In the era of Trump, Deplorables would be well served to rethink the high esteem in which they have held Big Conservative media, or The Big Con.
There are two kinds of Big Con pundits:
On the one hand, we have those who, after decades of insisting to the GOP base that the election of Democrats is tantamount to national suicide, not only failed to rally behind the GOP presidential nominee when his name was Donald J. Trump, but actively sought to sabotage Trump’s prospects both as candidate and as President.
These Big Con-men and women are now known as NeverTrumpers. They have names like Bill Kristol; Charles Krauthammer; George Will; Peggy Noonan; Michael Medved; Glenn Beck; Ben Shapiro; Erik Erickson; Jonah Goldberg; and Rich Lowry. They are nationally syndicated columnists, radio hosts, Fox News talking heads, and writers for such “conservative” publications as Commentary, National Review, The Blaze, and Red State.
On the other hand, there are those Big Con chatterboxes and scribblers who support Trump, but who, nevertheless, spent their careers using their influence to run cover for Republican politicians who betrayed their base at every turn, politicians who talked the talk of “limited government,” “conservatism,” “freedom,” and the rest during campaign season, while walking the walk of ever larger government and cultural leftism when in office.
In fact, these politicians—the Bushes, McCains, Kasichs, Romneys, Cheneys, Grahams, Rubios, and Ryans of our political world—are some of the very same Republicans who refused to endorse Trump after he received their party’s presidential nomination, and who continue to collude, even if by stealth, with Democrats, leftists, and Deep State bureaucrats to undermine Trump’s presidency.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane with respect to both “divisions” of The Big Con.
The BIG CON: NeverTrump
These pundits have been wildly, epically wrong on virtually every subject to which they’ve spoken over the years. Whether it is the so-called “War on Terror,” the war in Iraq, amnesty, or Donald Trump’s political prospects, the track record of these “conservative” sages is quite literally incredible for just how blemished it is.
Due to space constraints, let’s look at what some of their most prominent voices were saying regarding the likelihood of Trump’s becoming the 45th President of the United States.
In May of 2012, after Mitt Romney embraced Trump when the latter endorsed him, George Will couldn’t imagine “what voter is going to vote” for Romney after he had been seen with “this bloviating ignoramus” Trump. It was “obvious,” from Will’s perspective, that Trump was as big a political loser as anyone.
In April of 2015, shortly before Trump threw his hat in the ring, Will said that he “hoped” that Trump would run for the presidency so that he would be “predictably shellacked [.]” As recently as this past March, Will wrote confidently that he thinks “we may have passed peak Trump.”
Five years ago, when Trump toyed with the notion of pitching a bid for the presidency, Fox News guru Charles Krauthammer referred to him as the GOP’s “Al Sharpton,” a “provocateur, and clown, unserious” (for a decidedly different take on the prospect of a 2012 Trump run, see my piece here). Krauthammer contended that Haley Barbour would be most likely to “win” the 2012 primary and general contests.
Immediately after the first GOP primary debate last August, Krauthammer told Megyn Kelly that what audiences saw in the real estate mogul’s performance was “the collapse of Donald Trump.” His rivals, Krauthammer continued, “left him out in the cold.”
In reality, it was Trump who was leaving all 16 of his competitors “out in the cold.” Yet in spite of the historically unprecedented crowdedness of this field, Karl Rove continually told us that Trump had a “high floor and low ceiling” of support. He also predicted that the nominee would be Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Marco Rubio. These three candidates constituted the “top tier.” The third tier was comprised of those candidates “who are unlikely to break through.”
As for Trump, Rove dismissed him as a “complete idiot.”
Former movie critic and talk radio host Michael Medved charged Trump with being a narcissist. His presidential campaign is “entirely about one man and his brash personality, and has nothing to do with needed conservative reforms.” Medved drew this conclusion, it’s important to note, from the fact that, in the first GOP debate, Trump “said he couldn’t commit to support the ultimate nominee, and refused to rule out a third party run.”
This refusal, Medved asserts, gives rise to the inescapable question: “If he [Trump] really cares about the conservative principles he now espouses, why wouldn’t he promise to support the Republican nominee?”
Given that he’s a NeverTrumper, Medved stands condemned by the measure by which he gauged Trump’s conservatism, for it was he who refused to endorse “the ultimate nominee” when it was Trump, and it is Medved who still refrains from supporting President Trump to this day.
Redstate editor and Fox News contributor Erik Erikson wrote of Trump two years ago that he and his “advisers…directly did himself a disservice by playing for bombast and not statesman.” Trump, he explained, “will not be a winner,” but “a spoiler.”
Trump “won’t get the nomination,” Erikson maintained.
In August of 2015, Glenn Beck promised that Trump could never win the general election. He also said at one and the same moment that “research” suggests that Trump may have already reached his “ceiling” of support (remember, this is shortly after the first debate when there were still a total of 17 candidates in the race).
In January of 2015, just five months before Trump declared his candidacy, Jonah Goldberg rejected a comparison that had been wrought between Sarah Palin and Trump. Unlike the former, Goldberg explained, Trump “has a long record of clownishly pretending he’s going to run for president [.]” That “people take him seriously,” Goldberg remarked, “drives me crazy,” for Trump is “a bane of humanity.”
Last summer, Goldberg conceded that Trump was “entertaining.” He also assured those who would listen to him that the “GOP’s Trump problem will eventually melt away.” In another article, Goldberg dogmatically declared: “He has no chance of becoming president, but he has the huge potential to deny his alleged party a White House victory in 2016.” Trump, Goldberg told us, will likely “find an excuse to retreat” from the GOP race. But by then the damage would have been done.
Of course, it is Goldberg and company who found excuse after excuse to retreat from nominee and President Trump.
Shortly before the Iowa caucuses, Bill Kristol said that if Trump lost (which he did, by one delegate, to Ted Cruz), then the Trump “mystique disappears” and he becomes “just another candidate [.]” Even at this point in time, Kristol openly entertained the prospect of supporting a third party candidate, though he admitted to being only “semi-serious” about it, for “I don’t think that Trump will be the nominee [.]”
In July of 2015, Rich Lowry was jubilant. He blogged: “Yes, Iowa, We Have a Frontrunner.” For Lowry, this frontrunner’s name was…Scott Walker. And Commentary’s Peter Wehner confidently wrote at the same time that Trump’s remarks concerning John McCain’s having been captured in Vietnam marked “the moment it all blew apart for The Donald.” At this critical moment, Wehner told us, Trump’s campaign became “toast.”
Actually, it is the credibility of these Big Con peddlers that long ago became toast for anyone with a modicum of intellectual honesty and an IQ above room temperature.
The BIG CON: Pro-Trump
These agents of Big Con are preferable to their NeverTrump counterparts, for sure. This, however, doesn’t change the stone-cold fact that they spent practically all of their professional careers being mostly wrong—spectacularly, scandalously, and, when it came to the effort to export Liberal Democracy to places like Iraq on the basis of a lie, deadly wrong.
That these purveyors of Big Con are preferable to NeverTrumpers doesn’t change the brute fact that the politicians for whom they (repeatedly) supplied a platform in turn used that platform to advance an agenda that included unprovoked, potentially limitless warfare that has resulted in at least one million dead and many more maimed, displaced, and orphaned; porous borders, relentless Third World immigration, and amnesty for the millions of these immigrants who snuck into America illegally; and a larger, more centralized, more intrusive, and more expensive national government.
Nothing changes the fact that these peddlers of The Big Con have not once, after all of this time, even now, so much as remotely suggested that they harbor regrets, much less have they apologized, for having allied themselves with such a treacherous lot of Republican politicians.
Rush Limbaugh; Sean Hannity; Mark Levin; Laura Ingraham; and Ann Coulter are some of the bigger names of those who fall into this camp.
Limbaugh’s has been the face of the “conservative movement” and Big Con for nearly 30 years. Largely due to his labors, the Republican Party and conservatism became synonymous in the minds of Americans on the left, right, and in-between. Thanks to El Rushbo, the GOP had little to do but trot out every so often its candidates to appear on America’s largest talk radio program, self-style as “conservative,” espouse some “conservative” rhetoric for the audience, and, of course, go on about the Armageddon that the election of Democrats threatens to visit upon the Earth.
To be fair, Rush may very well have bought some of this nonsense himself. That being said, it’s also only fair to note that in exchange for allowing Establishment (neoconservative) Republicans opportunities to advance their causes on his show, Rush was paid handsomely in return with virtually unlimited access to the most powerful and influential politicians in D.C., the place to which the members of his audience now (correctly) refer as “the Swamp.”
President, G.W. Bush not only spent time with “America’s anchorman;” he went so far as to throw Rush a birthday party at the White House! Mind you, this is the same G.W. Bush who, almost immediately after promising “a more humble foreign policy,” launched two wars that continue to this day, one of which he sought to justify on the basis of a lie; who presided over the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression and the largest terrorist attack on American soil in the country’s history; the same Bush who presided over more government spending than that which occurred under Lyndon Banes Johnson during the Great Society; the same Bush who enjoys the dubious distinction of being the first American President to approve of government funding for embryonic stem-cell research; the same Bush who advocated on behalf of using taxpayers’ dollars to bail out the airliner, banking, and automobile industries.
Oh, and this is the same G.W. Bush who recently referred to President Trump and, by extension, the millions of Americans who Bush’s buddy, Hillary Clinton, called “deplorables”—Americans, doubtless, who voted for him and who constitute Rush’s audience—as “racist,” “white supremacist,” “nativist,” and “bigoted.”
This is the Swamp Creature par excellence with whom Rush colluded for eight years as they convinced Deplorables to vote for a man who, as it turns out, shares Hillary Clinton’s assessment of them.
Yet Rush was not alone. Hannity, Ingraham, radio talk show host and Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher and some other merchants of The Big Con worked just as tirelessly as Rush labored to advance the agenda of Bush and his Republican Party.
In 2006, Bush had these media personalities (and some others) to the White House so as “to reclaim and re-energize a crucial army of supporters that is not as likely to walk in lockstep with the White House as it has in the past,” reported the New York Times. Gallagher attested that this was indeed the point of the meeting with the President. “This was clearly, clearly an effort to kind of rally the troops when the troops need rallying,” he said. “They [the Bush administration] know that we’ve got an audience of people who may or may not be on the political fence right now.”
Hannity was especially impressed by Bush. “I think he’d have an 80 percent approval rating if he could bring people into the Oval Office six people at a time and explain it [his policies] to them.”
Laura Ingraham insisted that, while she is not an advocate on behalf of the Republican Party, she is an “advocate for conservative ideas.”
And what exactly were the “conservative ideas” that Bush shared with The Big Con, the policies that Hannity believed would earn him an 80 percent approval rating if only more Americans could hear them explained by Bush the Wise?
Bush once again “discussed his case for the war in Iraq” and “his immigration proposals [.]”
We needn’t be reminded of the cataclysmic disaster that was Bush’s war. Nor, I’m sure it is safe to say, do we need to be reminded that Bush favored amnesty by some other name.
Former Bush Press Secretary and Fox News personality Dana Perino summarized her boss’s operation when she remarked that “we would, sometimes, need to do some things like a talk radio row, I think we called it—it was brilliant.” Note, Perino here admits to the need on the part of the administration to use Big Conservative media for public relations purposes. And in describing this move as “brilliant,” she acknowledges that it was a tactic by which Big Government and Big Con would collude so as to manipulate conservative-minded Americans into falling for the lies.
Continuing, Perino elaborated: “We had all the conservative talk radio hosts lined up, and we would…get a whole bunch of interviews so that they could be convinced and persuaded to President Bush’s point of view.”
There we have it.
Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Marco Rubio, John Boehner, and Lindsey Graham are some of the more well-known neocon Republicans who were provided easy and repeated access to Big Con for years. They were particularly at home on Sean Hannity’s radio and television programs. It was in the corridors of The Big Con that these politicians were permitted to advance their agenda of ever-larger government, increased government spending, wars for Democracy (aka, the War on Terror), and “comprehensive immigration reform” (amnesty).
And they were able to peddle their wares while they and their Big Con media hosts packaged it under the label of “conservatism.”
We mustn’t ever forget how Rush, Sean, and Mark Levin rolled out the red carpet for Marco Rubio when the latter made the talk radio rounds beginning immediately after Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama back in 2012. Rubio availed himself of these microphones in order to fool audiences into thinking that the plan for amnestying millions of illegal aliens that he cooked up with “the Gang of Eight”—Establishment Republicans Jeff Flake, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, as well as Democrats Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Richard Durbin, and Michael F. Bennet—was…conservative.
In fact, the Gang of Eight, via Rubio, arranged in advance to collude with Big Con Media. In 2013, Rubio and Chuck Schumer (!) met in the executive dining room at News Corporation in Manhattan. They were there to meet with its owner, Rupert Murdoch, and Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive of its Fox News division.
As was reported by The New York Times, Rubio’s and Schumer’s “mission was to persuade” Murdoch and Ailes “to keep the network’s [Fox News’] on-air personalities from savaging the [Gang of Eight’s amnesty] legislation and give it a fighting chance at survival.” The two media moguls agreed “to give the senators some breathing room,” but “warned that the senators also needed to make their case to…the king of conservative talk radio,” Rush Limbaugh.
Promptly, Rubio, on behalf of his colleagues, took this advice, and appeared on Limbaugh’s program as an ambassador of sorts for the Gang of Eight.
Rush, though skeptical about Democrats’ willingness to enforce the border, nevertheless didn’t seem to have any problems with granting illegals amnesty. He commended Rubio for his efforts, labeling them “admirable and noteworthy.” “You’re meeting everyone honestly, forthrightly,” Rush said. “You’re meeting everyone halfway.”
As recently as last year, Rush defended Rubio, describing him as “a legitimate, full-throated conservative.”
Hannity went so far as to cheer Rubio on, claiming to have “evolved” on the immigration issue. Just two days after Romney lost to Obama, Hannity announced that the “fix” to immigration is “simple.” Upon securing the border, we must “create a pathway for those people that are here—you don’t say you’ve got to go home.”
This, Hannity continued, “is a position that I’ve evolved on.”
Since the “majority of people here [illegally]…are…law-abiding, [have been] participating for years, [have] kids [that] are born here,” they should receive a “pathway to citizenship.” Maybe we can throw in “some little penalties,” but we “can’t let the problem continue, it’s got to stop.”
Mark Levin said that Rubio’s proposal was “more conservative” than the 1986 amnesty brought to the USA courtesy of Levin’s “hero,” as he described Ronald Reagan. Rubio’s proposal, Levin said, is “very fascinating to me,” something that he promised to “take a much closer look at” and “keep an open mind about [.]”
Levin admitted to having an epiphany when Rubio said that in doing nothing, in opting to keep things as they are, conservatives opt for “de facto amnesty. “And he’s right,” Levin stated.
Now, it’s true that some of these Big Con personalities ultimately rejected the Gang of Eight’s proposal, but it is crucial to recognize that this is only because they didn’t trust the Democrats to hold up their end of the bargain by securing the border. In other words, none of them had any objections to providing possibly tens of millions of illegals with “a pathway to citizenship.”
Rush, Sean, and Mark, that is, had no objections to amnesty per se.
Interestingly, even such neocon GOP anti-Trump propagandists as Rich Lowry, of National Review, and Erick Erickson, of Red State, panned Rubio’s plan as amnesty by another name. Lowry noted that Rubio’s disingenuous description of illegals as “undocumented” and his use of the euphemism “probationary legal status” in place of amnesty should have raised suspicions from the outset. Erickson wrote that Rubio’s “plan makes the actual problem of immigration more difficult to solve.”
Ann Coulter called out Rubio’s plan as “nothing but amnesty.” Moreover, it “isn’t even ‘amnesty thinly disguised as border enforcement.’ This is a wolf in wolf’s clothing.”
Yet Ann, who as of relatively recent years has been excellent on the immigration question, also has a long professional history of being a GOP cheerleader, even if a schizophrenic one. Coulter used her talents to shill for the Bush administration’s wars in the Middle East, and she could be counted upon to not only support, but enthusiastically support such milquetoast, Establishment Republicans as Mitt Romney and Chris Christie.
Coulter didn’t just campaign for Romney in 2012; she called for the GOP to run him as their presidential nominee again in 2016!
But in 2012, when Romney lost, Ann instructed Republican and conservative voters to not blame Romney for his loss. “Romney,” she wrote, “was the perfect candidate, and he was the president this country needed right now.” Sad indeed, Ann continued, “that America will never have Romney as our president.” The liberal Republican from New England she described as “one of the best presidential candidates the Republicans ever fielded.”
Coulter mocked “purist conservatives,” Romney’s critics, presumably, who she likened to “idiot hipsters who can’t like a band that’s popular.” These “purists”—those who dared to vote for Republican candidates that refused to march to tune of the GOP Regime—are like the “purist libertarian Barry Goldwater who…nearly destroyed the Republican Party with his pointless pursuit of libertarian perfection in his vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”
In short, just a few years ago Coulter sounded indistinguishable from every other GOP mouthpiece inasmuch as she scolded those politicians and their supporters who actually sought to act on the principles to which the Republican Party and its apologists in Big Con, like Ann, paid rhetorical homage while ignoring in practice.
Ann also had a massive political crush on Chris Christie, who she called “my love.” In this same article in which she takes Romney’s critics to task for blaming the candidate for his lackluster campaign, she confesses that she had embraced Christie because he “seemed like the kind of once-in-a-lifetime star” that “could pull a Reagan upset against an incumbent president.”
While she admitted to having been “wrong” in siding with Christie over Romney, Coulter said of Christie in 2011 that “he’s the only Republican that could win.” According to Politico, Ann insisted that every Republican candidate since Reagan—this would include Romney, who ran for his party’s nomination in 2008—“can’t talk” and “are not manly.” “We haven’t run an articulate Republican for president since Ronald Reagan. It’s amazing we have won any presidential elections at all,” Ann asserted.
Right around this same time, Ann went even further by…blaming Romney. Yet she blamed him before he ran for the presidency the second time. “If we don’t run Chris Christie,” Coulter assured us, “Mitt Romney will be the nominee and we will lose.”
Then, after Romney actually lost and Ann castigated conservatives for blaming his loss on, well, him, and after she insisted that Christie is “dead to me,” Ann told Sean Hannity that she was “warming to” Christie “again.”
Courtesy of the internet, Youtube, and other on-line sites, there are numerous pundits that are now able to express a genuinely right-leaning perspective. Inasmuch as they are free of many of the corporate restrictions that dictate what is allowed and disallowed in Big Con media, these talkers and writers present a welcome alternative to those who have long presented themselves as an alternative to the dominant leftist press.
As this essay makes clear, an alternative to The Big Con is desperately needed.