the national interest

The Extremist Party Is Not the One That Nominated Biden

Anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson. Photo: Photo Courtesy of the Committee

The Republican National Convention has been devoted principally to the theme that Joe Biden is a tool of the radical left. It hardly matters that the radical left loathes Biden to the point where its members are split on whether to cast a disgusted, less-than-half-hearted vote for him at all. In the hands of Republican orators from Kimberly Guilfoyle to Tim Scott, Biden’s subservience to the agenda of socialists and violent rioters was taken as an article of faith. (Biden has apparently been cured of his dementia and converted to Marxism.)

But the Republican convention, and especially its second night, could not conceal the reality that extremism is endemic in Trump’s party, not Biden’s.

Minutes before the convention began, Mary Ann Mendoza lost her planned speaking place after the Daily Beast reported that she had promoted The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic screed, originally forged by the czarist secret police, that purports to reveal a vast Jewish conspiracy to control the world. Mendoza has been obsessed with Jewish conspiracies for a while:

It is a relief to see that the Republican Party has some line it does not yet want to cross. Yet Mendoza is better evidence of what sort of racist theories the party will permit than what it will not. Her public identity is an “Angel Mom,” a name for activist mothers of people who were killed by illegal immigrants (in her case, a drunk driver). It is not true that the undocumented are more prone than native-born Americans to commit crimes. The whole purpose of the Angel Moms is to create a stigma of collective guilt on a minority, a kind of modern blood libel.

In the meantime, a speech by anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson went ahead as scheduled. Johnson’s publicly stated beliefs include: “Statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons,” and every household should have one vote, and it should be decided by the man.

Also today, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican candidate for Congress and QAnon aficionado, announced that Trump has invited her to attend his acceptance speech at the White House on Thursday. Trump has praised her as a “future Republican star.” There is such a thing as “too kooky for the Republican Party,” but the line is apparently that you can advocate deranged conspiracy theories that specifically venerate Donald Trump but not ones invented before he was born.

In the fever-swamp atmosphere, the appearance of Lawrence Kudlow seemed almost sane and rational. Kudlow is a fanatical proponent of supply-side economics, a crank doctrine rejected even by right-wing economists, which claims tax rate cuts can produce so much growth as to pay for themselves. Very much like a cultist, Kudlow has spent his entire career making spectacularly wrong predictions but refusing to even consider altering his theological certainty.

Kudlow has branched out from his normal habit of making absurd economic predictions to making absurd epidemiological projections, insisting in February that the coronavirus pandemic was “contained” (it wasn’t) and in June that a second wave wasn’t coming (it was). Rather than acknowledging those false predictions, or even simply ignoring them, Kudlow pretended as though they had come true. In his convention speech, he discussed the pandemic in the past tense (“It was awful”) and described recession conditions as something that had happened before Trump’s presidency — “Do you want to turn back to the dark days of stagnation, recession and pessimism?” — and not as something happening right now.

A few decades ago, Kudlow counted as a cutting-edge Republican nut. Today, he is an éminence grise.

The charge that Biden is an ally of “cancel culture,” socialists, or anarchist mobs is transparently preposterous. The notion that Trump is an ally of the far right is so undeniable he is putting it on bright national display.

The Extremist Party Is Not the One That Nominated Biden