‘Miles Taylor and His Fellow RINO Losers’
The gaggle of has-been and never-was Republicans threatening to leave the party will not be missed when they go.
Our old friend ‘Anonymous’ (who is hardly any less so after his anticlimactic unmasking) is at it again. Miles Taylor, the onetime petty apparatchik in the Department of Homeland Security—that famed bastion of “democracy,” “the rule of law,” and “principles”—is launching a new campaign to reassert such imperiled values in American public life.
“A Call for American Renewal,” which was hyped up with a press release of a news story in the New York Times on Tuesday before launching with a web campaign today, is the latest in a long parade of overblown and overfunded “principled conservative” institutions to crop up in D.C. during the Trump years.
The opening salvo is a mini-manifesto that clocks in just short of a thousand words, with 150 signatories the vast majority of whose names invite a monosyllabic response: “Who?” Still, there are some noted have-beens on the list, and every name that’s recognizable is a doozy. There’s Evan McMullin, the Mormon former CIA spook who launched a Bill Kristol-backed independent campaign for POTUS in 2016 after fellow bald American David French declined to run. There’s uber-Democratic financier turned short-lived White House comms director Anthony Scaramucci, who was even less graceful than most in exiting the Trump administration. There’s John Negroponte, the United States’ first ever Director of National Intelligence. There’s former Massachusetts governor, 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee, and 2020 GOP vanity primary challenger Bill Weld, the loathsome archetype of the upper-crust New England liberal. Co-founder of Redwood Grove Capital Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt V must see something fitting in the threat to break off from the GOP. There’s one-term congressman, Trump-supporter turned Trump-basher, and sometime child-support delinquent Joe Walsh. There’s Max Boot, who must be the only self-professed military expert—or the only person, for that matter—to wear a fedora unironically in 2021. There’s a William O’Reilly—William F. Buckley O’Reilly, that is—which must be the only situation in which the guy whose career crumbled in disgrace after sexual misconduct allegations is the one who can be upset to share a name with someone else.
Pseudo-Jeffersonian prose mixed with meaningless consultant jargon makes it read as you’d expect the Declaration to read if it were written by a beltway PR firm in the new millennium. “[W]hen in our democratic republic, forces of conspiracy, division, and despotism arise, it is the patriotic duty of citizens to act collectively in defense of liberty and justice,” is hardly a match for “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation”—but you can certainly tell it’s trying. “[W]ith a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” the signers of 1776 declared, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” 2021 doesn’t pack the same punch: “With abiding belief in the value and potential of every soul and with goodwill for all, we hereby dedicate ourselves to these principles and make common cause in the flourishing of this great nation and its diverse states, communities, and citizens.”
To what principles, exactly, do these dedicati swear? A list of 13 follows. (One can’t help but think that a more intelligent bunch might have trimmed the list down to a dozen, or even bumped it up to 14—anything to avoid a number that we don’t even put on elevators. As it is, we are handed an amusingly blunt omen.)
“Democracy” kicks it off, the descriptive paragraph for which insists that our dissidents “reject populism.” No consciousness of the irony here is apparent. Government by the people, sure. Government for the people—whoa there, buddy, slow down now. What are you, some kind of fascist?
“Founding ideals” follows:
the self-evident truth that all persons are created equal and free, having the same inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that it is the prerogative of all to make personal decisions in accordance with their free will. We, therefore, condemn all forms of bigotry such as racism, religious intolerance, sexism, and persecution based on sexual orientation.
Ah. Are those what the founders’ ideals were? I must have missed that day in history class.
“Constitutional order” is next, and our Republican rogues swear to “uphold the Constitution as the inviolable and collective contract protecting liberty and justice for all.” If the Constitution is inviolable, I think you ought to tell… well, frankly, everyone.
More dull platitudes ensue, a string of which delivers us to principle seven, “pluralism.” The signatories, we learn, “are committed to a pluralistic society defined by its ideals…” Well, which one is it?
The only vaguely economic principle is “opportunity,” and the word choice is promising. We begin: “We recognize open, market-based economies as consistent with our natural liberty and the optimal means of ensuring economic mobility and the allocation of scarce resources.” So close.
Next is “free speech”:
We reaffirm the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech and freedom of the press as essential to accountable government and the American way of life. We sustain the rights of individuals and private entities to exercise this freedom, even to express unpopular views, and condemn efforts to erode press freedom and public support for its vital role.
I am pleased to learn of the Call for American Renewal’s support for Julian Assange.
“Conservation” merits no objection. You get one, Taylor.
“Common defense & welfare” takes 51 words to convey what could be said in three: WE ARE HAWKS. (This, of course, is perhaps the starkest dividing line between security state functionaries like Taylor and the populists they reject.)
“Leadership” brings us home:
Having thrived in the abundance of a choice land, we believe that these United States must work in conjunction with friends and allies to advance worthy interests abroad and to promote freedom by example and with the judicious application of power.
Because 51 words wasn’t enough.
It’s all as pompous as it is inane. These people clearly fancy themselves heroes speaking truth to power (“truth” being another of the 13 principles) but the reality is something closer to Donald Trump’s very Donald Trump statement on them: “a group of RINOs and Losers” (among other things). They are convinced that they stand as the defenders of True Conservatism and Founding Ideals against the corrosive forces of right-wing populism. But it is not an unfair characterization to say that their ahistorical reading of the “founding ideals” of America extends no further than political liberalism, that they give no consideration to the common good—to say nothing of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”—which the actual Founders valued so highly, that by “democracy” they mean only a liberal proceduralism that provides no real guarantee of democratic government (it is hard for me to understand the sum of demos and kratos as anything other than “populism”), and that like the vast majority of their class for decades they have no qualms about sending American boys to die for their vague and hollow “principles” abroad.
They call themselves “pragmatists” ready to “restore a ‘common-sense coalition'” in American politics. They promise “to catalyze an American renewal, and to either reimagine a [Republican] party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.”
Apparently, they think their threat to leave the party if it does not revive the dead consensus has some kind of teeth. I say good riddance. The Founders would too.