A Shrill and Vituperative Critic, In Context

Last week, the American Conservative published a headline that, with the addition of a little profanity, would fit right in on the bathroom wall of some Leftist dive: “Donald Trump, Treacherous Loon.” But the piece isn’t by an antifa graffiti artist seeking mainstream attention; its author is one of the site’s senior editors, Rod Dreher.

If you haven’t yet heard of Dreher or his recent book, The Benedict Option, it’s definitely not his fault. You probably never visit The American Conservative, where he’s used his perch as senior editor to write 17 posts plugging the book in the last four weeks alone. That’s on top of the thousands upon thousands of words he’s written about the book since its publication in March.

For those unfamiliar with his work, Dreher became prominent in the early 2000s as a writer for National Review. His most famous NR piece begins, “One day this summer, I told a colleague I had to leave early to pick up my weekly fresh vegetables from the organic food co-op to which my wife and I belong.”

Legions of men, in Dreher’s circumstances, have courageously told their wives that buying food labeled “organic” is a waste of both time and money; legions more have capitulated in silence. But it takes a truly self-absorbed man to publicly rationalize his capitulation into a heretofore undetected strain of conservative thought; and a hopelessly twee one to label it “crunchy conservativism.” Monetization quickly followed rationalization, and a book with a title as lengthy as it is nauseating was born: Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or At Least the Republican Party).

Besides sucking up to liberal elites, Dreher also showed his flair for self-promotion in his NR days. He got them to run, as lone dissenter Jonah Goldberg called it, “a blog entirely dedicated to [his book], in which most of the contributors seem committed to finding new and exciting ways to illustrate the genius of the book and the insights of its author.” The link to the blog is now dead, so Goldberg’s dissenting contributions are, unfortunately, lost to us. But his view of the book is nicely summed up by his aforementioned review’s title: “Huh?” And he deserves credit for his repeated honesty that Dreher’s thesis is as idiotic as it is insulting.

Dreher’s penchant for turning self-absorption into self-promotion reached almost artistic levels in a later essay explaining his conversion from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. His reason involves the gravest of matters: disillusionment by the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals. But, his essay reads like Dostoyevsky’s caricature of Turgenev’s account of a ship wreck:

One seemed to read between the lines: “Concentrate yourselves on me. Behold what I was like at those moments. What are the sea, the storm, the rocks, the splinters of wrecked ships to you? I have described all that sufficiently to you with my mighty pen. Why look at that drowned woman with the dead child in her dead arms? Look rather at me, see how I was unable to bear that sight and turned away from it. Here I stood with my back to it; here I was horrified and could not bring myself to look; I blinked my eyes—isn’t that interesting?

Dreher doesn’t blink his eyes, but, after telling one man’s sad story of abuse, he tells us “Even this morning, as I write this, it’s hard to recount the brokenness in that man’s voice without getting tears in my eyes.” We’re also told: “Word got back to me that Bill Bennett credited NR’s cover story [by me] on the stakes in this scandal for giving tacit permission for conservative, orthodox Catholics to discuss the matter.”

When Dreher summarizes his remarks, the actual victims of abuse get pushed aside to make room for the true subject of interest: “I have talked about how the Church itself failed me in all this . . .”  Dreher’s mania for self-promotion also manifests itself; he refers to his book twice; indeed, the very title of this allegedly serious piece about religious depravity and conversion is, almost unbelievably, “Crunchy Con’s Conversion Crisis.” He’s even so immodest as to brag of his modesty: “you won’t see me ballyhoo my conversion to Orthodoxy as I did with my conversion to Catholicism.” Nope, no ballyhooing here at all. And the above is just a taste of the unseemly narcissism exuded by Dreher’s story.

So, as you can probably tell, Dreher isn’t just a simple Christian. Christianity is an essential part of his commercial brand and, hence, the Eucharist isn’t the only kind of bread the Lord provides. Thus, his self-absorption notwithstanding, it’s surprising to hear a man who lauds the “Amish example of forgiveness and detachment from anger” call the president a treacherous loon. My first thought was that maybe hurling abuse is, like vulgar egotism, a habit for which he hasn’t yet managed to follow Christ’s example and break. So, I searched for some headlines about President Obama that were equally nasty. But, the closest I could find was “Obama Disses Chaput,” which only the most fanatical admirer of both Obama and the Archbishop would find at all offensive.

How to Generate Anti-Trump Hysteria: Method One

So, what had Donald Trump done to deserve the appellation of “treacherous loon”? Surely, he must have exceeded Obama’s many transgressions. Had Trump sold guns to Mexican drug lords? Had he used the IRS to target his enemies? Did he secretly send billions of dollars in cash to Iran? Perhaps, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he lost track of $6 billion in government money or used a charitable organization as a pay-for-play service.

No, in fact, the president hadn’t done anything. Dreher’s crude insult had nothing to do with Trump’s actions. The fuss was, rather, about something he said; namely, that if he knew Jeff Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia probe, he wouldn’t have appointed him attorney general.

Now, at worst, the president’s remark is a perfect example of Michael Kinsley’s famous definition: “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth—some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” Obviously, regardless of any guilt, the president would like the Russian matter dropped and, hence, would have preferred an attorney general whose ethical delicacy didn’t require that he recuse himself.

Trump’s remark, far from being “loony,” represented the feelings of any rational person in similar circumstances. The only difference between President Trump and his predecessors here is that he says what’s he thinks rather than what hired experts on the manipulation of public opinion tell him to say. And it says a lot about how shallow and stupid we’ve become that, to about half the country, this makes the president seem like a loon.

Nor was there any particular treachery in Trump’s remark. Sessions, unlike the president’s shrill and vituperative critics, is an adult. He managed to stay calm during his confirmation hearings, when his senate colleagues hurled the most vile and baseless accusations at him; so he can probably take a little public criticism from his boss without curling up in a corner like a dying spider.

But, the “treacherous loon” charge is even more outrageous since the Russia “scandal” is, as Brandon J. Weichert and Chris Buskirk established in their exhaustive study, a pack of “lies based on a false narrative aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the Trump victory.”

Weichert and Buskirk take you through all the gory details up to June 1, and I won’t rehearse them here. Since then, however, it’s emerged that the president’s son, Don Jr., met with a Russian lawyer offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton that allegedly came from Moscow.

Apparently nothing came of the meeting and, as leading liberal legal scholar Alan Dershowitz has pointed out, as with the previous bogus news about Russia, at worst nothing illegal occurred. But the president’s enemies, intent on distracting from their own misconduct and bringing him down by any means necessary, have gone as far as to twist the statute that governs foreign contributions to American campaigns so that the phrase “a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value” comes out referring to opposition research.

Given the circumstances, the president would be either a loon or a coward if he didn’t do everything in his power to stop this witch hunt.

How to Generate Anti-Trump Hysteria: Methods Two and Three

Dreher has given us an example of one form baseless abuse of the president takes: hyperventilation over some harmless remark. But President Trump’s critics have two other tactics for generating hysterical abuse ex nihilo. Sometimes their hysteria revolves around damaging claims attributed to anonymous sources by media outfits with a record of pushing fake news to damage the president. At others, it involves hysterical speculation about something the president might do. And just a few days after employing method one, Dreher managed to up his score to a hat trick while discussing a Washington Post article that begins:

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons…

Where did the Post acquire this juicy information? Why, from “people familiar with the effort”! A more vacuous account of the alleged sources would literally be impossible and, by now, anyone even moderately rational and well informed should have stopped paying attention to any hit pieces that rely on anonymous sources. But Dreher, ready to abandon any pretense of Christian charity and say anything to score points abusing the president, concludes that Trump “can’t wait to pardon” himself and that, should he be unable to resist the eagerness Dreher imputes, “he will have to be impeached.” He then ends the piece by going deeper into hysteria over the president’s anonymously sourced and totally hypothetical self-pardoning behavior.

“Here’s the thing that worries me: that if President Trump decided to pardon his own family members, and even himself (what law would stop him?), a substantial minority of Americans would support him,” Dreher writes. “If so, what that would reveal about how respect for the rule of law and basic republican order in the United States had decayed would be staggering.”

But, even supposing that this isn’t more anonymously sourced fake news from the Washington Post, anyone under any kind of investigation, and especially someone suffering the constant barrage of baseless attacks the president has, would be a fool not to explore all available legal avenues. Moreover, since his hypothetical involves no illegal behavior on the president’s part, what grounds would there be for Congress to accede to Dreher’s demand to impeach him? And how would using legal means reveal a “staggering decay” in “respect for the rule of law and basic republican order,” whatever exactly the latter is? Dreher’s worry appears to be just a string of buzzwords thrown together to incite his readers, with no concern for coherence.

And as with all the mud flung at President Trump, Dreher displays no particular concern for the political context. We know from WikiLeaks that the major mainstream news organizations were in league with the Clinton campaign;  we know the Clinton Foundation took millions from the Russian nuclear industry while then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was negotiating a deal that allowed Russian interests to procure 20 percent of America’s uranium. We have President Obama on video telling Putin’s representative to relay the message that Obama will have to wait till after the election to sell out the American public. We also have him on video telling illegal aliens that they can add illegal voting to their list of crimes without fear of repercussions. Virginia Governor and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, Terry McAuliffe, gave 60,000 felons the right to vote just before the election. The defamatory narrative about the president and his supporters generated by the Democrats and their media allies has caused countless incidents of serious violence towards the president’s supporters and led directly to an assassination attempt on 13 members of Congress, one of whom, Steve Scalise, remains hospitalized more than a month later. I could go on listing grave misconduct by the Democrats and their media allies for pages. Yet, Dreher would have us believe that the rule of law and Republican order have suddenly become threatened by anonymously sourced claims concerning perfectly legal strategies Trump’s lawyers are exploring!

Moreover, the staggering volume of Democratic and media malfeasance is totally drowned out by the manufactured hysteria over Russia. So, even respectable outfits like The Federalist feel compelled to weigh the charges against the president’s son and declare in a headline that “Trump Jr.’s Meeting May Not Rise To Treason, But It’s Still Shady As Hell.”

Rationality isn’t merely a matter of dispassionately evaluating evidence. It also requires giving matters their proper place in the grand scheme of things. Someone who harangues his son for not doing his homework while the boy is being savagely attacked is more than just unreasonable; his priorities are misplaced to the point of madness. And anyone worried about the president’s honest and reasonable complaints about his attorney general or a meeting his son attended that went nowhere is, given the staggering amount of known collusion and skullduggery by the Democrats and their media allies, either woefully ignorant or out of his head.

And besides undermining the president and distracting from the staggeringly long list of Democratic and media misconduct, the hysteria over Russia also distracts from the president’s many accomplishments. He’s appointed a worthy successor to Justice Scalia. He’s convinced our NATO allies to start spending the money on their own defense that the treaty requires. He’s released the regulatory parking break his predecessors have placed on our nation’s energy production. The list of his accomplishments is, in fact, almost as long as the list of Democratic Party and media malfeasance.

But pointing out the president’s many conservative accomplishments won’t win plaudits from Dreher’s crunchy friends the way abusing the president over trivialities and ignoring the far greater crimes of his political opponents is guaranteed to do.


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77 responses to “A Shrill and Vituperative Critic, In Context”

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  1. Dreher is hardly the worst or the most unhinged of the president’s critics, but he writes for what is at least nominally a conservative site. That compounds the offense. Once upon a time, The American Conservative was pretty good, and it still occasionally publishes articles that are worth reading. It seems to me that both Dreher and The American Conservative have been fatally compromised by their desire to be “respectable” in establishment circles.

    • I don’t think Dreher gives a whit about respectability in the establishment; he’d not have written The Benedict Option otherwise. He’s not my cup of tea, but he’s got his own quirky take on things that is, yes, conservative – assuming one assumes conservatism has to do with conserving anything and not merely with sneering at organic vegetables as a form of virtue signaling.

      • Conservatives who don’t give a whit about “respectability” generally don’t get respectful profiles in the New Yorker. I don’t know if you’ve read the New Yorker piece, but it seems pretty clear that its subject does, as N.S. Palmer said, have a longing for respectability.

      • Disapointing to hear that he is a conservative, as my experience is that conservatives usually do not take part in such unhinged, baseless (is there EVER a reason to call an opponent by such a juvenile slur?) attacks in their publications. They certainly speak unreasonably; the Never Trumpers have proven that, but, although they are condescending, elitist, and call anyone wih blue collar tastes vulgar and unacceptable, they don’t usually come off like a mad, Leftist professor of philosophy swinging a bike lock.

      • Yes, RD is a degree or two worse. The others just come across like mad Leftist professors screaming, cursing, and eyeing the bike lock. Though, at the end of the day, my contempt for them isn’t much less.

    • Thanks for the comment N.S. I agree 100 percent with your remarks about both Dreher and AC. — The author

  2. Dreher has a pretty rich history of explaining that he thinks Trump was preferable to Hillary Clinton in the election and suggesting he understands why Trump won the election; he also has a long history of criticizing Obama. The author of this piece might realize that if he read Dreher’s pieces and not just the headlines.

    (And I don’t even like Dreher that much. But it’s fun to watch AmGreatness slap at the Leader’s critics.)

    • Thanks for the comment Joel, though I don’t appreciate the suggestion that I didn’t read the pieces I was actually writing about. Did you read them? If so, you might have noticed that Dreher says that he’s getting closer to thinking that Hillary would have been preferable because of Trump’s remark in the NYT about Sessions. Whatever one thinks of President Trump, this is idiotic.

      In fact, besides not reading the relevant pieces by Dreher, it looks like you didn’t read mine since your comment has nothing to do with anything I actually wrote. But I know some people enjoy free associating on Disqus, and I’m very happy to have given you the opportunity to do so.

      • I’ve given this a couple days’ thought, and want to be clear about something.

        Yes, Rod is a narcissist. (Writers tend to be, which includes me and a lot of people working for this website.) Yes, he’s “shrill and vituperative.” But his politics, in many ways, are Trumpist: He worries about the decline of the West – though in more pointedly religious than ethnic terms – and while he has his New Yorker-loving side, he’s more culturally on the side of good ol’ boys from Louisiana, even if he’s not fully one of them. If you’re looking for Intellectual Trumpists, Rod should and could very well be on board.

        His concern, as I discern it, is that this president is an amoral playboy with the self-control of a badly raised two-year-old. If Trumpism is more than just Leader Worship, there should be serious Trumpists who wrestle honestly with that prospect — and even the prospect that Trump’s temperament is so destabliizing and harmful that it damages the country. Rod Dreher doesn’t have to be your enemy.

        And again, I’m somebody who – as a liberal – is tired of his shtick.

        Without that ability to criticize the leader for obvious shortcomings beyond the “he’s just too passionate about his country” variety, the whole MAGA project – including American Greatness- is just an exercise of mixing cult-of-personalty with a toxic hatred for liberals.

        The indications are certainly the latter.

      • Thanks for dropping the snarky insult (which, again, I did not appreciate) and giving a thoughtful reply. I think the reason you are seeing loyalty to a besieged President — who, more than any other in at least a long while, represents anti-establishment conservative thought — as a cult-of-personality is that, as a liberal, you’re not fully putting yourself in our shoes.

        If you think about how the left rallied around Bill Clinton — who wasn’t even a particularly liberal Democrat and, in fact, was willing to pander to conservatives in the most disgusting manner (e.g., making it a point to attend the Arkansas execution of a mentally retarded black man during the campaign) — then you might get a better understanding of how we feel. (Sorry about all the long sentences, but I need to get something else done and am in a hurry. Hopefully they are intelligible.)

        As to the specifics about the President, you made two allegations against him that you think conservatives ought to be concerned about.

        1. He’s an amoral playboy. I don’t believe you yourself can take this concern about him all that seriously but I will respond anyway.

        I have no idea whether it’s true of President Trump — if the evidence is that he cheated on his wives than I wouldn’t bet money that *any* man — including Vice President Pence — isn’t an immoral playboy. I’ve been shocked a number of times to find out that acquaintances have routinely cheated on their wives to the point where I wouldn’t put anything past any man. I grant that, in a perfect world an allegedly Christian person like Dreher would prefer someone morally clean in this regard. But, if Dreher isn’t just trying to sell books with his “Sprinting toward Gomorrah” spiel, then he should view the situation as grave enough to accept that President Trump is his best shot and slowing down and ultimately reversing the pace. Also, if Dreher is really a Christian then, he should believe that, as James Dobson says: Only the Lord knows the condition of a person’s heart.

        Furthermore you move from your two complaints about the President’s personality to claiming that: Trump’s temperament is so destabilizing and harmful that it damages the country. But surely you can see that the amoral playboy charge gives this move no license. So everything depends upon:

        2. Trump has very little self-control. I understand that this is the liberal narrative about Trump and that you believe it. But, again, just by way of putting yourself in our shoes, the conservative narrative about HRC is exactly the same. Secret service agents have told stories about her horrendous temperament and FBI files that, if memory serves, were released via some conservative group’s lawsuit have verified this claim. (I don’t have time to give you a source at the moment. But if you websearch: 100 most damaging Wikileaks you will get a sit with something like that name. Despite its name, it contains some info not from Wikileaks and I’m morally certain that the FBI info is there. Come to think of it, there’s a link in my piece to the site.)

        At this point, I’m not even worried about whose narrative is right. We each have our narratives and it is what it is. But the reason you defend Dreher is that he accepts the enemy’s narrative and you are (no offense intended) the enemy. If you can’t see how we wouldn’t like that, then, again, you aren’t sufficiently putting yourself in our shoes. Furthermore, I urge you to click the link in my article about violence against the President’s supporters. You will see pages and pages of incidents on video, some of them quite disturbing. Add to that the unprecedented assassination attempt on a dozen or so GOP members of congress and their friends and family and you that might begin to understand why many of us feel inclined to rally around the President. (And no, the Gifford shooting wasn’t in the same league or even politically motivated. The hardly right-wing Mother Jones has an article which you can find via google that clearly shows that the shooter in that case has zero political motivation.)

        As to the veracity of your narrative, I don’t buy it. My experience of the world tells me that nobody with so little self control could achieve the success that the President has. Possibly you will deny that he’s really been a success — then, once again, we are simply coming from different narratives and it’s hopeless to expect either one of us to change based on a Disqus conversation. Obviously I think my narrative matches the facts, but I don’t expect to convince you of that. Possibly you will deny my claim about what it takes to succeed. This could be because your narrative forces you to or it could be because you genuinely believe it. If the latter, then we disagree.

        But, either way, I’m curious: did President Clinton’s behavior in the White House indicate a lack of self control? Did President Kennedy’s? (Not to mention, amoral playboyism.) Possibly you will argue there are degrees of self-control and Trump has much less. But you can hardly expect your political enemies to buy into whatever subtle arguments you have that (not to put to fine a point on it) getting a blowjob from a not particularly attractive women in the oval office shows more self-control than tormenting your enemies with via twitter. And, with regard to the tweeting, I don’t think it shows a lack of self-control; I think what he’s doing makes sense and serves a purpose. I’ve an article in which I explain why at American Thinker, if you’re interested, called: Even The President’s Friends…

        In any event, on our view, the MSM has manufactured the idea that the President is particularly deficient in self-control (just as it’s manufactured the idea that he’s particularly deceitful or immoral). To me this is obvious, to you it’s probably obviously false. Without attempting the hopeless task of adjudicating our dispute, I think your problem is a standard one that liberals have. Viz., we know exactly what you think — we can’t escape it, it comes screaming at us from virtually every tv show, movie, and msm source there is. But you are unable to appreciate how we think. We are stuck inside your bubble, but you get to live outside of ours. This makes your life easier than ours, but it also makes it harder for you to understand us. This is compounded by the fact that it’s vastly more common for people to become more conservative as the age than the reverse is. Without getting into too much Dreherian TMI, I am someone whose views underwent the more common change over time. This means that many of us know *exactly* what you think because we once thought it ourselves but far fewer of you have had the same experience of what we think.

        But, getting back to the self control issue, even if I were to grant that the idea that President lacks self-control — which, again, given his success, I think is ludicrous — that very success means that your argument from no-self-control to destabilizing-the-country needs to be filled in a bit. Furthermore, given the amount of horrific violence we have ON VIDEO towards the President’s supporters and the unprecedented assassination attempt on over a dozen Republican politicians and their friends and family at a baseball practice, I think it’s offensive to claim that President Trump is the one who’s destabilizing the country.

        Sanders, Warren and many other Democrats have claimed that the GOP’s lame attempt to tinker with Obamacare is designed to kill people.The Democrats and media pushed a narrative that the President — all of whose children are either married to or dating Jews and one of whom even converted and raises his grandchildren as Jews! — is a Nazi. When you say someone is a Nazi in our culture, that’s saying it would be morally okay to kill or even torture them and their followers (the odious Quentin Tarintino has made a fortune producing torture porn based on this principle). The alleged violence against anti-Trump people, on the other hand, has been almost entirely made up and what hasn’t turned out to be a hoax has been mostly pretty minor. If you doubt me, than do websearches to find video violence on both sides; if you are even marginally honest, you will be horrified at what your sides narrative has wrought.

        Finally, your very huge and to my mind, given the actual circumstances, offensive logical leap from immoral-playboy-who-lacks-self-control to destabilizing-the-country has nothing to do with the specifics of my piece. Perhaps you didn’t intend it to and, instead, were moving the discussion elsewhere. Either way, to be clear here, do you think that the President’s remarks about Sessions warrant calling him a “treacherous loon”? Do you think that Dreher is entitled to think it does given what he alleges to believe about the harm President Obama has done and that he’s never, to my knowledge said anything close to this offensive about Obama? Do you think that the President supporters, given their own views, are wrong to call him out on this? Do you think that, given all of his sprinting-towards-Gomorrah shtick, that it makes any coherent sense at all for him to suggest that he’s close to the point of thinking HRC would have been better?

        And as to your claim that we are all narcissists and, hence, that Dreher is nothing special in this regard. First, if you’ll allow me to pick a nit, the word is yours and not mine. I spoke of the narcissism exuded by his conversion story, but I was careful not to call him a narcissist since, to me, this suggests a psychiatric diagnosis. 2. I did speak of his self-absorption, but my point wasn’t simply that he is self-absorbed so, even if we all are, this is not a refutation of it. My point was that his work absolutely wreaks of self-absorption. And that is not something all or even most of us are guilty of. I think it’s fair to say that he’s the most self-absorbed pundit — on either side — that there currently is.

        So I don’t think anything you said speaks against anything I wrote at all. Though, perhaps, as I say, that wasn’t your intention and you were, rather, moving the discussion elsewhere. (I also disagree that Dreher is more deep-south than metrosexual; I think his writing betrays a disdain for his upbringing and a desire to be cosmopolitan, but this is, perhaps, a minor point.)

        I apologize for any typos or unwieldy sentences but, as I say, I am trying to finish something else at the moment so I don’t have much time. But I did want to respond to your sincere attempt to have a meeting of the minds. Thanks for making it and take care!

      • Although I don’t have a lot of time, I just wrote a very long reply to you and it looks like Disqus is rejecting it as spam. I am very irritated (not at you, of course). I appreciate your attempt at being civil and will try and see if there’s a way for AG to unspam me tomorrow. In the meantime, I will post the reply on my blog, the web address of which, is in my author bio. (I’m sure this will be deemed spam if I post a link here.) Thanks for dropping the insults and trying to have a legitimate a conversation!

      • The reply that Disqus rejected (see below) is up on my blog as a comment to my July 25th post linking to this article.

      • Interesting that people should believe someone with “the self-cotrol of a two-year-old” would be able to create a successful corporation that operates on a global scale with industries ranging from real esate to resorts, golf courses to skating rinks, and successful forays into Hollywood and politics, along with a line of branded merchandise which, for most, would be a business on its own. This is why some see the Never Trump complaints as “bashing,”…. when they do not speak of specific policy-related incidents, but accuse him and his followers (always, which makes us believe that we are the real targets) of exagerrated deeds/beliefs?

        It is sad that those who lived through the obama years with its genuine cult-of-personality (halos around his head, thrills up commentators’ legs, a columnist calls him a “lightbringer) cannot see the difference in that this election was like a giant sight of relief because millions of Americans (AKA “deplorable…bitter clingers”) saw their country rapidly disapearing. And sad that those who lived through the Clinton years are now complaining that this NYC billionaire is a “playboy” (although we have no rape reports, it is sure that he has been connected to many beautiful women in his life ) and that this history makes him actually “amoral.”

        Saddest is that, though we may share the idea that America needs to be brought back to greatness, we cannot stand together, rather than debate personality traits when there is so much work to be done (and already being done.) The Trump train is like Reagan’s Big Tent, with room for everyone.

      • Great reply Vladdy. You’ve totally nailed it. As I mentioned in this thread, my reply to Joel got rejected as spam so I replied at my blog. (AG is working on unspamming me, but I don’t know if that reply can be recovered). And I make some of your points there, but you go into much better detail about why the “He has no self-control charge” is ludicrous. I also say there, as you suggest, that part of Joel’s problem is that he isn’t putting himself in our shoes. This is common with even well-meaning Leftists (which Joel seems to be) because we know what they think — we can’t escape it — but they have no idea what we do. We’re stuck inside their bubble but they live outside of and completely oblivious to what’s going on in ours. I’m finishing up an article that revolves around this point. It’s purpose is a bit odd so writing it is a little tricky, but hopefully it will work out and you will see it here at AG. Your last line is also something that I was thinking during and after the election, but all the leftist tactics that we discussed in the conversation started by Peter made me totally forget it.

  3. I’ve determined that the American Conservative is anything but. I’d classify them as part of Conservative, Inc.

    • Thanks for the comment Sam! I more or less agree. But they do still publish a few people like Pat Buchanan and Paul Gottfried, who are despised by Conservative, Inc. It’s a very strange site. It’s schizophrenia reminds me a little of how I remember the New Republic being when Andrew Sullivan was editor — no consistent ideological tone. Though that was a long time ago, so my memory there might be faulty. — The author

      • I believe the Pat Buchanan columns are not exclusive for AC, they are published across multiple sites, similar to Walt Williams, Thomas Sowell, Ed Klein, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, etc. (the typical articles you see in the sidebar of townhall.com)

      • You are definitely right Colleen. I guess Paul Gottfried (who I am a big fan of, one of the most courageous writers out there) is really the only person they publish who isn’t Conservative, Inc that I read. Thanks for the clarification. Take care!

  4. This is very insightful. Thank you, Mr Thau. Perhaps the preposterous Dreher exhibits what – given sunlight, sand and time enough – Conservatism Inc. types turn into.

    I think the problem nationally is that while Candidate Trump behaved brilliantly and with heroic courage throughout the gruelling long election campaign, he naively supposed that if he WERE elected president, people generally would accept the verdict ‘not only with their lips but in their lives’ as the Book of Common Prayer puts it. I fancy most of us would have made the same mistake.

    Ideally (and this is said with mere hindsight) he should have realised from the feral all-in nastiness of the opposition to him during the campaign, that it would simply get worse if – by a miracle – he won. From the fall of 2015 he should have salted away in some remote mansion a team of ardent supporters of his agenda, all ultra-smart persons with the minds of grand masters at chess: people who can look 40 strategic moves ahead of anything their opponents can do, in all possible permutations and combinations of development. This team should have been required to do without phones for a year, to use old-fashioned typewriters, pens, papers and pencils and communicate only with each other inside the building, not with the outer world except to deal with basic housekeeping. Their assignment should have been to draw up a machiavellian 935-point plan for Action on All Fronts to cope with the coming tsunami of obstruction, defamation and disablement that the Grand Alliance of Big Money, the Democratic and Republican Parties, the Political Left, the Mainstream Media and Academe would hurl 24/7 at the new administration (and it began really on November 9th last).

    For instance: “Point no. 1 – Nothing the above-mentioned foes does will be innocent in intention, quite the reverse. Therefore anyone offered a post in the new administration must understand and undertake from the start to be totally tough in resistance to all the wily and vile attacks and subversions incoming” (which would mean no self-recusing &c).

    I suppose what we are seeing now are the labor-pains of President Trump and his associates rapidly running up the curve of realising in full what they are up against.

    • Glad you liked it and thanks for letting me know Peter. Also, I think your explanation of the cause of all this is spot on. He thought that the election was over and that he won and could now go on to govern. I also agree that the mistake was natural. If you think about the immensity of the lies and distractions the democrats and media are trying to get get away with, it’s really kind of astounding. As the false narrative was being built, I remember being slightly surprised at various stages. But, when I reflect on the whole picture, all the slight surprises add up to one very big surprise. Indeed, just the fact that the mass assassination attempt in Virginia was basically forgotten about in a week boggles my mind. Steve Scalise is still in the hospital and one never sees any mainstream news about how he’s doing. I had to search to find out he was still hospitalized when I did the article. The MSM’s attitude is: who cares if he lives or dies, the whole incident had no significance. Of course, they have to treat it that way since they directly caused it. But still, it’s very surprising when one thinks about it and, as you say, any of us would have probably made the same mistake. The problem now is that, thought the President pretty clearly sees what’s going on now, most of the establishment Republicans, either because of cowardice or corruption, want to, as Obama put it in a moment of honesty, are only willing to use knives in what is clearly a gun fight. Anyway, thanks for the very insightful comment!

      • That sums it up beautifully. The error we ALL made was in not imagining the lengths supposedly “respectable” professionals (now, think: hacks) such as Wolf Blitzer, CNN in general, the other networks, WaPo and NYT would go to. We all saw the “warm-up” for this in the treatment of Sarah Palin, but there was no need for them to go so far as to actually make up news and political intrigue that does not exist. The blatant contempt for the peoples’ decision counts, too; we would have thought that once the election was won, they would have enough respect for the process to accept it, even if doing so kicking and screaming, as they did with George W.

        But this whole idea of open attempt at denying his presidency is beyond where we thought anyone in congress or the media would go. Who would have forseen even Mad Maxine bleating “Impeachment! Impeachment!” before he even had a month in office, let alone “anti-fa’s” being allowed to silence, disrupt, and beat up on those expressing support for Trump (or even support for non-far-left ideas.)

        One tactic we see every time, though. The Democrat candidate is always superbly qualified and highly intelligent while the Repub is described (by those whose grammar and spelling are deploable and whose language is so vile as to be x-rated) as “a moron,” “stupid,” “mentally unbalanced,” etc.

      • I appreciate the kind words, Vladdy, but your summary is a lot better than mine. I wasn’t at all clear on all this until I read and reflected on Peter’s explanation; and the events of this year are even clearer to me after reading yours. Authors who don’t engage with their readers miss out on a lot. Thanks for deepening the discussion and take care!

  5. Its about time someone called out that deranged pseudo conservative Dreher. Dont let up. Let this be one of many articles about him.

    • Glad you liked it and thanks for letting me know JR! I tried posting a reply to you earlier but Disqus rejected it as spam I *think* because I linked to another article. Since I apparently can’t link to it, Mike Sabo had a nice piece a few months back on AG called: Rod Dreher, Meet Leo Strauss and Friends. If you haven’t seen it, a quick web search will turn it up. It’s well worth reading and you will like it. I’ve gotten a lot of responses expressing your sentiments, so the piece seems to have struck a chord, which is gratifying. Hopefully this response will make it past the spam filters. Take care!

  6. Excellent column you should be writing for the NRO and I am sure you would be if Bill Buckley were still alive. Contrary to popular belief, he might have sounded like an elite but he knew they were all phony baloney good time rock and rollers. Buckley knew that the congress was filled with people who thought they knew better and for that matter were better than the people they supposedly represented. The current batch of so called conservatives seem to have lost their moorings. We are in fact the movement of a free people wanting the individual’s rights to be protected above all else. These swamp conservatives want to wallow in the power and the glory of sounding intelligent and so much better than their fellow citizens.

    • Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the very high praise LCU! Couldn’t agree more with what you say about the current batch losing their moorings. If memory serves, we conversed over at American Thinker in the comments section of one of my articles there. Thanks for reading and commenting here as well! Look forward to chatting again in the future. Take care!

      • No wonder I liked and responded to it. American Thinker is one of my favorite go-to sites, although I have just discovered AG. Would Crunchy Con have some relation to a South Park Conservative? (My tumblr acct, which I stole from the book of the same name)….meaning being willing to point out the craziness of all political and ideological ideas when they deserve it?

        P.S. Sorry – just noticed this conversation is four days old. I got so engrossed so quickly – didn’t stop to look.

  7. Thanks, Michael Thau, you just pushed the looney Dreher off the wall and he turned out to be…Humpty-Dumpty! Including and especially his insistence that words mean just what they say he means, nothing more, nothing less.

    • Thanks for the kind words John, glad you enjoyed the piece. You also reminded me that I haven’t reread Lewis Carroll in at least 15 years. Definitely time to remedy that. Take care!

  8. Good article…puts dreher in his place….but why dis organic food…focusing on food that is better for the environment and caring about the earth is not anti conservative but quite possibly at its very root….it is about caring for home….

    • Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the reply Senhorbotero! I wrote a response explaining that I’m sympathetic with what you’re saying (except that I think “organic” food is a scam, there’s a link in the article that explains why) but Disqus rejected it as spam, I *think* because I put a link in to another article at AG. I don’t want to repeat what I said since I’m afraid that will make Disqus think this is spam too and I definitely don’t want to link again for the same reason. But there was a nice article on AG a few months back by Mike Sabo called: Rod Dreher, Meet Leo Strauss and Friends. If you haven’t seen it, a quick web search will get it for you. And, it’s worth reading as it discusses some aspects of Dreher’s Crunchy Con views that are already better represented by other conservative thinkers. Sorry that my initial post got rejected; Disqus does this to me all the time and its a pain. Hopefully this one is sufficiently different that it will make it through. Take care!

      • Thank for the reply….i am glad that you steered me toward looking for other conservatives who speak on the cruncy con thing…..it is about the only thing i find an interest in that rod dreher says and would really like to find other minds of similar propensity….will check into it…

      • Your welcome. The article to which I referred you is more directly concerned with The Benedict Option, but obviously CC and BO are pretty related. If you’re looking for something more directly concerned with CC that has some discussion of other conservatives with similar positions, check out the links in my article to Jonah Goldberg’s two pieces.

      • Here’s another source that might be even better given your concerns. Again, can’t leave a link since it will get rejected as spam, but do a websearch on: Green Conservatism Bradley Anderson. You will get a link to an American Conservative review by Anderson of Roger Scruton’s book: Green Conservatism. If you’re really interested, you might want to check out the book itself; but the review will give you some idea of what Scruton is saying and a basis on which to determine if it’s worth your time to read the book. Don’t know how familiar you are with Roger Scruton, but he’s a *very* deep and serious conservative thinker — one of the very few conservative academic philosophers.

      • Thank you again sir….i have read scrutons book….I read it right after he published the book but perhaps i ought to go back and refresh my memory of it since it has been few years now since i read it…..the only real thing i liked about drehers cruncy con idea even as i dislike his name for it…was that he was somehow opening a path to caring about the planet and starting to take this ethic out of the hands of the left. I have often thought that the right or conservative side reflexively acts aginst their own interests in terms of the environment simply because environmentalism is perceived as a leftist ideology….it is far more practical then that and necessary that we engage it for the long term safety of the human species as well as all others….thanks for the leads…

      • No worries, glad to be of service. I don’t disagree with your general sentiments at all — in fact I’m probably more or less 100 percent on board with them. But I think most of the “environmental” policies of the left are completely bogus and don’t serve this legitimate conservative agenda. For example, if one researches the subjects, it turns out that windmills wind up causing much more environmental damage than the pitiful amounts of energy they generate. Whereas nuclear power is, despite liberal hysteria, pretty safe and causes minimal environmental damage given the massive amounts of energy it produces. So the way I see it, we need to adopt the some of the left’s alleged aims without adopting their mostly bogus strategies and any vocabulary that is inseparable from those strategies. However, this is a tough job and also a very hard sell because the left has tarnished these issues and caused so much damage to the country in other areas that is more obvious and, hence, more pressing to people.

      • I tried responding to this post with something substantive but Disqus rejected it as spam even though there were no links. I must say I’m getting sick of Disqus; this is the 5th time I’ve been rejected as spam in the discussion on this piece alone. The should change the name to Mustn’tDisqus

      • And here’s another reference for you that I can’t believe I forgot. Do a websearch on: Crunchy Cons Douglas A. Jeffrey. You will get a CRB review of CC called “Soft in the Middle” by DAJ that also touches on other conservatives who’ve said similar stuff.

  9. In part, I think Dreher’s anger toward Trump stems from the fact that Trump’s election threw a monkey wrench in the gloom and doom theme of his “Benedict Option” book, that history has turned and America has no way of getting out of its hell in a handbasket. His articles and the hurriedly-mended section on Trump in the book are all to say that “Trump isn’t making any real progress- keep listening to me!” Too bad the Gorsuch nomination hadn’t happened yet…

    • Thanks for the insightful comment Christopher! I have to admit, your explanation never occurred to me but it actually makes quite a bit of sense of why someone who ought to be in Trump’s corner is so hostile to him. — The author

    • I’ve thought a lot more about your explanation and I think it’s spot on. In fact, I think it’s the missing piece form my piece that would have exposed RD completely. Great job and thanks for making me more clear on what the topic I was writing on. I mentioned to the editor today that a reader had found something I missed and came back to find out your name. Thanks so much, very helpful.

  10. I have learned to disregard Dreher’s political analysis. He uncritically quotes the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other such rags, which tells you everything you need to know.

    That said, I do appreciate much of what he says regarding the religious landscape of America and the West more broadly (i.e., his arguments pertaining to the Benedict Option).

    • I used to think it had merit, until I had the impression that I would have to “go Benedict” hanging around the tiresome Dreher…

    • Thanks for the reply That Guy. I agree that some of what Dreher says is correct but think that he’s a bad messenger. I wrote a reply to you explaining this, but Disqus rejected it as spam, I *think* because I had a link to another article in it. I don’t want to repeat what I said since I’m afraid Disqus will notice the similarities and call this spam as well (this has happened before). And I especially don’t want to put a link in. But Mike Sabo had a piece up on AG a few months back called: Rod Dreher, Meet Leo Strauss and Friends. If you haven’t seen it, a quick web search will turn it up and it’s well worth reading. He discusses how some of Dreher’s better ideas are already better represented by better conservative thinkers. Take care!

  11. Great article and insights. Shame on us for being fooled thinking these elitist prigs who cavorted with the left for years actually cared about us rubes. Except when there are books or cruises to sell! Good riddance to these people.

    • Glad you liked it MJR and thanks so much for taking the time to let me know! I agree 100 percent with what you say. It’s like we were watching pro wrestling matches and believing they were real. Take care!

  12. This article buttresses my contention that while Rod Dreher and fellow pretend-cons (precons) engage in sturm und drang, Donald Trump is making America great again.

    • Your very welcome SJ49, glad you liked it. I agree with your sentiment and it was *exactly* my motivation for writing the article. A false narrative is being forced on the easily manipulated and, we need to cogently tell the true story with more exponentially more force than they are pushing the false one. Very gratified that you see exactly what I was doing and thanks for letting me know!

  13. Superb take-down of Dreher and the MSM. I bought his book on Dante’s Divine Comedy, but stopped reading it as it wasn’t about Dante at all but about Dreher, ad nauseum! I find the array of data you have put together of what the left has gotten (largely) away with, and what Trump has so far accomplished so staggering that when I speak with friends who are on the left, I don’t know where to begin, so Matrix-like is the delusion of the fantasy world of CNN, etc. Thank you for this excellent article!

    • Glad you liked it Michael and thanks for taking the time to let me know. I think you are 100 percent spot on with your “delusion” remark. I’ve come to think that the central problem is that people nowadays spend an unbelievable amount of time watching tv and movies that paint a completely unrealistic picture of the world and that this is warping a lot of people’s ability to discern reality. I’ve seen on-line discussions in which the participants actually don’t seem to know that women are generally much physically weaker than men. They’ve watched svelte 5 foot 4 women beat up legions of men so much on tv that it seems real to them. We sort of believe that fiction is real when we engage with it and, in the past, there wasn’t the technology to spend so much time in fictional worlds (if you read a 19th century realistic novel, people spend their evenings engaged with each other in various real activities like playing music and not transfixed by fiction) and the fictional worlds weren’t completely unrealistic vehicles for commercials (which, of course, didn’t even exist). I have an embryonic piece on this which I hope to finish someday in the near future, but I think entertainment is a much bigger problem than the educational system. Take care!

      • Michael, I think you’re on to something re: entertainment. It has occurred to me that TV is likely highly related to the breakdown of community and churches — we don’t know our neighbors or participate in community life because we get our social needs met while shut up inside our houses with the tube. It’s possible that most people feel more emotionally connected to TV characters and talk show personalities and know more about them than anyone in their daily lives.
        Through television and movies we’ve been taught how we should think, act, talk, and look, even though what’s presented is a grossly distorted view of reality, controlled by people who are insulated from the realities of everyday life. Real people are such a disappointment in comparison to the perfection shown by the entertainment industry. At some level, it’s driving all of us to conform to the social, behavioral, political, and physical norms of the TV world. It’s no longer odd to hear everyone talking like a script from a sit-com or like they’re sitting on the couch at the Tonight Show.

      • Thanks for pushing the discussion further, Moviegoer! I agree with your comments about TV 100 percent — it was, literally, like reading my own thoughts. I’m trying to do a piece on this but it’s a tough topic and I keep getting distracted by stuff that’s easier to finish. But, to me, this is really the biggest problem we are facing. People worry about liberal indoctrination in the “educational” system and, of course, it is a serious worry. But I tend to think it’s minor when compared to the way people are driven “to conform to the social, behavioral, and physical norms of the TV world.” To me, the educational problems are to a great extent, now downstream from the entertainment ones — the latter are a major cause of the former. From my time as a professor, it seemed to me that the indoctrination wasn’t really all that effective because it only worked on the minority of students who have respect for their professors. It’s true that I saw one kid come into UCLA as conservatives and leave much more liberal. But this had more to do with the expectations of his peers (and *especially* the expectations of potential girlfriends) than anything the professors said. By and large, the kids come in already indoctrinated by years of exposure to TV and movies.

        Thanks also for your comment on Dreher. I agree there as well. Without going all TMI on my personal life like he does, I can say that I’m probably *much* more in tune with the reality of the Crunchy Con view he presents than most other conservatives (but not at all in terms of empty brand names like “organic” and “Birkenstock”). Some of my views and modes of living, in this regard, are routinely mocked by my fellow conservatives. And that’s one thing that really bothered me about Dreher — he made important stuff look bad by being intellectually careless and self-obsessed. There was a very good piece a few months back on AG by Mike Sabo called, Rod Dreher, Meet Leo Strauss and Friends, which touches on some of this. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth reading. I would provide a link, but I did that in another reply and Disqus rejected my post as spam, so you’ll have to do a search to find it. But it’s worth doing.
        Take care!

      • Sounds excellent. “The narrative” as reality; the truth is what a powerful group of communicators decides what it will be. I’ve read young girls call people “sexist” for saying boys are stronger than girls, so you are right on with that. How about the sincere belief that, regardly of chromosomes, there are several different sexes and that yours is whichever you identify as, never mind the XX/XY information. Or, following this, the post that conservatives are anti-science and anti-intellectual…or that Christianity may lead us to a theocracy, but that islam, which does mean a theocracy, complete with its own laws, fits beautifully with the U.S. Constitution?

        Your position that the culture is the real mover of ideology…wih Cultural Marxism and critical theory owning the universities, I’d say yes, indeed. It sounds like a fascinating article.

      • Glad you like the idea Vladdy. As I’ve said elsewhere here, I keep not working on that piece because I get distracted by stuff that’s easier to finish. Hopefully someday.

  14. Dreher’s body of work – and I finally gave up on him in the Trump era – consists mainly of giving up any idea of fighting the left, while offering olive branches in the form of relentless attacks on the right.

    He’s just a straight up coward. He ran over his own sister in some sort of “homage” to her and her family would barely speak to him as a result.

    Trump is the great unmasker, among many other things. I now see Dreher plainly for what he is.

    • PDT absolutely is that. He has shown what the swamp consists of and not only that, but he has shown us WHO — we know names now of people we may not have suspected of such deception or outright contempt for an election result. As for Dreher (this is my first experience with his writing; also, I’m sure, my last), he sounds like one of those CINO’s (Romney, for instance?) who will play as dirty as necessary against the side they’re supposedly on while, just as you said, “giving up any idea of fighting the left.” They are….shall we say, deplorable?

      • I don’t think RD is like Romney or anyone else. Whatever his many faults, his egotism at least guarantees that he’s completely sui generis. No one else’s ideology will be based on how best to promote RD.

    • Great summary of RD’s work Joe! As I mentioned in another reply, someone here said that, if RD was looking for mainstream respectability, he wouldn’t have written BO. But this is wrong because of what you point out; viz., that an essential part of his message is that we’ve lost and should give up the fight. And, of course, that makes his negative stuff about the left completely palatable to them. Who cares what your opponent thinks if he’s telling everyone on his side that the battle is lost and that they should give up fighting and retreat. And someone else here made a very good point which I’ve thought more about and now think is spot on. Trump give us some hope that we haven’t lost and that totally invalidates the premise of RD’s latest book. He’s a total egoist and he’d rather be right and lose than be wrong and win. To me, this explanation (can’t remember who gave it, but it’s in here somewhere) totally fits and makes things a lot clearer. Also agree that, whether the hope he gives is real or not, if nothing else the President is most definitely the great unmasker. Thanks for the comment and take care! —

  15. “A Shrill and Vituperative Critic, In Context”

    Well, that’s what you get when you read the American Conservative, which, contrary to the name is anything and everything BUT “conservative” … it is, in fact, nothing but the brain dead rotten vomitus that liberals suck down like mother’s milk.

    • Thanks for the comment James, and glad we agree on Dreher. But I think some stuff on AC is okay. As I say elsewhere it’s a weird and schizophrenic site. But they do use Pat Buchanan’s syndicated column, and I don’t think it’s fair to describe him like that. They also publish Paul Gottfried. Don’t know if you’ve heard of him but, you may not agree with everything he says but he’s definitely NOT a liberal (he advised Pat B. when he tried to get the GOP nomination for presideent). Gottfried is totally fearless and puts the “icon” in “iconoclast.” Take care! — The author

  16. For more fun with Rod Dreher, I highly recommend P.T. Carlo at Thermidor.

    • Thanks John. I’ve actually read and greatly enjoyed one of Carlo’s pieces at Thermidor. I even wrote a long reply to one of his critics on Disqus, but as has happened 5 times in the discussion for this piece, it got rejected as spam. I think that may have unconsciously made me not look for more of his work (I spent a long time on that reply) and I will definitely remedy that and check out your recommendation. — The author

  17. Protestant point: the problem with auricular confession is that people are blind to their worst sins.

    • People definitely are blind to their worse sins. Not being a Catholic/Christian, I never thought of it before as presenting a problem for auricular confession, but it obviously does create difficulties. Do you know if there’s any Catholic or Orthodox response to this apparent problem?

  18. Dreher is the rare conservative these days that house an ounce of integrity and actually cares about virtue. You Trump lovers have sold your souls. It’s people like you who have destroyed American conservatism, not Dreher.

    • there is nothing rare about Dreher or his style of “conservatism” that conserves nothing while happily shooting his own side in the back.

      I read the guy, and liked him, for YEARS. When a real fighter came along to battle leftism directly – and Dreher shamelessly attacked him – the jig was up. I knew Dreher was a total phony.

      He laments the dying West, while surrendering to the thing destroying it. He’s an awful human being.

      • Thanks for replying to this Joe. It’s all generalities without anything to back it up. Why are we supposed to believe that RD has integrity and cares about virtue? Why are we supposed to beleive that supporting the President means selling our souls of that we’ve destroyed America? Then there’s the straw man ending; nobody has said RD is destroying America. I just saw it now and there’s no content at all. And you responded with actual reasons and got no response back. I’ve noticed that people who hate Trump often can’t articulate what it is they hate about him in anything but general terms.

      • Thank you Michael, and I appreciate you being such an enthusiastic and active participant in the comments!

        The cucks were unmasked, and Trump Derangement Syndrome revealed itself.

        I have to marvel at Trump. He seems to get all the right people hating his guts – the traitors, the cucks, the liars, deep state, etc.

        I pray for him and his family regularly.

      • The appreciation is mutual, Joe. Thanks for taking to time to read my work and commenting on it. I learn a lot from you guys and authors who avoid these forums miss out on a lot.

        Everything you say about the President is right Joe; he needs our prayers.

        On a much more mundane note: A lot of my replies were being rejected as spam. But, today, the tech guys seem to have figured out a way to white list me so that can’t happen. Unfortunately, this appears to have completely broken my Disqus notifications. So, unless that’s fixed I won’t get notified when people respond anymore. I will keep an eye out for new responses, but I will likely miss a lot as articles get older. Apologies in advance if that happens.

        Great talking with you and take care Joe!

      • It appears, contrary to my earlier reply, that I am not white-listed at AG, as another reply was rejected as spam. I am still not getting all my Disqus notifications, which appears to be unrelated. So the caveat about me not necessarily seeing replies still holds.

        Since the replies that keep getting rejected were responses to an abusive commentator to a later AG piece (“Persuading Progressives? It’s Possible”) I have moved that discussion to the link to that piece on my blog, so that I’m able to respond to the abuse. The blog address is in my author’s bio above if anyone is interested. I would provide a link, but I don’t want to risk this being deemed spam.