WASHINGTON: A lot of ink has been spilled by right-leaning commentators condemning the bow tie-festooned champion of tired, mid-century modern conservatism, George F. Will. George F. Will rages against the populist Trump Revolution and Vice President Mike Pence.
Taking his marbles and going home
You may recall that Will, a never-Trumper, abandoned the Party of Lincoln after rank-and-file GOP voters rejected the party’s traditional Republican candidates – bloody chum buckets for the gaping maw of the great white shark Hillary Clinton – and, instead, chose the eminently electable Donald J. Trump.
Denouncing Vice President Mike Pence
Recently, Will wrote that Vice President Mike Pence displays a “talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness,” which has made him “America’s most repulsive public figure.”
Why all the contempt? Pence’s loyalty to the president, that’s why.
With Trump having picked Pence to be “a heartbeat from the presidency,” the vice president has been known to express his gratitude for the honor. “I’m deeply humbled,” Pence has been heard to say.
Saving stagnant conservatism
What bothers Will is the relegation of tarnished and ineffectual conservatism to its new role as second banana to Trump’s vibrant, combative and relevant America-first populism.
Since many conservatives have short memories, it’s important to remind them that Will was less than enthusiastic about Ronald Reagan’s 1976 primary run against the incumbent – appointed, not elected – Republican President Gerald R. Ford; the low-energy Jeb Bush of his day.
“His hair is still remarkably free of gray,” Will said of Reagan, “But around the mouth and neck he looks like an old man. He’s never demonstrated substantial national appeal, his hard-core support today consists primarily of the kamikaze conservatives who thought the 1964 Goldwater campaign was jolly fun. And there’s a reason to doubt that Reagan is well suited to appeal to the electorate that just produced a Democratic landslide.”
The Reagan Revolution
Ford went on to lose both the popular vote and in the Electoral College to peanut farmer and former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter. Let that sink in a second… Jimmy Carter.
A short four years later, Reagan defeated Carter by 8,417,992 popular votes. Also garnering 489 votes in the Electoral College to Carter’s meager 49.
What became known as the “Reagan Revolution” was nothing less than bipartisan, America-first populism mistaken for conservatism.
Republicans would not see that flame rekindled until the election of Donald Trump.
A test of wills
And that gets us back to Pence. In 2016, the American Conservative Union (ACU) gave Pence a 99 out of a possible 100 percent rating, saying he was the most conservative vice president “the country has seen in 50 years.”
That, apparently, isn’t good enough for Will.
Back when President Obama was running for a second term, Will condemned GOP rival Mitt Romney for allowing Trump to host a fundraising event. “What voter is going to vote for him [Romney] because he is seen with Donald Trump?” Will asked on ABC’s “This Week.”
A prescient Trump
What Trump tweeted back was prescient:
“George Will may be the dumbest (and most overrated) political commentator of all time. If the Republicans listen to him, they will lose.”
In 2016, the GOP’s conservative voters stopped listening to George F. Will and started listening to Trump. And that may be the true source of Will’s rage at Vice President Pence; watching stagnant, directionless conservatism hitch its wagon to the winning, dynamic and populist Trump Revolution.
Top Image: Washington Post columnist George F. Will explains to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell
why Vice President Pence has joint America’s deplorables. MSNBC screen capture.