A Liberal Pundit’s Utter Lack of Self-Awareness

Wednesday morning, as I was eating my breakfast of blueberries and raspberries, and getting ready to walk my Schnoodle on the Florida beach, I came across this piece by Damon Linker in The Week: “The GOP is Ruthless.” The title alone got me excited—after all, it’s about time we got some ruthlessness going! It’s about time we became a party of ruthlessly successful political creatures, instead of a party of noble, graceful losers and whiners, à la Mitt Romney. 

Linker, for all his leftishness, is often readable and makes a pretense of being “reasonable.” I sometimes suspect that he would rather write for a less leftist audience—but a job’s a job, and the bills need to be paid. Among indie book authors, this is called “writing to market”—if the market wants vampire-in-love-with-a-unicorn romances instead of shapeshifters-on-the-loose-in-Los-Angeles thrillers, then that’s what you need to write if you want to eat. Journalism is not a growth industry these days—so I don’t blame him for taking the gig at a leftist rag like The Week.

Alas, it doesn’t seem that self-awareness is a trait much cultivated by liberals or the Left. The entire column, with all its accusations tossed at Republicans, reads like a mirror image of what Republicans know is true of Democrats. Psychologists call this “projection.”

The column is worth quoting at some length. Remember, this is Linker talking about Republicans that exist mostly in his imagination. I only wish half of it were true. If only we were half this ruthless. If only our congressional representatives showed their spines more often.

Linker begins:

On Monday, the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report on the use of surveillance powers by the FBI in the Russia investigation that ensnared the Trump campaign and administration. The report concluded that, although there were missteps in the investigation, the FBI displayed no bias in initiating the counter-intelligence probe. Democrats and anti-Trump conservatives praised the findings, calling them a vindication of federal law enforcement as well as a demonstration that the government can investigate itself fairly and rigorously.

About those “anti-Trump conservatives”—he probably means the five or so remaining NeverTrumpers, like Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, and Bill Kristol. I make it a point to pay no attention to “anti-Trump conservatives,” because they aren’t conservatives, because they literally have nothing to say that even remotely interests me, and because they are utterly irrelevant. 

But only a liberal could look at more than 400 pages of the Horowitz report’s, with all of the “mistakes,” “errors,” FISA abuse, fraud, falsifications, fabrications, lies, failures, sheer incompetence, foggy memories, and clear and unambiguous bias—all in the service of a relentless Democratic determination to “get Trump”—and see “a vindication of federal law enforcement.” If this is a vindication, then my mind struggles to conceive of what bona fide condemnation would look like. 

Needless to say, some of those ruthless Republicans didn’t quite buy the vindication story:

On the other side of the aisle, things have been sharply different. Fastening onto the criticisms of the FBI in the IG report and blasting Horowitz for going much easier on the bureau than he should have, Trump has let loose with a barrage of invective against the entire process, including the judgment of FBI Director Christopher Wray, whom Trump himself appointed, for backing Horowitz. The president has been joined in the criticism by Attorney General William Barr, who sided with the president against Horowitz and the FBI he oversees.

I am frankly often surprised at how even-tempered Trump is, especially toward his enemies. I am not sure I would be quite as good-natured as the president, if the deep state, the “loyal opposition,” and 95 percent of the media were after me nonstop. Trump only goes off on them every few days—I’d probably go barking mad with rage on an hourly basis if the Democrats and their media lackeys were doing to me what they are doing to Trump. 

Memo to the president: It may be time soon to give Christopher Wray his walking papers, since he doesn’t seem to be getting the right message. Linker continues:

When [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov’s visit on Tuesday was over, Trump tweeted out a picture of himself with his guest along with a statement bragging about their “very good meeting.” It was an astonishing gesture of contempt for his political opponents—almost a taunt on a day when they hoped to place him firmly on the defensive.

When your enemies deserve contempt, contempt is what they get. Democrats wish Trump were on the defensive—but the lame articles of impeachment probably had Trump laughing his ass off. 

But then Linker imbibes a Bloomberg-sized Big Gulp of the Kool-Aid, and starts going off the deep end:

On one side, we have an earnest defense of process and extra-political institutions, and the public-spirited quest for bipartisanship in the name of the common good.

Oh, man! I almost fell off my ergonomic chair when I read this. Exhibit A of that “earnest defense of process” are the impeachment hearings in Adam Schiff’s and Jerry Nadler’s committees—Schiff conspiring with the “whistleblower” to trigger the impeachment process, the hearings themselves mostly conducted in a secret bunker under the Capitol, witnesses coached to give the “right” answers in front of TV cameras, all Republican attempts to question witnesses derailed or blocked, the accused given no opportunity to question the accusers or to offer his own defense, with absurdly short deadlines and an outcome predetermined years earlier. 

Many people think that the impeachment effort began the day after Trump was elected. Some foolishly think it began on the day he was inaugurated. In fact, as early as April 2016—months before Trump even became the Republican nominee—Democrats were already strategizing Trump’s impeachment. Again—just to fully comprehend the bipartisan spirit practiced by the Democrats—they were plotting Trump’s impeachment even before he won the nomination. A “public-spirited quest for bipartisanship,” indeed.

Linker goes on:

On the other, a ruthless pursuit of political victory by any means necessary, including the generous use of disinformation, outright lies, and trolling.

Surely Linker has heard about the Mueller report. There, it says in black-and-white that not a shred of evidence exists that the Trump campaign ever “colluded” with Russia. Yet Adam Schiff (and countless congressional Democrats—not to mention every leftist TV talking head) spent three years talking daily on every TV show that would have them about possession of “incontrovertible” proof of Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin. 

If the Russian collusion hoax doesn’t sound like outright lies, then what is an outright lie? Schiff claimed—right in front of a TV audience of millions—that he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is—after neglecting to black out Ciaramella’s name in a released transcript. One might call that “a ruthless pursuit of political victory by any means necessary, including the generous use of disinformation, outright lies, and trolling.”

In recent days, we’ve seen more evidence of Democrats’ “public-spirited quest for bipartisanship,” with Schiff evidently running a spying operation against  political opponents on his own committee. Would Linker call that “a ruthless pursuit of political victory by any means necessary”? I have yet to see a single Democrat criticize Schiff for anything (though I suspect that privately many are furious with him for his abject failure to move the needle on impeachment). Linker is in far too deep to turn back now:

Put in slightly different terms, Republicans believe that the only way to achieve good things for the American people is to win as much political power as possible—to thoroughly vanquish their opponents, and to do so without mercy—while the Democrats . . . don’t at all believe the same about themselves or their opponents.

After reading this whopper, I began to suspect either Linker is trolling us or his editor is holding him hostage somewhere, making him write such things. 

Linker then gets all analytical on us:

The Democrats have a very broad—perhaps too broad—electoral coalition. It includes Bernie Sanders voters and Michael Bloomberg voters and even a few Tulsi Gabbard voters, and a whole lot of people between them. That’s a massive ideological spread. And the act of trying to make the tent broad enough leads the party to include a fair number of Democrats who like Republicans more than they like many of their fellow Democrats. As a result, the Democratic Party is less a unified, goal-directed tribe than a ragtag coalition of ideological impulses and factional interests that sometimes agree about goals and tactics but often don’t.

The Democrats of today have no massive ideological spread. This is not the Democratic Party of Joe Biden’s grandpa. Marxists, hardcore socialists, harder-core socialists, softcore socialists, anti-Semites of every variety, Sharia supremacists, Maoists, big-government proponents, bigger government proponents, big taxers, big spenders, big regulators, bigger regulators, open-borders advocates, no-borders advocates . . . every leftist radical of every stripe has a comfortable home within the Democratic Party. Minor disagreements about tactics are nothing compared to a unity of purpose—re-making America in the image of Venezuela.

And yet, Linker contends, “The GOP . . . is a tribe in the relevant sense.”

Now, I happen to be a Jewish pro-choice atheist. I am not sure what my “tribe” is. Yet I am more comfortable with the Republican “tribe” than with the Linda Sarsours or the Adam Schiffs or the Bernie Sanderses, who are hell-bent on their “public-spirited quest for bipartisanship.” Trump hasn’t built any concentration camps for his opponents—unlike socialists the world over, who specialize in such things.

Linker accuses the Republicans of wanting to win. Golly! Imagine that! Unlike the bipartisan softies on the other side, who all exhibit:

a fondness for bipartisan consensus and deal-making across the aisle, and who define the common good in terms of the overcoming of partisanship, [while] rank-and-file Republicans want their party to win above all else.

Shocker! Who would have thought that the objective of a political party is to win? Is there any political party, anywhere in the world, that set losing as its objective? If anything, the problem with the GOP is that for too long it has forgotten that it needs to win. Yet it is Democrats (with their “fondness for bipartisan consensus and deal-making”) who have refused to accept the 2016 election even three years after its conclusion, and it is Democrats who have pre-emptively rejected the results of 2020. 

Linker expresses dismay that these Republicans are unwilling to lie supine as the party of government consolidates its power.

They don’t want to appoint a few conservative judges who will fight to a draw with liberal judges. They want to replace as many liberal judges as they possibly can with conservative judges so that conservative jurisprudence will prevail throughout the country.

I find it difficult to believe that Linker doesn’t realize that he is peddling malarkey here. (Hat tip to ol’ Grandpa Biden for restoring “malarkey” to our modern lexicon.) Of course Republicans want to appoint conservative judges—just as Democrats want to appoint liberal ones—and just as Obama (to take one example) appointed plenty of leftist crackpots to the bench. Republicans want conservative jurisprudence to prevail—just as Democrats want liberal and leftist jurisprudence to prevail. Republicans are no more ruthless in their jurisprudential wishes than Democrats are in theirs.

Republicans don’t want to reach a compromise with liberalism or socialism. They want to rout liberalism and socialism. And for the most part, they are willing to suppress their differences in order to make it happen.

To any sane person, this sounds like common sense. Socialism in its various incarnations—Soviet, Nazi, Venezuelan, Chinese, Cuban, North Korean, Cambodian, etc.—has been the most destructive, bloody, dehumanizing ideology ever invented. If the labor camps and the concentration camps built by socialists are not evil, then what is evil? One cannot compromise with evil—one must strive to rout it.

Having said all of that, I still can’t help wonder—is Linker putting us on? Is he really so lacking in self-awareness that he cannot see that everything he claims to be true of the “ruthless” Republicans is even more true of Democrats? He is a smart guy—is it really possible to be smart and this blind to reality? 

Nah. He has to be trolling us. He is probably a secret Republican, who could only get a job at a lefty magazine.

About George S. Bardmesser

George S. Bardmesser is an attorney in private practice in the Washington, DC area. He is a contributor to The Federalist and American Greatness, and is sometimes heard on the "Inside Track" radio show on KVOI in Tucson, Arizona and sometimes seen discussing politics (in Russian) on New York’s American-Russian TV channel RTVi.

Photo: Martin Diebel/Getty Images

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