George Will’s Bowtie Rebellion



Conservative commentator George Will made news over the weekend with his announcement that he was leaving the Republican party over Donald Trump. The last straw, it seems, was Trump’s statement that a judge of Mexican descent could not be trusted to preside over the Trump University lawsuit impartially. You might get the sense that Will is deeply troubled by racism, until you start looking at stuff he’s written over the years.

Here’s further context for the quotes and paraphrased statements in the cartoon.

1. Willie Horton ad — From Will’s 1995 column, “22 Questions for Colin Powell”:

What exactly was objectionable about citing Horton and his rape victim as a consequence of that prisoner-release program?

(A common refrain on the right is that Al Gore introduced Horton during a 1988 debate with Dukakis, which is debunked here; Gore only brought up the furlough program.)

2. George Wallace — From 2007 Newsweek column on third-party candidates:

A candidate can succeed in giving an aggrieved minority a voice—e.g., George Wallace, speaking for people furious about the ’60s tumults.

An aggrieved minority? Oh-kay.

3. Hurricane Katrina — From September, 2005 column “A Poverty of Thought”:

America’s always fast-flowing river of race-obsessing has overflowed its banks, and last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois’s freshman Democrat, applied to the expression of old banalities a fluency that would be beguiling were it without content. Unfortunately, it included the requisite lament about the president’s inadequate “empathy” and an amazing criticism of the government’s “historic indifference” and its “passive indifference” that “is as bad as active malice.”

That flooding metaphor sure was tactful three weeks after the devastation of New Orleans. Will proceeded to lecture the locals on out-of-wedlock births.

4. More on Will and voter ID here.



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  • InheritTheWindow

    So why do you think this was the tipping point for him? Are Republicans running away from Trump’s rhetoric for the simple reason that they don’t think he can win, but would otherwise be fine with what he stands for? I hear this described a lot as dog whistles vs fog horns. The former is acceptable, the latter isn’t, but they signal the same thing.

  • ACounter

    Way too frequently, people commenting on the washingtonpost.com website call it something along the lines of “liberal rag” (or worse). I sometimes reply that the Post has Will, Krauthammer, Rubin, *plus* Fred Hiatt, who banged the “war with Iraq” drum.

    I do want to recommend that people read some of the Post’s articles by the new media columnist, Margaret Sullivan. She used to be the public editor (ombudsman everywhere else) at the NY Times. Here’s the link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/margaret-sullivan

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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