Thursday, August 04, 2022


Over at The New York Times, Ross Douthat discussed the August 2 election results with Tim Miller, a Never Trumper and writer for The Bulwark, and Rachel Bovard, a "national conservative" and writer for The Federalist, where she has published important contributions to our political discourse such as "Yes, the Senate Should Investigate Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Leniency Towards Sex Predators" and "The RNC’s Censure of Cheney and Kinzinger Is Absolutely Necessary." She's recently taken to Twitter to whine about the "deplatforming" of Alex's War, a hagiographic documentary about Alex Jones.

If you're inclined to believe Bovard when she says this movie has been rendered invisible by Orwellian cultural totalitarians, take a look at the film's website:

In the Times discussion, Bovard pushes back on Miller's assertion that Arizona Republicans "put up a slate of 'Big Lie' candidates at the top of the ticket." She says:
I would dispute the notion that Arizona represented “a slate of ‘Big Lie’ candidates.”

... the Blake Masters campaign in particular represented a depth of issues that appealed to Arizona voters and could represent a new generation of Republicans.
A depth of issues? Such as?
A very significant part of Trump’s appeal, what he perhaps taught the G.O.P., was that he spoke for voters who stood outside of party orthodoxy on a number of issues. And that’s where Masters tried to distinguish himself. He had a provocative campaign message early in his campaign: American families should be able to survive on a single income. That presents all kinds of challenges to standard Republican economic policy, how we think about family policy and how the two fit together.
He also seems to be fearless in the culture wars, something else that Republicans are anxious to see.
That last sentence is certainly true.

But I want to get back to that notion of a Trumpist and post-Trumpist conservatism that stands "outside of party orthodoxy" on economics. Masters does say that American families should be able to survive on a single income. He also talks a lot about the culture wars. It's clear from what Bovard says that she thinks this is an important new direction for conservatism. Later she says, "I tend to think there’s a lane for Trump-endorsed candidates who lean into the Trump-style economics and key culture fights," and it's clear that she thinks "the Trump-style economics" were somehow different from Reaganite economics, even though Trump's one major economic bill was ... a bog-standard tax cut for the rich.

So after Bovard tell us that Blake Masters has challenged GOP economic orthodoxy with a bold new idea about economics and families, Douthat askes her a question about Masters and his fellow Peter Thiel minion, the GOP candidate for Senate in Ohio, J.D. Vance:
Rachel, say Masters and Vance are both in the Senate in 2023 as spokesmen for this new culturally conservative economic populism you favor. What’s the first bill they co-sponsor?
Okay, what's her answer? What's the big bill that's going to bring the Establishment to its knees and liberate American families from the two-income trap?

Are you sitting down?
Bovard: I’d say a large tax on university endowments.
She's serious. These candidates are making lofty promises of a new America where the economic order has been completely overturned, to the benefit of ordinary people, and the crucial step that's going to get us there is ... taxing Harvard. Not hedge funds. Not oil companies. Not private equity. Not Big Tech. Harvard.

Meanwhile, if you ever find yourself imagining that maybe the Republican Party is genuinely changed, and really does intend to center ordinary working people, let Ron Johnson disabuse you of that notion:
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending....

In an interview that aired Tuesday on “The Regular Joe Show” podcast, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that the Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications — that is, to those who had been paying into the system over their working life.

“If you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost,” Johnson said. “And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on automatic pilot. It never — you just don’t do proper oversight. You don’t get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt. It’s just on automatic pilot.”
This isn't quite as much of a threat to Social Security and Medicare as Senator Rick Scott's notorious twelve-point plan, which called for every federal law to sunset after five years. ("If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.") But they're both efforts to start the process of chipping away at these entitlements, as Republicans have wanted to do for decades. So, sure, they'll tax the hell out of Harvard, and I'm sure that will solve all of working America's problems, even as Grandma and Grampa move in because they can't afford their mortgage payments or hip surgery. If the money doesn't work out, I'm sure Senator Johnson, or Senator Vance or Masters, will appears on (checks notes) "The Regular Joe Show" to explain why not raising taxes on mega-corporations is actually good for working people, because woke CRT Antifa Hunter Biden.

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