Apostasy is a hustle. The opinion-haver and longtime foreign-policy advisor to Republicans Max Boot, writing in the Washington Post, has a discovery to share:
Upon closer examination, it’s obvious that the history of modern conservative is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, isolationism and know-nothingism. I disagree with progressives who argue that these disfigurations define the totality of conservatism; conservatives have also espoused high-minded principles that I still believe in, and the bigotry on the right appeared to be ameliorating in recent decades. But there has always been a dark underside to conservatism that I chose for most of my life to ignore.
Yes, Max Boot was wrong about a central premise of his political identity:
In 1964, the GOP ceased to be the party of Lincoln and became the party of Southern whites. As I now look back with the clarity of hindsight, I am convinced that coded racial appeals had at least as much, if not more, to do with the electoral success of the modern Republican Party than all of the domestic and foreign policy proposals crafted by well-intentioned analysts like me. This is what liberals have been saying for decades. I never believed them.
Max Boot misunderstood the essential political motivations and goals of the political movement he worked with. That is why he is retiring as a pundit, to go do quiet good works in some field he’s better qualified for.
Ha! Of course not. Max Boot is flogging his new book about how wrong he was. It’s an endlessly popular product line. There’s no better credential than being someone whose old credentials turned out to be worthless. Tom Nichols has his own piece in the Atlantic, about being a disillusioned moderate conservative. “Raw power, wielded so deftly by Senator Mitch McConnell, is exercised for its own sake, and by that I mean for the sake of fleecing gullible voters on hot-button social issues so that Republicans can stay in power,” Nichols writes. In 2018! Well, cover me in elephant poop and call me the Holy Virgin Mary.
These people write about leaving the Republican Party the way personal essayists write about leaving New York, mistaking a half-understood account of their own failure for an insight into the truth of the world. Like the personal essayists, they’ll write another, equally confident piece when circumstances bring them back.
No one ever has to quit writing just because they’re wrong about everything. Thomas Friedman, the most enthusiastic hype man for the message that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, would “bring Saudi Islam back to its more open and modern orientation,” is all wrought up because now bin Salman may have murdered the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, one of Friedman’s friends and sources. If it’s so, Friedman writes, it “would be an unfathomable violation of norms of human decency, worse not in numbers but in principle than even the Yemen war.” That means worse, in principle, than American-made munitions slaughtering 40 children on a school bus, among many other events in Yemen. Friedman has lived so well for so long being so wrong about every subject he covers, he can’t even be right when he’s trying to confess an error.