Politics & Policy

Down with the Administrative State

The most interesting moment of CPAC wasn’t Trump’s speech — it was Steve Bannon’s performance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.

Dear Reader (including all of you who send me fake e-mail saying this “news”letter isn’t perfect. Dishonest fake readers!),

I had to take a break from this “news”letter to listen to Donald Trump’s CPAC speech. Then, I had to feed the kid, who’s home sick. Then I had to . . . well, to make a long story short, I’m sitting in my car outside of Fox News in D.C. and I don’t have a lot of time left before the suits in New York start smashing my collection of National Review–themed hummels like Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours when he breaks the glasses at the cowboy bar. Charlie Cooke likes to call me on Skype and pretend to accidentally nudge one off the shelf for every 15 minutes I’m late. (“Oh dear, look at poor Russell Kirk, how shall we ever put him back together again?”)

So, I’m going to start fresh here and see how far I can get before I have to go on air.

When President Trump finally got around to talking about his agenda, I thought it was a very good — i.e., effective — speech. I disagree with all of the demonization of free trade and I thought his disparagement of his predecessors was no less shabby than when Obama said similar things. Also, I could do with less of the “blood of patriots” talk — more on all that in a moment. But if he does all the other stuff he talked about, I would be very happy.

Also, Trump delivered a good performance and it’s not shocking the crowd ate it up. One of the things the mainstream media doesn’t seem to fully appreciate is that just because Trump isn’t having a honeymoon with the press, the Democrats, or a good chunk of independent voters, that doesn’t mean he’s not having a very real honeymoon with Republicans. They want him to succeed and they want his “enemies” not just to lose, but to be humiliated (hence the popularity of Milo in some corners, and a chunk of my least friendly e-mail).

Indeed, I think there’s good reason to believe that the honeymoon is more intense precisely because Trump is under such a sustained assault. Something similar happened under George W. Bush when the Left lost its collective mind and did everything it could to undermine a wartime president. Conservatives — me included — out of a sense of both loyalty and anger rallied to Bush and had a tendency to overlook certain foibles and mistakes for the greater good. We may not be at war — at least not like we were in, say, 2005 — but the Left and the media are clearly at war with Trump. And because Trump often makes it difficult for his allies to defend him on ideologically or politically consistent terms, the attachment is often more emotional than rational. Ann Coulter titling her new book “In Trump We Trust” or, as Kellyanne Conway put it on Thursday, saying that CPAC should really be called “TPAC” (i.e., Trump-PAC) gets right to the heart of the situation. Politics on the right is increasingly about an emotional bond with the president.

Which brings me to Trump’s comments on the media and fake news. Trump said:

Remember this — and in not — in all cases. I mean, I had a story written yesterday about me in Reuters by a very honorable man. It was a very fair story.

There are some great reporters around. They’re talented, they’re honest as the day is long. They’re great.

But there are some terrible dishonest people and they do a tremendous disservice to our country and to our people. A tremendous disservice. They are very dishonest people.

You do see what he’s doing right? The guy who once literally pretended to be his own publicist hates anonymous sources? The guy who powered his way into politics by claiming “very credible sources” told him that Obama’s birth certificate was fake is upset by “fake news”?

I firmly believe that society should have some compassion for the transgendered. And that’s true whether you take transgenderism on its own terms or if you think it’s a disorder of some kind. Cuomo is right that people should err on the side of tolerance.

But you know who else we should have tolerance for? Twelve-year-old girls who don’t want to see male junk in the girls’ locker room. We should also have tolerance for parents who do not like the idea of their daughters going into bathrooms with cross-dressers or any other grown man who insists that he has a right to use the little girls’ room. And there are, by my rough calculation, 1 million times more people who fall into these latter categories.

Hard cases make for bad law. Life deals a lot of hard cases to people. The way the Founders got around the problem of hard cases is by pushing most questions down to the most local level possible. They were wary of trying to nationalize every issue. The Trump administration was entirely right to change the federal government’s guidance on this issue. They would be wrong, in a spirit of nationalism, to declare that every school, city, and state should follow a single “right-wing” policy toward the transgendered, just as it was wrong for the Obama administration to impose a single “left-wing” standard. If some communities come to different conclusions about how to handle the question, based upon local values, limited resources, etc., so be it. Who is to say that even the Wonder Twins of policymaking — Bannon and Priebus — can know better than a local school board or city council?

Various & Sundry

There’s still time to sign up for the National Review Institute Conservative Summit (where I will no doubt be condemned in absentia). Details, here.

For those interested and in town, the great Kathryn Lopez and the somewhat suspect Ryan Anderson (I kid, I kid) are doing some important events on assisted suicide.

My take on CPAC and Milo.

The media are not the enemy, but they also aren’t objective.

Canine Update: As I am running extremely late and even more long, I’ll be brief. Longtime readers may recall that when we first introduced Pippa, the Spaniel, to Zoë the Dingo, it did not go well. Zoë was determined to kill Pippa for about two very stressful months. Pippa is a lover (mostly of tennis balls and laps) not a fighter. Zoë is a death-dealing Carolina swamp dog. They now seem to love each other. But my wife, the Fair Jessica, has a worrisome, Agatha Christie–like theory or concern. The last two times she’s taken them to Scott’s Run in Virginia (a big park), Zoë has chosen a very worrisome moment to announce a surprise wrestling session. She’s waited until they were on a very high cliff or ridge to suddenly pounce on the poor Spaniel. Pippa doesn’t mind the wrestling, normally. But Jess is concerned that this is an elaborate scheme to do-in the Spaniel while maintaining plausible deniability. “It was accident!” doesn’t work when you’ve mauled a spaniel. But, it just might get a sign off from the canine homicide unit.

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