Well, this is it. The final Five Quick Things of 2021. Have you had enough yet? Are you among our collective national Roberto Durans bellowing “No Mas” at a truly awful year?
Of course you are. What are you, a glutton for punishment?
Joe Biden might hold the title of President, but we can agree he isn’t the guy actually running the country. It’s more likely, isn’t it, that Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain, an Obama alumnus whose singular talent seems to be for finding his way adjacent to political power and sucking up to same, is the guy?
Klain couldn’t get elected to much of anything on his own. People have a natural aversion to creeps. We also have a natural aversion to political creeps who take a “let them eat cake” view toward our prosperity.
So it’s best for his bosses (principally Barack Obama and not Joe Biden, if we’re being honest) if we don’t see much of Klain. He ought to know that. but he still can’t help himself.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain was slammed on Twitter Sunday after sharing an opinion piece arguing that 2021 “wasn’t all bad.”
The article, written by Albert Hunt — a former Wall Street Journal reporter and former executive editor of Bloomberg News — was published by The Hill Sunday morning with the headline: “Let’s Be Honest: 2021 Wasn’t All Bad.”
Hunt led off his “good news” by calling the departure of former President Donald Trump from the White House the “most positive development of 2021″ and describing the 45th president’s administration as “‘The Godfather’ without the skill.”
Klain’s tweet opened himself up to some pretty intense ridicule, perhaps most colorfully by GOP strategist Matt Whitlock. “This is my favorite tweet,” he said. “Shoot for the stars, @WHCOS.”
You know it’s bad when the White House Chief of Staff is dredging up Al Hunt columns saying it’s “not that bad.” Ron Klain is officially the dog in the meme drinking coffee and saying “this is fine” in the middle of the house fire.
I just wanted to make sure somebody said that while there was still time.
Because I know I’m not the only one who saw the result of Maxwell’s trial, in which she was found guilty on five counts of child sex trafficking as part of her sicko relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, and noticed everything we feared about that trial was coming to pass.
This was especially cringe-inducing…
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) December 29, 2021
Nice valediction, Mr. U.S. Attorney.
It isn’t like this needed to be over, you know. It isn’t like Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were the only people guilty of crimes over the couple of decades they ran their kiddie prostitute ring to benefit some of the richest and most powerful people on earth.
But it is over. The Justice Department won’t even name and shame the perverts who thought it would be cool to fornicate with the wayward kids Epstein offered up to them in order to play financial guru with some of their money, much less prosecute any of them.
And no, it’s no excuse that Ghislaine Maxwell hasn’t given up the goods. If you believe she isn’t talking out of some sense that no wrongs were committed you’re a fool.
One of two things is true, or maybe both are. One is Maxwell isn’t telling all because she knows someone will make her dead well before her claims get substantiated. The other is Maxwell was never offered that deal of a lifetime in which taking down the scalp of a billionaire pervert or two would cut her sentence down. This Justice Department isn’t interested in that, and you know it.
But it’s very interested in ordinary Americans who rudely invaded the U.S. Capitol to protest a questionable election result. Or parents asking ugly questions at school boards.
One of the Republican Party’s most crucial obligations is to stand up against this corrupt, two-tiered system of justice. They might as well. It’s not like any of Epstein’s roster of pervert clients were prominent conservatives, for example.
There was a piece at the Washington Post which caught my attention when Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff remarked on it. It’s an op-ed by Henry Olsen noting that the old Reagan-Thatcher conservatism doesn’t work anymore — really anywhere, as Olsen says, going through a host of recent results in European countries to note that center-right parties don’t draw much in the way of voting majorities anymore.
Mirengoff’s take on the piece is a good one, but I have more to say on it…
But I think Olsen’s general point is valid. I agree, generally, that in the U.S., as elsewhere, “coalitions built on 1980s-era Reagan-Thatcher conservative politics — free markets, globally minded, strong on defense — no longer win majorities.” I also agree that “the new conservative winning formula is extremely hard to pull off, as one must simultaneously satisfy the still significant Reaganite element while winning over nationalist populists and moderate suburbanites.”
Yet, that’s what will be required for long-term Republican success — a synthesis (or fusion) of traditional Republican conservatism and Trumpist ideology.
I’ve said before that Trump himself actually pulled off something like that synthesis. But Trump can’t win moderate suburbanites. And as long as he’s around, he might well stand in the way of anyone not named Trump trying to fuse his populism with any other ideology.
So the task on the right and center right is daunting. Fortunately, so is the task on the left and what little remains of the center left.
The regular readers of this column know I’m in the process of writing The Revivalist Manifesto, which deals with this exact subject. My take is that this synthesis isn’t anywhere near as hard as these guys make it out to be. It’s hard if you insist on seeing politics through the Reagan-Thatcher lens, but that isn’t how it works anymore.
We’re entering a different era of politics, globally and particularly here in America. Trump made a million mistakes and still won the White House as a first-time candidate because he was willing to re-examine all the assumptions which no longer served Republicans running for office. Nationalist, populist, Trumpist — these are terms which don’t carry a lot of weight as defined by people who think in obsolete terms.
For example, if you’re for moving our supply chain out of China but have no objection to the majority of it being spread to countries like Mexico, Brazil, India, and the Philippines, along with a lot of it coming home, is that a nationalist view? One might argue it’s a lot more globalist than what the “globalists” have wrought. Are you a nativist for insisting that the federal government do its job and control the border so that our elected officials make immigration policy rather than Mexican drug cartels?
Regular folks no longer trust the “center-right” because the people in charge of it have badly abused their charge. That’s true here and in those other countries. It’s actually a good thing that we’re moving on, because we can do better.
Don’t let 2021 end without watching this. It’s Ben Domenech on Fox News from a couple of days ago…
“Let 2022 be the year where we say enough, no more,” he said. “When we demand more of our nation, our neighbors and ourselves. Things cannot continue as they are. This is not the new normal, we refuse to let it be.”
Got that right. The reckoning is long overdue. We must bring it about next year, and it must be fearsome.
I got a lot of feedback from those of you in this column’s readership expressing concern and well-wishes over my condition as described in the last column.
And yes, it turns out that the COVID test came back positive. I imagine it’s Omicron, since I haven’t lost taste or smell.
Honestly, it’s really not that bad. At this point, five days after the first symptoms creeped in, it’s really just a lot of mucus — a runny nose, a sinus drip, some coughing. I can’t say I feel bad, just a little off.
I’d say I hope you guys don’t get this, but — don’t take this the wrong way — I actually hope you do. As dread pandemics go, this isn’t all that bad. And then you’ll have a healthy natural immunity bought with a few bottles of Advil and vitamins and a couple of boxes of Kleenex.
COVID hysteria is worse than COVID. That might not have been true at the beginning (though I’d argue it’s always been), but it’s certainly true now.
Anyway, thanks for the kind thoughts and I’ll see you next year.
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