Sir: David Cameron may need reminding that it takes two to tango and corruption involves the corruptor and the corrupted!
Spring Hill, Qld
Republican party schisms
Sir: Jacob Heilbrunn astutely analyses the predicament Donald Trump creates for America’s neoconservatives (‘Lumped with Trump’, 14 May). But the ideological schisms within the Republican party are even more profound than he indicates. In fact, Trump not only divides the populist right from movement conservatives — and neoconservatives — based in Washington, DC, he also divides neoconservatives against themselves. William Kristol, the neoconservative kingpin in Washington, has lately found himself under intense attack by David Horowitz, a California-based ex-radical-turned-rightist in the classic neoconservative mould. Horowitz has excoriated Kristol for dividing Republicans and effectively helping Hillary Clinton. Trump, Horowitz argues, is not only obviously better than Clinton on domestic policy but is also apt to be a better friend to Israel, in part because Trump talks about renegotiating Obama’s deal with Iran, while Clinton supports the deal as it exists.
Pro-Trump neoconservatives, like pro-Trump conservatives of other schools, do not have nearly the media presence that anti-Trump conservatives do. Yet Horowitz is far from alone: an anonymous group of writers in California, who evidently have ‘Straussian’ neoconservative leanings, have recently started an intellectual Trumpist website called the Journal of American Greatness.
DC-based movement conservatism commands the loyalty of far fewer voters than anyone had suspected. The mirage of a powerful and unified conservative movement was but an illusion fostered by a dozen journalists in the nation’s capital intoxicated by their fame within the pages of their publications. But nobody in the country at large listens to them — not even the neoconservatives in places like California. So who needs Bill Kristol?
Editor of the American Conservative Alexandria, Virginia
What Trump represents
Sir: I don’t think the Trump phenomenon would have traction in any other country (Leading article, 7 May). His success is bound up with an innate American worship of financial fortune — a worship that is deeply in the culture. This somehow blinds people to all faults — including bigotry, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, dishonesty, hatred, ignorance and narcissism. To be extremely wealthy is to be ‘great’, and little else matters. It’s the essential criterion for greatness for the growing US underclass. Trump claims to be their champion, their messiah: a believable plain-speaking common man. In their bones, these Americans are anti-intellectual — they find fluent speakers repellent and un-American. They can’t see that Trump is also a buffoon and a fraud.
The great hope is that Bernie Sanders connects, too. The polls show that he would beat Trump with ease, because of his authenticity. Hillary Clinton, in Wall Street’s pocket and devoid of charisma, is not the candidate to beat Trump. In truth, she has a charisma bypass.
A US political revolution is now unstoppable. With the collapse of the old GOP, social democracy is finally on the rise. It’s the duty of all thinking Americans to vote. They should never underestimate their power. They did it twice for Barack Obama. Yes, they can do it for Bernie Sanders, too.
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
Sir: Matthew Parris has, without naming the name, illuminated the very Trump-like behaviour of the Brexiteers (‘Brexit Tories are feeling disrespected. How awful’, 30 April). Next, I suspect those same loudmouths will be importing Mr Trump’s wall to be erected on top of the cliffs of Dover.
Rhinebeck, New York
The future outside Europe
Sir: Toby Young’s contributions are always interesting, but I differ from him regarding Brexit. In his article of 14 May he looks inwards (‘These heartless Europhile snobs’). Outwards is the more immediately important viewpoint (though, whatever we decide, we do still have difficult internal problems to solve). The Hinkley Point fiasco and the recent interest of China are instructive. In Europe, we are an important component of a world power which ranks beside (and can, if required, stand up to) the USA, Russia, India and China. Outside Europe, we would be no more than a leading second-division nation of reduced economic independence and international influence.
Sir: Mark Mason nails it (‘Guilty displeasures’, 14 May). Spike Milligan wasn’t funny (nor are Reeves and Mortimer). Coffee is hideous. Brandy doesn’t aid digestion. The Beatles were OK. The Book of Common Prayer (1662)? Other prayer books are available…
Revd George Pitcher
All Saints, Waldron, East Sussex
Cameron’s Scottish absence
Sir: Andrew Hamilton laments the non-appearance of David Cameron in the recent Scottish elections (Letters, 7 May). I beg to differ: his involvement would have been a great error, and the success of Ruth Davidson would have been compromised by his participation. A certain distancing from perceived Westminster and southern toxicity was essential to her rebranding of the party here to give it a distinctive identity. Her plan seems to have paid off handsomely.