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Showing posts from January, 2019

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House. Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity.Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be acc…

Brink Lindsey's essay on small-r republicanism in National Affairs

"This essay is addressed to those conservatives and Republicans, from leaners to stalwarts, whose loyalties to movement and party are now badly strained or even severed," Brink Lindsey writes in his essay "Republicanism for Republicans" (National Affairs, Winter 2019). Strained or severed, that is, because the Republican Party "has been overrun by people or ideas you find repellent. And the things that attracted you in the first place — the intellectual seriousness of the 'party of ideas,' the optimism and idealism, the record of real-world policy accomplishments and skillful statesmanship — don't seem to count for much anymore." He acknowledges the "immense" nature of the project "to reconstruct the American right," given that the Republican Party "is overwhelmingly under the spell of Donald Trump and seems determined to plumb the depths of intellectual and moral self-abasement in the service of a cult of personality.…