Another one from the Dispatches archive — this time from March 2016 when the team at National Review such as Kevin D. Williamson became Never Trumpers and whined that the problems were “not our fault”:
It would be easy for me to write a post like this twice a week. Every other day a conservative commentator I admire reveals their personal “crack-up” over the candidacy of Donald Trump. Their hatred of Trump overcomes their reasoning powers and they wind up writing some really goofy things that reveal what they don’t understand.
A post the other day by Kevin D. Williamson in National Review mirrors that of so many others.
The title of Williamson’s post is “The Stupid Psychopath Problem.” And lest you think that he’s only criticizing Trump in his article, he includes this: “Men such as Donald Trump, and a half a hundred million idiots just like him across the fruited plain…”
Williamson writes that he’s going to “leave it to the medical professionals to diagnose whatever it is that ails Trump psychiatrically…” The truth is, I can’t exactly criticize Williamson for that comment since I have expressed my opinion that the problem with Williamson and his ilk has its roots deep in their own conscious and unconscious minds.
My theory — expressed here, here, here, and here — is that those writing for National Review and many other “opinion making” outlets are being confronted with their own massive failure to reach people and win hearts and minds over the course of decades.
It’s not easy to have your self-esteem damaged by reality. Rush Limbaugh talked about this phenomenon as well — you can read what Rush had to say here.
These conservative “intellectuals” hate Trump. Combine that with the realization of their own immense failure — and well, they write articles with titles such as “The Stupid Psychopath Problem.” (That title is so intellectual sounding, isn’t it?)
Again, here’s Williamson:
The Stupid Psychopath Problem is the political distortion resulting from the fact that a great many people — some of them on barstools, some of them dangerously close to the levers of real power — believe that there are obvious, simple, straightforward solutions to complex problems such as the predations of the Islamic State or the woeful state of U.S. public finances, but that these solutions are not implemented because people in government are too soft, unwilling or unable to get tough and do what needs to be done. He imagines that the problem is not the lack of useful alternatives, but the lack of Trump.
Actually, Kevin, it’s not the lack of Trump — it’s the lack of effective opinion leaders and political leadership. Trump is filling the void created by you and your colleagues in and around the centers of opinion making power — yes, over the course of decades.
Like millions of others, I’ve been a fan of the materials being produced by the conservative think tanks for over thirty years. As such, I’m familiar with the fact that there are, actually, a lot of simple, straightforward solutions to complex problems.
Many of the problems — especially the fiscally related problems — only look complex because conservative commentators and elected officials have failed to prevent them from becoming worse by the decade.
Here’s what Kevin and his friends don’t seem to understand: In order to win support for a policy change, the public must actually be exposed to the proposed policy change. The uninformed and misinformed need to be reached and minds need to be changed.
Just publishing articles in a magazine or on the web doesn’t get the job done.
I would have thought the popularity of the phrase “low information voters” a few election cycles ago would have caused conservative “intellectuals” to realize the simple fact that our side needs to bring more and better information to those lacking that information. But evidently that phrase is too complex.
Conservative “intellectuals” and elected officials alike should learn more about the basic reality of political communications by reading a set of easy-to-understand articles found here. A one-line introduction might be this: If people are not being reached, they won’t know about conservative solutions.
I’ve already addressed the simple fact that Trump’s various personal failures pale in comparison to the decades-long moral failing of conservatives to win the debate in the public square. And again I repeat, it’s a moral failure.
The problem is that while there is an effectively endless supply of stupid psychopaths, there is no secret cache of simple, straightforward solutions to complex problems just waiting in a filing cabinet somewhere in Washington until a sufficiently tough guy comes along willing to be as cruel and as vicious as the hour requires. We have plenty of cruel and vicious men in Washington. What we do not have is effective public policies.
Hey Kevin, those “cruel and vicious men in Washington” are a big part of the problem. We need to elect better people. I’m not sure why you’d write that those who think D.C. personnel is the problem are wrong.
And regarding the comment “secret cache of simple, straightforward solutions” — I don’t even know how to measure the ignorance of that statement. Kevin Williamson is right that it’s “secret” because conservatives have failed to fight the information war for decades. But it does exist, Kevin. Please, wake up to that reality.
So many are questioning Trump’s intellectual abilities even as they show their own amazing ignorance.
The question is, how do we make use of the policy proposals pumped out daily by dozens of state and national level conservative think tanks? How come the opinion elites don’t ask and answer that simple question? Should we all start to question their brain power — especially when we are talking about a lot of brains during several decades?
We can’t just post articles. Those policies need to be sold to the American public. What if people aren’t reading National Review and all of the other wonderful resources conservatives provide? Now we’re getting back to where we started — the crack-up of conservative pundits due to their failure to effectively fight the information war.
For a long time I’ve appreciated the work of Kevin D. Williamson, and no doubt will continue to excerpt and link to his writings on topics where his reasoning abilities aren’t so hobbled as they were in this excerpted article. As I wrote here, we need to forgive those having a Trump-related mental breakdown and pray for their speedy recovery.