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October 15, 2021

The Bulwark Vs. The Dispatch: The Ruckus In the Cuckhouse

Cobra Commander XV @cobracommandr15


The Bulwark going to War with the Dispatch is the undercard paywall-per-view for Pre-School Fight Club.

It's fun to watch fat weaklings throw girlpunches at each other.

Jonah Goldberg, who is, I guess, sad and lonely with so little Internet Attention these days, drew first blood -- blood? Let's say he drew first pinkish liquid -- by insinuating that he and his fellow fat sadsack liberals at The Dispatch were not amoral grifters like those at The Bulwark, because they only write most of their articles about Trump and Trump supporters.

Whereas The Bulwark features, I guess, exclusively articles attacking Trump and Trump-supporters.

Before getting to that, I want to clarify something I should have more strongly clarified long ago:

Some readers and voters are NeverTrump and probably feel implicated when I attack NeverTrump.

I actually mean that as to the NeverTrump political leaders and " " " intellectual " " " leaders. I mean the politicians and writers, not the voters and readers.

My basic position is that you don't get to resign to join the enemy and stab your once-compatriots in the backs, and then, four years later, come back to your original nation and ask for your commission back.

Now, as for people who are just voters, people can vote for whoever they want, and no one owns your vote. And no one is entitled to your readership.

So I have no actual animus towards NeverTrump voters. If Trump was too toxic for you to vote for -- I get that. I wondered about that my own self.

But if you were a political leader or an " " " intellectual " " " leader (and note that NeverTrump "thought leaders" are dumb and lazy and chiefly just repeat what the leftwing media (and their corporate donors) tell them), you're out. You're out for good.

No army ever gives a commission back to an officer who deserted, and certainly not to an officer who joined the enemy.

It's incredible to me that "thought leaders" at places like National Review, who were too cowardly to actually endorse Hillary and F. Joe Biden but left readers with little doubt as to who they wanted to win, are now back, presenting themselves to conservatives, and announcing "We are willing and ready to Lead You Lesser Intellects again."

Really? How big of you. And until when? When will your next defection take place? When is the next time your obvious, transparent sympathies to the left (and your desire for approval by your liberal friends and future media employers) require you to break faith with conservatives and propagandize for a filthily corrupt leftwinger, who you will claim is "moderate" and "decent"?

Fuck you. Use your diminished influence to write for and represent Democrats. We got on without you for six years, and didn't notice we'd missed anything we weren't glad to be rid of.

You're proud of saying you can do business with Democrats. Well, do business with them, and never darken our doors again.

That point made, here's Goldberg, attempting to claim The Dispatch is not a Trump-obsessed outlet. (My Fat Dude, have you read David French lately?)

If you wake up every morning trying to argue about why Trump is bad and the people who like Trump are evil, you're just as obsessed with him as the people who wake up every morning wanting to prove that Trump is a glorious statesman and everything he does is great.

Both sides! Both sides! He said the thing he says! He said Both Sides!

Never Trump and pro-Trump publications, he concludes, are "two sides of the same Trump-obsessed coin."

Well, this caused quite the stir at The Bulwark, who were quick to point out -- rather accurately -- that in fact The Dispatch only exists to pander to NeverTrumpers (and, I should say, the leftwing donors who think that stoking NeverTrump sentiment will help Democrats).

Jonah Goldberg's Narcissism of Small Differences

In a world of trouble, why snipe at allies?

by MONA CHAREN OCTOBER 13, 2021 5:30 AM

Great start. And of course-- these people are allies. They are alike in almost all ways, except for one: The people at The Bulwark have been more honest and open about simply defecting to the Democrat Party, while those at The Dispatch defected to the Democrat Party as well -- but for tactical/fundraising/branding reasons, wish to pretend that they did not.

ack in 2016, when formerly distinguished conservatives were suddenly lining up to issue glassy-eyed endorsements of a half-mad reality-TV figure, Jonah Goldberg wrote a brilliant column comparing the experience to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He captured the sense so many of us had that nearly an entire party and, eventually, nearly an entire intellectual movement, had been lobotomized. "People would go to sleep violently opposed to Trump and everything he represented,” he recapped for Vanity Fair, "but by morning they'd start telling me how under comrade Trump, we were going to have the greatest harvest we've ever seen." If Goldberg does nothing else in his career, I will always cherish him for his indomitability when others, with less to lose, crumpled.

So it's disappointing to see him falling for the narcissism of small differences. As Sigmund Freud wrote, "It is precisely the minor differences in people who are otherwise alike that form the basis of feelings of hostility between them."

True. The Bulwark has branded itself as Republicans Turned Democrats, while The Dispatch is branding itself as True Republicans Aligning With Democrats Until the Republican Party Becomes True Once More.

This is a very slight distinction, but that's how you win market position, by specifying the niche you wish to compete in.

By the way, she links this Vanity Fair article in which the frontmen for The Dispatch make it clear that the entire reason for the outlet is NeverTrumpism.

For example, it starts thus:

avid French may check off traditional Republican boxes--conservative, military veteran, evangelical Christian--yet admits he’s out of step with the party's Trumpified base and is wary about its future. "If Donald Trump doesn't win or doesn't run in 2024, but somebody who adopts the ethos of Donald Trump wins or runs as a Republican in 2024, I don't see that as an improvement," French told me. "I see that as sort of this cementing of the identity of the party behind this particular ethos."

French said he fears the "angry populist" movement of the Trump era--or "the new right,” as he has also put it--will become irrevocably melded with the Republican Party.

That's a future that French, and other writers at The Dispatch, hope to avoid. While the conservative-media industry largely fell in line behind Trump, some outlets and pundits considered insufficiently loyal charted a different course.

So when French and Goldberg and Hayes were advertising their new venture at a leftwing outlet -- and no doubt hoping to troll for some leftwing donations -- they were quite upfront and explicit that the blog (I almost said "magazine," lol) was NeverTrump now, NeverTrump forever.

But now for branding reasons, Goldberg now wants to pretend that The Dispatch is and always was above this Trump vs. NeverTrump business.

Unlike those other guys.

Which is precisely what Charen suggests:

Celebrating the two-year anniversary of the Dispatch, Goldberg, apparently feeling the need to do some product differentiation, tossed off a gratuitous swipe at The Bulwark. Both publications are redoubts of Trumpism-defying conservatives, and thus, you might think, allies? Compadres? Friends?

Fellow travelers, I would say.

Fellow grifters, I would say, perhaps more accurately.

Are The Dispatch and The Bulwark competing for a shrinking pile of leftwing donations, and trying to position themselves as the one NeverTrump blog to survive? Will these Pepsi vs. Coke brand wars intensify as leftwing donors realize that, as usual, Kristol and Goldberg and Sykes and Hayes have no reach or influence that is worth renting?

Let's hope!

Speaking of NeverTrump: the great Lee Smith sent along a review of Tom Nichols' new " " " book " " " -- really a quickie cash-in, turning his petty twitter arguments and demands for attention into a print file -- and I gotta tell you, it's something.

Oliver Traldi reviews Noted Twitter Addict and Self-Proclaimed All-Purpose Expert Tom Nichols' newest 10,000 word Twitter rant and I love it. The review, I mean.



The word "book" must only be written in quotations marks because, as befits Tom Nichols' level of intellectual seriousness and literary ambition, it seems to be yet another quickie "Here are some of the zesty Twitter comebacks I wished I'd thought of at the time I wasting hours of my life on a social media platform designed for teenagers."

I'd call it l'esprit de l'escalier (the wit of the staircase, the Jerkstore response you think of on your way out the door) but disgusting fatbody Tom Nichols would never take the escaliers.


A "Never Trump conservative" whose specialty is national security and nuclear arms, Nichols has taught at Georgetown, Dartmouth, Harvard, and the U.S. Naval War College.

Wow that's a lot of schools to teach at without ever being offered tenure.

Let's call Nichols, as we say of journeymen baseball players dealt from one club to another, the "Much-Traveled Tom Nichols."

Let me rebut this introduction: Tom Nichols is no conservative, obviously. He brands himself that because he's an intense left-Democrat partisan who knows that game of "the conservative who attacks conservative."

By his own admission, he left the GOP years and years ago and only rejoined it, briefly, in 2012 to vote against Newt Gingrich in the primaries.

That's his own story -- that he's a bitter liberal who really hated the conservative Newt Gingrich and so joined a political party just to vote against a conservative.

That's not a conservative move. That's a leftwing partisan move.

But based on that brief, insincere "joining" of the GOP -- which he would of course quit multiple times, starting in 2015 -- he brands himself a "Never Trump conservative."

People should not dignify this lie by repeating it.

Indeed, Our Own Worst Enemy is peppered with so many internal tensions and contradictions that it's hard to believe it's not an attempt to use paradox to convey some sort of secret, true meaning. For Nichols, it's not just that the problem with democracy is democracy. It's that there's a society-threatening crisis, which is that people think there's a society-threatening crisis when there isn't. There's a bunch of people ruining our political system, and their problem is that they think there’s a bunch of people ruining our political system. Populism is a "'compelling' narrative, and like all compelling narratives, it has some elements of reality in it" -- but at the same time, "populist leaders have to ramp up white-hot rhetoric . . . lest the public doubt for a moment whether they should believe what they're hearing or seeing with their own lying eyes."

So who are you gonna believe, huh? Voters who only care about their own self-interest are ruining America, but the same voters are also so driven by resentment that they can't recognize their own self-interest. Nicholas has a chapter on how corrosive narcissism and anger are, but his whole book seems spittle-flecked and he frequently breaks the flow of his exposition to narrate his own expert credentials and accomplishments. Nichols castigates people for "exchanging paranoid memes on Facebook" right after saying that "the rest of us are vigilantly scanning the horizon . . . for the shock troops of a mass movement," and right before claiming that “authoritarianism could arrive . . . on little cat feet, quietly establishing itself while the rest of us are busy watching television, staring at our phones, and speaking to our friends and family through emojis."

A series of tiresome tirades written for an audience assumed to be sympathetic and admiring of Tom Nichols, Our Own Worst Enemy consists of 200 pages of bluster, with little explanation of its core assertions and little argument for the connections it makes among them. Poor editing worsens this impression: Elementary errors in spelling and grammar errors give the book the feel of an online rant. An anecdote from the first chapter is retold in the fifth chapter, with the same analysis and even the same jargon. Of his lectures on the moral failings of stupid and slovenly nonexpert Americans, he writes that he is "more reticent to deliver such sermons these days" (he means "reluctant," but reticence would have been nice).

...

Is it fair to take any of this stuff seriously, or is it just mean? Nichols is a kind of virtuoso of the empty sentiment, the filler sentence. Usually this sort of sentence is a sign a writer is straining to meet a word count or a deadline, something that's palpable in many of the books I review. But Nichols writes entire books of filler

Oh well, one doesn't expect style or deep thinking from a Twitter Rant.

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