It is popular in various dissident warrens to characterize mainstream conservatism as a collection of spineless sissies. Sometimes they are drawn as naive idealists who get taken by their more cynical opponents on the Left. Other times they are described as fools operating under a set of “principles” that make it impossible for them to fight the Left effectively. While some of that is certainly true, the reality is conservatism has been a cynical confidence game for a very long time.
Probably the best example of that truth of conservatism is Jonah Goldberg, formerly of National Review and now head of something called The Dispatch. For a couple of decades, Goldberg has played the role of affable right-wing dufus. He was the doughy, easy going every-man, who liked popular culture and goofing off, but was also one of those instinctively conservative guys. He was not going to quote Edmund Burke or even Bill Buckley in his posts. He would quote the Simpsons.
It was a great role for him to play, as he is no one’s idea of an intellectual, but he also has the disheveled goofball look popular in the movies. It was also an effective way to get people to overlook the fact that he was never a natural conservative or even much of a conservative. He was an actor playing a role. He started out in his acting career working for Ben Wattenberg, a far Left radical in the 1960’s and 1970’s, who got on the public television gravy train in the 1980’s.
Wattenberg was associated with the American Enterprise Institute, the symbol of conservative racketeering in Washington. This is the financial engine for the so-called neoconservatives, which means it is staffed with left-wing activists posing as conservatives, in order to promote an imperialist foreign policy agenda. They also peddle libertarian economics on behalf of their corporate sponsors. Ben Wattenberg was one of the first models to roll off their production line.
Goldberg was also a creation of AEI. It was his first job out of college, which is where he was paired up with Wattenberg to be trained as a subversive. Once ready for action, he was installed at National Review. He was then assigned the task of creating their on-line presence, which is where most people became aware of him. His frumpy every-man act became popular with a new generation of conservatives, looking for something more in line with the slacker culture than the Ivy League culture.
This is a good example of how a tiny group of people came to control the conservative establishment in the last century. In order for a conservative writer to get access to a conservative platform, it meant passing muster with a thicket of gatekeepers trained by and controlled by operations like AEI. If you wanted to write for NRO, it meant getting vetted by Jonah Goldberg. To write for the print side, it meant being vetted by some other think tank approved gatekeeper.
Of course, the main source of control was money. AEI and Heritage are the bottleneck in conservative fundraising. AEI brings in over 50 million in contributions each year, while Heritage hauls in close 100 million. They also control the flow of cash into hundreds of smaller, less well-known non-profits. These operations underwrite conservative publications and conservative book writing. They will bulk-buy a book, thus providing the writer with a nice royalty.
If all of this sounds like a racket, that’s because it is a racket. It is more cynical than that though, as the people running the rackets are terrible people. They lie about what they are doing, causing otherwise well intended people to support things that go against their stated interests. They con rich people into giving them money, which gets used to support the lifestyle of these grifters. They also use their power to attack anyone that challenges their hammerlock on official opposition.
A good recent example of this is something done by Jonah Goldberg. Back in 2018, a woman named Emerald Robinson got a scoop that many so-called conservative publications had been secretly taking cash from the tech monopolies. They were being paid to support the tech monopolies stranglehold on political discourse. Payola has always been a problem with Conservative Inc. and this looked the latest example of their penchant for pay-for-play shakedowns.
Now, Emerald Robinson was a reporterette for something called One America News Network (OANN), which is an independent media outlet that aims to serve the grassroots conservative. Their audience is the sort of people who support Trump because he is opposed by people like Jonah Goldberg. They are the talk radio crowd that skews more Huey Long than Bill Buckley. Robinson now works for Newsmax, another one of those types of operations.
Goldberg was dispatched to trash her, which he was happy to do. First, he trashed her personally on Twitter. Then he posted a piece on NRO, smearing her as a “failed-actress-turned-faux journalist” and an idiot. He also claimed she had no real evidence to support her claim. He finished by writing, “Look, I honestly suspect Robinson makes up many of her “sources” and that she’s a fake reporter while claiming to wage a war on “fake news.” That’s a serious charge.
It turns out that Goldberg was lying. Google was giving money to National Review and dozens of other so-called conservative operations. His paymasters at AEI were part of the operations to shower Conservative Inc. with payola, so they would do the bidding of the tech oligarchs. There’s simply no way Goldberg did not know this when he smeared Robinson, so his lies were conscious. They required forethought. He also lied when he knew all of his fellow racketeers knew he was lying.
The truth is, the people running Conservative Inc. are not just idealistic naifs being rolled by the bare-knuckled lefties in politics. They are not excessively principled ideologues playing by a set of rules that prevent them from winning. In reality, they are evil subversives grifting off the destruction of the country. They are selling out the people they claim to represent and they do it with enthusiasm. They are soulless grifters, willing to say and do anything to keep the con going.
What makes them especially evil is that they are preying on the most vulnerable people in the country. These are the average white people who have no representation in the halls of power. Mostly, they are happy to be left alone to live their lives. These are the people who trust the system. They are willing to trust others to look out for their interests in Congress and their state legislatures. The GrifterCons prey on these people like jackals, stealing their money and selling out their interests.
The thing that puts these people in a special category is the audacity of their conniving and grifting. When their perfidy is noted, they carry on as if they are the victims of some new pogrom. The American Right has been consumed by army of Judases swarming traditional America like a plague of locusts. Washington has been their playground, their Garden of Gethsemane, for generations now. The best the Right can hope for now is that these people are remembered as well as their inspiration.
A Sad Note: The proprietor of The Woodpile Report died last week. He was a great promoter of the sorts of content you find here. He had a big audience, so when he linked to someone, he sent a lot of traffic their way. I will forever be grateful for his support in linking to me on a regular basis. Rest in peace Ol’ Remus.
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