The Lincoln Project: There They Go Again - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Lincoln Project: There They Go Again
George Conway (YouTube screenshot)

You can’t make it up.

A group of “Republicans” has banded together, laughably calling themselves “The Lincoln Project.”

I have a better name for what they are about: The Me-Too Project. And to borrow from their own description, they are, like all Me-Tooers, bogus prophets out to replace conservatism with an empty faith.

The headline in their New York Times op-ed (the Washington Post must have been busy that day) was this:

We Are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated

The president and his enablers have replaced conservatism with an empty faith led by a bogus prophet.

The four people behind this, all Never Trumpers, are George T. Conway III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson. Of note: Schmidt is not a Republican. He went out of his way in June 2018 to tweet that he was leaving the GOP. The Washington Post headlined the story this way:

‘Today I renounce my membership’: Longtime GOP strategist Steve Schmidt announces he’s leaving the party

John Weaver is a similar type. In 2015, National Review noted this of Weaver, then an adviser to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s soon-to-fail campaign for the GOP presidential nomination:

During the presidency of George W. Bush, Weaver broke with the Republican party and spent several years working for Democrats. He came back when McCain mounted another bid for the presidency in 2007.

A 2008 Politico story says this of Weaver:

In 2002, Weaver left the Republican Party, worked for Democratic candidates, and then returned to McCain’s side shortly afterward.

Got that? Both Schmidt and Weaver have a history of abandoning the GOP. They are, in fact, hardly Lincoln or Reagan conservatives.

Among other things, these Me-Tooers of the Lincoln Project say,

Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character.

For those who came in late, a few points.

Back there in the mists of time — 2008 and in the middle of the Obama–McCain campaign — my friend, the now-departed and much-missed Tony Blankley, wrote this piece for RealClearPolitics. It was titled,

The Birth of the Me-Too Conservative

Tony was a conservative’s conservative whom I had met when we were both young congressional aides. Like me, he was a Reagan conservative, later gaining fame as Speaker Newt Gingrich’s press secretary and the editorial page editor for the Washington Times. In that RealClearPolitics column, Tony said this:

With the rise to enduring power of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933, a new type of Republican emerged in reaction to FDR’s attractive and overawing power: the me-too Republican. Until the election of President Reagan five decades later, these me-too Republicans supported, rather than opposed, Democratic Party policies but claimed they would administer them better. Of course, this led to a half-century of Democratic dominance of American government and politics.

Tony lasered in on all the disdain coming from self-described conservative pundits of the day towards McCain’s Reagan-style conservative running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. He said,

Of course, they are not quite saying they are giving up conservatism for whatever it is Obama would bring. They are initially focusing on style or, in the newly arrived cliché, temperament — a term made famous, interestingly, to describe FDR as possessing a second-class intellect but a first-class temperament.

Predicting a defeat for McCain (one of whose top campaign lieutenants was, yes, the aforementioned Steve Schmidt, with the aforementioned John Weaver a one-time McCain adviser), Tony went on to say of the new conservative movement that would be built on the ashes of McCain’s campaign:

The new movement will be plain-spoken and socially networked up from the Interneted streets, suburbs and small towns of America. It certainly will not listen very attentively to those conservatives who idolatrize Obama and collaborate in heralding his arrival. They may call their commentary “honesty.” I would call it — at the minimum — blindness.

The new conservative movement will be facing a political opponent that will reveal itself soon to be both multiculturalist and Eurosocialist. We will be engaged in a struggle to the political death for the soul of the country. As I did at the beginning of and throughout the Buckley/Goldwater/Reagan/Gingrich conservative movement, I will try to lend my hand. I certainly will do what I can to make it a big-tent conservative movement. But just as it does in every great cause, one question has to be answered correctly: Whose side are you on, comrade?”

In short, Tony was presciently predicting exactly what Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and his fellow me-too Republicans of the Lincoln Project now snarlingly call “Trumpism.”

The hard fact of the political matter is that me-tooism has been a disaster for the Republican Party, whether the nominee was named McCain, Romney, or, reaching all the way back to its birth, two-time GOP nominee New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey.

It is, as Schmidt and Weaver demonstrated with McCain (and so many others have demonstrated over the decades), a stone-cold loser. And, more to the point, it should be a loser.

All the way back there in 1975, Ronald Reagan knew exactly what the Lincoln Project was about without living to see it. Why? Because he had seen so many me-too Republicans in his lifetime. Speaking to the then-young Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC — Reagan said this:

I don’t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party” — when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.

It was a feeling that there was not a sufficient difference now between the parties that kept a majority of the voters away from the polls. When have we ever advocated a closed-door policy? Who has ever been barred from participating?

Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?

And right there is the exact description of today’s Lincoln Project. Donald Trump may be their excuse of the moment, but as their backgrounds illustrate, the project founders, like their fellow me-too Never Trumpers, are really out to, as Reagan said, “fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.”

The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump won the Republican nomination and the presidency precisely because, like Reagan, he raised the “banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors,” which made it “unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people.”

In other words, the Lincoln Project is nothing more than the latest Me-Too Republican Project disguised as a Trump opponent.

As Ronald Reagan might say: There they go again.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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