December 26, 2018


Over the past 40 years, the American conservative movement has taken on a lot of unneeded and somewhat useless baggage. Go to any meeting of the vast right wing conspiracy and you will find all sorts of accomplished individuals many of whom run their own organizations. Sometimes the organizations are so intimately connected to the individuals that when the individual dies the organization will fade away. But most have worked hard to ensure their organizations survive beyond them.

There is another cast of character you will also find at these gatherings. These are the men and women who show up to orbit the actual influencers then claim influence for themselves. They pay the membership fees and get to hang out with the powers that be. Occasionally, they luck into seats at the table where they get to influence the direction of the organizations, but typically they are the people in the hallway passing out business cards regaling everyone of their next big project that rarely happens. The conservative power brokers may pass them a few scraps off the board room table while whispering amongst themselves not to get too close.

One of the silver linings of the Mueller investigation is that many of these charlatans, grifters, and conmen are finally getting their comeuppance. During the 2016 Republican primary, roughly 1.2 million candidates sought the nomination. They hired the A teams and the B teams. No one really took Donald Trump seriously as a candidate. But Trump had millions of dollars, high name identification, and Mar-a-Lago. The grifters of the conservative movement knew the doors would not open at the other campaigns, but they could sail into the Trump campaign. The conservative movement had done such a poor job of policing its own that these hangers-on could honestly show they had credible access.

They had the calling cards, the memberships in all the super secret organizations, the books published by the conservative publishers, the rolodex with names, etc. Trump, not having anyone else to turn to at the time, turned to them. Miracle of miracles, Trump won. Over the past two years, a great sorting has taken place where many of those who were on the outside looking in found themselves on the inside, but slowly saw themselves pushed back out.

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