We are days away from the first trickle of columns and commentary on the one-year anniversary of the most shocking and disruptive presidential election in recent American history. Personally, I can’t wait for the renewed tears from Hillary Clinton voters and the media (but I repeat myself) as they recount the night Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. There will be lots of cringe-inducing “what if” dream sequences about how much better off we would be with Hillary in the Oval Office.
I also look forward to the analysis from NeverTrump “conservatives.” While some have accepted how they totally misjudged the electorate last year—and now can even acknowledge Trump’s emerging conservative street cred—other folks like Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin seem unable to move on. Doubtless, we’ll soon see conservative pundits writing how they were wrong about Trump—he’s even worse than they thought he would be! My money on the first to write along those lines will be Death of Expertise author Tom Nichols, who penned this hateful column about Trump voters last April without interviewing any himself, and who routinely misreads and demeans the president’s base.
It’s ironic, as we approach this anniversary, the union between NeverTrump conservatives and the liberal establishment—including Clinton, Inc.—was fully consummated this week. Not only did they either ignore or trivialize the unfolding Uranium One scandal, several NeverTrump yankers joined the media’s circle jerk to blast Trump’s chief of staff, General John Kelly, in an overt and orchestrated attempt to distract from the real Russia collusion story.
Anatomy of a Scandal
On Saturday, National Review Online published an Andrew McCarthy column on detailing how the Clintons and the Obama administration helped the Russians secure the rights to one-fifth of America’s uranium supply, then covered up the jaw-dropping malfeasance behind the deal. The piece reads like a Tom Clancy thriller, complete with national security threats, extortion, fraud, money-laundering, racketeering, presidential politics, a buried plea deal, and a silenced FBI informant. The cast of characters includes Bill and Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Eric Holder, James Comey, and Robert Mueller to name but a few. The most imaginative fiction writer could not have come up with better material or crazier plot twists. (McCarthy’s explosive piece came on the heels of two other reports published at The Hill and Circa on the same scandal.)
McCarthy’s post dominated social media over the weekend. It was retweeted thousands of times; by Monday morning, it had been shared 45,000 times on Facebook. There was no way to avoid reading it, especially if you live in the “conservative” Twitterverse. (U.S. Senator Charles Grassley [R-Iowa] has also asked the Justice Department to lift the non-disclosure agreement with the FBI informant and allow him to speak with Congress.)
Strangely, it seems like many Twitter-obsessed NeverTrumpers didn’t see McCarthy’s article. Or the original article posted on The Hill. Or the follow-up at Circa. Or Grassley’s appeal. The very same folks who have warned us about the destruction of democratic norms and the unconstitutional behavior of our current president had nothing to say about two former presidents and one presidential candidate jeopardizing U.S. national security by empowering and enriching our enemies with billions of dollars in uranium reserves. The same crew of crybabies who have peddled the Trump-Russia conspiracy fable for nearly a year is silent on this real Russia scandal.
And as the Trump dossier story unfolds today, NeverTrumpers including Nichols and Rick Wilson are helping the Democrats hand-wave away the information as old news, even as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announces he will support a subpoena to get more information from the “stonewalling” FBI.
Look! A Squirrel!
In this week’s trip down Social Media Lane, let’s take a little detour into the NeverTrump cul-de-sac to see what a few of these “conservatives” have to say about both scandals.
Tom Nichols: Surely Nichols, a Sovietologist, a professor at the U.S. Naval College and one of Politico’s top-50 most influential political commentators, would express some alarm about the Clinton-Obama-Russia conspiracy, right? At the very least, Nichols might be concerned about the FBI apparently offering to pay a hired gun—sorry, “opposition research fellow” – to continue investigating the president-elect. Hmmmm, let’s see. Lots of shade thrown at John Kelly. Lots of RTs of articles about Kelly. Oh hey, it looks like he did see McCarthy’s article. Let’s see what Twitter’s self-professed Russia expert says.
The Clintons in a pay-for-play? NO WAY.
Of course they were. If HRC were president, this would huge. As it is, not so much anymore. https://t.co/10bBQgHQP6
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) October 23, 2017
But that’s not all. After his “nothing to see here, move along” tweet, Mr. Expert quickly pivots to the real story:
It’s not nothing, but it’s not everything. It’s not even in the same league as the Trump-Russia investigation.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) October 23, 2017
Now let’s see what Mr. Expert has to say about the dossier. Slim pickings, I see. Here’s one:
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) October 25, 2017
Of course, the first tweet in that thread is wrong, and the remainder of the twitter storm attempts to confer credibility to Steele as a reason why the FBI would consider hiring him. (Looks like the usually Twitter-happy “Radio Free Tom” is on radio silence today.)
That’s it. So, the guy Politico commends “for defending experts in an anti-factual age” ignores new facts about two major scandals, both involving a country about which he is a self-proclaimed expert, and he concludes both are nothingburgers. Got it.
Jennifer Rubin: I almost hesitate to mock Jennifer Rubin because, let’s be honest, being Jennifer Rubin every day must be punishment enough. She calls herself the “conservative blogger” at the Washington Post, but there is nothing conservative about her. Rubin’s recent posts cheer milquetoast Republicans such as John Kasich and Susan Collins, lament how she didn’t appreciate Clinton and Obama when they were in office, blast the “travel ban” and the NRA, compare Trump to Harvey Weinstein, and insist we need to hear more from Sally Yates. If she’s a conservative, I’m Jordan Spieth.
Rubin posted several tweets about John Kelly; in her Sunday column, she accuses Kelly of “gratuitously” attacking Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), and stupidly concludes Congress should bar “generals from acting in civilian capacities in the White House.”
Rubin did write something Monday about Russian meddling in our democracy. Here’s what she said:
Imagine if a George W. Bush administration official, a year after 9/11, had said that “the government isn’t doing enough to guard against such activity in the future, could not identify a single step his department is taking or should take in that direction.” Democrats would be hollering for impeachment. Nevertheless, after our democracy has been attacked, the GOP has demonstrated no urgency to protect our electoral system.
I think that speaks volumes about Rubin’s integrity, credibility, and sanity. (Nothing about Uranium One, by the way.)
Rubin also has nothing to say about the Clinton-backed dossier, even though her own newspaper broke the story last night.
Rick Wilson and Ben Howe: This pair of NeverTrumpers is producing a movie called, “Everything Trump Touches Dies,” which sounds like something a couple of fifth-graders might write, and it’s set to be released this January. On their GoFundMe page, looking to raise a paltry $85,000 to help make the movie, Wilson and Howe promise a film about Trump’s “disastrous Presidency [that] has already produced a record of failure, corruption, and chaos.”
Well, that sure sounds familiar! Two guys making a movie about corruption and chaos at the White House would undoubtedly be very concerned about the new allegations over the Uranium One deal. A quick check of their Twitter timelines: Wilson—nothing. Howe—nothing. Must be busy working on their rough cuts of Kellyanne Conway.
Now let’s check the dossier story. Ah, Wilson has unleashed an insult-ridden tweetstorm about how none of this is news and even if it is none of it is surprising, and oh yeah, Trump supporters are idiots. See for yourself:
1/ The Post story tonight over which the Trumpvolk are losing their damn minds is hilarious.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) October 25, 2017
Howe, to his credit, posted a few tweets on the dossier:
This is the part where all the people who congratulated me on “calling out my own side” now call out their own side. https://t.co/ASuD5HI32a
— Ben (@BenHowe) October 25, 2017
Here is a rundown of other Never Trump “conservatives” apparently unconcerned with the Uranium One scandal: Bill Kristol and Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard (as of Tuesday morning, the WS website had no article on it), Matthew Dowd, David Frum, Bret Stephens, John Podhoretz, Evan McMullin, and Senators Ben Sasse and John McCain.
Once again, NeverTrump has stepped in to fill the Left’s empty barrel (props to John Kelly), smearing a decent man while distracting attention away from consequential issues. This is also about CYA: how can they admit their chosen candidate—Hillary—is at the center of the real Russia scandal and violated democratic norms and constitutional obligations, when they have been making that case about Trump? There is nothing “conservative” about that.