Peter Wehner Had an Epiphany


But First a Word about the State of the Union Speech

In the end, Dr. Aardvark and I could not bring ourselves to watch it. Instead, we watched the last episode of Rebecka Martinsson on Acorn TV. (Was Krister killed by the gunshot, or did he survive and recover? The evidence seems ambiguous. Can anyone tell us? Will we have to wait for Series 2? Will there, in fact, be a Series 2?)

As for SOTU, according to reports, it was as expected. I could have written it for Trump in my sleep. And so could you.

We did watch Stacey, and liked her style and her substance.

And Now for Peter Wahner’s Epiphany

Before Happy Acres, my regular driving route took me past a  house of worship called The Church of the Epiphany. Each time I passed, I would strike my forehead and utter, “I couldda had a V8!”

Based on his recent article in the Atlantic, something similar has happened to Peter Wehner. In case you don’t know, Peter Wehner is an anti-Trump rightwing think tank kind of guy. He has now decided to leave the Republican Party, or so we may glean from today’s early morning post, What I’ve Gained by Leaving the Republican Party: I’m more willing to listen to those I once thought didn’t have much to teach me. According to Mr. Wehner’s fulsome, thumb sucking self-analysis, his exit from the party has provided the occasion for considerable personal growth and maturation:

I assumed that the claim that the Republican Party’s effort to win the South’s support in the late 1960s was part of a “southern strategy” relying on a coded racial appeal was unjust. Enforcing law and order is certainly a legitimate issue for politicians to run on, and a basic function of government.

Today I see the Republican Party through the clarifying prism of Donald Trump, who consistently appealed to the ugliest instincts and attitudes of the GOP base—in 2011, when he entered the political stage by promoting a racist conspiracy theory, and in 2016, when he won the GOP nomination. He’s done the same time and time again during his presidency—his attacks on the intelligence of black politicians, black journalists, and black athletes; his response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia; and his closing argument during the midterm elections, when he retweeted a racist ad that even Fox News would not run.

It would be deeply unfair to claim that most Republicans are bigots. But it is fair to say that most Republicans today are willing to tolerate without dissent, and in many cases enthusiastically support, a man whose appeal is based in large part on stoking racial and ethnic resentments, on attacking “the other.” That has to be taken into account. At a minimum, their moral reflexes have been badly dulled.

It’s impossible for me to know with any precision how much of the Republican base is motivated by ethnic nationalism and racial resentments and anxieties, but it’s certainly a higher percentage than I’d thought. A conservative friend of mine recently had a meal with a prominent Republican officeholder who, when asked what explained Trump’s growing appeal in his state, told my friend it was in reaction to Obama and it was mainly a matter of race.

We welcome Mr. Wehner’s new insights and wish him well in his struggles for continued personal and intellectual growth.