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Kanye. Elon. Trump.
A look at the modern GOP.
I come to you now at the turn of the tide, a.k.a., the beginning of December, which means we are on one of the last few Jackals of the year. And while I had a longer take this week on something not currently in the headlines, it really will have to wait because KANYE WEST IS INSANE.
It has truly been a wild week in Kanye-world, partly because it has intersected with Trump-world. Over the weekend, Kanye and human ventriloquist dummy, Nick Fuentes, met with Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago to discuss…something? It’s not clear what, but there were reports that Kanye asked Trump to be his running mate in the 2024 election (you read that in the correct order, and if you’re still laughing, no one blames you). The meeting grabbed headlines for two reasons:
Kanye has discovered his inner anti-Semite over the past few weeks and Trump chose to meet with him in spite of that.
Fuentes is a vile and outspoken racist.
The GOP has been cozying up to Kanye for a while now mostly due to the fact that he is a big Trump supporter, but also because (let’s be honest) he is a prominent black man. Given that Republicans lose around 90% of the black vote in every election, they tend to hype up every black supporter they have, even if some of those guys are Kanye West and Herschel Walker (who is going to lose next week, spoiler).
Those facts are what ultimately led the Republican Judiciary Committee to post this tweet:
Keep that tweet in your head. After the Mar-A-Lago meeting, Kanye then headed over to Tim Pool’s podcast and promptly walked off the set after Pool pushed back on West’s anti-Semitism. Side note about Pool: He is known for being hilariously stupid in very embarrassing ways. I’ll give three examples:
Pool lamented the fact that he was in his 30s and still single, and attributed this to feminism. He said, out loud: “I think it’s crazy that I’m about to be 34 and I have no family. Because my Dad had two kids by the time he was 27. And I’m just like, ‘Man…’ But, the problem is though…it’s definitely not me. I think it’s everybody else.”1
Pool predicted that Trump would win 49 states in the 2020 election, and flirted with the idea of him winning all 50. Seriously. You do not have to be even a little bit smart to know that was the dumbest possible prediction to make in 2020.
Pool said this:
A few hours later, Kanye would go on Alex Jones’s show and praise Hitler and the Nazis. Then Tim said this:
Later that night, Kanye would post a picture of a Swastika on Twitter and get himself banned. Following these events, the House Judiciary Committee deleted its tweet that said, “Kanye. Elon. Trump.” But that’s kind of sad, because nothing encapsulates the modern day GOP more than that tweet. This sort of goes back to what I said after the midterms, but there really is no Republican Party to speak of. What currently exists is a Republican media empire, and a political Party that sometimes reacts to that empire. That’s it. Ask yourself: What is the GOP’s major policy, right now? What is something that defines them?
A lot of Trump supporters would probably say, “America First.” But that gets to my point: That is, in fact, the name of Fuentes’s entire movement. He walks around town, waving his finger in the air (this means if you are 5’4, his finger almost reaches your chest), and yells, “CHRIST IS KING.” A lot of Republicans are condemning Fuentes now, but he fits in snuggly with the current GOP.
Although Republicans were slow to condemn Trump’s meeting with Fuentes and Kanye over the weekend, by Monday morning more people within the Party were starting to speak up. Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of them:
But she previously spoke at Fuentes’s conference and refused to apologize for it.
Here is the thing about Greene: Lots of Republicans in Congress want to pretend like she is just a loon in a particularly nutty wing of the Party. But that’s not true. She is the GOP’s second-biggest fundraiser behind Trump. Kevin McCarthy - who assumes he will be Speaker in January, which is a big assumption - has said he will be restoring her to Committees after previously banning her because videos surfaced of her referring to, “Jewish space lasers” starting wildfires in California.
Greene isn’t some obscure person that liberal media props up to tarnish Republicans. She has more followers on Instagram than the Republican National Committee. She certainly better represents the current GOP than Kevin McCarthy does, and you can also apply that to other “good” Republicans like Mitt Romney and Susan Collins.
A main criticism of the Left has been that they were too “extremely online,” which led them to support policies that were unpopular with the majority of normal Americans (see: “Defund the Police”). But, as evidenced by the midterm results, it’s actually the GOP that has that problem. It would have been nuts for a Republican House Committee to tweet out, “Kanye. Elon. Trump.” under John Boehner because it doesn’t matter to the overwhelming majority of Americans. That GOP (which wasn’t exactly sane either) would be talking about political issues that matter to their constituents, like how they would combat inflation and outrageous spending by the Biden Administration. Their eye would be on the ball, so to speak. Instead the current GOP’s eyes are on whatever gets conservative eyeballs, be it Kanye, Musk’s takeover of Twitter, or Critical Race Theory.
It’s important to note that Kanye’s recent media exposure sort of began with Tucker Carlson, who gave West a platform on his show. Fox News viewers got to sit there and watch Kanye lament about the fact that he was being “canceled,” but what got omitted is that Tucker edited out West’s anti-Semitic comments from the interview. Here’s a quick sample:
In other words, Carlson knew that West was saying anti-Semitic things first-hand, and chose to air the interview anyway. Why? Eyeballs.
In a must-read piece (that is currently free!), AllahPundit asks his readers if they are “embarrassed” to call themselves conservatives, because he sure is:
If I told you that a once and possibly future president held court with two famous Jew-baiters, you’d be mortified. But if I told you that one of those Jew-baiters was America’s most famous African American hip-hop star and his sidekick was a dweeby white nationalist incel, you’d find it hard to take seriously. The MAGA establishment is an endless freak show, and freak shows are scary—but also ridiculous.
Many memorable moments of the Trump era are like that. When I think back on them, it’s less a linear progression than a vertiginous kaleidoscope of preposterous yet sinister cringe. It’s an irreligious Trump holding up a Bible after pushing protesters out of Lafayette Park. It’s hair dye running down Rudy Giuliani’s face while conniving to overturn a national election. It’s Mike Lindell punctuating endless rants about voting machines to hawk pillows. It’s Sean Spicer bellowing that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest in history despite photographic proof to the contrary. It’s Steve Bannon in four layered collared shirts casually revealingTrump’s “Stop the Steal” plot in advance. It’s Kyle Rittenhouse walking out to virtual confetti and fireworks at a Turning Point USA event. It’s Kash Patel pushing conspiracy theories about the 2020 outcome in a children’s book. It’s grandmas and grandpas turning out for Trump rallies in “Q” tie-dye. It’s cop-punching goons carrying “Thin Blue Line” flags outside the Capitol on January 6. It’s anti-vaxxers dosing themselves with deworming medicine as a folk cure for COVID.
It’s everything that comes out of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s mouth. It’s morally offensive but also viscerally embarrassing. It’s corny, repellent cringe. And it’s getting worse as the leader of the party recedes deeper into narcissistic delusion to cope with his momentarily diminished relevance and fear of prosecution.
Read the piece. I cannot say that enough. He concludes by saying that although Ron DeSantis probably won’t be hosting Fuentes and Kanye over for dinner, he probably won’t be denouncing them all that strongly either because - like it or not - Fuentes is representative of a GOP constituency. Trump initially refused to condemn David Duke in 2016 because, “A lot of these people vote.” “These people” are now part of the GOP. There is an old graphic that I like to use because I think it sums up the GOP’s problem:
But I’m not sure how accurate the image is, because the T-Rex seems to be the current GOP alive and messing with it. It’s playing with its food.
The fundamental problem with Trump’s stratospheric rise within Republican politics is that he brought along a lot of the “undesirables” with him into the GOP (some people would call them “deplorables”). And they aren’t going anywhere, as evidenced by Greene’s prominence within the GOP, but also the elevation of Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and basically the entire Trump family. In a recent podcast, Charlie Sykes and Peter Wehner reflected on how William F. Buckley went on a long crusade to purge the conservative movement of anti-semitism, which was led by the John Birch Society at the time. They basically said the current GOP needs to do the same.
It’s, of course, the right idea, but no should expect them to succeed. Buckley was able to nuke the Birchers because they essentially had no support within conservative media, which then consisted of a few newspapers and magazines in D.C. But this is no longer 1970 and the Internet exists, so there are now un-nuke-able havens of anti-vaxxers, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists who all want to (or already do) call the GOP home. It is an infestation that is probably too big of a job for a single exterminator. When the Tea Party first showed up, Andrew Sullivan used to say the same thing over and over again about the GOP: “It’s has to get worse before it gets better.” That is applicable now, and it’s important to note, we are not at the bottom yet. Not by a long shot.
In light of the foregoing and the current spot the GOP finds itself in, I think it is only fitting to end with this tweet:
I’ll be back for one more real Jackal before the end of the year, and hopefully some gift recommendations too. See you all next week.
Look, being single later on in life is nothing to be ashamed of and maybe Tim will settle down one day. But it takes a stunning lack of self-awareness to say, “It’s definitely not me.”