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 (Particularly the most morally upstanding sex robots among you),
I learned an important lesson about writing when I was a TV producer: The audience never knows what you don’t show them.
What I mean by this is that if you cut something — an interview, a graphic, a fantastic montage of Godzilla wearing a sun dress with Mel Tormé on his shoulder while fighting all of the denizens of Monster Island — the viewer (or reader) doesn’t know about it. The reason this is important is that the creator of any piece of work can never experience that work the same way the consumer can. When I read a long, edited essay or book I’ve written, I often can’t help but focus on the stuff that’s not there. I mourn all the “darlings” that had to be killed. But the audience can’t miss what it doesn’t know ever existed.
Anyway, I bring this up for two reasons. First, because I think this is a useful insight for young writers and others who tend to project their frustrations onto the reader.
Second, because I just cut an extended “Dear Reader” gag that replaced “Dear Reader” with “Dear Penthouse” and then went on an extended riff about a certain network-news lothario who gets a lot of action. “I never thought something like this would happen to me . . . ”
I thought it was funny, but upon rereading it, I also thought, “Hmmm . . . too soon.” Indeed, these stories are coming out too fast and are too raw for some people. So I killed it.
And now you know. Maybe one day when my Too Hot for an Obscure “News”Letter collection comes out, you’ll get to read it in full.
But now that I stand amidst the rubble of the shattered fourth wall, let’s start over.
The Unbearable Lightness of the Trump Agenda
Last week was quite a humdinger.
I’ll spare you the recap, on the assumption that, you, my brilliant and informed Dear Readers, are up to speed on the details.
Responding to the week’s events, the editors of The Weekly Standard write:
Everyone’s talking about the civil war in the Republican Party. It seems more like a surrender to us.
The great bulk of elected Republicans have surrendered to the forces of Donald J. Trump. And they didn’t even put up much of a fight. Has a hostile takeover of a historic institution ever been accomplished with less resistance?
The flag of surrender went up before many blows were even landed.
Not surprisingly, I agree with this.
What I find so shocking is not so much the capitulation but the terms of the surrender. Or, rather, I should say the term — singular — of surrender, because there seems to be only one requirement expected of Republicans: Lavish praise on Donald Trump no matter what he does or says. Or at the very least, never, ever criticize him. Policy is an afterthought.
Again, The Standard:
A reporter for Politico recently asked John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, for his views on a potential bipartisan compromise extending cost-sharing payments under Obamacare. “I’m with the president,” Cornyn told Seung Min Kim. When she asked him where, exactly, Trump is on the plan, Cornyn threw his hands in the air. So Cornyn doesn’t know what Trump’s position is — but he knows that he shares it.
The Trump agenda begins and ends with personal loyalty to Trump — not to the Trump agenda, but to the Trump personality.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some facts.
Trumpists in Name Only?
Because my first column this week argued for shunning Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, my Twitter feed was already acting like the industrial fan at the end of a sewer pipe. But after Ben Sasse’s comments on my latest podcast were picked up, that fecal mist felt like the cool zone at an amusement park by comparison.
Even the briefest tour of the grand continental landscape of asininity that materialized — on Twitter, in comment sections, etc. — would be like taking a walking tour through a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
But there is one cave of ignorance that’s worth spelunking with a lantern in hand. Countless people said Sasse should leave the Republican party because he’s a squish, a RINO, a Democrat, etc. As stupid as all that is, such statements seem like bon mots at the Algonquin roundtable compared to such acidic cranial flatulence as this:
Roy Moore is rather primitive and hateful.
Also, Ben Sasse is a traitorous, anti-white lefty who should leave GOP. https://t.co/TSU1UoT1ux
— N Tree (@ToTheFuture13) October 26, 2017
If this is the cause you want your party to surrender to, be my guest. I kind of thought conservatism and the Party of Lincoln stood for something more than one man’s fragile ego and the people determined to protect it. I prefer to fight. If you don’t like that, remember “But he fights!” can be a principle for everyone — for people without principles and also for those of us who have them.
Various & Sundry
It’s funny — after nearly two years of Zoë not caring one bit about tennis balls, she’s changed her position a bit, though not in a way that speaks entirely well of her. More and more often, she simply takes Pippa’s tennis ball and holds on to it so nobody can play. Pippa will never take it from her because she’s Belgium to Zoë’s Germany. It’s really pretty mean. On the other hand, when Pippa won’t take “No!” for an answer, it’s kind of nice to be bailed out by the Dingo. But then this morning, when Pippa was bringing me a tennis ball in the kitchen, Zoë, already jealous, got down off the chair, went into the living room, and found her own ball and brought it to me. I really hope this doesn’t evolve even more. The last thing I need is a legitimately ball-obsessed Dingo on my hands.
ICYMI . . .
And now, the spooky stuff.