Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens fired back at Sean Hannity Monday as the feud between the two pundits reaches war-like proportions.
Stephens went at it with Hannity on Twitter last week, prompting Hannity to deliver unto the Journal editor a devastating beatdown on the pages of Breitbart News, calling Stephens an “arrogant elitist” who does not understand or care about the problems of the working class. The beef started when Hannity blamed #NeverTrump complainers for a hypothetical Trump loss.
Their battle is significant because it is emblematic of the GOP Civil War at this, its pettiest and most divisive stage: Trump supporters are trying to win hearts and minds, while #NeverTrump Republicans bash their nominee from the sidelines, hoping for a Hillary Clinton win so they can re-take the party after November.
Stephens wrote a piece Monday night entitled “Sean Hannity’s Veneration of Ignorance: The right’s political huckster gives Al Sharpton a run for his money.”
It was probably inevitable that Donald Trump and his media munchkins would alight on the stab-in-the-back theory to explain his probable defeat in November. The surprise is that they are doing so with the election still three months out…
…Like members of a cult who discover too late that their self-proclaimed messiah is mortal after all, rationalizations are required…
…Mr. Hannity’s excuses are even more disgraceful, combining oily self-absolution with venomous obloquy for the very conservatives who have spent the year warning that a Trump candidacy is an epic GOP disaster that all-but guarantees Hillary Clinton’s election. The habit of shifting blame and refusing to take responsibility is supposed to be the curse of the underclass and its political hucksters, but Mr. Hannity is giving Al Sharpton a run for his money…
After wading through venom, the reader finally gets to a passage that suggests Stephens has some knowledge of what Trump supporters are fighting for:
But Mr. Hannity’s tantrum obscures the uglier side of what he is trying to do, which is to paint targets on the GOP’s genuine Reaganites—pro-trade, pro-immigration, pro-NATO, pro-entitlement reform—and replace them with the Party of Trump—anti-all of the above—no matter what happens to the candidate come November.
Who might help lead this Unglorious Revolution of the crass, clueless and shoulder-chipped? Those who can make themselves rich by shouting and hearing echoes of themselves even as the GOP loses one presidential election after another.
So there you have it. The Republican battle lines, which were drawn about a year ago, are still there. But Stephens clearly misunderstands what the Trump movement is all about.
This reporter took some heat on Twitter, in absentia, for including the following passage in my article last week on Hannity and Stephens:
Now, Hannity is defining his place in the new Republican Party, where the Drudge Report, Breitbart News, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh were placed on Conservative Movement blacklists during the darkest days of the Great Trump-Cruz War.
Since Cleveland, where Trump supporters overthrew the corrupting forces of globalist special interests, the #NeverTrump operatives have been in retreat. Trump humiliated Cruz in Cleveland, prompting black merchants on Cleveland’s Fourth Avenue to start hawking “Ted Cruz Sucks…Hillary Swallows” T-shirts.
The new Republican style has been called “populism through vulgarity.” Maybe that’s fitting in some cases, like the term “cucking,” which is now used casually and publicly by the likes of Edward Snowden over in Russia. But the vulgarity, while fun, masks the deeper importance of this stage of the GOP Civil War.
Some like Bill Kristol are hoping for a Hillary win so that those globalist special interests can come back and re-corrupt the party after November. Bill, son of Irving, was caught leaning up against a wall at the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton pretending to talk on his cell phone so he could spy on Matthew Boyle, Patrick Howley, and Milo Yiannopoulos at our convention.
Hannity is making it known that he stands with the Populist Nationalist Champions of the New and Better Republican Party Borne in Cleveland That Will Reign Supreme For Years To Come.
The Populist Nationalist Champions of the New and Better Republican Party Borne in Cleveland That Will Reign Supreme For Years To Come are not vicious people. Stephens should learn more about them before he writes about them again.
Trump supporters want to win. That’s a large part of the reason why they threw out feckless establishment candidates who they knew could not beat Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump has been in the lead over Clinton in national polls as recently as his post-Cleveland bump. A large part of the reason why his poll numbers went down, as anyone with common sense can realize, is because establishment Republicans pilloried Trump so hard during the Khizr Khan fiasco and the initial Paul Ryan non-endorsement.
If Stephens wanted the Republican Party to win, so it won’t lose “one presidential election after another,” then he would be getting on board with the tax-cutting, terrorist-threatening Republican nominee.
The fact that Stephens is not getting on board means that he thinks Trump is an exception. He does not consider Trump to be just like any other Republican candidate who can lead the party into an election.
So why should Trump supporters?
Does Stephens think it was easy for Trump supporters to take such a politically incorrect stand? Does he think these people liked being slammed in the media over and over again on a daily basis? Does he think they enjoyed getting attacked from all angles by #NeverTrumpers in both parties? Does he think it’s cool to be formally blacklisted?
Does he think it was easy for them to have to cut ties with old friends and allies simply because those friends refused to tolerate any Trump support?
Does he think it was easy for Trump supporters in the political realm to burn so many bridges among former colleagues? (Well, maybe that part had its fun moments…)
Trump supporters don’t sit around thinking “another candidate maybe could have done better for the party” because that old GOP was not their party to begin with.
For Trump supporters, this is a revolution. Part of that revolution involves taking over the Republican Party, infusing it with nationalistic principles, making it grow, and making sure that the party DOES win both in November and in future elections.
Does Bret Stephens care about the Republican Party?
If so, maybe he should stop stabbing it in the back.