The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Why conservatives are always defending the indefensible

Like the girl who always falls for the guy who’s bad for her, conservatives keep trusting the wrong people and making the same mistakes. One such mistake goes like this: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

A few recent examples…

When Donald Trump got into a fight with BuzzFeed (some) conservatives reflexively defended him. They presumably did this because BuzzFeed is viewed as a liberal-leaning outlet — and because Trump is nominally a Republican. But is he worth defending? Trump’s conservative bona fides are highly questionable to begin with, and his impact on the GOP’s prospects are almost certainly negative (as evidenced by his birther crusade). But at least he has the right enemies…

Conservatives have long embraced Ted Nugent. Like Trump, Nugent is beloved partly because conservatives are so desperate for celebrities that they are (ironically) enamored of them (remember the time the Ultimate Warrior came to CPAC?!?). Nugent, of course, has always been a loose cannon, but his recent comments about Obama being a “subhuman mongrel” have finally earned him the rebuke of some prominent conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Nugent, of course, didn’t become controversial or uncouth over night, but conservatives have — until recently — embraced him (he was recently campaigning with the Texas Republican candidate vying to replace Perry as governor). Even now, some are obliquely defending him because he has all the right enemies. They do this because liberal celebrities are held to lesser standards. They do this because the coverage of his comments has felt disproportionate. They do this because conservatives love lost causes.

It’s not just celebrities. Political candidates who pick the right enemies are too often supported, regardless of their failings. Most recently, we have seen this in the effort to oust Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell, of course, is no conservative hero, but conservatives were too quick to latch onto a flawed replacement.