The Left’s New Conservative Friends

A number of Conservative thinkers have joined the lefties on MSNBC because they agree that Trump in the White House is an appalling atrocity. Left and right meet in a sort of stunned middle to try to inform voters about why Donald J. Trump is a danger to our democracy/republic.

We treat these erudite icons of Conservative opinion with respect. We give George Will, David Frum, David Brooks, Rick Wilson, Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, and even Bill Kristol places on our panels of pundits and we listen to what they have to say. Perhaps we even suppose that they have been “woke”.

They appear with gray countenances and grizzled faces full of worry and pain. They look so tired and world weary. It is not that Republicans no longer embrace Conservative views, but most are busy pandering to Trump so these learned men seem stodgy, and because they cannot deal with Trump they are sidelined for the moment. Of course most Conservatives are not at all interested in economic equality and neither are these venerable men and women of the right. But Donald has no patience with the ivy league set, and could not moderate his behavior even if he wanted to be in the club. After all he was the best student at the best college in America and it wasn’t Harvard or Princeton.

All this being shunted aside has given Conservatives plenty of time for writing. Rick Wilson recently published Everything Trump Touches Dies. George Will just presented the world with The Conservative Sensibility. David Brooks’ book The Second Mountain just arrived on book shelves. David Frum wrote Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the America Republic, and World War Trump, 2019. Jennifer Rubin writes a column called Right Turn in the Washington Post, Bill Kristol still writes in The New York Times, Max Boot wrote The Road Not Taken in 2018, and Joe Scarborough fell in love with a Democrat and now speaks against the Trump administration on Morning Joe.

Those of us on the left who admire the new friends we have found for their intelligent commentary on the Trump administration should not imagine that these folks will stick around when (if) Trump is gone. Read their books. They still speak those Conservative talking points we all know so well, covered in philosophical rhetoric that makes their political ideas more opaque. When they speak about too much individualism and link that with the Democrats they are saying several things at once. Individualism is bad or its good depending on the point they wish to make.

If they are arguing that social benefits are bad for us because they squelch any struggle for survival that might produce extraordinary new inventions, businesses, organizations, they are actually making a horrified outcry against what they consider to be socialism and another way our (capitalist) republic could die. As I have said before, I am not opposed to capitalism, but I am opposed to unregulated capitalism. I also believe that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that our economy is rigged in favor of those who already have money. These thinkers do not agree. They think our economy is working exactly as it should.

In addition to worrying about individuality, Conservative thinkers also bemoan the loss of a sense of community. They seem to express this as a lack of spirituality (church, religion) and therefore of morals. I doubt that these folks would think the rise of Bible classes in American schools is unconstitutional. They see this as a positive thing, although it is aimed to make people less tolerant of people who practice other religions. Conservatives want America to be a Christian nation which might be alright if it wasn’t so 9th century. Since it pits Christians against Muslims and even Jewish people it could end in a religious war.

Another thing these thinkers have in common is a desire to ditch technology like computers and cell phones, etc. Clearly technology complicates both domestic and foreign affairs. People tend to live in their machines, in their bubbles. There are few ways that we know of to extend moral rules to activities like hacking. We can make the rules but they are too easily broken and the outcomes are often positive for the hackers. I doubt if we can run the reel of culture backwards. Computers may bring us a brave new world or they may be so ruined that they must be discarded. We’ll see.

Republicans see governing as a top-down process. So do some wealthy Democrats. But Democrats who must make their way up in a very lop-sided economy tend to see governing as a bottom-up operation. Normally Republicans who are not wealthy would have more in common with the Democrats in the same situation but these Republicans have been co-opted by the propagandists in right wing media. Conservatives are unlikely to ever understand or accept the new Dems.

So just don’t be surprised when our new Conservative friends wander back to the right wing fold when things get a bit less extreme. They are after all moderates on the right, they have not become part of the left. We appreciate their advice, their pronouncements about the evils of Trump; but as for the rest we must always remember that in their heart of hearts they still hold Conservative ideas and will help Republicans implement them when this fever breaks (if it ever does). With apologies to Jennifer Rubin, if these Ivy League educated entitled white male elites would spend a year pretending to be poor they might write a different book. I would definitely buy that book.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – gallup.com

Changes at MSNBC

Wow, that was fast! I did not know a media outlet could
turn an entire line-up upside down so quickly. MSNBC was providing an important
counterweight to FOX news by taking a somewhat more left-leaning approach. A
voice that brought some sanity and balance to the extreme fake right-wing
version of the news as practiced by FOX was sorely needed.
As far as I am concerned President Griffin at MSNBC sold
out. Admittedly TV lives by ratings and advertising dollars. Comcast laid down
the law. It wanted a “straight” news approach during daytime hours at least. It
wanted to cut shows that were not getting good ratings. Clearly Griffin did not
stand by his people, so we could conclude that at heart he is no liberal.
My guess is that during these days of the winter of 2015,
the news has lost that shocking edge that we have experienced since the trial
of George Zimmerman and the Ferguson revelations and Cliven Bundy and the
militias. Things got a bit heated and confrontational there for a while. I’m
thinking that confrontation brings ratings.
Now we are in a calmer cycle because the Republicans have
to cool their somewhat heated jets in order to get some credibility for their
candidates for 2016. We are supposed to forget all the twisted logic, all the
outrageous statements about women and immigrants and minorities. They cannot
afford to have MSNBC stirring the pot. I wonder if any of that almost one
billion dollars pledged by the Koch brothers to get a Republican elected to the
Presidency has managed to find its way into the Comcast coffers?
I am certain that news viewing in general is down right now
in the ratings. Since Christmas we have been hunkered down for winter. Between
working, keeping up our houses and feeding ourselves and our families while
adding on seasonal snow moving duties and perhaps some winter sports, people
are happy to welcome back their favorite network and cable shows. I doubt that
any fall in ratings has anything to do with the slight left wing skew of MSNBC
news. If we are going to have multiple 24/7 news channels which are all trying
to compete with each other on busy winter days when even normal activities are
more difficult, then ratings are sure to suffer and the causes might be hard to
pin down.
So we lost the Joy Reid Show and Joy Reid is one very smart
cookie. We lost Ronan Farrow, the millennial who barely had time to establish a
base. Chris Hayes, who served so well in Ferguson, was also rumored to be on
the cut list, but may have survived. Reverend Al Sharpton, who is apparently
having some difficulty reading his teleprompter, may be moved from weeknights
to weekends. This leaves us with no Americans of African Descent with a daily
news show except for Tamron Hall, who is undeniably beautiful, but does not
have the gravitas of a Joy Reid. She does have seniority however and she has
definitely shown lots of improvement.
I have been in the habit of turning my TV on to MSNBC when
I get up and leaving it there all day. I guess I will have to get my lefty news
on the internet and I can turn off daytime TV and read more, because there is
nothing on daytime TV worth watching now. This news source was a good deal
while it lasted and I will miss being able to hear analysis that agrees with
mine. I hope this doesn’t embolden FOX news to new heights of outrageous
Conservative fancy.

This decision could have a devastating effect on political
dialogue in America. It’s a big mistake – big.

By Nancy Brisson