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What was “The Bulwark” Thinking?

by Darrick Johnson Read Profile arrow_right_alt

When the Weekly Standard met its end, Bill Kristol, Charlie Sykes and others established “The Bulwark”, ostensibly to “Conserve Conservatism”.  As a Trump skeptic, I usually find myself a lot more charitable to Kristol, Sykes, et al, than most.   In the subdivisons of conservatism, I’m usually a lot closer to Jonah Goldberg, and David French than Candace Owens and Sebastian Gorka.   All that to say, “The Bulwark’s shoddy coverage of CPAC” isn’t what I was expecting to write about this week.  But life is full of surprises. This week, for the CPAC conference, The Bulwark dispatched their self-described “token liberal”, Molly Jong-Fast to cover the event.    Instead of a conservative that could credibly assess the good, the bad, and the ugly from the conference this year, readers were treated to derisive, useless nuggets like this:

Reminder, nothing brought #NeverTrump closer to voting for Trump than the Kavanaugh slander.
“Ha, stupid troglodytes don’t want money going to Planned Parenthood.”
Sneer, sneer, sneer.
“Anti-choice” is really gonna help The Bulwark’s conservative bonafides.

I don’t have any beef with a liberal writer like Jong-Fast attending CPAC, and slagging it on twitter.  Some of the other snark on her timeline was even pretty funny. What I don’t understand is why on earth The Bulwark would send her as their representative.  

One of the most difficult things for me discussing politics today is convincing Trump supporters that disagreeing with Trump’s behavior, tactics, and yes, sometimes policy (ahem, trade) doesn’t mean we have become leftists.   If the goal of The Bulwark is to ‘conserve conservatism’, they desperately need to demonstrate to a Trump Derangement Syndrome weary audience that they are still actually conservative.

There is a lot not to like from CPAC these days. The degree to which the conference has become about Trump, not conservatism, is appalling.  Michelle Malkin’s posthumous attack on John McCain and George Bush was gross, and incredibly disappointing.  But why in the world wouldn’t you make that case by assigning a conservative, who cares about life, who cares about the 2nd amendment, who cares about border security, and who can clearly identify where CPAC is straying from conservative values?  Instead, they opted to send a liberal to sneer at the entire conservative movement. 

How did it work out? Trump skeptical conservative twitter was not a fan of the effort.

If The Bulwark wants to be the place the left can go to feel good about themselves while reading a ‘conservative’ publication, then they are hitting it out of the park.   If they actually want to “conserve conservatism”, they made a huge error this week. 

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