George Conway seems like a nasty piece of work. His wife is a senior adviser to President Trump, and you’d think he might have the decency to shut up and let her have the limelight. But no. He’s been a thorn in her side, and ours, for what seems like an eternity. Yes, he has an absolute right to do what he’s doing. And free speech allows you to hurl obscenities at your mother too. But nice people don’t do that.
George Conway is not a nice person. Conway is the director of something called The Lincoln Project. The Lincoln Project has a particularly smarmy anti-Trump ad running on TV these days. (Don’t tell Conway that negative ads about the opposition candidate aren’t nearly as potent as positive ads about your candidate.)
Conway’s video starts with a waving Confederate flag. The voiceover says:
The men who followed this flag 150 years ago knew what it meant:
Treason against their country; the death of the United States.
America defeated the men who followed that flag.
Those with honor surrendered and cast it aside forever.
So why does it keep showing up today at events supporting Donald Trump?
And why does he call the folks who carry it “very fine people”?
[Trump video with voice] “I think there’s blame on both sides.
But you also had people that were very fine people ….”
What does it say that they’re all in for Trump?
What does it say that he won’t condemn the flag of hate, and division, and losers?
For us it says, “This is a time for choosing:
America … or Trump.”
Whether or not the secessionists were treasonous is a great issue for your next dinner party. According to Frank Buckley, an originalist might “concede that states have exit rights, given that so many of the Framers were willing to contemplate a breakup should the 1787 Convention fail to agree on a new constitution.” But we must move on to today.
“So why,” Conway’s ad asks, “does [the Confederate flag] keep showing up today at events supporting Donald Trump?” One might ask instead (in a low voice, with scary, low music), why did Lyndon LaRouche, who hated Jews and Native Americans, support Democrats? Or “If Lyndon LaRouche were alive today, he’d be supporting Joe Biden. Doesn’t that scare you? It should.”
People in the public arena have said for decades that a candidate is not responsible for the people who support him. Rallies are held in public places. Anyone who wants to — including every kook in town — can show up. But Conway wants to blame Trump for every kook who did show up.
At the rally in Charlottesville, Trump did say, “I think there’s blame on both sides. But you also had people that were very fine people ….” The press jumped on that, of course, but Trump later said that some people were there because “they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.”
If you’re from the New York Times, not wanting to destroy statues of Robert E. Lee (and soon, probably, Washington and Jefferson) may be prima facie evidence that you are a racist. But normal people — a category that obviously excludes George Conway and everyone on the professional staff at the New York Times — have a broader view of life, history and its complexities.
Conway asks: “What does it say that they’re all in for Trump?” What it says is that they’re all in for Trump. (Conway is rumored to have gone to law school.) It does not say that Trump is all in for them.
But, on to the contest. The writer of the best submission will win a bottle of bubbly. Here’s a sample entry as a guide:
[Low, scary, predatory music, with a deep, slow voiceover, accompanied by the obvious photos:]
Americans have all heard of Jeffrey Epstein.
He was the poster boy for sexual perversion.
Epstein was a friend of Bill Clinton and other big-wig Democrats.
Joe Biden is a friend of Bill Clinton and other big-wig Democrats.
What does Joe Biden know about Jeffrey Epstein that he isn’t telling us?
If Joe Biden claims he never met Epstein, why should we believe him?
How do we know Joe’s ageing mind hasn’t just conveniently forgotten Epstein?
C’mon Joe: tell us the truth—if you dare—and if you can remember it.
Isn’t that disgraceful? Answer: Yes, but no more so that George Conway’s ad.
Are you, too, a nasty enough piece of work to win the First Smarmy Ad Contest of 2020? C’mon: put on your big hip boots, wade into the muck and the mob (you’ll recognize some of them), and give it a try. You have nothing to lose but your self-respect.
Daniel Oliver is Chairman of the Board of the Education and Research Institute and a Director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.