transferred anywhere, which is why China went from a third world economy in 1989 to a global tech hegemon now.”

            Except that’s only one part of everything required for innovation that I listed, and you only get to your point by intentionally ignoring what I said. Stupid people like you do that when you know you’re wrong. They had the resources and regulation, in their case tyrannical devotion to innovation and iron rule. But you ignore the entirety of my post because you’re too stupid to understand it.

            “Everything is mobile”

            Yeah, you keep asserting that. And then reassrrting it, like your assertions are evidence.

            “So frankly you are the one who doesn’t get it.”

            There’s that “nu-uhhhhh!!!!” I predicted. Right on time.

            “And you’re the one who acted like a prick, ”

            When you try to start a civil conversation with “this should be good” you don’t get to call anyone prick.

            Seriously WTF is wrong with people like You? I started the converstion civilly and you came out like a jerk, and then you stupidly try to claim I acted like a prick because I don’t agreed with you on a very contentious subject?

            WTF is wrong with you?

            Your friend didn’t fail to explain it to you because he couldnt. He clearly chose not to because you’re an idiot and unpleasant to converse with.

          • Herein82

            You didn’t start out civilly. You assumed, and you still assume, I’m too stupid to get it.

            Look around, this country hasn’t hadn’t real wage increases since 1973, the median income is down, and the service sector and government are booming.

            Everything is mobile, its obvious if you ever had a job. Do you have a job? If a country doesn’t have natural resources, the take jobs like light tech, data entry, etc. If a country has natural resources they get factories, tech, etc.

            The countries’ governments benefit from increased economic activity, the people in those countries benefit from a modest wage increase, and libertarian dicks assuage their guilt for hollowing out the country to increase their profits by claiming they’re humanitarians.

            And they hopscotch around the world doing this.

            So my point, which still stands is that the PhD I was talking to, and now you, are engaging in faith based free trade, or you’re just ignorant, because it is just a scheme built on maximum profit, and to hell with morals.

            If you really, truly, wanted to be civil, you’d exercise some self awareness and realize that maybe someone knows something you don’t.

            Which is manifest.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            “You didn’t start out civilly. You assumed, and you still assume, I’m too stupid to get it.”

            No you lying narcissist, I did not. I did in fact start out civilly, you are a liar.

            “He wasn’t wrong, he just didn’t understand the subject well enough to speak on it”

            NOWHERE am I in ANY WAY referencing you. The ONLY assumptions there is that HE did not understand it. The TEXT is civil. The CONTENT is civil. You are a liar.

            WTF is wrong with you?

            And by the way, I don’t have to assume you’re too stupid to get it. You’ve proven it.

          • Herein82

            No, you’re projecting, which is what narcissists do. You think you started out civilly because you don’t care that you come across so smugly.

            Obviously if he didn’t understand it, then I don’t understand it. That’s called logic.

            And again, you’re proving you don’t understand.

            And you keep upvoting yourself, which is funny.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            “Obviously if he didn’t understand it, then I don’t understand it. That’s called logic.”

            Are you RETARDED?

            No, I get it now, you are stupid, you are a liar, and I got trolled.

          • Herein82

            Narcissists are also in denial, and are never wrong. And do weird things like upvote themselves.

            Maybe you jack off to your own pic, I don’t know.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Hey hey, everyone, this Fuc­king Retard thinks that if someone other than him doesn’t understand something, then he doesn’t understand it.

            No, I’m not a Retard so it doesn’t make sense to me.

            And what kind of loser cares about other people’s votes?

            Are you gonna cry more about it?

            He is, watch him cry now.

          • Herein82

            You’re completely off the rails. Guess that’s the rage of a narcissist made to look like a fool.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            That’s it, cry more now narcissist like I tell you to.

            Notice when I made fun of him for being a loser and noticing votes, he stopped

          • Herein82

            Crying? I’m laughing at a fake intellectual who upvotes himself and pretended he was civil for about 5 seconds. The mask always comes off.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            “Crying? I’m laughing at a fake intellectual ”

            That’s exactly what someone who I made cry would say, THANKS!!!

            And notice, once I made fun of him for punking out and not talking about votes, he had to prove his bonafides by talking about them again.

            But what kind of loser spends their time caring and posting about other people’s votes?

            You!!! Dance crybaby!! Cry more now!

          • Herein82

            The use of exclamation points clearly prove your points. I couldn’t care less about you, that’s why you’re so funny.

            Regroup, take a deep breath and try again?

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Cry about my punctuation more!!!!

            Ahaahahahahahahahhaahhah

            You CANNOT STOP CRYING AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Herein82

            Ok, give the smartphone back to your mom.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Are you gonna keep crying if I don’t?

            Ahahahahahahhahahh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Herein82

            I won the argument. What am I crying about? I’m just watching a child throw a fit.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            “I won the argument”

            Ahahhahahah Ahahahhahah THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT PEOPLE WHO KNLW,THEY LOST SAY AHAHAH

            CRY MORE NOW!!!

          • Herein82

            No, that’s what people who won the argument say.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            “No, that’s what people who won the argument say.”

            THAT’S ALSO EXACTLY WHAT PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEY LOST SAY!!!

            AHAHHAHAHAH OMG YOU ARE ACTUALLY CRYING AHAHAHAHAHAHAJJAJJAJjajaja!!!!

          • Herein82

            Jaja, so you’re Latino?

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            omg you’re crying about THAT TOO?!?!?!!?

            YOU’RE A BIGOT AND A CRYBABY!!! AHAHAKAJAAKKDODNDJAHAHAHAHAAJJJAJJ

          • Herein82

            I am a bigot. I hate stupid people.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            ” I hate stupid people.”

            Awww, don’t hate yourself guy!!!!
            Ahahahahahahahh cry more now!!! You disgusting bigoted piece of trailer trash!!!!!

          • Herein82

            The best thing is how you completely lost your composure and went off the deep end.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Is that why you’re crying, you disgusting piece of bigot trash? Compassion?

            AhahahahnaahhaahjahaaaAhahahahhahaha cry more now!!!!!!!!!!!
            AHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAJAA

          • Herein82

            I’m a bigot because you used the Spanish form of lol? Yes, of course I am.

            I’m a piece of trash? Of course you think so: that’s what you meant in your very first “civil” post. You’re a joke, lol.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            See?

            CRY more now.

          • Herein82

            The projection never ends. You were exposed as a dullard and then somehow I’m the one “crying”. I’m screenshotting all of this, it is so funny.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            See?

            CRY more now

          • Herein82

            Lol

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            See?
            Cry more now

          • Herein82

            Ja ja ja

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Wait, are you bald?
            No wonder you’re crying so much and can’t stop ahahahahajjajaaj

            YOU’RE BALD!!!!!!!

            Say “Lulz” if everything I’m saying about you is true.

          • Herein82

            Lulz

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            35 and bald, even your hair can’t stand you!!!! AhahHHHHHHahahahahahaahahzjajajajdkksahhaahayahahanaj

            No wonder you can’t stop crying!!!

            And thanks for confirming!!!

            CRY more now!!!

          • Herein82

            I’m not 35, lol. Idk where you got that.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Who cares, stop crying about it, you need to cry about being bald and an admitted bigot.

            Like you are now!!!!

            CRY more little guy!!!!

            And frankly, I think you are, it’s a stupid thing to even bring up or cry about, so it is clearly true.

            CRY more about it now!!!

          • Herein82

            You care, you brought it up. Actually, my screen name is a song lyric. I’m not surprised you don’t know that. I imagine you wear Velcro shoes and a bike helmet.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Why would I care about a crybaby loser bigots taste in crap music?

            Why are you crying you pathetic bald life story to me, you hairless loser?

            Ahahahahahahahh cry more baldo!!!

          • Herein82

            I don’t know, why do you care about my appearance? You’re obsessed with me. I’m not gay, bro.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            OMG YOU’RE BALD, A BIGOT AND A HOMOPHOBE AHAHAHAHAHJAJAJAJ JESUS CHRIST!!!

            WHAT KIND OF LOSER CARES WHAT I THINK THEN CRIES ABOUT LIKE YOU HAVE!!!
            AHAHAHAHAHAHA

            AND YOU KEEP REPLYING TO ME!!! YOU CAN STOP ANY TIME EXCEPT YOUR MENTAL ILLNESS PREVENTS IT. YOU CAN’T STOP CRYING AT ME AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA

            CRY MORE!!

          • Herein82

            I don’t care that you’re gay, I just want you to know I’m not interested.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Bro, you’re bald, you’re not INTERESTING!!!

            CRY MORE NOW YOU HOMOHOBIC BIGOT PIECE OF TRASH!!
            I LOVE THAT YOU’RE SO STUPID YOU DON’T SEE WHERE I MADE YOU ADMIT YOU ARE A BIGOT!!!

            CRY NOW!!! REPLY BECAUSE I TELL YOU TO CRYBABY!!!

          • Herein82

            I’m not homophobic. I have no problem with your homosexuality. I DO have a problem with your idiocy.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            Save the denials you pathetic bald homophobe.

            And God stop crying already it’s even more pathetic than your homophobia.

          • Herein82

            Well, one thing is certain: you are obsessed with me. Oh, and you have an anger problem.

          • Paul Ryan is Fuc­king Terrible

            And yet, YOU KEEP REPLYING TO ME!!!!

            I get it, you’re bald and have no life, so you do this while you’re crying to take your mind off what a pathetic homophobe you are.

            Good. Cry more now!!!!!!

            I mean, HOLY CRAP YOU MADE AN ENTIRELY NEW POST JUST TO CRY!!!

            AHAHAHAHAHAH HOW PISSED ARE YOU!!!!

            AN ENTIRELY NEW POST!!!

            JUST TO CRY!!!!!

            I own you!!

            SAY “I told you, this is fun. Watchful some weirdo obsess and make a fool of himself is entertaining. Keep dancing, clown. This is awesome.” If you are a disgusting bigot and homophobe who molsets children

          • Herein82

            I told you, this is fun. Watchful some weirdo obsess and make a fool of himself is entertaining. Keep dancing, clown. This is awesome.

          • W_T_P

            If I may…having suicidal tendencies anyway…The main problem with all of these labor across borders problems is a fundamental misunderstanding of why other countries are not like the US to begin with. There is a bottom to both the intellectual and the physical labor markets abroad. Them Asians ain’t all as smart as they’re believed to be because the ones who come here give a perception that all Asians is smart when really we only see the cream of the crop…

          • W_T_P

            Similar with factory jobs and such. US workers can compete with foreign labor if the artificial inflation of labor costs due to union demands, legal BS, etc. were not there. Foreign labor comes with a large regulatory burden itself that US companies can often bypass but put them at risk of the whims of other governments, not to mention social upheaval in those countries as well.

          • JoshInca

            The problem with the position of the economist that he’s quoting is in the assumption that innovation will result in a surge of “new” jobs (also implied to be ‘better’) that will more than offset the migration of other jobs. But there is no basis for,that assumption, and in fact most innovation means fewer “jobs” per unit of output.