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Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Gehenna: Reihan Salam: The Wall Street Journal Has Absolutely No Clue What Is Going on in the Republican Party: "To his credit, Paul Ryan was forthright in describing Trump’s attacks on Gonzalo Curiel as ‘the textbook definition of a racist comment’...

...But in the same breath, Ryan defended his decision to back the reality TV star on the grounds that conservatives were more likely to achieve their policy goals with Trump rather than Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office. One gets the sense that Ryan would rather eat broken glass than spend another minute defending his decision to support the candidacy of a man he genuinely seems to despise. Broken glass, alas, is not on the menu.... Paul Ryan is a Wall Street Journal-style conservative through and through, and he is reportedly close to the Journal's chief ideologist, Paul Gigot... has fought for the causes dearest to the newspaper’s heart—namely tax cuts for the rich, open borders, and a hawkish foreign policy. The fact that Trump has won the GOP nomination by bashing elites and immigrants and calling for an ‘America First’ foreign policy is, for Ryan and the Journal alike, an unmitigated disaster. What exactly is the Journal doing to rescue its greatest champion?...

The WSJ editorial page... without naming names, the Journal takes ‘conservative journalists’ and ‘Beltway grandees’ to task for arguing that Ryan has sullied his good name.... The Journal blames the rise of Trump... [on] ‘[m]any of the most devout Never-Trumpers... [who] have spent years fanning grassroots hostility against immigration and Mexicans.’ According to the Journal, Trump would never have darkened the GOP’s door with his anti-immigration rhetoric had these dastardly right-wingers allowed Ryan to broker a deal with President Obama that would have increased immigration levels. The Journal deserves credit for offering such a daringly original take....

Many of the most devout Never Trumpers are in fact open-borders Journal devotees.... It strains credulity to argue anti-immigration sentiment among Republicans was manufactured by the pundit class. Most Republicans are strongly opposed to the kind of immigration reform championed by the Journal.... The battle for the GOP nomination came down to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the GOP candidates who were in line with the 67 percent of Republican voters who favored decreasing immigration levels, and not one of the many also-rans who came closer to the Journal’s view. Despite these very clear numbers, the Journal maintains that conservative pundits are responsible for the fact that Ryan failed to cut a deal with President Obama....

If the Journal really wants to understand the rise of Trump, they’d do well to look closer to home. For years, congressional Republicans, Ryan foremost among them, have championed a Wall Street Journal–approved policy agenda that grass-roots Republicans have found doesn’t address their concerns. The RAND Presidential Election Panel Survey found that 51 percent of GOP primary voters favored increasing taxes on households earning over $200,000 a year.... [But] for decades, the Journal has insisted the GOP make tax cuts for high earners a centerpiece of its economic agenda, despite the fact that support for this position is neither broad nor deep.... As Megan McArdle... observed.... ‘There is simply no way to make federal tax cuts add up to a winning strategy in this day and age,’ she wrote. ‘It’s great for the donor base and the think tanks. But it’s going to fall on deaf ears among the voters, who just don’t care that much.’...

In the Journal’s ideal world, the GOP would largely abandon social conservatism and instead offer tax cuts for the rich, open borders, and deep cuts in programs like Social Security and Medicare. There is no longer any doubt that this generation of Republican voters has thoroughly repudiated the newspaper’s worldview. That’s obviously pretty distressing. But the Journal doesn’t support these policies because they are popular among Republicans or the public at large. Anyone with even a casual familiarity with American politics would know that simply isn’t so. Rather, the Journal takes these positions because they believe them to be intellectually and morally compelling. That’s fair enough. What the Journal should do, then, is give up on offering political advice and get on with making the intellectual and moral case for welcoming more poor immigrants to America while denying them food stamps and subsidized medical care.

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