This was a great conversation with Inez, as it got into some deep differences regarding how we see politics. We start by discussing the Trump indictment, and how bad the charges against him are. From Inez’s perspective, this is just the latest part of the story of a permanent bureaucracy going after its political opponents. My argument is that, while sometimes conservatives can make a reasonable case that they’re being treated unfairly, this is not the best way to understand the Trump indictment. She thinks that the DOJ has violated a norm of not indicting a former president, while I believe that it would be strange to let conduct this flagrant go unpunished.
I think Inez better represents where conservatives are than I do. There’s sort of two axes, one on policy, where you can be right or left, and another where one can be temperamentally extreme or moderate. I think we’re mostly aligned on policy, and I may be more right wing than she is on a lot of things. But I’m much more resistant to talking about a deep state or a government bureaucracy that is out there oppressing anyone who is right wing or disagrees with them politically. I think conservatives can win, that they do so all the time, in fact, and their main problems are rooted in their own incompetence and stupidity. But Inez gives another perspective, so listen to understand where we differ on these things.
I cite a recent Yglesias piece on Trump, which I think hits the nail on the head.
His con is not that he’s convinced conservatives that he’s honest. It’s that he’s convinced conservatives that his lying and shamelessness is a superpower that he deploys on behalf of their issues and causes. And it is true that he has at times deployed dishonesty and shamelessness to advance conservative causes. But much more frequently, he deploys dishonesty and shamelessness to advance himself, often at the expense of conservative causes.
Interestingly, Inez doesn’t disagree, but still ends up coming to a different place on the Trump indictment and whether he’s worth defending.
As part of the discussion, we debate whether the federal government does actually target conservatives. I say it doesn’t, or the degree to which it does is so negligible it’s not worth worrying about. Trump, I think, has done an excellent job of convincing conservatives otherwise.
We close with some discussion of Chris Christie (clearly one of my favorite topics), and whether we’re moving towards an emerging consensus that says candidates are going to have to more directly go after Trump.
Listen here or watch on YouTube.
Matt Yglesias, The Orange Man is Bad
Josh Barro, It’s Time for GOP Candidates to Pile on Trump
Chuck Grassley accusations against Biden
Poll showing Christie only 5 points behind DeSantis in New Hampshire
Hanania, The Biomechanics of Trumpism