Books, Politics

From Party of Ideas to Party of Dittoheads

Editor’s Note: This is excerpted from The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right, by Max Boot, 288 pages, Liverlight (October 9, 2018). 

The modern history of the Republican Party is a warning to be careful of who you pretend to be, because sooner or later you will become that person. Republicans have long flirted with populism, conspiracy-mongering, and know-nothingism. This is why they became known as the “stupid party.” Stupidity is not an accusation that could be hurled against such early Republicans as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root and Charles Evans Hughes. But by the 1950s, it had become an established shibboleth that the “eggheads” were for Adlai Stevenson and the “boobs” for Dwight D. Eisenhower—a view endorsed by Richard Hofstadter’s 1963 book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, which contrasted Stevenson, “a politician of uncommon mind and style, whose appeal to intellectuals overshadowed anything in recent history,” with Eisenhower—“conventional in mind, relatively inarticulate.” The Kennedy presidency, with its glittering court of Camelot, cemented the impression that it was the Democrats who represented the thinking men and women of America.

Rather than run away from the anti-intellectual label, Republicans embraced it for their own political purposes. In his “time for choosing” speech, Ronald Reagan said that the issue in the 1964 election was “whether we believe in our capacity for self- government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant Capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” Richard M. Nixon appealed to the “silent majority” and the “hard hats,” while his vice president, Spiro T. Agnew, issued slashing attacks on an “effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals” and the “nattering nabobs of negativism.” (The latter phrase, ironically, was written by speechwriter William Safire, who would go on to establish a reputation as a libertarian columnist and grammarian for the conservatives’ bête noire, The New York Times.) William F. Buckley Jr. famously said, “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the 2,000 faculty members of Harvard University.” More recently, George W. Bush joked at a Yale commencement: “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students I say, you, too, can be president of the United States.”

Many Democrats took all this at face value and congratulated themselves for being smarter than the benighted Republicans. Here’s the thing, though: the Republican embrace of anti-intellectualism was, to a large extent, a put-on—just like their espousal of far-right rhetoric on the campaign trail. In office they proved far more moderate and intelligent. Eisenhower may have played the part of an amiable duffer, but he may have been the best prepared president we have ever had—a five-star general with an unparalleled knowledge of national security affairs. When he resorted to gobbledygook in public, it was in order to preserve his political room to maneuver. Reagan may have come across as a dumb thespian, but he spent decades honing his views on public policy and writing his own speeches. Nixon may have burned with resentment of “Harvard men,” but he turned over foreign policy and domestic policy to two Harvard professors, Henry A. Kissinger and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, while his own knowledge of foreign affairs rivalled Ike’s.

There is no evidence that Republican leaders have been demonstrably dumber than their Democratic counterparts. During the Reagan years, the GOP briefly became known as the “party of ideas” because it harvested so effectively the intellectual labor of conservative think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, and publications like The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Commentary. Scholarly policymakers such as George P. Shultz, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, and Bill Bennett held prominent posts in the Reagan administration, a tradition that continued into the George W. Bush administration— amply stocked with the likes of Paul D. Wolfowitz, John J. Dilulio Jr., and Condoleezza Rice. This was the Republican Party that attracted me as a teenager in the 1980s and maintained my loyalty for decades to come.

In recent years, however, the Republicans’ relationship to the realm of ideas has become more and more attenuated, as talk-radio hosts and television personalities have taken over the role of defining the conservative movement. The Republicans’ populist pose has become all too real. A sign of the times is that Bill Bennett, possessor of a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and a JD from Harvard Law School, stoops to attack George Will, a Princeton PhD, for his criticism of Vice President Mike Pence, by mocking his “penchant for writing columns filled with big words that most Americans never use and can’t even define.” Presumably, a dictionary counts as elitist foppery.

The turning point in the Republican transformation was the rise of Sarah Palin after John McCain made the mistake of selecting her as his running mate in 2008—a move that he later regretted. (He wished that he had selected his friend, Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, instead.) Palin showed that she was a dim bulb when she was asked during the campaign which sources she relied on for the news. Caught off-guard, she could not answer, and had to deflect with unconvincing generalities: “I have a vast variety of sources.” This was akin to an admission that she did not read newspapers or magazines beyond, possibly, Field & Stream or Guns & Ammo. I can’t say I was terribly surprised. As a McCain foreign policy advisor, I had briefed her and found her to be uninterested in foreign policy issues. (The most memorable takeaway from our meeting at a midtown Manhattan hotel was that she wore earrings in the shape of the state of Alaska.)

Palin’s lack of preparation for high office could perhaps be excused as the provincialism of a small-state governor who had not asked for the national spotlight. (Alaska’s population is smaller than San Francisco’s.) But rather than return to her duties after the election, or try to educate herself on the issues, Palin resigned as governor in 2009 and sought to cash in on her celebrity by becoming a full-time media personality. She proceeded to litter the land with inanities that have few parallels in our history. She even invented a new word—“refudiate” (by conflating “repudiate” and “refute”)—and tried to suggest that she was a Shakespearean sage who was enlarging our vocabulary. A sample of Palin’s other bizarre statements: Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists; But obviously, we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies; We can send a message and say, ‘You want to be in America, A) You’d better be here legally or you’re out of here. B) When you’re here, let’s speak American’; I think on a national level, your Department of Law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we’ve been charged with and automatically throw them out. (There is no “Department of Law” in the White House, or anywhere else.)

Conservatives applauded this inanity, making Palin one of the biggest stars on the right-wing rubber-chicken circuit, until she was eclipsed by the rise of the even more vulgar and vacuous Donald Trump. Their rise indicates that the GOP truly has become the stupid party. Its primary vibe has become one of indiscriminate, unthinking, all-consuming anger.

That anger is stoked by the “alternative media” of the right, whose origins can be traced back to the founding of the newspaper Human Events in 1944, Regnery Publishing in 1947, and National Review in 1955. In later years, two publishing houses— Basic Books and The Free Press—played an important role in producing works of conservative scholarship, including many tomes that I read while growing up, such as Alan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, Charles Murray’s Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980, George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty, and James Q. Wilson’s Bureaucracy.

But the alternative media did not become a mass phenomenon until Ronald Reagan’s Federal Communications Commission decided in 1987 to stop enforcing the “fairness doctrine,” a 1949 policy that required all television and radio broadcast outlets to present both sides of controversial public issues. This deregulatory move made possible the debut in 1988 of Rush Limbaugh’s national radio show, which did not pretend to offer anything but a conservative perspective on the news. Revealingly, Limbaugh called his fans Dittoheads, because they mindlessly echoed his prejudices—or he theirs; the pandering went both ways. Many other right-wing “talkers” followed.

I worried about the impact of the talk-show populists as far back as 1994, when I wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined “Down with Populism!” shortly after Republicans had taken control of the House for the first time in 40 years. I argued that the GOP should not “‘Rush’ to embrace talk show democracy” because of the dangers of mob rule. I quoted my boyhood favorite, H. L. Mencken: “Least of all do I admire the puerile, paltry shysters who constitute the majority of Congress. But I confess frankly that these shysters, whatever their defects, are at least appreciably superior to the mob.” The expression of mob rule I was most worried about was a new conservative TV network called National Empowerment Television (which has long since faded away). I had no idea that Fox News Channel would be founded in two years’ time, and that it would make my worst fears of populism run amok come true. Coincidentally, 1996 also was the year that the Drudge Report, an online bulletin board for right-wing fever dreams, was launched.

Limbaugh, Fox, and Drudge still remain three of the most popular outlets on the right, but they have been joined by radio hosts such as Mark Levin and Michael Savage, celebrity authors and talking heads such as Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos and Dinesh D’Souza, and websites such as Breitbart News, TheBlaze, Infowars, and Newsmax. The original impetus for these outlets was to offer a different viewpoint that people could not get from the more liberal TV networks, newspapers and magazines. But soon, the alternative media moved from propounding their own analyses to concocting their own “facts,” incubating of outlandish conspiracy theories such as “Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster,” “Barack Obama Is a Muslim,” or even “Michelle Obama Is a Man.”

The career of Dinesh D’Souza, one of the right’s biggest media stars in spite of being a convicted felon (who has now been pardoned by President Trump), is indicative of the downward trajectory of conservatism. After a checkered career in conservative journalism at Dartmouth, he made his name with Illiberal Education, a well-regarded 1991 book published by The Free Press, which denounced political correctness and championed liberal education. Then he wrote a widely panned 1995 book, also from The Free Press, claiming that racism was no more. It was all downhill from there. In 2014 he pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws. More recently, as the Daily Beast notes, he has become a conspiratorial crank who has suggested that the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was staged by liberals and that Adolf Hitler, who sent 50,000 homosexuals to prison, “was NOT anti-gay.”

D’Souza managed to sink even lower in February 2018, by mocking stunned Parkland school-shooting survivors after the Florida legislature defeated a bill to ban assault weapons: “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.” He was joined in this repugnant japery by Laura Ingraham, who made fun of school-shooting survivor David Hogg for not getting into the college of his choice (she later apologized), and by Jamie Allman, a Sinclair broadcasting commentator who was fired for saying that he would like to sexually assault Hogg with a “hot poker.”

It is hard to imagine anything more cruel and heartless, but for these opportunists it’s all in a day’s work. As D’Souza wrote in his 2002 book Letters to a Young Conservative, “One way to be effective as a conservative is to figure out what annoys and disturbs liberals the most, and then keep doing it.” That, in a nutshell, is the credo of today’s high-profile conservatives: Say anything to “trigger” the “libtards” and “snowflakes.” The dumber and more offensive, the better. Whatever it takes to get on (and stay on) Fox News and land the next book contract. Hence outbursts such as this tweet from Fox News’ 25-year-old blonde commentator Tomi Lahren: “Let’s play a game! Go to Whole Foods, pick a liberal (not hard to identify), cut them in line along with 10–15 of your family members, then take their food. When they throw a tantrum, remind them of their special affinity for illegal immigration. Have fun!” (I only mention Lahren’s appearance because the employment of female hosts with short skirts, and preferably blonde hair, is an integral part of Fox’s strategy to attract the elderly white men who form its core audience.)

Such rhetorical sallies are as lucrative as they are illogical. D’Souza has grossed tens of millions of dollars with documentaries attacking Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as anti-American subversives. Sean Hannity makes roughly $30-million a year and flies on his own private jet, even while railing against “overpaid” media elites.

Naturally, just as drug addicts need bigger doses over time, these outrage artists must be ever more transgressive to get the attention they crave. Ann Coulter’s book titles have gone from accusing Bill Clinton of High Crimes and Misdemeanors to accusing all liberals of Treason, of being Godless and even Demonic. Her latest assault on the public’s intelligence was called In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!

If this is what mainstream conservatism has become—and it is—count me out.


Max Boot is a historian, best-selling author, and foreign-policy analyst. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for the Washington Post, and a Global Affairs Analyst for CNN. This article is excerpted, with the author’s permission, from The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left The Right, released this month by Norton/Liveright.


  1. Yes, but … compared to what? Mainstream academia/media/punditry from The Left in the USA is at least as bad *today* — riddled with partisan motivated reasoning, junk science, and political correctness. Conservatives like Max Boot don’t seem to have added much light to the situation, especially by their angry anti-Trump rants — which often avoid dealing with the underlying *reasons* for The Right’s current MAGA obsession. We need to get *beyond* the current Left/Right dogmas and create a new consilience rooted in reason, evidence, and arguments. Let’s hope his new book offers a path forward.

    Good for Quillette to run this piece.

    • Boot’s little book will not offer a new path forward, he is a neo-con shill for the Council on Foreign Relations. But if you believe the multinationals offshoring all manufacturing to countries with no environmental or labor laws, endless wars, American troops stationed in over 100 countries, and a global consumerist monoculture are a way forward, then I’m sure you’ll love it.

      • peterschaeffer says

        The idea that Max Boot is/was a “well-regarded” Republican will come as a surprise to quite a few folks. He is generally known as a Neocons, Neocon. In other words, a foreign interventionist extremist.

        If the Democrats want him, they can have him. My guess is that most Democrats won’t be thrilled about Darth Vader joining their party.

        In real life, liberal Democrats hate him (for good reason). See “Imperialism”

        See also “Neoconservatives Like Max Boot Are the Last People We Should Listen to About Russia – The champions of the Iraq war want to pull us into a catastrophic new conflict”

        Here are some typical Max Boot articles.

        “Washington Needs a Colonial Office” (FT 7/3/2003) or

        “The case for American empire, the most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role” (Weekly Standard 10/2001)

        Here is the bottom line. Max Boot is deeply upset by Trump because Trump has no interest in Max Boot’s endless wars. Of course, reservations about endless war aren’t limited to Trump. Obama clashed with Hillary over this issue and (sadly) she prevailed.

        Let me quote from Boot

        “Ryan’s retirement signals the final repudiation of an optimistic, inclusive brand of Reaganesque conservatism focused on enhancing economic opportunity at home and promoting democracy and free trade abroad.”

        In other words, Bushism. Perhaps Boot doesn’t remember that Bush wasn’t exactly a success, anywhere.

        What’s worse is that Boot is joining the Democrats at the point where the Democratic party (and the media, left, academia, etc.) have gone crazy with identity politics of all kinds.

        • Matt Beatty says

          Nice Ad Hominem, I guess. Do you have anything to say about the ideas presented in this article? Or are you just banking on the readers of your comment being as disinterested in critical thinking as you evidently are?

          • Bob Neumann says

            I’ll summarize Mr. Boot’s ponts: Sarah Palin is dumb. All conservatives who support her are dumb and angry. Their anger is stirred up by Rush Limbaugh, Drudge and Fox News. The worst example is Dinesh D’Souza a terrible criminal. My reply to Mr. Boot, and note that I’m strictly avoiding ad hominem every bit as much as he did in his piece: I like Sarah Palin, and she’s not dumb, I’m not dumb, and you, Mr. Boot are the dumb one. I am angry, but I was made angry by a smear against a pro-life cause that I witnessed with my own eyes, about 15 years before I ever heard of Limbaugh or Fox News or Drudge. What I hear from those sources merely re-affirms what I already know: leftists are dangerous liars. And now I’m angry at you too, so THERE! And finally, yes, Dinesh D’Souza was in fact convicted of a felony and sentenced to light jail time, the first person in history ever to be pursued for felony jail for a minor example of a very common infraction of FEC regulations. So rather than giving me repulsion at Mr. D’Souza, I instead experience admiration for him, for daring to criticize the anointed President B. Hussein Obama. Note that I avoided ad hominem just as much as dear BootMeister.

          • Ya, seems a little one sided. How about Fauxcahontas’ claims that she is still totally Native American and than Trump is racist and anti-indigenous for correctly telling her that she isn’t? How about Maxine Waters, Corey Booker, and various other Democratic ilk continuing to call for violent, public confrontation of Republican office holders and supporters? How about Nancy Pelosi claiming that MS-13 gang members, whose motto is “Kill, Rape, Control”, have a “spark of divinity”. I’ll stay Republican and be better off without Max Boot.

    • peanut gallery says

      The left has leapt up to equal them in stupidity at this point. I actually sort of miss just being able to rag on Republicans, but the Democrats have decided the to hitch themselves to progressives, whom seem to generally dislike Western Civilization and are collectivist authoritarians. An unpleasant combination.

      I won’t pretend that one party is more clean than the other, any career politician should probably be fired. Out of a cannon. Into the sun.

      I very much dislike the direction the left has taken, but I think auto-throwing in with Republicans out of spite, isn’t the way forward. Both parties need to be discarded as useless to real progress. YMMV.

      • Circuses and Bread says

        @peanut gallery

        You’re right that both political factions being useless to real progress. But let’s take it a step further: is politics itself really helping us? When was the last time politics did anything really useful in our lives, especially given the ungodly amount of money and effort we throw at it?

        • Going full anarchist, eh? Have fun with your Antifa playmates.

          • Beau Taylor says

            Antifa are NOT anarchists. They hold communist ideals and fight for a “collective”. Please do not let neomarxist control language.

  2. petros says

    I think it was E.P. Thompson who said, “History is the record of unintended consequences.”

    I get the feeling from Das Boot that he is taking history quite personally, that it all fits together for him in a sordid and very much intended series perpetrated by the grubby people he doesn’t like.

    I wish him happiness on his immigration Leftward. I wish I could say I’ll miss him, but I didn’t know he was on the Right to begin with, so….

      • peterschaeffer says

        It would be wrong to describe Max Boot as being on the right or left. The expression “you can’t fix crazy” might be a better descriptions. The following is from Michael Brendan Dougherty.

        “Meanwhile, the advocates of a hawkish and idealistic foreign policy are abandoning the GOP. Bill Kristol is alienated from his longtime political home. I recall fondly a meeting of the Philadelphia Society where Max Boot said America should make a 50-year commitment to Iraq, as it had to Japan and Germany. A student stood up and asked why we should stay there into his 70s, provoking a mixture of laughter and hooting. It was a foreshadowing of what was to come. Now Boot has written a book about his disaffection from conservatism. He’s not alone.”

  3. Vincent Vega says

    Being mean and vicious appeals to a part of our nature and it’s an effective political strategy. The current occupant of the White House is not there despite his atrociously base character, he’s there because of it.

  4. Conservatives may be too trusting at times. The author pointed to Ann Coulter writing “In Trump We Trust”, but the same Ann Coulter turned on Trump a short time later, joining in calls to impeach him.

    They also trusted John McCain at one point. Turns out “maverick” is just a euphemism for “closet Democrat”. As a former McCain foreign policy adviser, Max Boot should know.

  5. I think the author over-reads into the situation. I suspect the repeated and intentional “triggering” of our Left-leaning American comrades is bottled up “so-how-does-it-feelism.” For 8 years, if anyone Right leaning (and even some centrist Left leaning) made any remark about the positions of Obama/Pelosi/Reid they were blasted as racist. After all, you cannot possibly disagree with anything like the Iran deal, or ACA unless it was because Obama is black! There was no other option! So after most of a decade being forced to bottle up any criticism or feedback it came to a head. Now, many laugh with glee that they can turn the tables and drop a little bomb and make the anti-Trumpers/Left’s head explode and feed their non-stop Twitter-ragefests. Fake News! and they all go a-Twitter only to get setoff again when you say “so..did you see NBC have to retract their fake-news about Trump praising Robert E Lee?”

    Many Center and Right had to bottle up that rage because of the kafkatrap laid when called a racist or a homophobe or any other slanderous name during President Obama’s tenure. The Left gets to have their eyes burst out and blather like Tourette’s sufferers which is amusing. I’ll freely admit I get some satisfaction when I taunt them with things the current administration does that even I don’t agree with…simply to watch the “but..but TRUMP!” reaction. Hell, I had a radical family member in all the tizzy in the grocery store when they mentioned they wanted to buy local honey and American made rawhide for their dog. But…you’re white! I pointed out. And you’re acting Nationalist…you’re…you’re…a WHITE NATIONALIST! And when I got the “no i’m not, I have plenty of black/foreign friends” I gave them the “ah HA!” response i’ve seen them give Right-wingers forced to defend themselves against the “racist like Trump” label. Much glee…yes, very entertaining it was.

  6. Sharon says

    “. . . a columnist for the Washington Post, and a Global Affairs Analyst for CNN. ”

    There goes the neighborhood.

    • Exactly. Maybe we can make Claire promise not to publish tripe from the Council on Foreign Relations again, as Foreign Affairs does that quite well already. I would love to know the reasoning behind this being posted on here.

  7. ATate says

    Yes, where would we be without more amazing ideas like” Invade Iran” or Vote for Stalin” instead of Trump? All fantastic ideas Max.

    I’d be pissed off too if all those little racist rednecks I’d been sneering at my entire life wouldn’t just STFU and vote for the losing horses (McCain, Romney, Rubio) Max backed.

    I love how Max names all the people that I, and many like me, never listen to. I think they’re all half-wits and entertainers. Just like you Max.

    Maybe the left will be amazed, thrilled, enthralled, and mystified by your amazing skill of distilling us all down to “racists” or “white supremacists”. Your new friends will get tingles in their special purpose at your constant harrumphing and scoffing at the deplorable’s and Trump.

    More of the same nauseating flapdoodle, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard a hundred times over from your betters.

  8. Not to be closed minded but…. MAX BOOT, Quillette??? Seriously?!? Dude is war mongering, war hawking, neo-conniest of the neo-con clan! So, should we expect William Kristal or Richard Perl next? He can paint himself as a woke, ex-rightest all day long but I’d say he still a trotskyist just like his neo-con forefathers, he’s also never met a war he didn’t like. I’d say that he’s always been a fake conservative, him and his comrades like Jennifer Rubin were and are Liberal Interventionist.

    Makes since they’d be against America First since they absolutely do not care about the people of this country past what the foreign policy establishment can do by “making” democracies all over the unfree world in our image by the force of a gun!

    Go away Max Boot, you and the rest of the Hawks have literally been wrong about everything!!!!

    • I’m hoping that Bill Kristol has not bought out this website, although it’d be somewhat less disturbing if he had.
      Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations and free thought, hmmm……

  9. Because I am triggered by Omni-Hawk (whom have never served a day in their life but are more than happy to send red-state, flyover kids to die in endless neo-con wars of choice) Never Trumpers preaching to fly-over country, I thought I’d post this article by Matt Purple which sums up my thoughts of Max Boots (on the ground) better than I could. This also applies to Jonah Goldberg, David Frum and all the other neoconservative punditry that likes to think of themselves as classic liberals… to which I say that’s way beyond revisionist history. Luckily we have the Way Back Machine to prove otherwise.

  10. Benjamin Perez says

    I’m not sure which is worse: the Republican Party becoming the party of idiocy or the Democratic Party becoming the party of lunacy – or that so many Americans are embracing idiocy, or lunacy, and only blaming the other (but never their own) side for doing so. Whichever is worse, and whom ever is best at being worse, America is losing, and perhaps already lost.

  11. Farris says

    John McCain’s bitterness lives on.

    Sarah Palin did not cost John McCain the election. He saw a bump in the polls after her selection. Much like Hillary Clinton, McCain sought to blame others for his loss. McCain threw away the election when he was a “no show” at the University of Mississippi debate with Barack Obama. Mr. Obama had the stage to himself and it was all down hill for the Republicans from there. MCCain claimed he was needed back in Washington due to the financial collapse. He and his team panicked. Truth is he was the perfect candidate for the debate having forewarned of the consequences of free leading sponsored by senator Dodd and congressman Franks for years. But McCain didn’t want to participate in a debate for which he had not prepared. Now the fault is the deplorables that comprise the Republican party. It appears the blame game and resentfulness did not die with the senator.

    • peterschaeffer says

      Farris, McCain had lots of problems. He was going to lose no matter what he did. The economy crashed while the final campaign was underway. That alone doomed him. His admission that

      ‘The Issue Of Economics Is Not Something I’ve Understood As Well As I Should’

      was an unforced error (something like ‘deplorables’). The notion that the U.S. was going to elect a foreign policy interventionist at a time when interventionism had gone badly awry and the economy was tanking was absurd.

      I didn’t vote for the guy (or Obama) because I thought he was a genuine risk to the nation (I feared he would start a nuclear war). 10 years later I think my vote (non-vote) was correct.

      • Farris says

        I don’t disagree that McCain had a lot of problems and the turning point was the financial crash not the selection of Sarah Palin. But rather than turn the crash into an opportunity to say, “I’ve been warning about this for years!” He ran and hid, on the advice of people like Max Boot.

        • TarsTarkas says

          McCain was born on third base thinking he’d hit a triple and ended up stealing second base and blaming it on crossed signals with his running mate.

        • Peter Schaeffer says

          Farris, Note my prior comment on Boot… “You can’t fix crazy”. Relying on the likes of Boot for advice was absurd (then and now). Of course, the public didn’t see (rightfully or wrongfully) a lot of distance between Bush and McCain. Like it or not, Bush’s failures rubbed off on McCain. Indeed, to this day I see only limited distance between the two. Not zero. But not a lot either.

        • Peter Schaeffer says

          Farris, Note my prior comment on Boot… “You can’t fix crazy”. Relying on the likes of Boot for advice was absurd (then and now). Of course, the public didn’t see (rightfully or wrongfully) a lot of distance between Bush and McCain. Like it or not, Bush’s failures rubbed off on McCain. Indeed, to this day I see only limited distance between the two. Not zero. But not a lot either.

  12. sestamibi says

    “Limbaugh called his fans Dittoheads, because they mindlessly echoed his prejudices—or he theirs; the pandering went both ways. Many other right-wing “talkers” followed.”

    Max, if you had any brains and were diligent enough to check out the origin of the term, and didn’t buy into the Left’s cardinal principle that the truth is whatever I believe it to be, you would know that “dittohead” has no such origin. The term originated as a means of reducing precious on-air time spent by callers on repetitive greetings: “Thanks Rush, for taking my call.” “Long-time listener, first time caller.” “Been listening to you since 19xx.” “Love your show and keep up the good work.” etc. etc. So the term “megadittoes” was coined as a short-cut for callers to express such sentiments, amplified a million times by the prefix, and hence such fans became known as “dittoheads”.

    • Andrew_W says

      I checked the meaning of the term in several on line dictionaries, they all defined the term as Boot uses it, none as you interpret it.
      “an unquestioning supporter of an idea or opinion as expressed by a particular person, organization, etc.”

  13. It’s interesting that many “NeverTrump” conservatives are moving toward the center on issues that aren’t directly related to their opposition to the President. In interviews, Boot has said he was largely focused on foreign policy throughout his career and accepted conservative positions on other issues by default. Now that he’s left the tribe and is thinking for himself, he’s arriving at different conclusions. I think the Founding Fathers were right: partisanship is a particularly toxic form of tribalism. It short-circuits independent thinking and encourages egregious hypocrisy. For example: while some liberals have now turned against Bill Clinton, they were full-throated (pun intended) in their support for him during the 1990s. Likewise, partisans accuse the Supreme Court of “judicial activism” whenever it issues a judgment they dislike; when the Court’s decisions coincide with their political agenda, it’s a defender of liberty. An increasing number of Americans are identifying as independents rather than affiliating with one of the major political parties. Unfortunately, the U.S. system makes it almost impossible for a third-party moderate like Macron to win a national election.

    • Andrew_W says

      Thank you, reading the comments with so many people attacking Boot, rather than addressing his points was becoming disheartening.
      In your last sentence I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, though with it’s primaries system I think the US in even more predisposed towards political division than other countries that use the FPP voting system.

    • augustine says

      It’s not about third party candidates per se. The power of increasing numbers of independents is that any Republican or Democratic candidate is forced to consider their beliefs and voting inclinations in order succeed. The party line adherence of yesteryear seems to be fading. This has effects that are both perplexing and invigorating to the system itself. I think the system needs a re-boot or new channels for energy, not a reconstruction or rewiring. It ain’t broke, it’s simply manned now by people who are largely formed by a degraded and corrupt liberal culture.

      I don’t want anyone like Macron in office anywhere near the U.S. Recent commentary from Gallia Watch:

      • Circuses and Bread says


        I respectfully disagree. Politics is beyond broken. If you had a TV set that worked as well as politics does, you’d sue the manufacturer. Assuming of course that it hadn’t already burned down your house while you slept.

        It’s always been the rationale that the problems of politics need to be ascribed to the actors, not politics itself. At what point do we question the premise that politics reasonably delivers beneficial ends for society?

        • augustine says

          Of course the actors are to blame, and politics itself is the result of actors. Would we ever want to devise a system that bypasses the vagaries (and triumphs) of human nature, and if so, why?

          Any system that comes from us and contains us is subject to our faults and foibles. Monarchy, Communism, Libertarianism, whatever. Ultimately I don’t think there is any way around the problems that we have been familiar with for millennia. But I do think some of the difficulties will sort out in the long run, i.e., thousands of years into the future. Anthropologists tell us we are much less violent (per capita) as the centuries pass.

          I agree that that premise should be questioned, as an exercise if for no other reason. If you are a proponent of “anti-politics” please explain. I’ve not read up on the idea.

          • Andrew_W says

            augustine, as you mention, there are various political system, isn’t it fair to say that some are far, far, better than others? Wouldn’t it also be fair to say that some variations on a particular system would be better than other variations?

          • Circuses and Bread ❤️🇺🇸! says


            Thanks for the reply.

            If you’re looking to read up on anti politics you’ll find it very difficult. There is little on the topic, and about the only folks I’ve seen study it are some political scientists in Britain. And even then. they tend not to view anti politics as a belief system or philosophy, but more as a consequence of political outrage.

            So if you’re following that, it means that isn’t some sort of “Congress of Antipolitical Philosophy” that has issued a statement. So with no further ado I’ll provide my definition: anti politics is the view that politics is not a reasonable way to accomplish beneficial ends in a society.

            Here are some ancillary thoughts:

            -that just about any other activity that you engage in to achieve civic virtue is going to deliver better end results at lower cost than a comparable investment of time and resources in politics. Said another way, politics delivers a very poor return on investment both at the individual and societal level.

            -politics by its nature devolves over time into acrimony and tribalism. What we’re seeing in contemporary politics is fairly normal.

            -those who do not get involved in politics are rational actors, and perhaps the most rational actors.

            I hope that answers your question.

          • augustine says

            Thanks for that, Circuses and Bread.

            It seems that here you have highlighted the fact that we expect way too much from politics, and constantly unmet expectations is what is such a bitter pill to swallow. This says to me that the polis, society itself, is in an unhealthy state. Furthermore, since politics is derivative, it is an unhealthy people that gives rise to an unhealthy politics. Therefore, politics per se may not be the problem after all.

            There is obvious evidence of this bad health in the fact that most Americans seem to be reluctant to be involved in the process at the local and state levels, and they focus almost entirely on the national executive branch and maybe governorships. I am guilty of this myself. This has complex origins I am not qualified to expound upon but I do know that there is an ever-growing proportion of the population that does not, and will not ever own a home or any substantial wealth. I think this has a major impact on any inclination to participate in a political process that otherwise holds no appeal. The destruction of traditional families also figures prominently in the way people look at politics.

            “politics delivers a very poor return on investment both at the individual and societal level”.

            Whatever amount of truth there is in this statement at this time, it begs the question, Why should that be so? Again, what are the expectations compared to the outcome? Politics is the tail, everything else society does interactively and publicly is the dog. A healthier society would not easily lose its equilibrium by the actions of politicians. Instead, the stability of society itself would be reflected in the stability of its political form.

            The fact that we are free to shape ourselves within society and as a society amounts to real potential for positive change that political systems cannot offer directly. Most of us I think feel that the political realm is hermetically sealed off from the citizenry in the opacity of its views and the obscurity of any true motivations. Instead of directly attacking it, we can focus on connections in everyday life however we choose, and trust that the influence of even small gestures will collectively contribute to a better future.

  14. Edward says

    I look forward to reading the book. On average, well-informed voters tend to hold economically liberal (fiscally responsible) as well as socially liberal views. So, my perception — at least in the past — was that both tribes thought themselves to be more intelligent than the other, and both with some justification.

    However, as Jason Brennan (author of Against Democracy) observed in a piece shortly after the election, Donald Trump has changed everything. Not only are the Republicans socially conservative, but they are also fiscally irresponsible (as we heard today, the deficit is soaring) and economically illiterate (protectionism, trade wars, immigration restrictionism).

    Informed, intelligent voters have no choice but to abandon the Republican Party, which has been decisively captured by Mr Trump and his supporters. You’re doing everyone a service by continuing to hold the Trump Administration accountable along with David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, Anne Applebaum and others.

    It’s been interesting, but hardly surprising, to witness many other centre-right pundits and politicians gradually losing their principles.

    As the Fields Medalist Terence Tao stated, it ought to be common knowledge that Donald Trump is not fit for the Presidency of the United States of America.

    • I think the Republican Party’s identification with Donald Trump will be very damaging in the long term, but in the short term conservatives have been quite successful in implementing their agenda. I wonder how many of his supporters are true believers and how many are pragmatists who recognize Trump’s flaws but are taking advantage of this political opportunity. While I respect the intellectual consistency of NeverTrumpers like Frum, David Brooks, elements of the National Review editorial board, etc., they are voices in the wilderness. For good or ill, the G.O.P. is now the P.O.T.: the party of Trump.

    • Your comment about “informed, intelligent voters” reminded me of a story about Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson:

      A supporter once called out, “Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!” And Adlai Stevenson answered, “That’s not enough. I need a majority.”

      In my opinion, Brennan makes a very persuasive argument against democracy. Unfortunately, the alternative he proposes — some form of epistocracy — will never be viable. We’ll just have to hope that the mob lurches in a socially beneficial direction more often than not.

      • Alistair says

        Ah, never simply assume that one’s own side is the most informed, or the most intelligent. And don’t assume that sophistication is great defence against error.

        The central challenge of Trump is that technocratic governance by a, broadly, Harvard-Berkeley elite, in line with a mix of globalist precepts and long-term structural changes in the economy has failed large swathes of the population. The aforementioned elite has behaved in an entirely human way – organising affairs for their own benefit at the expense of everyone else – and has little empathy for the destruction their world visits on the less able.

        Even worse; the elite assumes its intelligence protects it from error, when in fact it merely rationalises it. Tragically, the high tables of the Cathedral are full of people who genuinely think they are the “good guys” (Like Max Boot here) whilst their policies bring ruin to their constituents.

        Oh, it’s more complicated than that, and the average Trump voter in Ohio isn’t going to use those words, but they don’t have to be articulate (or clever) to be correct. Max Boot is throwing his hat in with the “clever” people. So clever and unwise. A little epistemological humility goes a long way.

        • Edward says

          “Ah, never simply assume that one’s own side is the most informed, or the most intelligent.”

          I have not simply assumed anything. Rather, there’s a good body of evidence demonstrating that informed and intelligence voters tend to hold both socially and economically liberal policy positions.

          “technocratic governance by a, broadly, Harvard-Berkeley elite, in line with a mix of globalist precepts and long-term structural changes in the economy has failed large swathes of the population.”

          This is a very effective soundbite which has also been promulgated by Harland below. There’s not a shred of evidence for it. True, the financial crisis could have been mitigated or prevented had there been more effective regulation of the financial sector. I seriously doubt that Donald Trump and his wealthy friends would have prevented the financial crisis, however.

          I don’t know when you think that technocratic governance by this Harvard-Berkeley elite began, but the United States has considerably improved as a society from whatever time period we wish to choose: the end of the Second World War; the 1960s; the 1980s (the beginning of “neoliberalism”, the 1990s and the post-crash period).

          For one, real median household income is higher than it has ever been. In 2016, it reached an all-time high. From 1979 to 2014, real median household income grew by 51%. The average federal tax rate for families in the middle fifth of the pre-tax income distribution fell from 19% to 14%. Transfers rose from 0.8% of pre-tax income to 4.7%. Spending on food and clothing has fallen from 27% of the total to 16% in 2016, and the share spent on health care and housing has stayed roughly constant. That means more left over for luxuries. Homes have got bigger, and the number of cars per household has risen from 1 to 1.6.

          As this excellent article in The Economist concludes: “The average American is much better off now than four decades ago… [while] the past four decades have been hard for many Americans. Trade and technology have upended the labour market, and many low-skilled men have left the workforce. Economic growth has been weak in non-coastal states, and the top few percent take home a greater share of all income. Wage growth, by any measure, has been far lower than in the post-war decades. But the idea that the typical American is little better off than four decades ago does not withstand scrutiny.”

          I would add that technology and automation overwhelmingly account for the decline of the manufacturing sector, and that this is a natural – albeit painful – process that would have occurred whoever was in power. Moreover, the idea that know-nothing populists are going to bring these jobs back is pure rhetoric.

          Life expectancy was 66 in 1946, 74 in 1979 and 79 in 2015. Age-adjusted suicide rates per 100,000 people have remained stable. Homicide and crime rates have dramatically fallen since the 1970s and are about as low as they were in the mid-1960s, and lower than they were in the 1930s.

          • Alistair says


            Well, yes, yes, I know all that. Things are better in aggregate. Won’t argue with that. I have ourwoldindata on my first order links. I had The Economist there too, until I found its sneering de haut en bas tone insufferable and it’s micro-economics questionable (and some of its macro – it’s quite middle-brow and mid-Atlantic).

            So yeah. You say we have gains. But the gains haven’t been evenly distributed, have they? Life expectancy hasn’t risen for all groups has it? Incomes haven’t risen for all groups, have they? Social capital hasn’t increased for all groups, has it? Physical security hasn’t increased for all groups, has it? Broader measures of emotional wellness hasn’t increased for all groups, has it? Tolerance hasn’t increased for all groups, has it? Social mobility hasn’t increased for all groups, has it? Civic discourse hasn’t increased for all groups, has it?

            Your argument is all means and no variance.

            The anger isn’t that there are no spoils: the argument is that the Elite split the spoils 95-to-5 and then pretended like it was a natural, inevitable outcome. You say these shifts are structural, indeed inevitable. Perhaps some are. IQ is the master of the information age. Associative mating is a cruel ratchet. The developing world gains economic share. (But are they structural in Germany and RoK too? I wonder. Maybe not as “inevitable” as we are meant to think.)

            Look, Eduard, you’re a smart guy. I’m over-stating things perhaps. I suspect we’re probably agree on most of the data and trends. Hell, I used to broadly be in your position a decade ago. But you can’t honestly look at the data and pretend that everything is rosy, the intellectual and capital elite has not done suspiciously well, and that Trump represents some inexplicable paroxysm.

            Respectfully, Trump isn’t the cause of the problem. He’s the symptom.

          • >>Rather, there’s a good body of evidence demonstrating that informed and intelligence voters tend to hold both socially and economically liberal policy positions.

            Reality has a liberal bias, right? Just like hoards of Ignorant SJWs on campus and $21 trillion in debt do. It’s also why Europe as we have known it is just about over. All those wonderful social and economically liberal (suicidal) policy positions.

          • peterschaeffer says

            E, Deaths from cars, crime, guns, lightning, tornadoes, fires, etc. have all declined. Deaths from drugs (legal and illegal) have soared to astounding levels. Life for the elite has never been better. Life for the average American? Not so much.

        • Peter from Oz says

          I agree with you. The only thing I would add is that the whole political war is a really a battle of elites against each other, not of elites against the hoi polloi
          Sometimes the left-wing part of the elite will side with the plebs and other times, like now, the right-wing part of the elite will be the proles’ friends. In general the left claims to have the interest of ”the workers” at heart, but when the workers showed that they just want to be middle class, the left changed so as to support ”victim ” groups. This leaves the working class open to the blandishments of the right.

    • Harland says

      First of all, Congress controls the purse, not Trump. Surely you knew this, being oh-so-educated and superior to everyone.

      Second, why should we the people be “fiscally responsible” and pay down the debt? Just so you can run it up again when you inevitably get back in office? You spent what, SIX TRILLION DOLLARS on wars since 9/11. What did we get for it? Nothing. A crumbling country and our relatives are missing limbs.

      Third, half of all people are less intelligent than average. What shall we do with them? Tell them to go die face-down in a ditch somewhere? Or use the power of government to comfort their afflictions and give them good lives? Because you oh-so-educated people have been deliberately harming them with government policy for the last few decades. At what point during your education did you lose your humanity towards your own people?

      Fourth, the “economic illiteracy” is bunk. Trump is doing this on purpose. There are other goals for a country besides “maximize GDP growth at the cost of all other goals.” The benefits of free trade go to the already wealthy. The workers and the middle class get screwed. Of course, being oh-so-educated, you were aware of this, and did it anyway. Why did you harm us like this? What did we ever do to you, besides offend you with the fact that we couldn’t get into Brown because our parents didn’t start building our c.v. at age 4? If tariffs and non-tariff barriers are so bad, why are Germany, China and Canada doing so spectacularly well with them?

      Finally, the sick elitism and dripping condescension of your post makes me even more sure I was right to back Trump. You think because a Fields medalist said something, that gives your argument more weight? It’s a math medal! Since when do mathematicians know anything about government? Or anything outside the ivory tower of the university? They are legendarily clueless about anything outside their very narrow field. Surely you knew this, being oh-so-educated, and yet you deliberately chose to include it, thinking it would persuade anyone. WTF? Speak truth to the powerless!

      I think what we have here is another case of IYI, the Intellectual Yet Idiot. The definition fits.

      The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools and PhDs as these are needed in the club.

      • Alistair says

        Harland, +1

        I feel that way too sometimes. When you realise that one’s intellectual peers have no empathy or respect for the less able…. damnit! I wanted to think the elite was better than this!

      • Edward says

        “First of all, Congress controls the purse, not Trump. Surely you knew this, being oh-so-educated and superior to everyone. ”

        First of all, I stated that the Republican Party is economically illiterate, not just Trump on his own. The Republicans control Congress and fully supported Trump’s tax cuts which, as predicted, are causing the deficit to soar. Remember when the Trump Administration stated that the tax cuts would pay for themselves? That was a lie. The deficit is up by 17% and corporation tax payments are down by 31%.

        “Second, why should we the people be “fiscally responsible” and pay down the debt? Just so you can run it up again when you inevitably get back in office? You spent what, SIX TRILLION DOLLARS on wars since 9/11.”

        The national debt is always going to increase if Republicans keep running huge deficits that the Democrats then have to deal with. Since 1981, the budget deficit has grown under every Republican President and fallen under every Democratic President. Recall that the budget deficit under President Obama fell from $1.4 trillion in 2009 to $600 billion in 2016 and $441 billion in 2017.

        “Third, half of all people are less intelligent than average. What shall we do with them? Tell them to go die face-down in a ditch somewhere? Or use the power of government to comfort their afflictions and give them good lives? Because you oh-so-educated people have been deliberately harming them with government policy for the last few decades.”

        Governments should aim to improve the general welfare of the population, and over the last few decades, nobody has been harmed. The typical American is much better off than they were four decades ago.

        For one, real median household income is higher than it has ever been. In 2016, it reached an all-time high. From 1979 to 2014, real median household income grew by 51%. The average federal tax rate for families in the middle fifth of the pre-tax income distribution fell from 19% to 14%. Transfers rose from 0.8% of pre-tax income to 4.7%. Spending on food and clothing has fallen from 27% of the total to 16% in 2016, and the share spent on health care and housing has stayed roughly constant. That means more left over for luxuries. Homes have got bigger, and the number of cars per household has risen from 1 to 1.6.

        Life expectancy was 66 in 1946, 74 in 1979 and 79 in 2015. Age-adjusted suicide rates per 100,000 people have remained stable. Homicide and crime rates have dramatically fallen since the 1970s and are about as low as they were in the mid-1960s, and lower than they were in the 1930s.

        “If tariffs and non-tariff barriers are so bad, why are Germany, China and Canada doing so spectacularly well with them?”

        Everyone could do even better if they didn’t have tariff and non-tariff barriers. That’s the point of trade deals, which populists such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders oppose. If you want to counter the influence of China, that’s precisely what the TPP aimed to do. TTIP – the proposed trade deal with the European Union – also aimed to bring down tariff and non-tariff barriers. NAFTA did the same with Canada.

        The fewer tariff and non-tariff barriers, the better. You achieve this through negotiating trade deals. Or, you might have a very good government: Hong Kong, for instance, applies no tariffs. Nor does Singapore. Japan also applies lower tariffs than the United States. And, of course, I abhor the agricultural subsidies given out by both the European Union and the United States.

        “What did we ever do to you, besides offend you with the fact that we couldn’t get into Brown because our parents didn’t start building our c.v. at age 4?”

        Differences in life outcomes between individuals are largely due to genetic differences. Parenting matters comparatively little, as the behavioural geneticist Robert Plomin wrote in this very publication yesterday.

        • peterschaeffer says

          “Governments should aim to improve the general welfare of the population, and over the last few decades, nobody has been harmed. The typical American is much better off than they were four decades ago.”

          Nobody? Really?

          From “Free Trade With China Wasn’t Such a Great Idea for the U.S.”

          “But this is only part of the problem. Economists are also stubbornly unwilling to question their benchmark theories, even when the evidence presents a challenge to these theories. The fact that Autor et al. find total national employment declining in response to trade with China should be cause for concern. Standard trade models, especially the simple ones taught in Econ 101, predict that this shouldn’t have happened. Autor et al. sternly rebuke the economics profession for relying too much on theory, and not enough on evidence, when it comes to the issue of trade:

          “The China Shock: Learning from Labor Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade

          China’s emergence as a great economic power has induced an epochal shift in patterns of world trade. Simultaneously, it has challenged much of the received empirical wisdom about how labor markets adjust to trade shocks. Alongside the heralded consumer benefits of expanded trade are substantial adjustment costs and distributional consequences. These impacts are most visible in the local labor markets in which the industries exposed to foreign competition are concentrated. Adjustment in local labor markets is remarkably slow, with wages and labor-force participation rates remaining depressed and unemployment rates remaining elevated for at least a full decade after the China trade shock commences. Exposed workers experience greater job churning and reduced lifetime income. At the national level, employment has fallen in U.S. industries more exposed to import competition, as expected, but offsetting employment gains in other industries have yet to materialize. Better understanding when and where trade is costly, and how and why it may be beneficial, are key items on the research agenda for trade and labor economists.”

          Trade Liberalization and Mortality: Evidence from U.S. Counties

          “We investigate the impact of a large economic shock on mortality. We find that counties more exposed to a plausibly exogenous trade liberalization exhibit higher rates of suicide and related causes of death, concentrated among whites, especially white males. These trends are consistent with our finding that more-exposed counties experience relative declines in manufacturing employment, a sector in which whites and males are disproportionately employed. We also examine other causes of death that might be related to labor market disruption and find both positive and negative relationships. More-exposed counties, for example, exhibit lower rates of fatal heart attacks.”

        • peterschaeffer says

          “Everyone could do even better if they didn’t have tariff and non-tariff barriers. That’s the point of trade deals, which populists such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders oppose. If you want to counter the influence of China, that’s precisely what the TPP aimed to do. TTIP – the proposed trade deal with the European Union – also aimed to bring down tariff and non-tariff barriers. NAFTA did the same with Canada.”

          Countering China wasn’t the core reason for supporting or opposing the TPP. The issue was US jobs, not China’s influence in the world. A treaty that undermines the U.S. economy (even if it makes the rich, richer) is not in America’s interests. Quote from Dani Rodrik.

          “Nonetheless, economists can be counted on to parrot the wonders of comparative advantage and free trade whenever trade agreements come up. They have consistently minimized distributional concerns, even though it is now clear that the distributional impact of, say, the North American Free Trade Agreement or China’s entry into the World Trade Organization were significant for the most directly affected communities in the United States. They have overstated the magnitude of aggregate gains from trade deals, though such gains have been relatively small since at least the 1990s. They have endorsed the propaganda portraying today’s trade deals as “free trade agreements,” even though Adam Smith and David Ricardo would turn over in their graves if they read the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

          • Edward says

            Thank you for your reply. I regretted saying that “nobody” has been harmed as soon as I posted it, but unfortunately Quillette does not appear to have an edit function.

            On free trade, there are various claims made about its impact on jobs. The weight of the evidence – on my reading – seems to be that it tends to have a net zero effect on employment and unemployment. Any politician that tells you that free trade will create or destroy jobs is likely not telling the truth.

            The case for free trade is easily made on efficiency grounds. Production should be carried out where it will be carried out most efficiently. This will result in increased GDP growth and increased prosperity. Moreover, it will mean that prices are lower for consumers. The paper you cite by Autor, Dorn and Hanson didn’t look at the macro effects of trade with China. However, I’m willing to believe that free trade with China did result in an abnormally slow labour reallocation process.

            Lastly, I would say that the aggregate gains from trade are indeed smaller than some claim. They’re still significant, however.

            So far, Trump’s tariffs are broadly resulting in effects predicted by economists: benefits for a visible few, job losses in other industries, higher prices, and billions in handouts for VIP businesses to cushion the impact of retaliatory tariffs (i.e. cronyism), paid for by the American taxpayer. When Bush imposed tariffs a decade-and-a-half ago, similar results ensued.

            By contrast, President Obama took the tried-and-tested route of challenging China at the WTO and winning a good deal of cases.

        • >>Recall that the budget deficit under President Obama fell from $1.4 trillion in 2009 to $600 billion in 2016 and $441 billion in 2017. 

          And yet the debt, 200 years in the making, doubled in 8. Care to explain that? Somehow being irresponsible beyond comprehension, while giving massive payoffs your political supporters in your first year, gives license for the next seven, where your grossly irresponsible spending pales in comparison to your mind bogglingly irresponsible previous spending. What a deal. If you start out the week drinking until you blackout, drinking only until you puke for the next six nights is relative sobriety. Lower deficit!!

          And as far as deficits under Republican presidents, if a Republican president could step into office, flip a switch and eliminate all the entitlement spending codified into law by his Dem predecessors, you may have a point. But they can’t. If you want to divide up the current deficit, Lyndon Johnson owns it more than anybody; followed by Rosevelt and Obama(care).War and famine come and go. Entitlements are forever.

          • Peter Schaeffer says

            It is quite true that Quilette has no edit button. However, you can always post a correction to your comments. I have done so several times.

            The impact of “free trade” on jobs is less than clear. However, that assumes something that is not true. In other words, that “free trade” includes a net-zero trade balance. In real life, the U.S. has vast trade deficits. Because of the reality of trade deficits, the impact of “free trade” is much more clearly (and massively) negative.

            See FRED Series “Trade Balance: Goods and Services, Balance of Payments Basis (BOPGSTB)” for some actual data. Note that the U.S. trade deficit in 2006/7 was (by far) the largest in global history (but not on a percentage of GDP basis). Predictably, the trade deficit had dire consequences for employment in the production of tradable goods. See FRED Series “All Employees: Manufacturing (MANEMP)” for some actual data.

            The combination of Bush’s “free trade” policies and massive immigration put dire pressure on employment in the U.S. The Bush administration responded by promoting a bubble in non-tradeable goods (housing). Of course, Bush had plenty of “friends” to help him in this dubious project (Wall Street, Democrats, etc.). The Housing / Wall Street bubble came to a very bad end (normal for bubbles) and the economy crashed.

            Net, we have a direct chain of causality from “free trade” to gigantic trade deficits, to domestic bubbles, to unsustainable bubbles, to a massive crash. This linkage may seem contrived or suspect. However, it is actually a pretty common story around the world. In other words, many countries have gone through the trade deficit -> domestic bubble -> debt bubble -> massive crash ringer. The only difference is that historically, the U.S. was too conservative (economically, not politically) to have this happen here. Times have changed

            For example, all of the Club Med countries (plus Ireland) went through this process after 2000. The consequences in each country were dire. A few differences can be found. In Spain and Ireland, the key mechanism was housing bubble. In Greece, it was the public sector (the Greek government)

            The bottom line is that in the U.S. context, “free trade” has had a massive negative effect on jobs. See FRED Series “Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate (CIVPART)” for some actual data.

            The idea that “Production should be carried out where it will be carried out most efficiently” is just Ricardo. Sadly, it is not all that well related to the world we actually live in. Trade policies impact the acquisition and accumulation of human skills and capital. As a consequence, “free trade” may not come even close to yielding an optimal allocation of resources.

            Let me use an example. In the 19th century, the UK used “free trade” to destroy the nascent industries of many countries such as Brazil. The U.S. by contrast, fiercely defended its national economy with high tariff barriers. The British deeply resented (and opposed) American tariffs, but could not stop them (the War of 1812 ended badly for the British, by the middle of the 19th century the very idea of war with the U.S. was absurd).

            Did high tariffs “work” for the U.S.? Did “free trade” “work” for Brazil? Of course, the U.S. and Brazil differed in many ways back then (and still do). However, trade policy was a key difference back then and the U.S. clearly got the better part of the deal.

            In the contemporary context, “free trade” may or may not yield efficiency gains. Take a look at the FRED CIVPART data. If “free trade” pushes workers out of the labor force, then “free trade” may (will) lower GDP and decrease efficiency.

            Of course, there is a deeper issue. What does efficiency even mean? Dani Rodrik asked this question online. Let me quote from “Deconstructing economists’ take on free trade”.

            “Once in a while you come across a paper that makes you nod in agreement and go “yes!” with every sentence you read. Robert Driskill’s Deconstructing the Argument for Free Trade is such a paper. Driskill is a distinguished economist who knows the theory of comparative advantage as well as anyone else. And his argument is not against trade per se, but about the manner in which economists present their arguments in public and in their textbooks. His main argument is that the standard renditions

            gloss over a key issue the resolution of which is anything but obvious: What does it mean for a change in economic circumstances to be “good for the nation as a whole”, even when some members of that nation are hurt by the change?”

            Let me offer a few (hypothetical) examples. Say “free trade’ makes the rich, $20 richer and the poor $19 poorer. GDP goes up by $1. Is the country better off? What model of reality say that is? Of course, you can argue that Pareto-optimality is possible. The country can impose a $19.50 tax on the rich and give the proceeds to the poor. That would make the rich and the poor, both $0.50 better off (theoretically).

            However, that ignores the actual history of trade agreements. Did Bill Clinton insist on income redistribution (or even minimal job training) as part of NAFTA? Not exactly. Did Obama do any better? Not exactly. I won’t even mention Bush (43) because he was off the charts bad.

            Consider another example. Say “free trade” makes the rich, $19 richer and the poor $20 poorer. GDP goes down by $1. In this model, trade is clearly “bad for the nation as a whole”. However, will the rich (who gain $19) oppose “free trade”? Not very likely. In real life, the “free trade” lobby is a mixture of corporate executives eager to outsource jobs (and protect foreign investments) and liberal/left cosmopolitans who benefit from cheaper imported goods (or at least think they do) and who are obsessed with all things “foreign”.

            Does this combination of forces have any political salience in the U.S.? Vast and dominant influence would be more like it.

            Note that the idea that “free trade” makes the U.S. poorer is not hypothetical. The LFP data suggests that this is actually true.

            The idea that “Moreover, it will mean that prices are lower for consumers” shows a certain ignorance of economics. Don’t try that statement among the economically informed. Once again, let me quote from Dani Rodrik (“Does Free Trade Bring Lower Prices?”). Quote

            “Advocates of globalization love to argue that free trade lowers prices, and the argument seems sensible enough. Think of all the cheap goods from China that we can buy at Wal-Mart. But anyone who understands comparative advantage knows that free trade affects relative prices, not the price level (the latter being the province of macro and monetary factors). When a country opens up to trade (or liberalizes its trade), it is the relative price of imports that comes down; by necessity, the relative prices of its exports must go up! Consumers are better off to the extent that their consumption basket is weighted towards importables, but we cannot always rely on this to be the case.”


            “Of course, if you are running a huge trade deficit like the U.S., you can have cheaper prices all around—for all to go on a consumption binge as long as the party lasts. But this is hardly the argument we make when we teach the benefits of free trade.”

            I would go a step further by including the prices of non-tradable goods (for example housing). For example, has free trade reduced the cost of living in California? Sure, iPhones are cheaper than they otherwise would be. However, the impact on housing costs has been profound.

            As for Obama and trade… Obama was a failure. China has abused the global trade system for decades. China has successfully insisted that foreign companies have Chinese partners and transfer technology to China. This (very Trumpish) policy has been highly successful and Obama did nothing to stop it. China viewed Obama’s WTO cases as a joke (which was entirely correct).

      • Surprised to see the raging anti-intellectualism and emotionalism here, Harland. For those who believe as you do, I would wonder if they would be willing to apply the same anti-elite rhetoric when seeking urgent medical care or safe air transport. I cannot imagine what greatness any civilization can achieve when it spits on either its plumbers or its philosophers.

        Do smart people have blind spots? Most certainly. When it comes to puzzling over why demographics choose to “vote against their best interests,” far too many seem unable to see that, for some people, values may outrank economics. Some, for instance, may be willing to trade some amount of prosperity for defense of cultural norms and do so with eyes wide open–and that should be acknowledged rather than incorrectly labelled as ignorant. (Though a fair critique would ask what happens to cultural norms–especially those cherishing family and community– amid great economic hardship?)

        This sneering at expertise (as justification for who you voted for?) smacks of a sour-grapes condescension of your own. When it comes to the behavior of wealthy business people, engaging in smug, self-satisfying culture war elides a more vital question: What, specifically, was supposed to happen as trade barriers and poverty fell and technology diffused from more advanced countries into the rest of the world? What was a culture which plastered the names of 19th century robber barons and magnates on its great buildings and universities, which sold itself Horatio Alger myths mixing morality with financial standing, which has a huge body of law and reasoning built up around maximizing profit and reducing risk SUPPOSED TO DO in the face of emerging markets?

        How were free, optimization-driven elites supposed to behave when the supposedly salt-of-the-earth “buy American” crowd was ballooning Walmart to a global behemoth on cheap Chinese slave labor? Were they supposed to ignore THEIR own interests? We have not reasoned enough around what is supposed to happen in a democracy when wealth vastly magnifies the power of individuals.

        It is not possible to conceive of a world where every market would have had parity. Globalism was inevitable–for centuries, the West enjoyed technological & resource advantages which naturally created reserves of market potential all around it, and now advancing technology is lowering barriers to entry in those places. Different states within the US already proved this model, as it was long acceptable for businesses to migrate from one to another for cheaper costs–and no amount of loyalty could move them to operate at a loss when competitors were quick to capitalize.

        Citizens of any democracy have, within reason, rights to control how business is conducted within their borders. They can certainly move to dampen the competitive advantage other markets may enjoy, and it is undeniably true that our allies, in some cases, do this. But as others have noted, free trade has also undeniably advantaged the world, and we should deeply fear a knuckle-dragging, emotional populism which happily throws the baby out with the bathwater. Populism has given us much needed political reforms, but it has also been responsible for some of our darker chapters, including sustained terrorism against subgroups and laws against them which today are frankly embarrassing. In the US, the Framers of the Constitution notably and rightly feared the unbridled passions of the mob and built a system designed to check them, and we would do well to heed their wisdom.

        • Edward says

          Excellent post. Though I have been arguing against Harland in this thread, this is only because he made some specific claims that seemed to be economic in nature.

          By contrast, I’m not blind to the cultural anxieties that many Trump and Brexit voters likely had, and unlike some people who hold policy positions similar to my own, I don’t see all of these anxieties as being illegitimate.

          That said, these anxieties almost certainly do not justify voting in populists who appear to misunderstand economics, as you hint at in your parenthesis.

    • peterschaeffer says

      E, In response to “A Liberal’s Plea for a Moderate Immigration Policy” I offered my comments in opposition to mass immigration. Please read them. You may not agree with them. However, they are far from “economically illiterate”. In my opinion, the argument against unskilled immigration is overwhelming.

  15. this is dreck. there is no argument here, just a bunch of slurs and positioning by moral contamination. “these fly-over country dimwits are turning the republican party against me and my neo-conservative warmongering! maybe i’ll have better luck with the dems…”

  16. Circuses and Bread says

    To state that one faction is stupid is to imply that some other faction is, at least theoretically, capable of being smart.

    If so, such a smart political faction has certainly missed my notice. Moreover, such a smart political faction seems to about as common as pink unicorns frolicking about. That is to say they don’t exist. Except in the fevered minds of the political True Believers.

    • C&B: although I remain intrigued by your anti-politics position, it occurs to me that you must be in fairly privileged position to hold it. The differences between the two major parties are very consequential if you’re gay and want to get married, or lack health insurance and live in a state that refused to expand Medicare, or an illegal immigrant, or part of the working poor who relies on food stamps to feed their family, or opposed to the teaching of religious doctrine in your child’s science class, or concerned about the impact of climate change on future generations, or someone who wants to make her own choice about what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, etc. Of course, all of these hypotheticals could also be expressed from a conservative perspective (e.g., you’re someone who’s horrified that millions of unborn children are murdered every year). Either way, it seems disingenuous to suggest that there’s no real difference between the Republicans and Democrats.

      • Circuses and Bread says


        Thanks for the comment. Of course there is a great deal of difference between the two political factions when it comes to their rhetoric. The problem is when they actually get into power. Then the differences in actual governance are inconsequential.

        You included a litany of issues that are commonly associated with the Democratic faction. Which has had its turn at power during the last 20 years. Now assuming that the Democratic faction is a at least as competent at at politics as their opposition, let’s ask ourselves what did they accomplish for the billions of dollars and billions of manhours spent to get them into power? Of the list provided in your post, I can only see one issue where the Democratic faction seems to have won a lasting victory, that having to do with gay marriage. So having spent the exorbitant level of resources it has, the Democratic faction can point with pride to having marginally improved the lot of what, maybe 2 or 3% of the population where gay marriage is an issue of personal concern?

        Politics is a grossly inefficient use of resources. One doesn’t have to be “privileged “ position to recognize that. Truth be told, I do have some personal concern about at least a few of the issues you listed. I just don’t see that politics is the way to approach them, and it’s certainly not the way to resolve problems given that “victories” in politics are fleeting and subject to being eliminated when a different political faction takes power, as they will.

        • From my perspective, the fact that consequential policies can be reversed when the other party achieves power makes political participation *more* important, not less. Democrats have suffered in recent years because their supporters are less likely to vote in midterm elections. Many liberal-leaning voters stayed home in 2010, allowing Republicans to take control of many states and gerrymander Congressional districts to disadvantage their opponents.

          What do you propose as an alternative to politics? Cynicism is easy: they’re all the same, they’re all corrupt, why bother voting when you can remain above the fray by condemning both sides? Unless you’re an anarchist, however, society needs to be governed somehow. Despite its many, many flaws, representative democracy has been fairly successful in promoting human flourishing. (I would argue that it’s been more successful in countries that don’t allow open bribery under the guise of “free speech”; in the U.S. politicians are more responsive to the priorities of wealthy donors than those of their voters.) Is there another system you would recommend?

          • Circuses and Bread says


            Thanks again for the comments.

            What do I propose as an alternative to politics? Well, pretty much anything else. And I don’t say that to be flippant or cynical. I simply see politics as being so terribly inefficient that any reasonably thought through solution for X problem is likely to deliver better end results at lower cost. Have a concern with carbon emissions ? I suggest that your time will be better spent riding your bike to work and persuading others to do the same rather than trying to get some cap and trade scheme enacted. Worried about disease in third world countries? $50 sent to Samaritans Purse will accomplish much more than phoning and emailing your representatives.

            As for anarchy, I disagree with it on both philosophical and practical grounds. Somalia isn’t exactly a model to emulate in my view.

            But I fear that I haven’t really answered the question. When I get asked about “what system do you propose”, what I’ve come to realize is that the questioner is (usually) not looking for solutions to practical problems, but answers to questions are better left to moral philosophy or religion. And I’m no theologian. If politics is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning, then the truth is I don’t have much to offer.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Well said, CaB.
          Politics is show business for ugly people.
          Most government “action” is actually counter productive, because it reduces government’s capacity to do the few things that it must do.

    • peanut gallery says

      Megadittos. Both parties have had more or less the same policy for running government and making more of it for some time. The differences are mostly in flavor. (culture) The citizens are batteries in the Matrix, when the system collapses, the political class and their donors won’t have to face bread-lines and squalor.

      Rock the Vote!

      • There’s a definite limit to what individual actions can achieve — government is necessary to address collective action problems. This is particularly true in the environmental realm.

        Full disclosure, I should acknowledge that I’m not an activist of any kind; I’m more of a passive-aggressivist in that I complain about problems without directly contributing to their solution. My political activity is limited to voting once every two years and occasionally giving money to local candidates. I follow politics the way other people follow sports, fully recognizing that I’m not likely to have any meaningful impact on outcomes.

        I think your perspective makes sense in terms of maximizing individual happiness, but if everyone abdicated their responsibility to participate in political decision-making it’s hard for me to see how a democratic society could function. In that sense, being a-political may be equivalent to being a pacifist: it allows you to maintain your moral purity while recognizing that others may have to fight battles on your behalf.

  17. What a dumb article. The author just cherry picks random anecdotes that support the claim that conservatives are stupid. No mention of recent figures like Dr. Jordan Peterson or Ben Shapiro laying the smackdown on leftist fallacies. Does the author know who Alexandria Cortez is?

    • This is a very short excerpt from a much longer book. I haven’t read it yet (and probably won’t), but I have listened to interviews with Boot and he’s much more thoughtful than you suggest. If Ben Shapiro is your idea of an intellectual, I don’t think you’re in a position to throw stones.

      • Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz are pure gold as well. Warmongers FTW!

        • @Jay
          Seriously!!! Has everyone come down with a serious case of amnesia here? Max Boot and his neo-con cronies have been the armchair cheerleaders of every U.S. interventionist policy since the beginning of this decade. There have always been a socially conservative faction in U.S. politics, it used to run in both parties until the 1980’s and 90’s. The republicans have always had a strong pro-business side since they replaced the Wig party. The neo-conservative/Straussian cohort essentially hijacked the republican foreign policy establishment for their own goals of remaking the middle east “safe for democracy”.

          David Frum basically drew a line in the sand when the paleo-cons spoke up against the war in Iraq back in 2003. He said your either with us or we turn our backs on you.
          Sounds reasonable. Do they think we don’t have video footage and can’t read archived articles to see what these blood soaked opportunists were advocating?

          Max Boot still thinks Iraq was a good idea…. but he’s intellectual and stuff so ok!

          P.S. Pretty sure conservatives have been called anti-intellectual for forever by the professoriate intelligencia crowd, nothing new here. Let us not forget that the Bolsheviks were a group of highly educated middle class Russians that fancied themselves the vanguard of the proletariat, that worked out well. The EU is currently ran by the managerial elite, what an excellent job their doing (sarc). The problem with the phd crowd is they think because they have specialist training in one area that they know about all areas. I recommend reading a little bit of Hayek, specifically The Fatal Conceit.

          • @Kelly
            I meant to say since the beginning of the century (2000’s) sorry, no edit function available.

    • Harland says

      Dr. Jordan Peterson is not a conservative. He’s a classical liberal.

      How do you tell the difference between a liberal and a leftist? Easy. Liberals believe in free speech. They might disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.

      Leftists, on the other hand, will happily censor you or ruin your life for saying things that make them feel bad.

      More info:

      Left or Liberal?

      • If we’er pigeonholing JP then I would call him a Puritan antinomian “doctor of the soul” or simply an exceptionally good lay preacher of the Seeker variety. He presents very much as a Calvinist visible saint and reminds me of John Winthrop, Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams.

        Puritan antinomianism pre-dates classical liberalism by about 60 years (1630 versus 1688). Puritan antinomians were all radical republicans as opposed to Whiggish liberals. These antinomians were rigorously suppressed by the Presbyterians and Anglicans in England after 1660 but they thrived as non-conformists and evangelicals in the colonies.

    • Benson Burns says

      Andrew Klavan interviewed him the other day on his podcast, and it was just a grab-bag of nonsense. This man is insane.

  18. Max Boot (a CNN contributor, neo-con warmonger and obsessive Russia conspiracy theorist) is NOT an alternative to the mainstream media and I am disturbed to find a National Review/The Economist level rant presented on this website.
    This is supposed to be a platform for free thought. We do not need another outlet to smear those who do not bow to the global elite and the expert class.
    I was planning to make a contribution to the website this month, but this has changed my mind. However, this did disgust me to the point that I am writing my first comment on here.
    You can do better folks.

    • Harland says

      This IS free thought. You have to include the other side, too. If nothing else to show how repugnant their values are, and so everyone can get a good look at what a decayed soul looks like.

      • Alistair says

        Agreed. Mr Boot should have the opportunity to say his piece. Though I profoundly disagree with his views, I welcome such occasional Quilette pieces from the “mainstream”.

        One can’t have confidence in one’s own position without testing it against the very best the enemy has to offer.

        Our openness (and, frankly, superior civility) to our opponents and argument is what separates us from the other side. If you knew nothing else about our case, that alone should be enough.

        • I am noticing that certain viewpoints are given a hearing on here while others are not.
          Why the website would choose to give a platform to perhaps the worst neo-con in the public eye today is beyond me. And yet I don’t think this website has ever had a thoughtful leftist critique of corporate globalism or mass consumerist culture, for example, viewpoints which I consider extremely valuable which are essentially never discussed by the mainstream media.
          David Frum (featured on the latest Wrong Speak) and Max Boot are warmongering hacks and i think their appearances on here indicate that someone at this website misses the Bush years. I am going to take a break from visiting here for a bit.

    • Lady from Oz says

      Come on then Jay, put your skin in the game and write a contribution from your point of view. Be part of the solution instead of whining about it.

  19. Deeply cutting insight from the man whose “intellectual conservatism” resulted in such brilliant policies as the Iraq War.

    Boot’s main complaint seems to be that democracy is functioning as democracy, where you don’t win through brilliance of ideas, but by saying whatever is necessary to secure your votes. And if your dumbed-down ideas still can’t win the electorate, all you have to do is import tens of millions of Third Worlders to replace that contemptible electorate instead.

    The main reason mainstream “conservatism” was so stupid before Trump (and Orban, Salvini, Bolsonaro, etc.) is because it’s nothing more than warmed-over liberalism. And as we’re seeing across the world, the “liberalism” of mainstream academics and elites has created such massive failures that liberalism can no longer exist.

    The average “conservative idiot” Boot decries may not be able to explain exactly why that failure has occurred, or what can be done to correct it. But they certainly feel it, and are rejecting it with their votes.

    Somehow, their votes aren’t “democratic.” I suppose the only answer is more “education”—and, if that doesn’t do the trick, the only answer is to replace these losers of history with more enlightened immigrants, who may not understand their elites either, but will happily vote in line with whatever they tell us is true.

  20. Jake_Al says

    I’d say this article lacks the caliber of Quillette’s normal writers and belongs on a site like The Atlantic or HuffPo instead of here. This is pure punditry and attitude rather than any real intellectual analysis.The article is about how Republicans are stupid, could it be more prejudiced and less intellectual? This article offered no informed perspective, just sentiment typically expressed by the mainstream media and political parties dripping with disgust and disdain for the perceived enemy. Let the mainstream media keep this low quality type of content. Fail on Quillette, but I appreciate the effort to keep the views diversified.

  21. Max Boot and his Never-Trump comrades can sit in their lofty ivory towers and look down their noses at the unwashed conservative masses who are just not intelligent enough to understand True Neo-Conservatism all they like. It will never change the fact that their tenure under Bush was an unmitigated disaster in almost every conceivable metric.

    They directly handed the Presidency to Obama, and gave Dems full control of the government. They’re clueless and out of touch, and were completely ineffective at getting their message across. I only hope the dems are clueless enough to embrace Boot and Friends, because they are perpetual losers. What exactly can Boot & Co. point to as their great achievements of conservatism? The Iraq War..?

    Nearly every issue that conservatives supposedly hold dear has been stripped away since the 1960’s, nearly everything they’ve fought for they’ve lost. With such intellectuals leading conservatism, the right completely lost out on any authoritative positions in the media, in Universities, in the public school systems, in Hollywood, music and the list goes on.

    For all the venom that Boot spews at Trump, and other conservative types like Coulter, he completely misses the fact that Trump especially is a persuader, and he is making his case for conservative ideals. I suspect that what really bothers Mr. Boot is that Trump is succeeding where he spectacularly failed.

  22. Did Das Boot ever consider that the Republican “no nothing” folks he writes about in his book and article are likely many of the same people/families that fought in the wars that Das Boot and his NeoConservative cabal pushed our country into over the last twenty years? These were, at the time, termed moral wars but just ended up in retrospect being mostly senseless and catastrophic engagements? Perhaps it is these so called deplorables that Boot speaks about that are seeking something different than what he and his ilk have in mind. Maybe Das Max Boot should realize that they are not the “no nothings” but are instead the “do something” populace that is voting for a change to something different. Goodbye Mr. Boot your time is up!

  23. Davide says

    My mistake here was expecting an argument that didn’t include the author’s bias against white men. Indeed, he couldn’t resist.

  24. Saul Sorrell-Till says

    the extreme, slightly unhinged reaction to this article, with accusations of ‘insanity’ against the author, and claims that the author has a ‘decayed soul’, as well as demands that it be removed, tell me everything i need to know about the echo chamber this once promising website has become.

    • The neo-con chickenhawk warmongers that Boot personifies have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the middle east since 9/11 and are likely going to bankrupt the US. All of their ideas have been put into practice and have been a absolute disaster for humanity and were rightly rejected by Republican primary voters in 2016.
      The left has plenty of new ideas that are worthy of debate and consideration and I would be happy to see more thoughtful leftists on here. Max Boot’s failed ideology appeals to no one outside of the Republican donor class and this rant is unworthy of any serious discussion beyond asking why it is appearing on this website.

      • Somewoman says

        Jay is right. The wars this tiny and supremely well connected neocon cabal pushed for resulted in no stable government in the middle east, millions dead and displaced, the rise of ISIS, the influx of costly low-skilled refugees into Europe. All the while, these wars were premised on the false ideology that democracy can be created by military expansionism everywhere on earth and that America’s exceptionalism entitled the nation to engage in pre-emptive wars against whoever the neocons called a rogue actor (whoever was not eagerly willing to be their lackey). They lackeys have included the most grotesque and dangerous of regimes such as Saudi Arabia.

        Saul, some issues really are worth expressing outrage against and decades of totally unproductive wars is one of them.

  25. Max Boot is mostly a bitter liberal leaning war-monger. The Republican Party and conservatism in general has moved past the era of empty promises in return for our votes and Boot is like Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin and other “conservatives”, without a home. His opinions don’t hold much water anywhere but among the other pseudo-conservatives that write for the big newspapers and he is just bitter about it. The sooner he is forgotten, the better. There are legitimate concerns and questions about the direction of conservatism and what the future holds for the Right, but you won’t find those legitimate questions coming from Boot or his ilk.

  26. annaerishkigal says

    Whine whine whine… Not even worth writing a well-reasoned response.

  27. At from where I’m standing (Portugal, Europe) the characterization of the American right seems fair.
    It takes more than disliking the left to be a conservative, we have to be for something, we have to have principles and goals. In my country the left has fallen into that trap, more and more they are a religious sect that feels superior to conservatives, no substance. For a democratic society to work, we need principled left and principled right competing and compromising by talking with each other.
    Why do I care? I care because America still has, in my opinion, a leadership role in the free world. But with an increasingly insane left and a dumb right that role and the wellbeing of Americans is endangered.

  28. A lot of snobbery, comparing degrees and so forth. This is the chief complaint about Trump. He’s the Rodney Dangerfield character in Caddyshack. There’s nothing wrong with common sense except that it offends social climbers.

  29. Dorky Pig says

    Even in articles from right-wingers that criticize the right a little bit, 99% of Quillette comments will be about how unfair the criticism is, how much worse the left is and why these articles shouldn’t be published in the first place.

    But it’s still funny to see Max Boot get it from both sides. Haha

    “the extreme, slightly unhinged reaction to this article, with accusations of ‘insanity’ against the author, and claims that the author has a ‘decayed soul’, as well as demands that it be removed, tell me everything i need to know about the echo chamber this once promising website has become.”

    It always was like that to an extent. It starts from the articles having a certain slant which will attract commenters who are even more extreme. But you’re right, even calling it ‘center-right’ is a misnomer now considering the comments section!

    • I take it you are from outside the US, judging from your ignorant analysis of the American right.

      The Bush Neo-conservatives like Boot who started Iraq War II and triggered the destruction of many Middle East societies (Libya, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt) are widely loathed by almost all Americans, left or right, and hated by the US military in particular. Their policies were all put in to practice and were disastrous for both the US and the Middle East. Trump and Bernie Sanders firmly rejected the neo-con “invade the world, invite the world” ethos, which explains much of their success in 2016.

      I have no problem with reasoned criticisms of the American right, but seeing any credibility given to unapologetic warmongers responsible for hundreds of thousands deaths is going to be frightening to any decent American.

      • I guess David Frum would fall in that category. I will never forget how GWB entourage soiled MacCain’s reputation to win the primaries.

  30. Rush Limbaugh, more than any of the other right wing pundits mentioned, has done more to awaken this nation to the insidious creeping Marxist dogma enveloping academia, the mass media, and half of our electorate from the coastal states. And he does it with intelligence and humor.

    Something tells me that Mr. Boot has a lot more snowflake in him than his wikipedia page description would indicate. Left leaners just can’t seem to laugh at the foibles of the human condition as easily as conservatives. Utopians think they can perfect human nature through coercion. Conservatives understand the limitations of people, and encourage individuals to do the best with what they have, rather than steal what they can from stronger or more fortunate individuals.

    • Nicolas says

      I listened to Limbaugh’s first year on radio, when he was obscure. He was quite moderate and not even discernibly anti-abortion. Like Tucker Carlson after him, he detected that the big money was in pandering to ignoramuses.

  31. Nicolas says

    I’d have been much more impressed if Mr. Boot’s idea of intellectual conservative reading included Hayek, Mises, Bastiat, and Szasz, rather than the post-Buckleyite purge neocons. My gripe is not that his exemplars are too intellectual, but not intellectual or principled, enough. I don’t detect that he got much from Mencken, either in principle or in writing style. He probably “grew” and left Mencken behind.

    It’s worth a parenthetic note that the same thing has happened to what used to be the libertarian movement, which is now in the hands of buffoonish know-nothings.

  32. peterschaeffer says

    The idea that Max Boot is a “well-regarded” Republican will come as a surprise to quite a few folks. He is generally known as a Neocons, Neocon. In other words, a foreign interventionist extremist.

    If the Democrats want him, they can have him. My guess is that most Democrats won’t be thrilled about Darth Vader joining their party.

    In real life, liberal Democrats hate him (for good reason). See “Imperialism” (

    See also “Neoconservatives Like Max Boot Are the Last People We Should Listen to About Russia – The champions of the Iraq war want to pull us into a catastrophic new conflict”

    Here are some typical Max Boot articles.

    “Washington Needs a Colonial Office” (FT 7/3/2003) or

    “The case for American empire, the most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role”
    (Weekly Standard 10/2001)

    Here is the bottom line. Max Boot is deeply upset by Trump because Trump has no interest in Max Boot’s endless wars. Of course, reservations about endless war aren’t limited to Trump. Obama clashed with Hillary over this issue and (sadly) she prevailed.

    Let me quote from Boot

    “Ryan’s retirement signals the final repudiation of an optimistic, inclusive brand of Reaganesque conservatism focused on enhancing economic opportunity at home and promoting democracy and free trade abroad.”

    In other words, Bushism. Perhaps Boot doesn’t remember that Bush wasn’t exactly a success, anywhere.

    What’s worse is that Boot is joining the Democrats at the point where the Democratic party (and the media, left, academia, etc.) have gone crazy with identity politics of all kinds.

  33. We really need to let go of this fantasy that the past was full of politicians who legislated with respect and civility. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Congress has had full on fist fights, and one instance of a politican beating the dogshit out of another politician with a walking stick.

    If during the 2016 deabtes, Trump would have choked Hillary out it would not have set any significant precedent.

    Politicians are not experts. They are plenty uniformed on plenty of topics. A telented small engine mechanic will make your lawnmower sing, but he aint about to explain Quantum Theory in front of a University class. Likewise, dont ask a politician about anything other than how to get elected and you will never be dissapointed.

  34. Trajan Fanzine says

    More sour grapes. The problem with Max ( and Kristol et al) is; they were never the ‘Conservative(s)’ they thought they were. I dont and didnt recognize them as totems of or in the movement, though they did.

    Speaking down to the folks that died in their wars, or come home from them and cannot get a decent job in their own town, that not intellectual or conservative eother……………they are ‘faux’ conservatives and cannot stand being on the outside of the power structure.

  35. Ughh this article and it’s comment section are the reason I quit even looking at the mainstream media. I couldn’t stomach the leftist media tripe starting in the Bush II era, and the right-wing echo chamber during the Obama era was equally nauseating. Quillette, I realize, is still finding it’s place in media chaos, is not distinguishing itself with this offering.

    “[Palin and Trump’s] rise indicates that the GOP truly has become the stupid party. Its primary vibe has become one of indiscriminate, unthinking, all-consuming anger.”

    Yeah yeah yeah, it’s dimwit conservatives I see all over the TV spewing uninformed hatred and anger on campus and in DC, thanks for clearing that up Max.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @Craig Willms

      “Nauseating“ and politics go together like Peanut butter and jelly. Nauseating, evil, and kleptocratic work, so the politicians will continue as they have.

      • Circus – yes, you are correct. I doubt it was ever really different, but nostalgia pervades this aging mind. I’m starting to feel like my dearly departed Mother – “I’m glad I’ll be dead soon, I feel sorry for you young people”

        • Circuses and Bread ❤️🇺🇸! says

          @Craig Willms

          Thanks for the post. It reminded that I really, REALLY need to work on my rhetorical skills. Truth be told, I’m very optimistic about the future and I don’t think that comes out enough.

          I think the future is going to be AWESOME! Except politics of course but that’s always been bottomless pit of evil and despair. And even then we’re fortunate enough to live in times where we can actually see the possibility of a post-political world. Great times to be alive!

  36. Max Boot is a clown and after reading this piece totally dishonest. Its one thing to say you have left the Republican party its another thing to totally flip on the vast majority of positions you have held for basically you’re entire life ostensibly because you hate Donald Trump and Anne Coulter. I got news for you Max Buddy your new progressive friends hate your guts.

  37. I also love his casual smear of Mark Levin. Whatever you think of Levin’s style and politics he is a brilliant man. He was the youngest chief of staff for a United States Attorney general ever and has run his own pro-bono legal foundation that has won important court cases for conservatives over the years. Written 5 or 6 best selling books and does a great long form interview show on Fox with legitimate conservative thought leaders as guests along with a Conservative Review TV show that covers serious topics. Max Boot thinks we should have spent 70 years in Iraq. Mark Levin is no Anne Coulter or Rush Limbaugh even

  38. peanut gallery says

    After the Bail Out, Tea Partiers and Occupy WS people should have gotten together and had a baby. Instead, nothing happened but maintenance of the status quo. The System plays both sides against each other to ensure nothing happens and the System remains secure. You think that’s air you’re breathing?

    People need to stop voting for people to solve their problems.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @peanut gallery

      It’s nice to have some “politics skeptical” company here at Quillette.

      The tea party and OWS fulfilled their purpose. The public wouldn’t play the lotto if there weren’t prizes, and they wouldn’t play the politics game unless there was the hope of achieving power. When the politicians are at their worst, these little populist uprisings come about. They’re quickly co-opted or neutered so they’re never a real threat.

      Thank God I live in a country where the right to not get involved is protected.

      • peanut gallery says

        Realistically, I don’t think eliminating politics is a reachable goal. As long as their is power to be had, people will fight for it one way or another. I like a quote I heard somewhere “government is the tax human’s pay for their inability to be civilized.” I’ve come to think that there is a real limit on how many people can be successfully governed. 300 million people is too many to be responsible for at the level they want to run our lives. The more the keys to power are distributed, the more freedom and success we’ll have in getting things we need done. The federal government has become too powerful and the presidency shouldn’t be as important. The winner takes all nature of the two-party system only ensures more of the same happens. We need a cultural shift that places more emphasis on what’s happening in local elections over the national ones. I’m not confident that this can/will happen. But as easy as it is to be “connected” surely it should make local coordination easier, right?

        • Circuses and Bread says

          @peanut gallery

          Oh I agree. Eliminating politics isn’t likely to happen in our lifetimes. But it’s a goal worth pursuing like eradicating malaria, or any other pestilence that affects the human condition. Keep in mind that people who get exposed to anti politics may start to look at things a little differently and might, just might, decide that politics really is a waste of their time. To coin a phrase;

          “If it keeps just one kid away from a life of politics, it’s worth it!” 😆

          One reason to be hopeful is that in a sense, anti politics is already winning. If you look at just about any election in the US the nonvoters are either in the plurality or majority.

          In response to your question/comment about local elections being more important than national ones. I approach electoral politics from a perspective of extreme skepticism. So I guess if you want to rank elections on a “waste of time and resources” spectrum then yeah, local elections are probably less of an utter waste of time and resources than national elections.

          As for communication, here’s the weird thing: more communication isn’t necessarily better. It’s seems that the more people talk about politics, the more they tend to self-segregate in their little tribes. You can see that in just about any comments section that discusses politics. When people talk about politics they’re not really interested in solving problems. They’re interested in validation of their views and virtue signaling to members of their own tribe. It’s a lot like football. The folks who are interested in football and talk about it a lot are fans who are very tied to their team. Youre never going to convince diehard Dallas Cowboys fans and diehard Philadelphia Eagles to get along when the topic is football.

  39. Mark Turpin says

    Now, after Kavanaugh, with a leg on both sides of the fence, and hoping to learn something I didn’t know, I read this whole piece of crap, which did not have one idea about one issue, just the usual Democrat ‘guilt by association’ line of “reasoning.” But good for Claire for letting everyone have their say.

  40. X. Citoyen says

    Like so many others with prestigious appointments and fellowships, Boot has fallen into thinking his feelings about politics have national import. No need for an argument either; how he feels about “conservatives” is enough because the feelings of someone so accomplished can’t be wrong, and changes in the feelings of such an august person must surely be of interest to many. He’s so important he can even phone it in: everything packaged in journalistic boilerplate about the moral and intellectual decline of the right–how original!

    The subtitle is precious. Where did Boot go? Did he join Antifa? Of course not. He didn’t literally go anywhere or do anything that might show his bona fides–like quit his fellowship. No, Boot’s “leaving the right” is an empty posture that cost him nothing–book-length virtue signalling.

  41. I get it. The author has issues with Sarah Palin. She may not be a genius, but she isn’t an idiot either. She was a mayor and a govenor. When friends tell me “Obama is a stuttering idiot”, or “Trump is borderline retarded”, I remind them that they have never been President of the USA, nor have they ever written best sellers. We can be too quick to judge based on our preferences.

    As to believing Obama is a Muslim, he may very well have been one early on in life. He made many statements favoring Islam. My personal belief on the issue is that he is probably agnostic, and used both Islam and Christianity for social reasons.

    As for some of the other things said, I know for a fact that most people saying “Michelle Obama is a man” are trolling for fun. They’re not serious.

    Lastly, if memory serves, the Democrats started open Lawfare against her. The left came after her like no one else until DT. She needed the money for the lawsuits. They destroyed this woman with more invective than they use for pedophiles. Why? Because she was dangerous. A symbol to women that they didn’t all need to be socialist feminists.

    Max, I’d like to thank you for your intellectual commitment to involving the USA in foreign conflicts. I’ve been shot at by snipers, and had my throat partially cut so we could destabilize the middle east. I’ve also buried 13 friends since 2003. I’m lucky, I’ve earned a reserve spot at Arlington some day. We simple folks, living out here in the great hinterland between DC and San Fran may not have the degrees to make us worth your effort, but the media you condemn has given us our voices back. We’re tired of wars, putting other nations first, and putting non-citizens over citizens. It’s our country, and we’re just reminding the coasts of that fact.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @logwarrior forever

      Thanks for your service. You and your mates are the ones I get to thank for being able to advocate anti politics and not end up on a scaffold for doing so. I do appreciate it.

      Your post reminds me that I need to occasionally work some patriotic thoughts into my comments. We really are blessed to be Americans.

    • Well said, a reasonable voice, by someone I imagine does put things in perspective…..

      I have never experienced 1/4 of the dangers your have….The great author Nevil Shute believed it was important to have had some risk in your life, to be able to put things in perspective…

      • I don’t remember which famous person said it, but there is indeed nothing more “stimulating” than to be shot at, and they miss. It does put a lot of things in perspective. I’m much less stress prone in my second career, and am known for telling the youngsters at work who are complaining about the day, “If nobody’s trying to kill you, it’s a good day”.

    • Somewoman says

      This is the first internet comment I ever read in my life that made me cry. We thank you for your service.

      The one who deserved his life cut short due to the brutality of war is the author of this article, not your 13 friends.

  42. Cornfed says

    Well Max, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out. Where exactly will you go, though? The Democrats have gone completely insane, in case you missed it. Meanwhile, conservatives continue to believe in those same old ideas so eloquently expressed by the founding fathers. So the problem really isn’t that we’re out of ideas, it’s just that you don’t like them. Go get a job at some university; you clearly are someone who would be comfortable in a faculty lounge where you and your comrades can solve the world’s problems over a latte while nursing your anger at the world for its inability to recognize true genius.

    • @Cornfed
      Precisely. I’m reminded of this quote by Buckley:

      “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

      I see nothing wrong with this view while properly evaluating the circumstances of any given instance. We hear slogans like, “Hope and Change”… Hope for what? Change to what? Obviously the 20th century is full of those intellectuals whom felt they were on the right side of history… and wanted radical change. Well, I guess if you don’t mind breaking a few eggs (or 80+ Million human lives) to get to the end of history, then Ok?

      So, they can go ahead and accuse a conservative of being a reactionary, sure. I find reacting to a group of newly minted progressives trying to “radically restructure society” and “democratize the family while liberating it from the patriarchy” and “doing away with a smelly 2 1/2 century old document because it was written by dead white men” perfectly reasonable.

    • Max has a bad case of TDS….

      The average person can imagine how you feel when a coworker gets a promotion that you dont feel is justified, or that you should have got it…..that is something like TDS

  43. Here’s some quotes for Boot & Co. and the sneering intelligencia crowd. I find they’re more apt today than ever before:

    “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

    W.F. Buckley, 1963


    “The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so.”

    W.F. Buckley, 1955

    “Man became intelligent because of tradition, that which lies between instinct and reason.”

    “…morals, including, especially, our institutions of property, freedom and justice, are not a creation of man’s reason but a distinct second endowment conferred on him by cultural evolution – runs counter to the main intellectual outlook of the twentieth century. The influence of rationalism has
    indeed been so profound and pervasive that, in general, the more intelligent an educated person is, the more likely he or she now is not only to be a rationalist, but also to hold socialist views (regardless of whether he or she is sufficiently doctrinal to attach to his or her views any label, including `socialist’).”

    F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit, the Errors of Socialism

    • Peter from Oz says

      The facts of life are conservative: Margaret Thatcher

  44. This guy is a Trump hater and has TDS, he wont consider humour, negotiating, or simple management procedures in his analysis….Heard him on a podcast too, full blown TDS is all I can say

  45. RadixLecti says

    “Go to Whole Foods, pick a liberal (not hard to identify), cut them in line along with 10–15 of your family members, then take their food. When they throw a tantrum, remind them of their special affinity for illegal immigration. ”

    You don’t think that right-wing exasperation at having “RACIIIIIIISSSSST” screamed at them anytime ANY question about immigration is raised might have something to do with Tomi’s trolling being so popular? I’m somewhat to the left and even I enjoy watching it.

  46. peterschaeffer says

    The idea that immigration restriction is “economically illiterate” is absurd. Let me quote from Borjas (America’s leading immigration economist).

    “There’s also been a lot of fake fog thrown into the question of whether immigrants pay their way in the welfare state. It’s time for some sanity in this matter as well. The welfare state is specifically designed to transfer resources from higher-income to lower-income persons. Immigrants fall disproportionately into the bottom part of the income distribution. It is downright ridiculous to claim that low-skill immigrants somehow end up being net contributors into the public treasury.”

  47. Somewoman says

    This article doesn’t make a lot of sense. Max Boot publicly divorced himself from any affiliation with the republican party only due to the influence and ideology of Trump. Then he went on to blame today’s conservatism on public figures who mainly had more relevance 20 years ago than today. Limbaugh’s heyday was the 90s. D’Souza is hardly a major contemporary influence on conservatism and likewise saw his height of influence 15-20 years ago. Same with Ingraham. Ann Coulter came to prominence in the 90s, saw her popularity decline for 15 years and only became relevant again with her predictions on trump.

    The fact that these same influences that have been active on the right wing for decades didn’t dissuade Max Boot proves that none of these ideologues are the reason Max Boot no longer promotes the republican party. He didn’t spurn the republicans when they ran Palin as a VP. What he hates is trump. And he hates him because trump doesn’t care about proxy wars with Russia.

    Max Boot is a complete degenerate who thinks foreign policy war hawks like him should be able to dictate policy to the masses when neither the left’s nor the right’s base agrees with anything he wants. Boot isn’t the one who risks his life on the front lines when he clamors for endless wars and more and more invasions. He isn’t the one who struggles to pay a mortgage while their taxes are paying for these wars.

    The best thing that came out of the 2016 election was that the intellectually and morally bankrupt neocons found they have no home anywhere. They are spurned by the conservative and progressive base alike just as they should be.

    • peterschaeffer says

      Somewoman, It’s almost certainly a plus for Boot to leave the Republican party (for the Republicans). it would be a an even bigger plus (for the Republicans) for the Democrats to take him. However, that might not happen. More than a few Democrats have no use for the guy (for good reason).

  48. When will Max Boot condemn Israel as an ethnonationalist apartheid state, since he is against racism, ethnonationalism, nativism, walls to repel immigrants, etc.?

  49. For a self-proclaimed defender of intellectualism, this dunderhead misses many obvious points:

    1) To whom do the labels of “dumb” and “smart” political parties mean anything? To voters? Clearly not as shifting between the two in this fairly arbitrary and meaningless paradigm has not had an effect on which parties succeeded. So, are the readers of Quillette to care that one out of touch “policy analyst” longs for a comeback for this completely hollow label?

    2) “Politics is the art of the possible.” An intelligent person on either side of the aisle understands this. Mr. Shoe apparently holds the befuddling opinion that a politician or political movement which accomplishes what it sets out to do is a failure if it is “vulgar” in the process

    3) The series of random incidents or persons on the right who reject intellectualism, coupled with the baseless claim that Palin was the start of right-wing populism (forgetting the “minor detail” that a milquetoast moderate republican ran on the presidential ticket after her and before Trump), completely ignores possible bigger threats on the left. Is Palin still relevant? Is the reality of numerous voices on the left or the right expressing their opinions on TV, radio, or online truly inferior to bureaucratically controlled “fair” programming? Yes, the right wing talking points would be, “Antifa! Big tech! Censorship!” But one doesn’t have to choose a side to determine this stuffed shirt’s bruised ego has led him to feel his own side’s vulgarity and their rejection of his ideas is such a singular threat as to cause him to abandon a supposed lifetime of thoughtful opinions

    Max Boot, the clueless white knight of the human intellect, please familiarize yourself with a modern invention: a mirror

  50. Max Minor says

    The REAL problem in America is that the deck has been firmly stacked against independents and third parties and both of the two “approved” political parties are owned by international billionaires with an evil agenda.

  51. McFly says

    To me, this article represents everything M. Anton abhors about Conservatism, Inc.

    The lack of context in several places seemed purposefully dishonest. And, more than anything, the general tone conveyed an innate NEED to be SEEN as something other than the slanders and libels hurled at the Right from the radical Left. Boot obviously believes that perception is truth, and if the Left is successful in creating the perception that the Republican Party is the “Party of Stupid,” then it in turn becomes his obligation to embrace that as truth.

    Seems lazy and counter-productive…

    Perhaps Mr. Boot is genuinely (and legitimately?) impressed by the magnitude of his own intellect, and so the Right turning to populism and eschewing things like decorum or humility hits him personally?

    But, let’s see if we can get an answer to some of Anton’s most compelling criticisms of Conservative, Inc…

    What are the tangible results of Max Boot’s brand of “Conservatism?”

    Sarah Palin, dumb as she is, helped the Tea Party win elections. Contrasted with Boot’s… what?

    Between David Brooks, George Will, and Max Boot, what have they done to advance the ball for Conservatives on any meaningful level? Smart as they are (just ask them, they’ll tell ya), which “Conservative” victories (electorally, or legislatively) can they claim any amount of credit for?

    • The “tangible” results of Max Boot “conservatism” have been: (1) hollowing out of the American middle-class and the economy of the heartlands; (2) endless failing wars in the Middle East; and (3) the GOP getting wiped out at the polls, and conservatism always on the losing end of the culture wars.

  52. If Mr. Boot can’t be bothered to write an exclusive, I fail to see why his dribble should be republished at Quillette. It offers nothing of value.

    • For the same reason people enjoyed throwing tomatoes in Elizabethan theater.

  53. Rodrigo says

    Never thought I would have to read Boot’s drivel at Quillette, I try to stay as far away as humanly possible from his hawkish neocon tendencies.

  54. Anonymous American says

    Max Boot’s Wall Of Text about the “ignorance” of Trump and his ilk are undercut by the results Trump and his agenda have produced.

    We are seeing a rapid re-emergence of the American middle class, an explosion of domestic investment and wages, and a renewal of domestic infrastructure, with the blue collar leading the way.

    All it took was us electing a man who served Americans First rather than the mega-conglomerates whose policy has been to gut our domestic industry and wealth and ship it to communist china and the third world.

    Boot and his ilk have steered public policy since the Reagan era and presided over the utter gutting of American economy, geopolitical power, standard of living, identity, and culture, and now they’re FURIOUS he is ending their corrupt gravy train.

    Elitists like Boot love to rail at the idea a Representative Democracy actually represents the common man when he and his class of ‘experts” have managed to utterly destroy America and in the process produce genocidal body counts in regions like the Middle East.

    We’re finally returning to sane domestic and foreign policies which helped grow the USA from a backwater with only one (gunpowder) factory to a world power presiding over the most peaceful and prosperous period since the Roman Republic.

    Boot: You’re Fired

  55. This entire piece is nothing more than the result of squabbling between a faction of neocons unhappy that the right has rejected their ideas and a bunch of new idiots on the right like Lahren and Coulter have become favorable. Meanwhile, Boot situatuates himself above these “idiots” while being responsible for pushing the Iraq War, financial deregulation and all the libertarian Buckley policies that have resulted in less power for working people since the 1970s. Boot thinks the golden age of Reagan is an enteral “get out of ideology free” card. Boot is an ideological person to the extreme and seeing him on Quillette is disappointing.

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