April 18, 2023
Christians and Jews have had their Holy Week; now it’s my turn.
Ten years ago, April 20, 2013, I was “outed” as David Cole.
April 20, as you likely know, is a loaded date—the birthday of a terrible, terrible man.
But enough about George Takei.
The outing’s the reason you’re reading me right now. Love me or hate me, I’m here because of what happened April 20, 2013. So this decennial is special.
Don’t worry; I’m gonna rein in my self-indulgence. If you want that, subscribe to my Substack (it’s free), as I’ll be posting special content there on the 20th. But here, for the next two weeks, I’m gonna do a couple of columns related to my previous lives: David Cole the Holocaust “revisionist” (1989–1998) and “David Stein” the GOP operative (1999–2013).
During my time as an organizer with the “Hollywood conservatives” org Friends of Abe (FOA), we had “cliques”: the pro-lifers, the Israel-firsters, the Second Amendmenters. But what united us was “support the troops,” which actually meant “support the wars,” because anyone who suggested that the best way to support the troops was to bring them home was immediately booted (Ron Paul “isolationist” types rarely got in to begin with).
“Support the troops” was the light bulb that kept the moths from drifting too far astray. Even the group’s immigration foes could unite under that banner. Sure, FOA leaders didn’t allow any bitching about south-of-the-border immigration (no immigrant is bad as long as they do the paperwork!), but they graciously allowed venting about Muslims (remember when Pam Geller was as “dangerous” as mainstream-adjacent conservatives got?). Bombing Muslims and guarding the homeland against Muzz infiltration united the neocons/Israel-firsters, the Christians, the gunz-’n’-ammo guys, and the immigration restrictionists.
Every month, we’d host banquets for the worst of the war hawks. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney, Condi Rice. And they’d always arrive in the company of maimed soldiers, as props to milk for cheap applause.
“This is Sergeant Wilson. His face was burned off by an IED. He’s blind, but he can still hear! Let ’im feel the love!”
Massive standing ovation.
“This is Corporal Banks. He lost his arms and legs to a land mine. He can’t clap, but you can! Let him have it!”
Even more massive standing ovation.
“This is Lieutenant Mason. He’s just a brain stem in a jar; it’s all they found after the blast. But doctors say he can feel vibrations, so make some noise!”
Everyone in the room jumps up and down; Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain pound the walls with such vigor, they get a standing ovation for their bravery.
That’s an exaggeration, but not by much. It was a vulgar spectacle; a roomful of celebrities who’d never be caught dead in uniform in anything but a movie applauding the authors of pointless wars for callously exploiting the boys whose lives they ruined.
Then along came Trump 2015. And he turned off the light bulb. He made it okay to say, “Wait, these wars really are foul, as are their architects.” He also allowed rightists who were concerned about the transformation of this country from a civilized nation to a Third World armpit to stop speaking vicariously through anti-Muslim rhetoric and talk openly and impolitely about all nonwhite immigration.
It was at a July 2015 FOA meeting that Trump uttered a statement that would make headlines all summer: “We should’ve invaded Mexico, not Iraq.” Brought down the house! And even though it was supposed to be a “secret” meeting, some gremlin leaked Trump’s speech to the press, and the GOP activist base, nationally, roared with approval.
Trump sunsetted “support the wars” as a GOP rotational center (just as he sunsetted the Bush dynasty). It was liberating, for immigration foes, and for Republicans who were simply besotted with Trump’s brazenness, and who screamed “build the wall” not out of ideological kinship (half the FOAs who jumped on Team Trump in 2015 had never once previously uttered a word about immigration) but because here, finally, was a guy who seemed intent on winning.
But the Trump presidency was like a good meal: It smelled better going in than coming out. By 2020, Trump had abandoned policy issues entirely, concentrating on the only “issue” that mattered: himself. Him and his woes and the wrongs done to him him him.
I don’t rue the demise of “support the wars” as a unifying GOP force, but there are consequences to its absence. Jordan Smith in New Republic broached the topic in October from a liberal perspective (“The Neocons Are Losing. Why Aren’t We Happy?”), but he focused too much on the “Putin stooge” angle. From my POV, the most significant consequence of a GOP activist base no longer inclined to robotically give Dick Cheney and his pet amputees a blowjob is that the lessened influence of the neocons has unmoored GOP factions, and as a result the party is spiraling toward unmitigated disaster.
At the moment, the two most vocal, energized, and uncompromising “cliques” are the MAGAs (backed by Trump) and the pro-lifers (their legendary inflexibility and tunnel vision amped to previously unseen levels by Roe’s demise).
The cliques that represent the two least popular GOP positions are securely in the driver’s seat.
Hoo Nelly, that’s bad. “Stolen election, J6, and Trump’s personality and likability” and “total abortion ban” are issues that are so toxic with independents, they cancel out anything else a GOP candidate might advocate. We saw this in the midterms. Crime? Immigration? Parents’ rights? If your main issue is “god-king Trump and his fetishes” or “fetuses über alles,” you’re toast, nationally and in swing states.
I’ve been critiquing MAGAs a lot lately, so no need to retread that ground. But holy hell, the pro-lifers. Wasn’t it just five months ago that lifers, smarting from the midterm drubbing, said, “Hey, we’re not toxic! Look how popular DeSantis is, and he advocates a fifteen-week ban! That shows you can be pro-life and still turn a purple state red!”
And those very same lifers are now cheering DeSantis’ baffling, idiotic shift to a six-week ban. The people who said, “Fifteen weeks is how you do it!” were lying. These extremists always and only want total bans.
And they don’t give a damn what it costs. Read the replies to any of Ann Coulter’s recent tweets cautioning the GOP on abortion. The same message from lifers, repeated a hundred times: “Our principles are more important than elections.” A reality-detached position, because if Democrats keep winning elections, more widdle wabies die.
My prediction of September 2021 is coming true, worse than I feared. I warned that pro-life “principles over winning” plays right into the hands of the GOP establishment, which wants, above all else, a familiar, predictable base that supports the party without demanding victories. Pro-lifers are McConnell’s dream; lifers are the dream of every Con Inc. “Republican” who wants more cheap foreign labor and less focus on crime and “nativism.” The lifer position, “Not only don’t we demand wins, we’ll take losses as wins because we stuck to principles! The more you lose, the more money we’ll donate for your next loss!” is any party boss’ dream.
Lifers point to Brian Kemp and say, “But he won after passing a ‘heartbeat bill!’” As if one win among thirty losses is somehow a rebuttal. More to the point, Kemp faced a disliked second-time loser in 2022, and he swayed independents by standing up to Trump. But Georgia’s a red state on the wane. With the population explosion in its urban areas, blacks moving back, and Hispanics moving in, Kemp’s holding on to something that’s slipping away (see: the senate races). What made DeSantis exciting was that he didn’t “hold on” to old ground—he gained new ground. Exactly what you want in a national candidate.
But for some boneheaded reason, DeSantis, already pummeled daily by Trump, decided to push through a draconian abortion ban that nobody but the lifers asked for.
So what else do the lifers have to convince the rest of us they’re not kamikazes like the MAGAs? They don’t have the polls, and they don’t have a single post-Roe abortion restriction ballot referendum victory. They only have losses.
Last week my old chum Larry Elder, a pro-lifer who, thanks to abortion, had his black ass handed to him in the 2021 California recall, penned a column titled “Pro-life: The Political Disadvantage.” The piece begins with an admission that pro-life has been a bust at the voting booth. But…
Yes, ol’ Lar has a “but.” As in, “the issue is killing us but…”
That “but” better be good.
You be the judge: Larry claims Republicans can turn the tide, they can advocate no-exception abortion bans and yet win election after election, if only they…
…I used to like Larry. We had some good times together. I hate seeing an old friend wipe out like this…
…if only they explain to voters that abortion eliminates “the least intelligent and fit” blacks.
If only the American people knew that abortion was depriving the nation of “the least intelligent and fit” blacks, they’d outlaw it immediately!
[Planned Parenthood founder Margaret] Sanger thought certain people unfit to live: “The mass of Negroes, particularly in the South, still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among Whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit.”
That’s Elder’s argument. And there’s a problem with it. The big dummy misattributes the quote.
Sanger didn’t say it.
W.E.B. Du Bois did (Elder truncates the quote, which actually ends “and least able to rear their children properly”).
It’s from a 1932 Du Bois essay in Birth Control Review. And it concludes,
They [blacks] are quite led away by the fallacy of numbers. They want the black race to survive. They are cheered by a census return of increasing numbers and a high rate of increase. They must learn that among human races and groups, as among vegetables, quality and not mere quantity really counts.
Sanger cited that essay in a 1939 paper, leading dumbasses like Jonah Goldberg to credit her as the author.
But it was Du Bois, a great black intellectual, making a point as relevant, and as needed, today as it was in 1932…not just regarding blacks but immigrants as well.
And we come full circle. Pro-life isn’t just killing the GOP at the ballot box, it’s also erasing the gains made by the Trump 2016 Overton Window shift that allowed Americans to once again talk about “good stock” when it comes to immigration.
Elder’s argument, that we need more bad stock, is why, as long as pro-life is dominant, there’s no returning to that glorious moment in 2015–16 when Americans felt free to consider “quality over quantity.”
After my 2013 “outing,” I had to get used to living a diminished life, marginalized, a pariah.
Get ready, GOP…thanks to MAGAs and lifers, that’s your future, too.