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“Will He Stay Or Will He Go?”: In The Minds Of The Least Intelligent Among Us, George Will Is Now A Liberal

Congratulations, George Will: you’ve just been kicked out of the conservative movement.

You just knew there was going to be a profoundly negative reaction from the wingnuts to his latest syndicated column advising conservatives and Republicans to vote for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with an eye towards throwing her out of office in 2020 rather than voting for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.’s Jazz Shaw is leading the charge to have Will declared persona non grata on the right:

Will’s final argument, however, is where we come to the most bloated fly in the ointment. The original plan of defeating Trump in the primary was fully within the bounds of normal political play. True, I’ve personally chosen to try to help Ted Cruz win rather than attempting to destroy one of his opponents at every turn and view Trump losing as the be all and end all. This is because Trump has long seemed to be at least plausibly, if not probably the eventual winner and I’d prefer our nominee to go into the general election with as few battle scars from the primary as possible. But George Will pulls the mask away entirely and [declares] that the party as a whole should be working to defeat the GOP nominee in November…

This is a disingenuous argument on two fronts. First, Will himself [observes] earlier [in the column] that less than six percent of voters traditionally split tickets. Yet he turns around in his conclusion and states that this should be the strategy which Republican voters adopt. But much more to the point, he dismisses the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency as a mere four years of comparatively mild discomfort which will somehow be wiped away when Ben Sasse miraculously wins the White House in 2020. This argument is delivered, apparently with a straight face, after an earlier paragraph in the same column where he points out how a Clinton victory will ensure Merrick Garland a seat on the Supreme Court and the uncomfortable fact that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer will be 83, 80 and 78, respectively.

And none of this touches on the fact that each and every Republican and conservative reading his advice will have to walk into a voting booth on November 8th, close the curtains, stand alone in the darkness and… vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As for me, I prefer to win, or at least go down swinging. Surrendering the battle for the White House uncontested is the business of cowards and I want no part of it.

Remember, right-wingers barely tolerate Will because he was presumably cordial to Barack Obama at the then President-elect’s January 2009 confab with conservative pundits (which was actually held at Will’s house). Urging conservatives and Republicans to vote for Clinton is akin to sleeping with the enemy in their minds; expect an organized right-wing effort to have Will’s column removed from many of the nation’s major newspapers, and to have him fired by Fox.

One man’s principle is another man’s career suicide, and Will’s contempt for Trump may have brought a premature end to his comfortable career as a right-wing pundit. Is Will ready to deal with the waves of hate that will flow his way from the bigoted billionaire’s boosters?

From a certain perspective, it’s odd that Will has had such a negative reaction to Trump: after all, as Rachel Maddow has noted, Trump is basically copying Ronald Reagan’s racist act from the 1980 presidential campaign–a campaign whose final debate Will infamously coached Reagan for. Unless Will feels some vestiges of guilt for his role in helping the racially divisive Reagan become the 40th president, it’s curious that he feels so chagrined by the triumph of Trump.

Let’s just take a moment to smile at this situation. In the minds of the least intelligent among us, George Will is now a liberal. Can this year get any funnier?


By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 1, 2016

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, George Will, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Hostility Is Clarifying”: Conservatives To Pope Francis: Stick With Salvation; We’ll Handle Politics

In a 1979 column, George Will quoted Chekhov describing a character in these terms: “He was a rationalist, but he had to confess that he liked the ringing of church bells.” To Chekhov’s lovely words, Will added his own smarmy endorsement, writing, “Me too.” In his column, Will was affirming the quote in the most literal way possible: He was writing to celebrate bells. But it’s not hard to discern in the quote a larger attitude toward religion. Will is, as he told an interviewer from this magazine, an atheist, yet as a conservative he finds religion to be socially useful and often praises it for that reason. Like the political philosopher Leo Strauss, who has shaped much of his broader outlook, Will has a utilitarian attitude toward religion: Christianity might not be true, but it helps create a cohesive society. To put it another way, Will believes in philosophy for the elite and religion for the masses.

Not surprisingly given this attitude, Will has been at the head of the conservative chorus denouncing Pope Francis’s advocacy for the environment, for migrants, and for the poor—a chorus that has grown more vehement in the run-up to Francis’s U.S. journey. In a syndicated column published on Saturday, Will came out firing: “Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false, and deeply reactionary.”

Seeing religion as a tool for political ends, Will quite naturally praises religious figures he sees as politically simpatico (like Pope John Paul II) and savages those whose politics he finds politically unpalatable (like Pope Francis). It’s not surprising that Will is so nakedly partisan in his evaluation of religious leaders. What is perhaps more noteworthy is that the same pattern can be found among conservatives who claim to be genuinely devout. Some of these critics voice the objection that Francis is too political, but on closer inspection their real problem is the same as Will’s: They don’t like his politics.

In a 2005 column, for instance, Will praised John Paul II as one of the great heroes of the 20th century because he made common cause with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in fighting communism. Enthusiastically voicing a theme common to conservatives, Will marveled that “[i]n an amazingly fecund 27-month period, the cause of freedom was strengthened by the coming to high offices of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and John Paul II, who, like the president, had been an actor and was gifted at the presentational dimension of his office.”

Yet if John Paul II’s political interventions were held up as crucial in the battle against the enemies of civilization, then his successor Francis, seemingly embodying very different politics, stands condemned as a menace who threatens the very survival of capitalism. As one of America’s foremost climate change deniers, Will has nothing but contempt for Francis’s calls for environmental responsibility. In a 2014 column, Will condemned the Pope as a sanctimonious interloper whose ignorance of worldly matters threatens to leave millions impoverished. “He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources,” Will thundered. “Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.”

In taking up the cause of the environment, Will argued over the weekend, the church was abandoning its “salvific mission.” Since Will doesn’t actually believe that the salvation the church offers is real, his polemic amounts to a call for the church to continue to offer consoling lies to parishioners and ignore real problems so that the social system continues to work the way Will wants it to. Continue ringing those church bells, Will is saying, so they’ll drown out the protests of environmentalists.

The cynicism of Will’s position hardly needs to be underlined. Yet it is broadly shared by others on the right. Writing at the Federalist, Joy Pullmann, managing editor of the publication and a fellow at the lavishly funded climate change denialist think tank The Heartland Institute, makes many of the same arguments that Will does: that in voicing concern for the environment, the Pope is overstepping his proper duties as a religious leader, and that serious efforts to combat climate change would lead to an economic catastrophe that would have its worst impact on the world’s poor. In an extremely confusing line of argument, Pullmann seems to suggest that an environmental apocalypse might actually be a welcome outcome from a Christian point of view:

We will never achieve utopia in this world. That’s kind of the central story arc of the Bible: How humans screwed themselves and the whole world up, and how Jesus has and will ultimately put things to right. Getting all the way to a perfect eternity, however, requires first an apocalypse.

So maybe Pope Francis should welcome the environmental apocalypse he thinks is coming. That’s partly a joke and partly serious, because every time I see another Planned Parenthood butchering video I am ready for Jesus to take me and my kiddos right up to Paradise and end this sick, mad world.

Pullmann’s words might seem lurid and even nonsensical, but they follow the basic contours of Will’s: The church should stick to saving souls and leave the job of running the world to big business. She also upholds John Paul II as an example of a pope whom it was possible “to respect and admire”—further proof that what is wanted is not an apolitical pope but a pope who aligned with the Republican Party.

Pat Buchanan, the legendary conservative columnist, takes the right-wing hostility toward Francis to its logical conclusion and sees the current Pope, along with President Obama, as being emblematic of the deep sickness in Western civilization. In a breathtaking recent column, Buchanan opines that Francis is promoting “moral confusion,” and argues that both Putin’s Russia and Communist China show much greater cultural health than either Obama’s America or Francis’s church:

America is a different country today, a secular and post-Christian nation on its way to becoming anti-Christian. Some feel like strangers in their own land. And from the standpoint of traditional Catholicism, American culture is an open sewer. A vast volume of the traffic on the Internet is pornography.

Ironically, as all this unfolds in what was once “God’s country,” Vladimir Putin seeks to re-establish Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the basis of morality and law in Russia. And one reads in The Wall Street Journal on Monday that Xi Jinping is trying to reintroduce his Chinese Communist comrades to the teachings of Confucianism.

The world is turned upside down. Every civilization seems to recognize the necessity of faith except for the West, which has lost its faith and is shrinking and dying for lack of it.

Will is a religious skeptic, while both Pullmann and Buchanan are believers. Will’s prose is elegant and measured, while both Pullmann and Buchanan write shrill screeds. Yet despite these surface differences, they are making the same argument: that the proper role of the church is promoting individual salvation and social morality, a mission Francis is jeopardizing by advocating for political change.

The hostility conservatives of all stripes have toward Francis is clarifying. It shows that issues of belief and non-belief are less important to conservatives than adherence to an ideological party line. Despite their different metaphysics, Will, Pullmann, and Buchanan can unite in opposing Francis as a political enemy. Theology serves merely as a convenient cloak for politics.


By: Jeet Heer, Senior Editor, The New Republic; September 22, 2015

September 23, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, George Will, Pope Francis | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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