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April 17, 2019

The Father of Neoconservatism, Norman Podhoretz, On Trump and NeverTrump

Over at Claremont Review of Books (paywalled and I don't think you can get around it), Norman Podhoretz gives a rare interview and expresses his opinion on Trump, NeverTrump, and, indirectly but unavoidably, his fat, soft-handed, lap-of-luxury decrepit soyspawn Jon Podhoretz.

I think a very key distinction between them is elucidated here: Norman Podhoretz grew up as a poor blue-collar kid. He became a famous intellectual, but he was and is a blue-collar kid.

His son, on the other hand, grew up a dapper cosmopolitan princeling.

Norman Podhoretz praises Trump for being a -- yes -- fighter, while the soft-handed crew of the S.S. Cuck all counsel surrender.

One disagreement I have: NeverTrumpers are, in fact, willing to fight. They're willing to fight viciously and bitterly -- so long as the opponents are conservatives. Then the knives come out, then the eye-gouges and low-blows begin raining, then the shivs start getting sharpened.

But they won't fight this way against their neighbors -- physical neighbors -- in the leftwing cities and tony suburbs. For them, the seek compromise and understanding.

Have they ever tried to seek compromise with Trump supporters?

No, them they brand as Nazis and Deplorables.

They are among the most tribal people on earth -- it's just that their real tribe is, and has always been, the cosmopolitan intellectual class of the left. They share most of their political, cultural, and social DNA with the left.

By the way, if you really want to read the article in full, without stealing it, you might consider a one year subscription (four quarterly issues) for $19.95.

I might subscribe, actually. Half the people I talk to talk about it a lot.


CRB: Some people say that Trump has a blue collar sensibility. Do you see that?

NP: I do see it and even before Trump--long before Trump--actually going back to when I was in the army in the 1950s, I got to know blue-collar Americans. I'm "blue collar" myself, I suppose. Iím from the working class--my father was a milk man. But in the army I got to know people from all over the country and I fell in love with Americans--they were just great!

...

That's one of the things--it may be the main thing--that explains his political success. It doesn't explain his success in general, but his political success, yes. Also--I often explain this to people--when I was a kid, you would rather be beaten up than back away from a fight. The worst thing in the world you could be called was a sissy. And I was beaten up many times. Trump fights back. The people who say: "Oh, he shouldn't lower himself," "He should ignore this," and "Why is he demeaning himself by arguing with some dopey reporter?"

I think on the contrary--if you hit him, he hits back; and he is an equal opportunity counter puncher. It doesnít matter who you are. And actually Obama, oddly enough, made the same statement: "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun."

After reaffirming his support for the Iraq War and his initial opposition to Trump for saying that Bush "lied" us into war, Podhoretz turns to the NeverTrumpers:

... So for a while I was supporting Marco Rubio and I was enthusiastic about him. As time went on, and I looked around me, however, I began to be bothered by the hatred that was building up against Trump from my soon to be new set of ex-friends. It really disgusted me. I just thought it had no objective correlative. You could think that he was unfit for office--I could understand that--but my ex-friends' revulsion was always accompanied by attacks on the people who supported him.

They called them dishonorable, or opportunists, or cowards--and this was done by people like Bret Stephens, Bill Kristol, and various others. And I took offense at that. So that inclined me to what I then became: anti-anti-Trump. By the time he finally won the nomination, I was sliding into a pro-Trump position, which has grown stronger and more passionate as time has gone on.

...

CRB: But many of your new set of ex-friends, as you call them, were with you on Iraq and democratization, which explains partly at least, why they are against Trump. You deviated from them, or they deviated from you.

NP: Well some of them have gone so far as to make me wonder whether theyíve lost their minds altogether. I didn't object to their opposition to Trump. There was a case to be made, and they made it--okay. Of course, they had no reasonable alternative. A couple of them voted for Hillary, which I think would have been far worse for the country than anything Trump could have done.

But, basically, I think we're all in a state of confusion as to what's going on. Tom Klingenstein has made a brilliant effort to explain it, in terms that havenít really been used before. He says that our domestic politics has erupted into a kind of war between patriotism and multiculturalism, and he draws out the implications of that war very well. I might put it in different terms--love of America versus hatred of America. But it's the same idea. We find ourselves in a domestic, or civil, war almost

At this point, Podhoretz talks a while about the Long March Through the Institutions -- the Marxist takeover of the schools and universities -- and how a nation of patriots and warriors has sent its children for two or three generations to be educated by pacifists and America-haters, and how that has had precisely the effect on American culture and politics that the Marxists planned.

But I can't quote the whole thing.

So returning back to Trump:

CRB: What are his virtues, if you had to enumerate them?

NP: His virtues are the virtues of the street kids of Brooklyn. You don't back away from a fight and you fight to win. Thatís one of the things that the Americans who love him, love him for--that he's willing to fight, not willing but eager to fight. And that's the main virtue and all the rest stem from, as Klingenstein says, his love of America....

On the snobbery of the NeverTrump rump:

There's snobbery in it and there's genuine, you might say, aesthetic revulsion.

It's more than disagreements about policy, because the fact of the matter is they have few grounds for disagreement about policy.

I mean, I've known Bill Kristol all his life, and I like him. But I must say I'm shocked by his saying that if it comes to the deep state versus Trump, he'll take the deep state.

You know, I was raised to believe that the last thing in the world you defend is your own, and I am proud to have overcome that education. I think the first thing in the world you defend is your own, especially when it's under siege both from without and within. So the conservative elite has allowed its worst features--its sense of superiority--to overcome its intellectual powers, let's put it that way. I don't know how else to explain this.

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posted by Ace of Spades at 05:30 PM

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