Actions speak louder than words. Ye shall know them by their fruits. There are a lot of ways to put it, but suffice to say: “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
Last weekend, thousands of young conservative activists gathered at the National Harbor for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to listen to conservative leaders talk. The usual verbal tics of Conservatism, Inc. (liberty, capitalism, and foreign interventionism) echoed through the ballrooms of the Gaylord throughout the weekend. Aside from Michelle Malkin’s tour de force speech on America’s immigration situation, the rotting corpse of rote and unreflective Reaganism was front and center. It could have been called, “Weekend at Ronnie’s” or “Eighties Throwback Retreat.” That’s not to deride Ronald Reagan or his policies—for the most part, he and they were what America needed in the 1980s. But we aren’t living in the 1980s, and conservative thought leaders trapped in a Cold War mindset continue to mouth the same dead pieties. Reagan paid attention to the times and adapted. Why don’t they?
Still, even among those working to understand our current political moment, there is an aspect of their performance at this old dog-and-pony show that merits our derision. The harnessing of populist energy to deliver neoconservative talking points is one abuse of conservative trust in which even our president indulged. Fear mongering to young conservatives about the dangers of Stalin-era communism—a tiresome strawman thought to answer supposed millennial socialism—is another. Moreover, despite all the allusions to freedom of speech, several right-leaning contrarians were barred from entry into the conference. Laura Loomer had her press credentials revoked by CPAC because she “aggressively” questioned a CNN reporter. Simultaneously, left-wing operatives received press credentials.
Obviously, there is plenty of fodder for criticism at these types of events, and the corporate media usually all too happily obliges and pounces on them to poke fun at the conservative movement. Fine. At this point, that kind of response is predictable. What took many by surprise this time around was that some of the meanest, most gratuitous insults came from The Bulwark, that holier-than-thou reincarnation of the The Weekly Standard whose ostensible purpose is to “conserve conservatism.”
The Bulwark’s leadership sent Molly Jong-Fast to cover CPAC. Jong-Fast’s grandfather is the noted novelist, screenwriter, and communist Howard Fast. Her parents are New York City champagne socialists Jonathan Fast and Erica Jong. In addition to being the new “token lib” at The Bulwark, Jong-Fast writes gossip columns disguised as political commentary about Ivanka Trump for The Forward. She also chairs the “Arena Summit,” an organization dedicated to “convening, training, and supporting the next generation” of “progressive foot-soldiers.”
Again, there were elements of CPAC that were objectively silly and easy to criticize. But Jong-Fast did not limit her ridicule to the ridiculous. Jong-Fast’s mindless mockery of Sara Carter and her excellent work on the opioid crisis stands out as particularly contemptuous: “Okay guys [sic], I left to go get more coffee and now there’s an insane women on stage talking about skittles parties.” The pro-life, anti-infanticide contingent caught a similar kind of fatuous derision from Jong-Fast. Drink every time someone says “post-birth abortion,” she told her followers. As if the Northam tapes revealed nothing. One wonders if this spawn of red diaper NPCs has ever had a serious independent thought, or even a thoughtful conversation with another American not groomed as she was for life as a professional leftist.
Following the money, we discover connections between The Bulwark and Ebay creator and well-heeled patron of left-wing causes, Pierre Omidyar. Julie Kelly wrote on him earlier this week:
Omidyar’s most dependable stooge on that score has been Bill Kristol, the founder of the now-defunct Weekly Standard. Last year, one of Omidyar’s funds gave $600,000 to an outlet Kristol created to pimp for the Mueller probe. That group, Defending Democracy Together, aired several television ads to tout Mueller’s alleged sterling reputation and to urge lawmakers to protect the special counsel from Trump. (The Bulwark, Kristol’s latest media venture, is a project of Defending Democracy Together’s nonprofit. Charles Sykes, The Bulwark’s editor, sits on the advisory committee for Omidyar’s Democracy Fund.)
By deploying Jong-Fast, Kristol clearly was responding to his shareholders and, no doubt, thumbing his nose at old friends he now considers beneath his contempt.
This whole thing says more about Bill Kristol, Charlie Sykes, and that other guy at The Bulwark than they could ever say for themselves. Molly Jong-Fast is an extremely run-of-the-mill, bourgeois agitator who, for all her clever snark, seems incapable of critical thinking. She cannot contain her ignorant resentment for patriots who love life, nor can she reel in her jealousy of more attractive women. Who better to represent The Bulwark than someone so remarkably bitter and shallow? Unfortunately, given Conservatism Inc.’s track record of throwing good people (their supporters!) under the bus to score cool kid points with the Left, this development from the conservers of “conservatism” comes as no surprise.
The most amazing thing about the Trump presidency is the way that cryptoleftists like Bill Kristol have been teased out of their hiding places in Conservatism, Inc., their true intentions revealed. Jong-Fast’s dispatch on Kristol’s behalf is not an example of Trumpism making strange bedfellows. Jong-Fast and Kristol are and probably were political bedfellows even without Trump; they both desire an America in which they, the urban elite, make the rules, and those idiotic middle Americans sit down and shut up forever.
There are two types of showrunners in Conservatism, Inc.: those who fear the Left and those who are the Left. The Bulwark’s founders are a good example of the latter. They do not want to “conserve conservatism” in any way that is meaningful to the word’s traditional defenders. Their primary function is to destabilize conservatism by demoralizing true conservative people and convincing conservative thought leaders (those who fear the Left) that the reductionist, materialist, neoliberal view of existence is the only acceptable political framework. The Bulwark did not include Molly Jong-Fast for the sake of free speech or humor, so we can disregard their pathetic after-the-fact justification that came only as a result of showing too much leg. If your “principles” require you to give your ostensible enemy a voice on your platform, rethink them. If your sense of humor leads you to employ a vaguely Communist, very feminist hack of a journo, you’re not very funny. But let’s not assume these people are acting in good faith. They included her because of her subversive function. This was not a misstep.
Jong-Fast’s commentary on CPAC was neither newsworthy nor interesting. A leftist attempting humor by mocking conservatives is a predictable and tired schtick we’ve seen passed off as commentary and “comedy” for decades. The only thing noteworthy about this episode is how it underscores the subversive lie underpinning the pathetic institution that is The Bulwark.
Conservatism, Inc.’s true cause is to conserve itself, which requires at times that it works in tandem with the Left, containing American patriots in a box canyon of political correctness while their enemies make plans to charge down the mountain and trammel over them. Cunning deceivers rely on the manipulation of language to trick good people into believing lies. We would all be wise instead to judge people and groups on what they do rather than what they say they do. Let the behavior of Conservatism, Inc. speak for itself.
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