National Review

NRPLUS Conference Call with Rich Lowry and Representative Dan Crenshaw

(NRO Illustration: Elijah Smith)

Yesterday morning, NR editor in chief Rich Lowry spoke with Representative Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) to members of the NRPLUS group on a private conference call. The pair discussed the Democrats’ interest in impeachment, Dan’s goals in the House, his experience as a freshman congressman, and more.

Rich started the call, which coincided with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s announcement that he would be resigning as special counsel and closing the office, by asking about whether Democrats are gaining interest in impeaching President Donald Trump. Dan posited that impeachment does seem to be gaining momentum. The sad part, he explained, is that the Democrats are torn between impeachment and more investigations, and nowhere on that list is governing. In fact, they have no interest in governing: They just want to stalk the president at every turn. Dan said that he didn’t think that Mueller’s press conference would give them something they could latch onto, something that everyone could agree is an impeachable offense. Turns out, Dan was right: Mueller’s announcement was a restatement of the major findings of the report.

Next, Rich and Dan turned to Congressman Justin Amash’s (R., Mich.) comment that he believes Mueller’s report proves that Trump committed impeachable offenses. With his declaration that Trump should be impeached, he joined a very small group of Democratic congressman who have publicly supported impeachment. Dan isn’t buying it. “He reminds me of the guy who walks into the brief late and thinks he knows everything, then starts loudly commenting on what the platoon should do without really knowing what the heck he’s talking about.” It came really late, and Dan said he did not find it hard to digest the essence of the report in the initial few days, so he doesn’t understand why Amash waited so long. And given that Amash had waited so long, Dan would’ve appreciated better reasoning. Given that his reasoning was not explained, Amash’s declaration was little more than a plea for attention.

Rich then turned to Trump in general, asking Dan about how he thinks Trump is doing and what his general orientation to Trump is. Dan explained that it’s a little odd to run as a Republican in the Trump era, because the candidate is always walking the line with voters. Sometimes, voters ask if he supports Trump and look directly in his eye, and Dan has to say he supports Trump. Then there are some voters who are less concrete or obvious about their support, which causes him to revise his response. It’s a balancing act.

Next, Rich asked Dan about his perception of millennial socialism. “We’re always trying to figure that out,” Dan replied. He explained that it’s important to remember that people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) don’t actually know what socialism is, which is both good news and bad news. The good news is that, obviously, they’re not pursuing actual socialism, which is much worse. But it’s bad news because they’re uneducated and mixing up their words, which makes debate much harder. When they talk about socialism, they’re talking more about a welfare state. Those truly driven by “socialism” are lacking in an understanding of what it is and, for example, taking the wrong lessons from Nordic socio-economic systems. Nordic countries have no minimum wage, they’re more capitalistic, and they have a freer market. The only difference is that Nordic countries tax at a much higher rate and then give out more welfare benefits. So if these “new socialists” approached their defense of Nordic countries from this perspective, they would do a much better job of communicating exactly what they want.

Finally, Rich and Dan turned to some questions from the audience. First up was a question from a user about the Burkean question of whether a congressman should vote his conscience or vote with his constituents. Dan said that he sees it as a minor issue, because he told his constituents what he was going to stand for when he was first elected, which means that by their electing him, he is able to avoid most of that potential conflict in obligation. He did say, however, that he would most likely vote his conscience over what the mood is back in the district on some issues. But largely, he’ll take the temperature of the district and vote that way.

One user asked about what Dan’s major goal is. He said that he has two short-term goals and one long-term goal: In the short term, he hopes to focus on flood-mitigation infrastructure and the border, in the long term on entitlement reform. Rich piggybacked off that by asking two other questions, about whether Congress will deal with entitlements before there’s a debt crisis and whether Dan finds that Republican audiences still connect with the entitlements message. Crenshaw said that they do, and that solutions to the issue are out there. Especially with social security, it’s fairly easy to twist some dials and change the trajectory going forward. Political will is a different story, however, and Dan hopes that in Trump’s second term, he’s willing to take a look at that.

Rich and Dan continued with user questions, then discussed Dan’s perspective on his first year in Congress. If you missed the call, the audio is above. We look forward to seeing you on the next call!

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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