The Slatest

Today in Conservative Media: If Democrats Don’t Win Big in November, They Won’t Accept the Election’s Legitimacy (Again)

A protester holds a resist sign at the People's Climate March on Denver on April 29, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.
Protesters at the People’s Climate March on Denver on April 29, 2017 in Colorado. Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Lots going on in conservative media Tuesday as the right—and everyone else—is still grappling with the implications of President Trump’s proposed tariffs and the potential escalation of a trade war. (Early Tuesday evening, the tariff row coincided with top economic adviser Gary Cohn’s resignation.) The move reveals a significant, if previously latent rift in the Republican Party between the now old school free-trade, the-market-solves-everything ethos and the more pugilistic economic nationalist message that has dominated the party’s rhetoric in the age of Trump. The initial response from Republicans, namely mainstream establishment Republicans from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to Sen. Lindsey Graham, was dismay. But here comes the pushback to the pushback!

Pat Buchanan (yes, that one) writes in Townhall: What’s the big deal with tariffs? “From Lincoln to William McKinley to Theodore Roosevelt, and from Warren Harding through Calvin Coolidge, the Republican Party erected the most awesome manufacturing machine the world had ever seen,” Buchanan writes. “And, as the party of high tariffs through those seven decades, the GOP was rewarded by becoming America’s Party.” Far from fretting over tariffs, Buchanan sees economic nationalism in its various forms as part of the GOP’s heritage. He continues: “The principles behind a policy of economic nationalism, to turn our trade deficits, which subtract from GDP, into trade surpluses, which add to GDP, are these:”

Production comes before consumption. Who consumes the apples is less important than who owns the orchard. We should depend more upon each other and less upon foreign lands. We should tax foreign-made goods and use the revenue, dollar for dollar, to cut taxes on domestic production. The idea is not to keep foreign goods out, but to induce foreign companies to move production here. We have a strategic asset no one else can match. We control access to the largest richest market on earth, the USA. And just as states charge higher tuition on out-of-state students at their top universities, we should charge a price of admission for foreign producers to get into America’s markets. And – someone get a hold of Sen. Graham—it’s called a tariff.

“Why, then, this terror of tariffs that grips the GOP?” Buchanan asks.

Seton Motley couldn’t agree more in RedState and shows just how much significant portions of the right have warmed to the idea of ditching free trade in favor of punitively flexing America’s economic muscle. “President Donald Trump wants to fix the nightmare mess that is DC’s crony globalist fake ‘free trade’—and conservatives all across the nation are up in arms,” Motley writes, channeling his inner Steve Bannon. “Globalist big business robber barons have spent the last half-century-plus lobbying DC for more and more one-sided, America Last trade deals.”

In other news

Alexi Sargeant extends the logic of the current #MeToo moment to question the ubiquity—and impact—of hypersexualized advertising in the public sphere for National Review. “We should seize the opportunity to dismantle the architecture of sexual entitlement, the systems that foster harassment and shield harassers—and one of those systems is the ubiquitous presence of sexually toxic advertising,” he writes. Sargeant points to the example of Calvin Klein billboards featuring “a sprawl of underwear-clad Kardashians” to make the point that “the company is recapitulating the harasser’s logic of sexual entitlement on a monumental scale.” Advertising is not the direct cause of the abhorrent behavior of the likes of Harvey Weinstein, he concedes, “[b]ut much of our advertising does a great deal to normalize the idea that women should be constantly sexually available, by presenting them as objects displayed for the pleasure of the consumer.” “I hope both progressive feminists and social conservatives can agree that advertisers have no right to rule our gaze. When they push demeaning content on us, we should fight back. We need to reclaim the space these ads take up in our attention and our cities.”

Elsewhere on National Review, Jonathan Tobin wonders if Democrats will refuse to accept the legitimacy of the upcoming midterm elections, if things don’t go their way—or far enough their way. “Another unexpected Republican triumph, like Trump’s upset of Hillary Clinton, won’t be treated as just bad luck by the opposition. Anger is likely to bubble over into more street protests as well as a refusal to treat defeat as anything but the result of more Russian mischief-Making,” Tobin writes. “It’s clear the Democrats have become so invested in a misleading narrative that has essentially absolved them of responsibility for their 2016 defeat that it’s not clear they’ll accept anything short of decisive victory this year a legitimate result.”

For the Weekly Standard, Chris Deaton profiles the latest political scion in the Bush family, George P. Bush, who, after a promising early career, appears to be hanging on by a very thin thread in Texas, where he could very well lose in the Republican primary to hold on to his present job as Texas land commissioner. The current politically perilous moment has led the 41-year-old son of former presidential candidate Jeb Bush—perhaps Donald Trump’s favorite punching bag during the nomination battle—into the unlikely role of unabashed Trump booster. Heading into primary day, Bush aired “a 30-second spot about his support of President Trump—not support of a particular policy on which his office and the executive branch may overlap. Just support of the man and his Washington agenda,” Deaton writes. “The younger Bush eventually endorsed Trump during the general election in 2016, but did so without hype or even an organized announcement. A year and a half later, handshakes have turned to bear hugs.”

In a staff editorial titled “A Little Nation Does the Right Thing,” the editors at the Weekly Standard lauded Guatemala’s move to follow the U.S.’s lead in announcing that it too will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “It is important to be among the first,” Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said Monday at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, “but it is more important to do what’s right.”

Joe Cunningham at RedState has the final word on former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg’s epic, half-cocked journey on cable television Monday, where he appeared defiant in refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation, before changing his mind, kinda sorta. Nunberg’s performance, Cunningham writes, is a reminder of the yahoos the Trump campaign attracted. But it’s also a “Friendly Reminder, Democrats: You Lost to These Guys.”