Kavanaugh Fight Leads ‘Never Trumper’ Erick Erickson Back to Trump
The conservative commentator had mellowed. Then Brett Kavanaugh happened.
Last October, I interviewed conservative blogger and talk radio host Erick Erickson about his then-new book, Before I Wake. In my column (titled, “Older, Wiser, (a little) Mellower”), Erickson expressed some regret for some of the red meat he had hurled at liberals over the years. He was, by that point, a prominent “Never Trumper” who famously disinvited Donald Trump from attending the RedState “Gathering.” He had received threats.
Almost a year later, things seem to have changed. Erickson has been one of the most aggressive defenders of Brett Kavanaugh, using his highly followed Twitter feed and website The Resurgent to launch attacks at Democrats and to question Kavanaugh’s accusers.
Last week, after the original allegations hit, Erickson suggested it was entirely about abortion. “The left is perfectly willing to destroy a man's reputation in order to keep destroying children,” he wrote. “They will use a 35 year old uncorroborated, single sourced, 35 year old claim of a woman who first made the accusation in 2012 after Kavanaugh's name had circulated in the press as a possible Supreme Court pick for Romney in order to protect the right to kill girls in utero. Just remember that. This entire thing is about the right to kill kids, not about the veracity of the accusation.”
After new allegations surfaced this week, Erickson scoffed, writing: “Brett Kavanaugh, the left would have you believe, was the organizer of a high school criminal enterprise wherein he and his friends ran drugs and organized gang rapes when not drinking so excessively as to give them performance issues making it difficult to perform the rapes.”
The postings have left many to wonder if there ever was a newer, mellower Erickson at all. So too did Erickson’s suggestion that he might just invite the president to his group’s gathering in 2019.
In an interview on Wednesday, the longtime conservative pontificator offered no apology for his Kavanaugh-related posts. Instead, he made the case that the dogmatic ones in this current drama were those who had gone after the nominee, in the process pushing him and other Trump-skeptic conservatives back into their party’s arms.
“I’m having an internal conversation with myself if I’m going to wind up voting for the president in 2020—given everything that’s happening,” Erickson declared. “And I don’t like the guy… but the left seems very intent in pushing me into his corner.”
I caught up with him over the phone on Wednesday afternoon. What follows is a transcript (edited for clarity and length) of our discussion:
You seem to have been convinced from day one that Brett Kavanaugh is innocent. Why?
It has not been organic; it has been extremely predictable (how it would move forward) …There were ways [Dr. Ford] could have rolled this out as an accusation and given it credibility, and instead, I think she rolled it out in a way to give maximum firepower to the Democrats. And that makes me believe that this is partisan-motivated, and not legit.
Was it the timing—the fact that this dropped after the confirmation hearings?
That was part of it. But people have forgotten that at the beginning of July, she called the Washington Post and told them the story. And then she waited until the end of July to let Dianne Feinstein know. Within seven days had gotten a polygraph… Then, now we know she’s scared of flying, but somehow was able to make it from Washington to California [sic] within 48 hours, which is impossible by driving. And none of these things have added up over time.
Let’s imagine a world where the Kavanaugh allegations are proven true? Would you still support his confirmation?
If Brett Kavanaugh came out tomorrow and said, ‘I’m sorry I did this in high school. I screwed up. Forgive me,” I think he’s disqualified himself from being on the Supreme Court, because he’s spent the last month lying about it.
But don’t your tweets criticizing the Kavanaugh accusers undercut the more compassionate conservative image you’ve cultivated in recent years?
Well, I don’t think it’s compassionate to try to destroy a man with trumped up charges because you’re afraid he might try to destroy Roe v. Wade.
How much of this fight is about abortion?
I think a great majority of it is, especially on the Democratic side. I actually don’t think Kavanaugh could overturn Roe. I think Roberts would never overturn Roe on a 5-4 decision. I do not think he would be the fifth vote, he would want to be the sixth or seventh vote. Nevertheless, I do think Democrats are convinced that there would be five votes to overturn Roe.
The battle over Kavanaugh seems to be bringing some “Never Trumpers” back home to the GOP. I see you ‘re even considering inviting Trump speak at next year’s Resurgent Gathering.
I am more and more wondering—I’m having an internal conversation with myself if I’m going to wind up voting for the president in 2020, given everything that’s happening. And I don’t like the guy… but the left seems very intent in pushing me into his corner.
I’m hearing this same thing from friends, are you?
I’m on an email thread of about fifteen people, all of whom were very Never Trump, and more than half of them are already saying that—just as a matter of self-preservation—they intend to vote for him in 2020.
Forget 2020, are they more likely to show up this November?
I’m increasingly dismissive of the blue wave. I think there will be a blue wave in blue parts of the country. But I think we may actually see a resurgence of Republicans in red areas of the country. We are fracturing as a nation, and everyone is being driven into camps as a matter of self-preservation.
You’ve mentioned “self-preservation” a few times. From the standpoint of someone who does what you and I do, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of incentive to oppose Trump.
As someone who did not support the president in 2016, and has lived to literally pay the price for it—my income is down two-thirds—I’m thinking, at this point, does it matter to people that that I think I’ve been largely intellectually consistent on this?
I’m the enemy [to the left] because I don’t believe the baker should have to bake the cake, and I don’t think you should chase politicians you don’t agree with out of restaurants.
Doesn’t this last week sort of prove Trump and his supporters right—about the need for a tough guy to stand up to the liberals and the media? Have you changed your mind about the need for a conservative who is willing to fight fire with fire?
No, I haven’t, and a lot of it is faith based. I really think that this isn’t a political fight, it’s actually a spiritual fight. And I should not abandon my faith-based principles and the doctrines of faith and forgiveness just because other people won’t.
But earlier you said you were considering inviting Trump to your event next year. It sounds like you’re wrestling with this…
I definitely am wrestling with it. I go back and forth on whether I can vote for this guy in 2020. And if I can vote for him in 2020, then does that obligate me to be a cheerleader for him?
There is no political party in this country at this moment that is presenting a compelling alternative to the president that is willing to embrace people like me—evangelical and pro-life and actually supporting limited government.