Jonah Goldberg and the Republican “Land that Time Forgot”

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 September 9, 2017|
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The deal President Trump struck this week with Democratic Party leadership has sent the conservative commentariat into a rage spiral. Trump, snubbing the Republican “leadership” of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, agreed to raise the debt ceiling for three months. “Principled” congressional Republicans, in an act of true statesmanship, wanted to extend the debt limit past the 2018 election, thus making their election prospects easier.

Jonah Goldberg, a knee-jerk anti-Trumper who never misses the opportunity to display his hatred of the president and his contempt for those who support him, has weighed in on the deal. According to Goldberg, Trump’s “obsequious” “cheerleaders” (readers and associates of American Greatness, for example) loved it. But “contrary to wishful theories that Trump is playing ‘four-dimensional chess,’ the president doesn’t really know what he’s doing.”

And Congress does? Goldberg rehearses a litany of tepid excuses to absolve lawmakers of most of their responsibility: “The Republican majority in the Senate is much narrower than the Democratic majority was when Obama was elected.” (So eliminate the filibuster.) “Many GOP leaders never thought Trump would win, and so they hadn’t prepared for victory.” (Most didn’t want Trump to win in the first place.) “Also, the Republican party is divided along a host of fault lines, and a large swath of the Republican caucus has no experience at actually governing.” (Gee, wonder why that is? Could it be that those “fault lines” don’t have much to do with the actual concerns of voters? As to the “governing” argument, this is simply Beltway speak for a failure to realize the idealized dreams of people who imagine a presidency should look like it did on Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing.” Grow up.)

Instead, Goldberg lays the blame squarely on Trump. Trump “a former New York Democrat,” (Goldberg regularly confuses the citation of misleading facts with the process of building arguments), struck a deal that gives “the shaft to his own party.”

But that is precisely the point. A pre-Trump Congress, defined by old coalitions (e.g., RINOs vs. the Freedom Caucus), is trying to exist in a political world defined by the new coalitions that put Trump in the White House. And it is not going well, to say the least. The failure of congressional Republicans to achieve any of Trump’s major initiatives is but a symptom of these two clashing realities. Republicans have been unable to adjust to the new reality or even to acknowledge it. And this has made it impossible for them to satisfy the voters.

Republicans forget themselves: Trump is not beholden to the leadership of the Republican Party and its Chamber of Commerce-driven agenda, which has motivated its loyalists for at least a decade. It’s an agenda that never had a much of a national constituency in the first place. Ben Domenech, the publisher of The Federalist, writes “since his inauguration congressional Republicans have acted like they have an equal seat at the table. They don’t have that, and they don’t deserve it. And Trump should stop pretending they do.”

In siding with the Democrats in this minor deal, Trump is holding congressional Republicans’ feet to the fire. By making it clear to voters that he is the dealmaker-in-chief he promised to be on the campaign trail, he is allowing Americans to see just how feckless and broken the current Congress is and, by way of contrast, is showing them what he might be able to accomplish with a Congress that is even mildly sympathetic with his agenda.

Goldberg is stuck in the past and hobbled by a view of American politics that is less and less relevant with each passing day. The best he can do is moan how Trump “holds no deep love for ideological conservatism” and sputter about how Trump “refuses to learn.” But if anything it is Goldberg who refuses to learn about the circumstances that propelled Trump to the White House.

Trump ran against ideological conservatism—and won. Bigly.

Goldberg seems to prefer the way things have been done over the last few decades, with conservative rhetoric flying about and ultimately meaningless ideological battles in Congress. But this just won’t do. The failures of this approach should be obvious—even to a blinkered conservative ideologue.

By spurning the Republican elites, Trump is attempting to inspire voters to give him a new kind of Republican Congress in 2018. He is showing the American people how out of step the current Congress is with his winning agenda of secure borders, an interest-based foreign policy, and economic nationalism. In this way Trump is trying to keep his most important campaign promise: to drain a swamp that has engulfed everything it touches. If in working to achieve that goal the Republican Party goes the way of the Whig Party, so be it.

 

About the Author:

Mike Sabo
Mike Sabo is a Mt. Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a recent graduate of the Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship at Hillsdale College. He and his wife live in Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Gary Dickson

    The Republicans in Congress had better remember why so many Democrats have been kicked out of office over the past 10 years.

    Or are those Republicans simply the co-creators of the very swamp that many Americans have demanded be drained?

  • Orson

    Yes, The Force is weak in little Goldberg. I’ve seen it before Trump ran for president, during Q&A over “Liberal Fascism.” Goldberg had no clue as to why the Obama era deserved a sequel to his thesis that updates it…. Instead, a deeper and more serious one has been provided by Michael Walsh, the best-seller to the West Wing Trump staffers.

  • Starboard

    Jonah Goldberg can see a Republican President stand up to a pack of pointing, howling and spluttering reporters and side with the reporters. Why?

    Racism! of course.

  • Doctor Bass Monkey

    Goldberg has been consistently wrong for years and refuses to reflect on why that is and question what he doesn’t understand that causes him to err. He’s too vain, like much of the Conservative commentariat, to admit this which fuels their continued slide into irrelevancy.

    • ADM64

      What has he been wrong about? He has been sharply critical of the Republican leadership over the years too.

      • Doctor Bass Monkey

        Trump wouldn’t win the nomination. Trump wouldn’t win the election. Trump would be worse than Hillary.

        • Kenny A

          So when you say “for years”, you mean two.

          • tassius

            Try the whole neo-con agenda.

          • Deplorabalis Parallaxis

            What, in your world, constitutes a plural?

        • Panope Vreeland

          Goldberg also confidently declared the Cubs losers in the World Series when they were down 3-1. He said their impending loss gave him joy, for some reason or other having to do with he doesn’t like change.

      • sotto voce

        Criticize is all so-called conservatives like Goldberg do. As long as the Washington status quo was maintained they were perfectly content to shout into the wind. Trump has called their bluff and they hate it.

  • Anne Miller

    Trump gave Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer all they wanted and he got nothing in return for his agenda that HE promised his voters. This author is a dolt.

    • sqeezx

      McConnell et al signalled weeks ago that they would ultimately pass an increase in the debt ceiling, no matter what. Then, the whispering started that Trump would shut down the government rather than pass a debt ceiling increase (citation below my post). Aaand there were other whispers about how difficult the agenda was going to be. The GOPers were going to make Trump the patsy.

      So Trump flipped them off, by throwing his weight behind the Demo’s proposal, which resulted in a bill that raised the debt ceiling AND funded hurricane relief. And oh by the way, that bill was proposed, passed and signed into law, all in one week. An object lesson for the GOPers, who were feckless enough to not stand in the way of the Trump-Demo deal…only crying like little toddlers when daddy took their legislative toys away.

      Links: https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2017-09-01/will-trumps-incompetence-lead-to-a-shutdown-or-debt-ceiling-default

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/trumps-shutdown-threat-raises-stakes-for-lawmakers-in-looming-funding-battle/2017/08/23/0782be8c-8800-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html?utm_term=.69ef0011fbe0

      • Anne Miller

        Trump is now working with the people he has backed his entire political life. The leftist Democrats.

        • Uncle Max

          and? I mean, really… The GOPe would have been fine with LOSING. They’d be fine with Hillary. This is so stupid. The Democrats are in worse shape than the GOP, but the press won’t report it.

        • sqeezx

          Trump cut short the kabuki dance. It’s been 20+ years since Gingrich was “rode out of town on a rail” by those principled conservatives. And since then, they have achieved precisely nothing (please feel free to list their many accomplishments if you disagree). They have the moves, the style is perfect, the words so … so “principled” … and yet at the end of the day, they go along with the Dems. The litany of excuses appears endless.

          So Trump cut to the chase and went along with the Dems? Big woof. Would have happened anyway, but the poor GOPers didn’t have a chance to don their costumes to show off their “principles” to the (increasingly restive) masses.

  • ADM64

    “He is showing the American people how out of step the current Congress is with his winning agenda of secure borders, an interest-based foreign policy, and economic nationalism. In this way Trump is trying to keep his most important campaign promise: to drain a swamp that has engulfed everything it touches.”
    Well, maybe.
    Secure borders, interest-based foreign policy and economic nationalism can fit with traditional conservative (or libertarian or classical liberal) views regarding the primacy of the Constitution, the illegitimacy of the administrative state, respect for individual rights and small but effective government. The first three points in Mr. Sabo’s analysis of a winning agenda represent a policy agenda that may or may not advance a political philosophy. The latter is required to sustain our country as the United States and to defend and advance a policy agenda. Otherwise, all one has is an emotion-driven set of responses that will be easily sabotaged. Unless one can provide a coherent “Why” for the policies, they won’t go anywhere. If one wants evidence of this, look no further than Trump’s flip-flop on DACA. He may say that he hates the press, but unfortunately, like Nixon, he seems to crave the approval of those who really hate him. Absent actual, coherent convictions the result will be a lot more of these flip-flops. Incidentally, this is exactly the dynamic that gave us Chamber of Commerce Republicans and RINOs generally.
    Moreover, unless “secure borders, an interest-based foreign policy, and economic nationalism” involve gutting the welfare state and entitlement programs, then the country is doomed financially if in no other way. Attempting to put some sort of FDR-lite domestic program circa 1950 in place is unsustainable and ultimately plays into the Left’s hands. The fact that a lot of Americans – including Mr. Trump – think it is possible to maintain the welfare state and entitlement programs but merely grow enough to fund it or to somehow manage it responsibly is absurd and contradicted by staggering amounts of actual experience.
    In addition to the above, flip-flopping on DACA hardly fits with secure borders, and any form of flirtation with the Democrats on debt or entitlements means that the election was pointless.
    I think we have to be careful about letting our contempt for the Ryans and McConnels and McCains blind us to Mr. Trump’s real shortcomings as a leader. He may prove to be crazy like a fox but then again he may not.
    There is a large constituency in our country that wants change, that wants the swamp drained, that wants our borders protected, that wants the administrative state dismantled, and that wants international trade to be either genuinely free or at least based on reciprocity. That constituency, however, also supports different versions of big government at home, in many ways no different than the big government conservatism or national greatness conservatism of die-hard Never Trump Neo-Cons like William Kristol. That domestic agenda is not in our national interest and is more critical than anything that happens in terms of foreign policy.
    Jonah Goldberg, incidentally, is not an open-borders advocate and he would argue that interest-based foreign policy is reasonable, but he might have a different sense of what our interests are in some cases. That point

  • Is it really the Chamber of Congress’ agenda? I’ve heard this, but it seems to me the Republican establishment is much happier discussing the origins and practice of Conservatism, with comment on Libertarianism and Republicanism with a shot of Reganism thrown in. It is action and decisiveness and above all understanding that the other side is conducting a war and we’re just observing that is missing. The war out there is just too fierce, it’s easier to observe from the sidelines.

  • Peter63

    I hope Mr Sabo is right but confess I see the matter differently.

    From the start Mr Trump and those who voted for him had and have powerful enemies: Big Money (Silicon Valley
    billionaires, Wall St, the banks) and those entities effectually owned by Big Money = most politicians, the mainstream media, the bureaucracy (including the intelligence services in the Deep State), academe, and the additional support group which is the Wild Left.

    In undertaking to fight the presidential election on the themes he espoused, Donald Trump exhibited exemplary bravery. No hero of song or story could have evinced more dogged pugnacity and more skillful instincts at crucial moments during the campaign. His miraculous win was the fitting meed of such courage and adroitness.

    Yet something else was needed which I fear President Trump lacks. The big money interests which have governed the country disastrously for the past 28 years (since the retirement of President Reagan) were not simply going to give way and accept the verdict of the nation. They had to be most dexterously outwitted from day one of this President’s victory, i.e. well before Inauguration, in fact starting November 9, 2016.

    To this end Mr Trump needed to appoint exclusively people who were ardent for his campaign agenda; he needed to have no desire for approval from any of its enemies; he needed to have no truck whatever with the Establishment and any of its lackeys; and he needed to have a 935-point plan in place, all Machiavellian in character, for wrong-footing the foes of that agenda each step of the way throughout his four years in office – all drawn up, specific, timetabled, well before Polling Day.

    These crucial features of character and planning he has lacked: strangely, in a man who put up with so much unjust vilification, misrepresentation and all-round unfair treatment during the election campaign.

    He seems to have supposed that, once in office, he could simply improvise, ‘wing it’ – which, up against the sheer Niagara of opposition the enemies of his agenda would and do provide and the levers of power they control, is not sufficient.

    It seems to me Events will now decide what happens; not skill in the White House. There is too little of that.

    • Adobe_Walls

      In short he is at war with the press/media, with the swamp in genera and the Deep State and Fourth Branch in particular, and with the establishment in of both parties in Washington. At some level Trump knows this. So why the ouster of Steve Bannon who understands this better than anyone else in his campaign and White House?
      No doubt attacking the vast swamp requires the use of oblique angles. Perhaps this is the thinking behind the debt limit deal. If the calculation is that one way or another the debt limit will be raised (an objective fact) and that he’d not be successful in attaching any conditions such as wall funding to that, then who in congress he utilized doesn’t matter in the long run. If avoiding this particular fight enables prioritizing tax reform etc. it will prove an acceptable gambit. Also putting Congressional Republican leadership on notice that there are other options for getting what he wants is perhaps it’s own virtue.

  • carl Jung

    goldberg is a braying ass without an original idea in that ugly jewish head of his. it’s amazing to me that anyone pays that cuck to write.

  • RJ

    Some years back I got kicked off his Mother’s site by criticizing her son Jonah over something he wrote. The question for me is why he hates Trump so much…I think there is something beyond his words of justification, something deep within his psyche where conflict has not been resolved nor understood.

    I can’t get beyond his immediate anger. Maybe he should shave his facial hair and let us see who he really is.

  • SpeedMaster

    FTA: “By spurning the Republican elites, Trump is attempting to inspire voters to give him a new kind of Republican Congress in 2018.”
    .
    To do that President Trump will have to do something that no sitting President has ever done before. He will have to campaign for incumbent R opponents during the upcoming primary season. A couple of wins and the tone of congress, especially the Senate completely changes. Sundance thinks he will and has named it “The Big Ugly”.

  • Peta Johnson

    The President is no fool. He knows that he has made Ryan and McConnell uncomfortable. McConnell has made him uncomfortable by blocking any recess appointments. They should stop thinking the President is a dope.

  • Kitty Myers

    One of Goldberg’s tepid excuses to absolve lawmakers of most of their responsibility: “Many GOP leaders never thought Trump would win, and so they hadn’t prepared for victory.”

    You’d think if you expected your team to lose and it won, you’d be overjoyed. What Goldberg really means is the Never-Trumpers not only expected Trump to lose, they were counting on Hillary winning. The Never-Trumpers have been exposed.

    • Brother John the Deplorable

      Exposed, and exposed daily, but to what good?

      • Derek Pandamonium

        We will see in the 2018 primaries. Here’s a story from PLb about four Congressmen who are not seeking re-election in 2018. All four are anti-Trumpians. Two, Dent and Ros-Lehtinen, publicly supported hillary.
        http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/09/are-republicans-fleeing-congress-because-of-trump.php

        In addition, #neverTrump Flake looks very likely to be beat by a Trump supporter, Kelli Ward. I’m hoping Bannon and Gorka are recruiting more Trump supporters to challenge the #neverTrump GOPe in 2018.

        • Brother John the Deplorable

          Oh that Flake/Ward poll made me laugh and laugh. I hope the recruitment is underway…

    • Ming the Merciless

      NeverTrumpers did not prepare for victory because they did not want it.
      They are now preparing a series of backstabs in order to pave the way for Trump’s defeat, which they do want.

  • Peta Johnson

    I am reliably informed by a gay paramour of Jonah’s, that Jonah has a micropenis which stands at one and 5/16ths inches when erect. He also has on undescended testicle. He is just jealous of the President.

  • ricocat1

    Another good article by Mike Sabo. With the splits in both the Democrat and Republican Party neither one might survive as we could have a Trump-oriented Populist Party opposing a Sanders-oriented Populist Party.

  • BurkeanMama

    Goldberg’s hatred of President Trump is so visceral it has pushed all other thoughts, or even the ability to think out of his mind. He is now nothing but his hatred for one man. A pathetic fate.

  • Sam Delaney

    The “liberal establishment” that once controlled the Democratic Party has given way to an extreme leftism willing to use violence, a type of thug mentality, to silence dissent and intimidate political opponents, especially non-leftists.

    The Republicans have a chance to pick-up Senate seats currently held by Democrats in states won by President Trump in 2016. Of the 25 democratic senate seats up for election in 2018, ten are located in red states.

    Republicans need to win all 8 contested Republican seats and at least 5 of the ten seats in red states held by a Democrat. That will give the GOP a healthy 57 – 43 majority in Congress.

  • fedupMan

    Goldberg is an anti Trump NEVER ever dude. That is his right but Trump is NOT the root of all EVIL. The establishment pols and commenters just can’t stand how Trump is stomping on them all the time. The choice was hillary or Trump. These never Trumpers were and still are willing to HAND USA over to dems that would make USA a 3rd world banana republic that would DESTROY USA as we knew it. How would they explain that to their kids and grandkids?

  • Silence Do Good II

    This is the best article I have read on the subject.

  • Brother John the Deplorable

    Since you mention Chamber of Commerce types, you’d think that Trump’s win would teach Republicans that the Chamber and donors don’t matter at all, and that votes do.

    Meanwhile, those who seek cheap labor at the expense of Americans ought to be dragged out into the street and shot for failing to recognize that environmental, labor, feminist, and tax-and-spend constituents of all shapes and sizes have made Americans too expensive to hire, and those destructive policies have to be done away with in order to fix anything.

  • bilahn

    Oh Please – while I am happy Trump made a deal on this with the Dems – I hold no illusions. Trump is beholden to no one but his own narcissistic self – and has no principles other than “winning”. I certainly have no illusions that this disgusting POTUS is suddenly doing the right thing. The support for Donald Trump is truly shocking to me. And we wonder how societies fail?

    The irony of the title of this website is telling – Trump will only bring us to American Decline.

  • Jonah Goldberg is a classic example of a privileged member of Conservative, Inc. He has no touch at all with the people who actually vote for so-called “conservative” candidates (who often turn out to be really be CINOs.) He got his start because of his mother. He claims to be conservative but he’s really a right-wing progressive – he wants the same thing as leftists but he wants to be in charge.

  • Derek Pandamonium

    The GOPe were repudiated in the repub primaries. Their response was to double down and support hillary. Now they whine because Trump doesn’t roll over as they have done for decades. We never had a two party system before the party of Trump.
    “with conservative rhetoric flying about and ultimately meaningless ideological battles in Congress.”
    This is the essence of the unibrow party. Each branch tries to keep its base agitated while they take their orders from the donor class. And McConnell has the effrontery to claim our expectations are too high.

  • Ming the Merciless

    Trump “a former New York Democrat,”

    And Reagan was a former California Democrat.

  • Panope Vreeland

    Coming over from NRO this article shows the chasm between adult writers and what you find at NRO (other than VDH, Conrad Black, and another guy whose name I forget at the moment, but his last name begins with De…).

  • morecotwo

    I don’t think anyone is in a rage on this. It’s what they want. However, WE are in a rage. Many will not forgive.

  • mike pearce

    Mike Sabo-excellent article! As a big Lucianne user, I am very sad to see how Jonah as turned out.

  • Dude1394

    Great column. I’m stunned at how butthurt the Hillary Clinton for President National Review continues to be. At this moment they are indistinguishable from the antifa-democrats.

  • Andrea Hall

    Who shafted whom first?!

  • So let’s get this straight: a conservative who opposes Trump is somehow out of touch with American Greatness. Yet Trump’s “claims” to making American great again include spending billions to construct a uselessly medieval wall, courting racists and promoting violence, all while running around playing Whack-A-Mole with Barack Obama’s legacy. The Trumpster spends the rest of his time on Twitter denying sinking popularity levels (as proved by none other than Fox News) because his fragile ego cannot stand the idea that the faux credibility he was granted through his election thanks to a bunch of backwards zealots desperate to affirm their pathetic fears of irrelevancy… is now disappearing faster than the erections of his primary constituents? It’s a flaccid argument at best.

  • Montana Skeptic

    I first encountered Donald Trump almost 30 years ago, when he was in the process of screwing his partners & stiffing his banks. I have observed him up close on a number of occasions since then. Truly one of the most ignorant, vain, narcissistic, needy, shallow human beings I’ve ever encountered.

    Sorry, dear author, but Donald Trump has no principles, no policy, and only the very most superficial understanding of issues. He certainly has no ethical compass. This has always been clear, yet some remain in denial.

    The great surprise of this election and Administration has been, to me, how many whom I thought were conservatives are merely cultists.

  • RDaneel

    “The failure of congressional Republicans to achieve any of Trump’s major initiatives is but a symptom of these two clashing realities. Republicans have been unable to adjust to the new reality or even to acknowledge it. And this has made it impossible for them to satisfy the voters.”

    However, it looks like Trump is running to the other side as fast as he can. Instead of remaking the eGoP, he is being co-opted by The Deep State because he is so desperate for a “deal”.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/77f8e16b18425c888ee2e37cb246946ee96e01f74367efe2f18a7e0a63100ce4.jpg