Crenshaw Reloaded

The Texas Congressman wants it both ways

Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw has some deep thoughts about what ails right-wing politics these days.

There is, he says, way too much “performance,” rather than persuasion. Too much much grift; too much talking about “fighting” and “owning the libs in the snarkiest of fashions.”

In a column headlined, “What It Really Means To ‘Fight’” — published in the lib-owning Daily Wire — Crenshaw makes the case for a politics of reason and persuasion.

Too often, Crenshaw writes, “politicians and pundits who scream ‘Fight!’” are creating a “conservative safe space” which will not bring us to what he calls “real cultural and political progress.”

“The dirty little secret,” he writes, is that “some of the influencers or pundits” who “scream the loudest about ‘getting out and fighting’” are not, in fact, interested in “real solutions.” Rather, “their dedication to the cause is based on monetary return” by continually feeding the beast “and the beast is especially hungry when it is angry.”

The piece is winning Crenshaw accolades.

And, indeed, it is good, strong stuff. Unless you consider that the author is himself one of the Trumpiest grifters extant.

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It seems worthwhile to remember that the author of this meditation on “fighting” was the same guy who just two months ago released a “Georgia Reloaded” ad in which he portrays himself as an action figure who fights antifa.

The video goes on to show Crenshaw being escorted to a military plane. He later jumps out of the plane and parachutes into Georgia, landing on a car to fight men portrayed as antifa activists.

That video was a remake of his earlier video, “Texas Reloaded,” which the Daily Beast described as “a seizure-inducing-B-movie, Mission-Impossible-cosplay ad for his campaign, replete with a ‘Crenshaw Command Center’ where he receives a top secret package he's able to read by removing—you guessed it—his eye patch.”

Not everyone was impressed by the Georgia ad.

“Watched this twice now. I was sure it must be an SNL or Comedy Central skit,” wrote Tony Thomas, the former commander of Special Operations Command. “Nope, just the base(r) level our political environment slips to with each succeeding day… Embarrassing."

The video was not a one-off. This is Crenshaw’s shtick, especially as he’s built close ties with some of the folks who have built their careers on “liberal tears,” like Charlie Kirk and Ben Shapiro.

All of this would be ironic, if irony had not long since been pulverized.

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Some cuts from the Crenshaw highlight reel:

In December 2019, Crenshaw was a featured speaker at Kirk’s TPUSA conference, along with Trump, who used the occasion for “a colorful airing of grievances… just days after becoming the third president in American history to be impeached.”

“Crazy Nancy, she’s crazy,” the president said of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

And then Crenshaw bounded up onto the stage to embrace him.

The president invited Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who spoke earlier in the program, to come onstage, and Crenshaw handed him his red “no” voting card.

“I’ll save that Dan,” Trump said, putting the card in his jacket pocket.

All of this has made Crenshaw something of a celebrity on the grifter right.

In 2017, he went on national television as an outspoken defender of Trump’s remarks about Charlottesville.

He made a video defending Trump’s handling of the coronavirus that was notorious for its “misrepresentations, incorrect and context-free claims and false choices.”

Crenshaw has also become a master of the cheap shot.

Here he is mocking California’s energy problems (before Texas’s own massive brownout this week.)

Not surprisingly, Crenshaw is not known for his consistency.

Last June, in the midst of the pandemic, Crenshaw posted a video of a speech in which he declared: "Proxy voting is cowardly. Period." This month, he voted against impeachment… by proxy.

Crenshaw said he was “unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency,” in a letter to the clerk for the House of Representatives. Rep. Troy Nehls of Richmond served as his proxy.

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But all of this was merely prologue to his role in the Big Lie.

As Trump geared up to overturn the election, Crenshaw sneered that the “sanctimonious pearl clutching that our democracy is under threat… is absurd.”

Here he is predicting that “Biden supporters” were the ones who “had geared up for riots.”

It got worse.

Crenshaw was also one of the 126 GOP representatives who signed onto the bogus Texas lawsuit seeking to have the election overturned.

He tried to explain his role in the Sedition Caucus by insisting that he was just “drawing additional attention” to the fact that state legislatures had “made sweeping changes” to elections laws.

But critics pointed out the obvious hypocrisy:

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And then there is the cruelty.

In a feature titled “Dan Crenshaw Is the Trumpiest of the Wannabe New Trumps”, The Daily Beast recounted this tale:

In September 2019, a former staffer on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Andrea Goldstein, lodged a complaint that she was sexually assaulted at the Washington VA Medical Center. In response, then- Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie didn’t only not try to get to the bottom of what happened, he worked behind the scenes to smear and discredit her. An Inspector General’s report on the incident and its handling afterwards accused VA leadership with ethical lapses and “unprofessional” behavior.

But guess what else the investigation found? That Wilkie claimed he was approached by his own little guardian angel in Crenshaw, who said he’d served with Goldstein and, without any evidence, called Goldstein a “fraud.” This attack was used by top VA officials in emails to undermine Goldstein and raise doubts about her credibility. In classic ignore-the-subpoena Trumpist atavism, Crenshaw refused to speak with the investigators, who eventually labeled his actions based on the emails and other evidence as “unprofessional and disparaging.”

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Not surprisingly, Crenshaw had fans among the January 6 rioters, including Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed.

Her Facebook page reflected a number of right-wing interests, though comparatively mainstream ones. Her likes included conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), and libertarian icon and former Rep. Ron Paul, as well as pages supportive of gun rights.

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So what are we to make of Crenshaw’s latest plea for a politics of persuasion rather than of grift, memes, and bloviation?

It is tempting to see his Daily Wire article merely as a cynical grasp at respectability, but it’s actually more revealing than that, because it shows that even as he tosses out dumb tropes to the deplorati, Crenshaw knows exactly what he is doing.

He knows that it is fraudulent, toxic, grifty, and manipulative. But, even though he knows better, he does it anyway.

He may even feel guilty about it — but not guilty enough to abandon his Trumpian schtick.

So he wants it both ways: to be both clown and critic: both fascist wanna-be and a voice of sense and conscience.

And the bar is so low, that he gets plaudits from pundits so starved for a reasonable Republican that they are willing to settle for Dan Crenshaw.

And that also speaks volumes about the state of conservativism in 2021.

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There is zero chance that Trump wrote this himself.

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” he said in the statement released by the Save America PAC. “He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country.”

The tip-off? Dour. No way that Trump used that word.


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Quick Hits

1. What We Mean When We Talk About “Unity”

Veteran columnist and author Joe Klein writes in today’s Bulwark:

I rise to defend—defiantly, perhaps foolishly—the notion of unity. I know the concept has taken a bashing this past month. It has been ridiculed, dismissed, and rendered banal. It has been conflated with “bipartisanship,” even though the two exist on separate metaphysical planes.

Unity has to do with principles; bipartisanship, with policies. Bipartisanship is a tactic, the product of compromise. But there is no bargaining over unity. It is a call to arms, a fighting word.


2. Pull the U.S. from the 2022 Beijing Olympics

Ellen Bork in this morning’s Bulwark:

Why not say what should be obvious: The United States could not possibly send athletes and officials to Beijing while Uighurs face rape and forced labor; while political prisoners like Xu Zhiyong in the mainland and Jimmy Lai, the pro-democracy newspaper publisher in Hong Kong, remain in custody; while the CCP is engaged in a campaign to subvert Tibetan Buddhism; and while China’s military increases pressure on Taiwan. That is not only a tough policy but one that recognizes that CCP rule, and America’s response to it, have changed since 2008.


3. Two Opposing Models of Leadership

Brian Karem contrasts Jamie Raskin and Mitch McConnell:

On January 5, the day before the storming of the Capitol, Raskin faced the unthinkable task of burying his son, whom he lost to depression. Yet in the aftermath of the attack, Raskin never shied away from doing his job—even though no one would’ve faulted him had he decided to sit out the second impeachment.

He put the needs of the republic ahead of his own needs—which makes him exactly the sort of lawmaker and leader the country needs going forward.

Mitch McConnell is among the most selfish and irresponsible men ever voted into office. He is a symbol of the past, an emblem of a broken political structure—of how partisan and petty personal concerns can destroy the United States.

Raskin is the hope for the future—putting the country first, even putting it above personal concerns.


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Cheap Shots

Tucker’s hackery. An update.

Metaphor alert.