March 19, 2023
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Pedro Gonzalez’s Failed Attacks on Donald Trump
Chronicles magazine is, by far, my favorite print journal. Over the many years I have subscribed, it has been on many occasions a life line, an excellent purveyor of solid, well-reasoned and expressed opinion and fact, often quite unique in that role. It is the leading voice of what some call “paleoconservatism,” or traditional conservatism. Now under its editor, Dr. Paul Gottfried, it continues and enhances that tradition of excellence.
One of its writers is Pedro L. Gonzalez, who serves as the journal’s political editor. Over the past couple of years I have read with interest and enthusiasm his columns, and delighted in seeing him interviewed by Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon (via Real America’s Voice). His commentaries are usually on target and convincing.
Which makes what I am about to write all the more difficult.
For Pedro Gonzalez also writes a column for Substack, called simply “Contra.” And the other day, March 16, he authored a piece titled, “The Trump Trap,” which was nothing less than an attack on the former president, essentially accusing him of misleading his many supporters and doing it for personal gain.
It wasn’t the first time that he had taken a swipe at Trump, but it was by far the most virulent and, to be completely frank, fallacious…to the point that one has to wonder if such specious arguments could have been uttered seriously.
Please understand, I deeply appreciate the many contributions Pedro has made to conservative opinion. His appearances on the Carlson program and his essays in Chronicles have been stellar and admirable. But this full-out attack on President Trump seems out of character and disingenuous.
His general premise is that Donald Trump is asking his supporters “to go to the mat” for him, again, that is, to “protest” his potentially impending indictment by a frenzied Leftist Democrat New York DA, Alvin Bragg, on accusations regarding hush money supposedly paid to Stormy Daniels prior to the 2020 election as somehow violating election law.
Here is what Trump wrote on Truth Social which drew Gonzalez’s wrath:
“Now illegal leaks from a corrupt & highly political Manhattan district attorneys office, which has allowed new records to be set in violent crime & whose leader is funded by George Soros, indicate that, with no crime being able to be proven, & and based on an old & fully debunked (by numerous other prosecutors) fairy tale, the far & away leading Republican candidate & former President of the United State of America, will be arrested on Tuesday of next week [March 21]. Protest, take our nation back!.... It’s time!! We are a nation in steep decline, being led into World War III by a crooked politician who doesn’t even know he’s alive, but who is surrounded by evil & sinister people who, based on their actions on defunding the police, destroying our military, open borders, no voter I.D, inflation, raising taxes, & much more, can only hate our now failing USA. We just can’t allow this anymore. They’re killing our nation as we sit back & watch. We must save our America!! Protest, protest!!!” [Trump used all caps for these quotes]
Although Gonzalez does not openly express his opinion on the case, it seems pretty obvious that he believes Trump committed some sort of criminality. And he suggests that for Trump supporters to “protest” the actions of the Soros-supported Democrat activist who moonlights as a DA would be an “unforced error” on their part, just like January 6: “The stage has thus been set for another Jan. 6 scenario—the last trap Trump walked his base into.”
But in his eagerness to besmirch Trump he fails to mention the background and the context of the New York case, and the undeniable fact that it is, indeed, an obvious partisan “witch hunt,” one more attempt to “get” the former president, following on the various impeachment charades and the disgraceful Congressional January 6 Committee.
As respected legal scholar Jonathan Turley has written:
“Although it may be politically popular [among Democrats and leftists], the case is legally pathetic. Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump over his payment of “hush money” to former stripper Stormy Daniels…. The Southern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s office had no love lost for Trump, pursuing him and his associates in myriad investigations, but it ultimately rejected a prosecution based on the election law violations. It was not alone: The Federal Election Commission chair also expressed doubts about the theory…. the damage to the legal system is immense whenever political pressure overwhelms prosecutorial judgment. The criminal justice system can be a terrible weapon when used for political purposes, an all-too-familiar spectacle in countries where political foes can be targeted by the party in power….we seem to be on the verge of watching a prosecution by plebiscite in this case.” [my Italics]
Gonzalez first attempts to discredit President Trump’s contention that “the election had been stolen,” and he cites a report by a group specifically hired in the late weeks of 2020 by the Trump campaign to prove that. To acquire, then, what he details about the findings, he cites what “four people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post”—certainly a disinterested and scrupulously fair source!—that although there were “voting anomalies, irregularities in voting patterns, and instance of potential breaking or skirting the law,” they did not find enough things—enough votes—to swing the election.
Gonzalez admits that “the Democratic Party did play dirty, as Time admitted in a story about the ‘shadow effort’ on ‘an unprecedented scale’ to do just enough ‘fortifying’ during the 2020 election to defeat Trump. But that is just to say they cheated, fair and square.” (How is it possible to cheat “fair and square”?)
But he neglects to follow up on that admission. Yes, the “number of votes” counted for Joe Biden was considerably more than the impressive total tallied for Donald Trump (consider the huge Biden margin in California, for instance). But it is not just the vote totals, but how the election was set up and managed, and how during the months of the pandemic shutdown leftist Democrats loosened election laws, relaxed voter requirements, and extended times for absentee ballots in specifically six key states to actually enable a Biden victory. Among several authors, Mollie Hemingway has gone into minute detail on these actions by Democratic activists in the months prior to the 2020 election in her book, Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections (October, 2021).
The correct approach for conservatives and Republicans for 2024 would be to either get voting laws back to where they were before 2020 or, at the very least, to match the well-oiled Democrat election apparatus. About this very legitimate complaint Gonzalez is mum.
Gonzalez insists that Trump’s call for protests over his potential indictment, and his call for protests on January 6 are very similar: “Indeed, the parallels are striking,” he declares.
Here is how he describes it:
“Trump would lead his base to Washington, encouraging them to march on the Capitol and into a trap set by his enemies. Though his team has worked hard to memory-hole the facts, Trump called the National Guard quicker on his own supporters than he did George Floyd rioters in 2020. He excoriated them the following day in a statement:
The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.
Those “demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol” were only in D.C. because of him…”
Which, he states, is exactly what Trump wants them to do again, that is, “cross the Rubicon,” while he actually does nothing on their behalf.
Unfortunately, Pedro engages in some rather ungainly legerdemain in making this point.
At his rally at the other end of the Capitol Mall on January 6 President Trump urged the thousands of supporters who had assembled to “march to the Capitol and make their voices peacefully known.” I emphasis the world “peacefully.”
For it was that day that Trump had hoped that Vice-President Mike Pence would follow through on a highly debatable constitutional proposal enunciated by law Professor John Eastman, based on an interpretation of Article II, 1, cl. 2 of the US Constitution “which assigns to the legislatures of the states the plenary power to determine the manner of choosing electors.” Eastman’s Memo summarized in six pages how this might change the election outcome, noting that “important state election laws were altered or dispensed with altogether in key swing states and/or cities and counties. When the laws at issue were specifically designed to reduce the risk of fraud in absentee voting, those violations are particularly troubling,” and that constitutionally under the 12th Amendment, with slates of contending electors, Pence could certify Trump’s election.
Of course, Pence did not follow the constitutional prescriptions of Professor Eastman. But on January 6 Trump still hoped that that untested legal theory might offer a favorable result. And, as a show of support he asked the assembled thousands to march down the Mall and make their views known…peacefully.
As we know almost certainly, among the large crowd and among the hundreds who did enter the Capitol building, there were agents provocateurs, Federal agents inserted into the crowd as Trump supporters whose job it was to actually provoke violence. Indeed, reporting by both Carlson and Bannon essentially confirms that, most notably the role of the mysterious Ray Epps.
When violence did break out caused by a few, Trump was criticized for not immediately condemning it. But he waited to acquire more details. And his statement, cited above by Gonzalez, is very specific: To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay. I emphasize here his words, “acts of violence and destruction.” And recall, again, that on January 6 Trump urged his supporters to protest peacefully.
The argument here by Pedro is just plain disingenuous, and any person carefully reading both statements should be able to see the different and very specific wording. It cannot be clearer, and one is left with the impression that rationality and logic in his argument have taken a distant back seat to a visceral animus toward the Donald.
Then there is the issue of a possible mass presidential pardon by Trump of the January 6 protesters. According to Gonzalez: “Politico and other outlets reported that Trump considered a blanket pardon for them while still in office. A White House staffer told me that one proposed model would have been based on President Jimmy Carter’s pardon for hundreds of thousands of draft dodgers. But Trump didn’t pull the trigger….”
The Politico article goes into far more detail. Trump indeed looked earnestly for a way to pardon those who entered the capitol. It recounts the serious debate among his legal staff in the waning days of the Trump presidency about the president’s ability to pardon potentially thousands of nameless people who were as yet uncharged with any crime (that came with Merrick Garland’s DOJ). Even in the case of Carter’s pardon for thousands of draft dodgers there had to be at least the name of a draft dodger so that the pardon could be applied legally “nominatim.” Between January 6 and January 20, the last days of Trump’s first presidency, the supposed offenses and names of those who would be persecuted by the Biden administration were not known. It has taken two years of research and charges are still being unveiled by Garland’s Gestapo.
As a result Trump’s attempts were unsuccessful. He has promised that one of the first acts he will do if elected is to pardon those imprisoned. Surely, Gonzalez must have realized that to pardon, even a mass of people, a president needs to narrow down the recipients by name. And in those waning days of January 2021 they were not available to the president.
For Gonzalez, then, both Trump’s actions relating to the January 6 event and his call for protests over the potential New York indictment, are intentional deceptions of his supporters, “a fundraising gimmick,” and he really could care less about his supporters.
A final arguments employed by Pedro goes as follows:
“…part of the right has hitched its wagon to Trump not because he is effective, loyal, or ruthless—but because he makes the left so angry, and, therefore, that must be good. But that is a terrible rationale. Trump is like a bullfighter who drapes the muleta over the head of an adoring grandma only to step out of the way and let the beast bore her, then demand the audience throw roses at his feet. Maybe he gets nicked. But it is his fans who get the horns.”
The object of Pedro’s ultimate attack is one that I have made in several published pieces in the past.
Here is a portion of what I wrote on November 4, 2022 (published on MY CORNER, my blog site, and also at The Unz Review, among other venues):
“Nationally, Trump again in the White House might well cause a major upheaval in Washington. I can visualize the possibility of members of Congress immediately demanding his removal; perhaps massive demonstrations organized by the Left would occur in Washington and other cities. Very likely violence would break out on a scale unequaled in American history. Possibly certain armed forces generals would refuse to take orders, while others did.
“Most of our larger cities are governed by Leftist insaniacs. The total breakdown in law and order, riots by crazed Leftist minions, would force the mayors of those “blue” cities to decide. Certainly, depending on how widespread and grave the anarchy was and how lackadaisical the government response was, locally-organized citizens’ militia could be organized to protect homes and businesses. In “red” states there would perhaps be more of a willingness to use the National Guard….
“No country—no nation—can withstand for any length of time disorder, chaos and internal violence on such a scale. Either order must triumph, or the country, the society, must disintegrate. We have seen that far too often in history.
“This is my reasoning for desiring a Trump victory in 2024. For he would undoubtedly provoke and release even more the frenzied, fanatical demons, those vile militants of a counter-reality who bid well to extinguish all which we hold to be good, wholesome, and true—to rupture our connections and linkage to our past and to history and to memory—and to replace them with Evil Incarnate. And just perhaps a previously somnolent populace would be forced to take action.
“This could give us perhaps the one and only real opportunity we might have to reverse the abject descent into the Inferno which we now experience….
“Far too many American conservatives, in the face of such evil, have yet to realize the depth of our predicament….
“I say bring it on, and sooner is probably better than later, for each succeeding month, each passing year, yields more power to Evil and less to the defenders of our civilization.”
Gonzalez misses (or ignores) the major point here. It’s not about just enraging the Left—which Trump’s re-election would surely do; it is more than that. It’s about carrying forth the counter-revolution that was begun in 2016; it’s about finally forcing the “progries” and the other miscreants out from the fetid swamp where they lurk, which Trump’s re-election might well produce; it’s about forcibly awakening the latent and remaining MAGA populists in “fly-over” country; it’s about, yes, protests and more; and, lastly, it’s about the realization that our enemies are highly organized and disciplined, and out for blood—OUR blood—and that we must counter them or perish. And that we probably have a limited time in which to accomplish that; each month, each year which passes puts us further on the path of progressivist tyranny.
We no longer live in a society where, as in Congress, the Uniparty of Democrats and Republicans can engage in polite contretemps, then go out and have a beer together, essentially celebrating how they have continued to pull the wool over the eyes of their hapless constituents. A return to “Republican normalcy” is unacceptable if we wish for the survival of anything resembling the America many of us grew up in.
Pedro Gonzalez’s attacks are fallacious and not based on the kind of solid logic we are accustomed to read by him. Using his arguments he has placed himself in dubious company. Per Newsweek, he finds himself in the midst of a rogue’s gallery such as:
Philip Lewis, a senior HuffPost editor;
Jon Cooper, co-founder of anti-Trump Super PAC The Democratic Coalition;
Grant Stern, executive editor of the left-wing group Occupy Democrats;
New York Times national correspondent Trip Gabriel;
Washington Post national columnist Philip Bump;
Ahmed Baba, president of ranttmedia, which claims to combat "authoritarianism"; and
The Atlantic columnist David Frum;
And not to forget, Representative Maxine Waters.
I cannot believe Pedro welcomes such company.
Certainly, Donald Trump should not be immune from valid criticism. Indeed, for my part, in the past I have criticized, for example, some of his disastrous appointments (e.g., John Bolton, Nikki Haley, General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Mike Pompeo, etc.) whom I believed contradicted and undercut his “America First” policies, at home and especially, abroad. He was trying, apparently, to unite the GOP, but that desire floundered and was—and is—impossible. On occasion we must cast a critical eye at measures and decrees emanating from a Trump White House and at the people responsible for them.
My earnest desire is that Pedro forego his transparently faulty arguments and return to the topics which have given him an approving readership.