Gail Collins is one of my very favorite columnists. Lately, I have especially enjoyed her weekly “Conversations” with Bret Stephens. Collins is liberal and Stephens is conservative-but-not-batshit-insane, so their Monday Times discussions have been both informative and entertaining.
We can all use some entertainment these days, so I thought I’d share some “highlights” from Monday the 10th.
The linked column began with a discussion of Trump’s recent speech to his golf club buddies. Both Collins and Stephens agreed that this “allegedly presidential speech” was really just a campaign rant about Joe Biden —” interspersed with reminders that the virus and everything that followed in its wake is ‘China’s fault.'”
Stephens pointed out that the President’s recent “Executive Orders” were unconstitutional (only Congress controls the nation’s purse). That was followed by the following exchange:
Gail: Before I had to listen to him address the nation via his cheering golf partners, I was going to ask you how far the Trump terribleness had driven you. We talk all the time about our mutual desire to clean out the White House. But what about the Senate? Are you rooting for a Republican majority? For Mitch McConnell? For Susan Collins? Tell all.
Bret Stephens: Gail, when it comes to Donald Trump’s Republican Party, I’m a reluctant member of the “destroy-the-village-in-order-to-save-it” school. Obviously I’d much rather see Susan Collins keep her seat than Mitch McConnell keep his post as majority leader, for the same reason that I want moderate Republicans to prevail within the party.
But the most important thing is for the G.O.P. to take such a shellacking in November that they will remember it as the political equivalent of an unsedated colonoscopy.
The thought of handing today’s iteration of the GOP the equivalent of an un-sedated colonoscopy cheered me immensely. I could almost forgive Stephens for some of what I consider his retrograde policy positions.
Stephens followed that zinger up with a good summary of what (the few remaining) rational, unTrumpian Republicans find so unacceptable in this administration:
The kind of Republican Party that didn’t think the term “family values” meant an enrichment scheme for Trump’s children and in-laws; that believed in the power of immigrants to refresh and reinvent the nation; that understood that Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un were the enemy, not Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer; that respected federalism even if it meant deferring to the wishes of Democratic governors and mayors; and that worshiped at the political altars of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, as opposed to P.T. Barnum and Archie Bunker.
Later, he excoriated the Trump supporters–the “Mark Levin types whose default setting is certitude and fury. And Sean Hannity types whose default is obsequiousness and fury. And Tucker Carlson types whose … ” Well, you know.
And– in yet another bodily reference– Stephens noted that
The only good thing that might have come from putting a libertine at the head of the G.O.P. was to get the party to unconstipate itself. And he couldn’t even get that right.
The column became more serious with a discussion of potential Biden running mates, and then concluded with the following exchange:
Gail: Whenever we get on this subject a wave of sadness overtakes me. Still yearning for Elizabeth Warren. But really, anybody who’s part of a change of administration would be OK by me in the long run. One thing I have to give Trump credit for is a general lowering of expectations.
Bret: Gail, rest assured that before the year is out he’ll lower them some more.
I keep thinking about that initial description of what is needed in November: a defeat that Republicans would experience as an un-sedated Colonoscopy.
Believe it or not, I know a lot of formerly dependable GOP voters who would be happy to contribute to such a defeat, if they thought it would lead to a resurrection of the party they had originally joined.
Personally, I’m with the guy in one of those “former Republican” ads who says he’d vote for a can of tomato soup if it would deliver the country from the chaos of Trump. It reminded me of my sister’s declaration that she’d vote for toenail fungus over Trump.
Our job is to make sure everyone who feels that way casts a vote, and that it gets counted!