Dwarf Wars II: Gee, Guess Who Wins
Matt Drudge — for years the GOP establishment’s most influential and valuable mouthpiece (aka fraud) within the so-called “new media” — inserts himself into the Trump-Bannon messy divorce case as Trump’s public defender and deflector shield. No surprise there. But what most people will fail to see is whom Drudge’s seek and destroy mission is really destined and designed to help: Mitch McConnell.
Over the years, I have written frequently and at length (and quite convincingly, if I may say so! — search around Limbo and see for yourself) about two specific points of GOP subversion within the so-called grassroots conservative movement:
- The Republican establishment’s co-opting of major voices within the “conservative” or “alternative” media, and;
- The Republican establishment’s long and strong ties with Donald Trump.
The McConnell-Rove-Boehner old boys club has used Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and basically all of Fox News for years to push their slow boat to socialism agenda veiled in the rhetoric of rabble-rousing constitutionalist defiance, thus hoodwinking conservative Americans desperate for some popular representation into settling for the GOP’s preferred methods and candidates in the end, time and again, in the guise of “the best we can do at this time” and “we have to do what’s necessary to beat the Democrat this year.”
And these same duplicitous players have known for years that the increasingly organized and determined movement of constitutional conservatives (anyone remember the Tea Party?) is the greatest threat to their hegemony (derived from the Greek hēgemonia, pronounced “cash”). This annoyingly substantial and persistent undercurrent of principled Americans has been causing a disturbance in the dark side of the Force for years, and the establishment has spent years concocting clever means of negating it — or “crushing” it, as McConnell said he would do to the Tea Party a few years back.
Karl Rove, as fundraiser, organizer, and Fox News “contributor,” has been a leading ally in this anti-conservative crusade, founding major PACs explicitly tasked with muddying the conservative waters and drawing people away from Tea Party principles and toward more establishment-friendly candidates and policies. John Boehner turned an already feckless House of Representatives into his personal Golf and Communists Club. And of course Mitch McConnell (aka “wily old Mitch”) never met an under-the-table, after-the-cameras-are-off constitutional fire sale he didn’t like.
But the danger to these key players, along with their many backroom donor-associates and vote-bearing lackeys, was always that the principled Americans might actually stage a full-on rebellion against them, dump the GOP altogether, or even overwhelm the old boys club from within during primaries. How to prevent this growing danger?
The magic bullet lay in variations on the classic strategy of divide and conquer — encourage the Tea Partiers to split their allegiances, and then siphon off some of the support for each of their weakened candidates toward the establishment’s own preferred candidate, on the grounds that “He’s the only candidate who can actually beat (insert name of scary Democrat here).”
As their schemes became more glaringly obvious, and their “failures” (i.e., carefully-calibrated losses) became increasingly insupportable, the grassroots threat grew graver than ever. In 2015-16, it was apparent that the constitutionalists had found their voice, or literally their voices, in the form of experienced, well-spoken candidates whom they saw as realistic electoral hopes. Finally, there was no reason the establishment could offer for not choosing successful men like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or even Marco Rubio — or, for those who preferred a complete wildcard, someone like Carly Fiorina to challenge Hillary Clinton head-on, nullifying Clinton’s only conceivable advantage (“first ever…”).
The establishment’s milquetoast candidates in the old manner (e.g., Romney) would never work this time, a fact made patently obvious early in the primary campaign, as Jeb Bush’s candidacy lay flat as a pancake from day one.
There was only one solution left for Mitch and the boys, the one they had already used provisionally in 2012 to prop up “alternative” candidates just long enough to complete their divide and conquer game, and the same strategy they had been using for years in the “conservative media”: actually nominate and fully support their own grassroots candidate.
Of course, the establishment’s grassroots candidate would have to be someone McConnell could count on to be truly an establishmentarian when push came to shove. But this person would nevertheless have to come off as plausibly anti-establishment to the less-informed (or more desperate) members of the grassroots conservative movement. And of course he would have to be someone who could actually win, precisely by effectively appealing to the grassroots over the heads of the establishment.
Enter Donald Trump — longtime friend, supporter, and donor to McConnell, Boehner, and Rove, not to mention Hillary Clinton — whose empty tough talk and pre-established iconoclastic fame was tailor-made to drag a mass audience of the disaffected away from the more staid, serious, principled, and knowledgeable conservative candidates. And lo and behold, it worked.
But it worked partly because, during the primaries, at precisely the moments when there might have been a way for the more serious candidates to make inroads against the Trump cult, the GOP’s moles within the popular conservative media — Rush, Coulter, Drudge, Fox, et al — were busy deliberately undermining and diminishing those other candidates with slurs, smears, mockery, or ho-humming, all the while exalting Trump’s “genius,” his “unstoppability,” his “alpha maleness,” and the rest of the mantra.
The famous and influential conservative voices mentioned in the previous paragraph all supported Trump vehemently and consistently throughout the primaries, only ramping up their support to even higher levels of enthusiasm after the establishment’s elder statesmen jumped on the Trump bandwagon openly in Iowa.
These same media voices — all of them — consistently supported the establishment’s pick, Romney, in 2012, against the various Tea Party-preferred candidates.
And there is one other well-known Republican voice who loudly and prominently supported the establishment’s pick in 2012: Donald Trump.
So today, the broader conservative media, most of whose members played footsie with Steve Bannon and exalted his genius during 2016 because he helped Trump win, have suddenly pivoted into hating him as a self-important fraud because he has criticized Trump. I, on the other hand, was one of those who said he was a self-important fraud all along, precisely because he was helping Trump — nothing has changed about that assessment today, even as his rhetorical position has altered. (The previous two sentences, by the way, explain why, whereas my pre-2016-GOP-Convention essays on this issue were prominently featured on popular conservative websites, and received tons of attention and wide dissemination — hence helping the publishers of those sites make money — my subsequent discussions of the issue, including this one, are available only here in Limbo.)
But the problem with the dizzying optics of this cultish pivot against Trump’s new Enemy Number One, is that these optics are conveniently blinding their dizzy observers to the underlying reality of what has actually happened here. Let me set it out in the simplest possible terms.
Mitch McConnell decided the only way to beat conservatives in 2016 would be to prop up his own fake grassroots candidate. He knew that putting his backing behind this candidate would itself signal the fraud being perpetrated, and thereby undermine his purposes. So, for the sake of a successful campaign, he cleverly kept his distance and “let Trump be Trump,” i.e., let him be the weird combination of cynical self-promoter and Steve Bannon’s brain that could win over angry crowds, foster nationalistic enthusiasm, and somehow convince otherwise normal citizens that they were witnessing the Second Coming.
It worked, probably better than McConnell expected, so well that Trump actually ended up in the White House.
Now what? Now it was time for the establishment to take over the program. It was time for Washington-friendly policy ideas, donor-pleasing foreign policy, Republican-as-usual economics (“revenue-neutral” tax cuts without spending cuts, for example), and the rest of the planks of the above-mentioned slow boat to socialism. It was time, therefore, to get rid of Steve Bannon’s brain, leaving only the somewhat unpredictable but ultimately malleable dufus-in-chief to be manipulated as needed into supporting whatever McConnell & Cronies thought would be best for America (aka themselves).
And here we are at last, as the strategy’s final act plays itself out in the ugliest possible terms. Trump has turned attack dog against the man who is as responsible for his victory as anyone else, including even Trump himself. Bannon, the boy wonder, is suddenly persona non grata even among many of his own past supporters and admirers. By contrast, Matt Drudge, the establishment’s key alternative voice, is prominent again as he has rarely been in years. And Mitch McConnell is in seventh heaven. The Tea Party — corrupted, demeaned, disillusioned, and disemboweled by the Trump-Bannon-McConnell fraud — is now, as per intentions, “crushed.”
The establishment rules again, without obstacles. Maybe you’ll get a little tax cut. Maybe some regulations will be undone. Oh, yes, a few conservative judges will be appointed. Same old, same old. But it’s better than Hillary!
Right. If “It’s better than Hillary!” has become your fallback answer and slogan, your movement has already conceded defeat.
MAGA, drain the swamp, whatever.