May 1, 2018

OUCH: Evan McMullin: A Colonoscopy.

Here is a trivia question that no one will get right in the coming years:

Name a Republican candidate for president in 2016 who attracted the support of once-principled conservatives who betrayed their long-held beliefs out of tribal hate, who abused his staff after the campaign was over, grandstanded on Twitter to no discernible purpose, and may have committed campaign finance violations, all while pretending to be the voice of a frustrated nation.

You can just imagine a frizzy-haired, bespectacled left-winger frantically raising his hand and shouting “Donald Trump” in response to this question, can’t you? Alas, as in everything else, he would be wrong. The correct answer is “Evan McMullin.”

I never understood the rationale for his candidacy, other than as a way to keep some consultants employed after their favored candidates lost in the primary. Plus:

Which brings us back to the scandals engulfing McMullin now, and the massive self-made petard upon which he has been hoisted.

Truly, the fact that McMullin’s “campaign” was a debt-ridden mess, that his current organization is a sinking ship that can’t even pay rats to steer it, and that McMullin himself is precisely the sort of grandstanding, conscienceless threat to republican ideals of self-government that he accuses of Trump of being, ranks as one of the least surprising truths to be confirmed in years. His campaign deserves no cash, its legal failings deserve no mercy, and he deserves no pity. Neither do those who propped him up, for the sake of their own bruised egos and emptying wallets.

As for those who supported him, whether because of misguided zealotry or misinformation? Well, perhaps they deserve a scrap of our understanding and compassion, though not much more than that. In their rush to support a “patriotic” intelligence community hero who was also a True Conservative ™, they ended up enabling a vapid, narcissistic, sanctimonious human pool cue.

If the story of Evan McMullin’s success can be summed up with one indictment, is that Bush-era credulity toward seemingly upstanding young men who are trying to Keep Us Safe permitted many Republican voters and intellectuals to forget that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Though at this point, I’ll grant McMullin’s supporters that he’s too dull to be a scoundrel.

One thing, however, he proves beyond dispute: True Conservatism ™ is the last refuge of a sponge.

Ouch.

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