Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Long before the climactic year ending in an even number or a zero, before the candidates trek off to campaign in New Hampshire or Iowa, a secretive political process gets underway.
In the political version of a dating game, candidates, influencers and staffers ‘date’ each other. The political version of consummating that relationship is building a political network. The prizes are big. Getting in on the ground floor early means access which can translate into everything from scoring a big job or getting them for members of your network, to becoming a prized lobbyist or winning a media gig.
Candidates want to lock up the best people early in the game to lock out their opponents. That was the strategy that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush pursued in their identical preparations for a 2016 coronation.
And the strategy backfired badly generating two insurgent candidacies that shook up the Democrats and Republicans, while leaving some of the “best people” in both parties with mouthfuls of dust. Hillary’s people dragged her to the nomination via a corrupt DNC. But attempts to rig the RNC against Trump failed. Clinton associates then blamed their election defeat on a conspiracy theory about the Russians.
There was no such phenomenon for the GOP insiders who had gone Never Trump to take solace in.
“What’s Never Trump’s endgame?” is a popular question being asked in media circles. The answer can easily be found in the posturing of the professional class of Never Trumpers in the mainstream media.
It’s right there in The Atlantic’s banner headline, “Naming and Shaming the Pro-Trump Elite”. The Bulwark, a site funded by French-Iranian leftist billionaire Pierre Omidyar, will go after “Trump enablers who still get invited on Meet the Press and write for prestigious newspapers.”
Also known as the competition.
Never Trump’s endgame isn’t bringing down Trump. That’s a childish fantasy. It’s going after the professional pro-Trump rivals of its professional Never Trumper class. Which rivals in particular? The ones who get the media gig that Never Trumpers believe should exclusively belong to them.
What’s Never Trump’s endgame? It’s the same as Gordon Gekko’s. The name of the endgame is greed.
Never Trump branding insists that its members are deeply principled folks who cared too much about the country to ever support Trump. They like to claim that they put principles over party. But the only “principles” they express any more are the same tired attacks on President Trump’s character. And their campaign has boiled down to a tawdry effort to secure their futures by undermining the GOP’s present.
How tawdry is that effort? The Bulwark, which promises to conserve conservatism, is being financed by the moneyman behind the pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic hate site, The Intercept.
There’s no ideology here. Just the mercenary personal agendas floating turgidly along the swamp.
The Bulwark follows the typical pattern of Never Trumpers monetizing leftist hatred of Trump.
Robbed of their cash flow on the right, they’ve gone leftward because that’s where the money and political influence are, while still scheming to return once another even numbered year arrives.
Sending Molly Jong-Fast, a leftist, to CPAC to mock the conservatives who, unlike the Bulwark crowd, had speaking slots was widely criticized by conservative sites, but was at the heart of the site’s mission. Attacking working conservatives is the only real principle that The Bulwark’s funder, its writers, and its mix of leftists and disgruntled GOP insiders have in common. It’s the petty little thing that unites them.
Unlike Max Boot and other GOP media defectors, the Kristol crowd squeezing into The Bulwark on the credit card of a guy whose most famous site defends Snowden and Hamas, hasn’t articulated any issues that it has in common with its new leftist cohort. Unlike the Washington Post crowd of Never Trumpers, they haven’t suddenly started preaching about global warming, white privilege or Iranian nuclear power.
Never Trumpers were once the establishment members battling trolls on Twitter. Now they have become the trolls. The Bulwark, like the remnants of the Never Trumper professional class, exists purely in the negative space. It declaims the sacredness of its principles, which it can never actually articulate, while attacking everyone who has now found entry into the establishment that once belonged to it.
Getting Erica Jong’s daughter to pen a generically sneering ‘conservatives in the mist’ take on CPAC clicks neatly with a nepotistic Never Trumper establishment still based out of high society circles. Molly Jong-Fast’s contempt for pro-choice activists and the NRA is another cultural meeting point between Never Trumpers and their leftist backers, both of whom despise rural values and social conservatives.
Never Trump is built around such mutual contempt by New York high society and D.C. insiders for the redder GOP, and around mutual exploitation. Lefties pour money into The Bulwark which hires the daughter of a prominent lefty writer to sneer at conservatives for their entertainment. More seriously, lefty money is used to attack conservative candidates and to push fake third party candidates.
Mutual exploitation means Never Trumpers take leftist money to undermine Republicans, while leftists swallow their gorge at dealing with Never Trumpers because they’re temporarily politically useful. A decade from now, the Never Trumpers expect to be back on the inside and fighting their former funders. It’s plunder, not principles, that led them to climb into bed with the country’s enemies.
Benedict Arnold was a talented officer with checkered ethics and broad character flaws who switched sides because he needed money and was on the outs in the circles of intrigue on the Patriot side. The story is an old and familiar one. War attracts flawed people and pools of money. When the two meet, the worst elements of human nature take their course, and treason is not even the worst of them.
Never Trumpers aren’t out to change the GOP, as they claim, except in regard to the particular question of who gets to sit where, who gets the access, the contracts, the jobs and the favors. The political prostitution that led them to get into bed with Pierre Omidyar isn’t an exigency, it’s a career.
And they might get away with it. Whether or not they will is up to the conservatives who vote.
Never Trumper pros are betting that their enemies list, currently being sourced via The Bulwark with leftist cash, will have more relevance and staying power in the GOP establishment of the future.
Memories are short and a decade from now, the upstart Trump political network might be a memory, while the old Bush/McCain crowd may end up back in charge and then all will be forgiven. Until then, The Bulwark serves to write some checks, maintain the establishment-in-exile in the fine style that it is accustomed to, and serve notice on the scabs that names are being taken and punishments plotted.
That’s Never Trump’s endgame. It’s no secret.
Learning it doesn’t require riffling through locket cabinets or employing Russian hackers. The secret was known to the Romans and the Greeks. It’s the popular truth of the world’s oldest profession. It’s what makes the city where The Bulwark is now based spin around on its own axis of treachery and lies.
Never Trump’s endgame isn’t defeating Trump. It’s defeating his supporters who have taken their place. It’s not about mythical principles, but about the ancient political truths of power and greed.
* * *
Photo of ‘Gordon Gekko’ courtesy of YouTube