Kenney: Who Knew There Was This EU-Macron-Francis-Putin-Grandma Conspiracy Against Biden?
Over the last decade, the definition of a conservative has changed a great deal. For myself as a writer and political commentator, my start began with the occasional op-ed in the pages of the Free Lance-Star when Paul Akers was the editor at the now-truncated publication — certainly not a positive development for free media.
Yet as most Republicans will attest, being able to get our message out into the public view was difficult if not impossible when the vast majority of Virginia’s newspapers were fortresses of left-wing condescension. With the rise of digital media and the arrival of social media, the near-eradication of the gatekeepers certainly lifted opinion leaders who might never have seen the light of day to the forefront of the public policy debate.
Of course, my own scribblings found a home here at Bearing Drift when it was a veritable cornerstone of conservative thought in Virginia. Few politicians dared to cross the commentariat headed up by editors such as Jim Hoeft and writers of the caliber of Brian Schoeneman and Norm Leahy.
While I have since moved on from Bearing Drift, it does strike me that many Republicans do come here for the spectrum of conservative thought that the old publication used to embrace. Some of us were very firm social conservatives, others firm fiscal conservatives. Most of us came from the old Reagan-Goldwater coalition which argued that the government which governed best was the one that governed least — and certainly this publication reeled as the candidacy of Donald J. Trump clarified not only the us/them distinction of politics but who was more Republican than they were conservative.
In some cases, they clarified whether one was a conservative at all.
The aftermath of the Trump presidency did not shatter the principles of most suburban Republicans who — terrified of what the alt-right meant for the Republican Party — did not place the blame on Republicans writ large. With Trump, Virginia Republicans simply could not answer the question regarding whether opposition to immigration was a stalking horse for something more sinister. Certainly the uncouth nature of this New York playboy-turned-populist was offputting to college educated sophisticates and the camp followers who would love nothing more than to be sophisticated themselves, even at the low purchasing cost of merely sounding like one of them.
What does that sound like? It sounds (and reads) like this:
The Putinism-anti-LGBTQ+ axis is nearly a decade old – and I’m far from the first one to sound an alarm about it. As for white supremacy, Just Security has the most detailed analysis of “the current nexus between Western right-wing extremists and Russian actors at the state and non-state level” (my own effort pales in comparison).
If you are wondering why Putin is invading Ukraine in order to support marriage against LGBTQ+ folks in order to advance the cause of white supremacy along with the rest of us? You are welcome to try.
For the life of me, I have no idea how much Adderall this requires to unpack. In its best light, it is a suggestion that the Russian Federation’s embrace of traditionalism — what Russian political philosopher Alexsandr Dugin terms his “fourth political theory” — holds way too many parallels towards things American conservatives believe on marriage to be merely coincidental, ergo everything conservatives believe — even if it is opposing racism in public school curricula — must be pro-Russian and ergo akin to driving a stake in the heart of Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland…
Ergo, repeating what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed about the American dream must be a Soviet plot!
Damn those Soviets — they really do play the long game.
Yet I digress — because this isn’t why I wanted to write this article.
If Donald Trump did not break the Republican Party, what the man did manage to achieve is the breaking of several (former) conservatives who felt personally betrayed that their multi-decade commitment to the ideals of the conservative movement could be so easily hijacked. I can understand the emotion. Yet what I cannot understand — and perhaps why felt the personal need to come back to these pages and mention aloud — is how the malfunction of one man can produce so many malfunctions and inconsistencies in others? Disagreement is one thing, but becoming your opposition and betraying your own call for civility in favor of repeating screed after screed in the hopes it might generate a response?
Those are the tactics of far left.
Obviously, I am no longer a writer here. I deeply respect the effort of this publication to remain critical of the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party in an effort to keep our institutions true to the spirit of Virginia in our best moments. Virginia is the mother of presidents, the mother of states, home of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Virginia is the home of the longest continuously running representative government on the North American continent, the birthplace of America and the home of tremendous leaders both past and present. There is so much more right with Virginia than there is wrong, and her history and her traditions should endure despite our shortcomings — not because it is owed to itself but because these are the traditions our children deserve. Our editors and writers instinctively knew that, not just because we were Virginians of the old school but because we understood that there were values behind the principles that made us men and women of character, and that character beyond political partisanship mattered when it came to determining policy.
That was the spirit of the old Bearing Drift.
In that light, our spirit was critical of our own when required and highly critical of the left when it mattered. But always, always, always in the direction of what was good, beautiful and true.
As for Mr. McGuire’s attempts to link everything to his right to Mr. Putin, the argument has zero weight. Social conservatives defended marriage in the face of its revisionists for decades before Mr. Putin was crowned by his predecessor. One finds it difficult to see how Mr. Putin is invested in ideas such as Critical Race Theory in anything aside from utility; one more effort to sow discord in the West (nevermind that our European allies believe America is mentally ill for embracing what the French jokingly call wokeisme). As for transgenderism, luminaries celebrated by the American left such as Pope Francis himself considers the concept “diabolical” in interviews and repeated statements to the media.
Are we seriously to believe there is a Catholic-EU-Macron-Francis-Putin-Grandma conspiracy of dark forces being orchestrated from Moscow in opposition to what we are being told by our betters are “real” American values all suspiciously in line with the wokeisme of the left that is going to be settled by a Russian invasion of Kiev?
Months of planning ditched by this revelation! Why didn’t the rest of us think of that?
Perhaps that question doesn’t deserve an answer.
Of course, I’m not writing this to pick on Mr. McGuire. I consider him a friend, even if I seem to provide a useful foil for some of his aberrations of thought that mimic Trump in style and reasoning faculties if not in content.
Yet what I would like to leave Bearing Drift readers with is the following.
Conservative commentary in Virginia that is critical of Republicans should be welcomed, constructive, and illuminative. “Don’t come at me with a problem,” we are reminded, “unless you come at me with an answer.” I am not sure if the present critique of our Republican Party here better fits the pages of Blue Virginia than Bearing Drift — but I would certainly appreciate a return to something with a bit more intellectual heft and a lot less pinball machine.
Yet I would have more respect for such opinions if they didn’t consist of a categorical whitewashing of the sins of the political left and the Biden Administration in particular.
Imagine the conditions in Eastern Europe today if Trump had not insisted that NATO meet her treaty obligations to spend 2% GDP on defense? Imagine for a moment if Republicans had not made moves to reinforce Poland and the Baltics in the face of Obama-era withdrawals?
We know precisely how aggressive the Russian Federation was as they seized Crimea, invaded Ukraine the first time in the Donbas region, propped up Syrian dictator Ashar al-Assad, and supported terrorists in Libya after Gadhafi’s downfall. We know that Hunter Biden’s interest in Ukraine’s presence in the Western orbit wasn’t precisely benign. Where are these concerns? Where are these criticisms? Or is it just Republican bashing and the sound of one hand clapping (or in Hunter Biden’s instance, two feet)?
I would love a more serious policy debate on various and sundry issues in Virginia that went well beyond the splash and trash that seems to have dominated our discourse post-macaca in 2006. I think we have earned it.
More to the point, the old trope about being branded as racists every time we win an argument with a Democrat needs to stop. Critical Race Theory doesn’t belong in schools, immigration should be reasonable but neither open ended nor closed door, Republicans just ran and won on the most diverse ticket in Virginia history, small businesses should be open, medical decisions should be personal — and yes, words such as marriage mean actual things no matter how much our postmodern world wishes otherwise (that’s Aristotle, not Putin).
Bearing Drift‘s reputation as a clearing house for conservative ideas remains strong; we have a pedigree of strong editors to thank for that. Yet it would be a tragedy if such a reputation was surreptitiously borrowed for cheap digs rather than inherited by those looking to advance the policy debate rather than pollute the public square. As the great man once said, “Ubi deficiunt equi trottant aselli” — and if Mr. McGuire would like to check this publication’s pedigree on this, he is more than welcome to do so.