On Friday several Republican presidential contenders will attend a candidate forum in Iowa, where they’ll share their vision for the country with a guy who just gave a friendly interview to an accused rapist and sex trafficker.
An evangelical candidate forum, let me stress.
Such things have lost some of their power to shock since 2015, after the Christian right first accommodated itself to—and then came to lionize—a twice-divorced philanderer accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct. In the year of our Lord 2023, a failed coup plot, two criminal indictments, and a civil judgment for sexual abuse aren’t enough in a party ostensibly concerned with “values” to hold Donald Trump under 50 percent of the primary vote.
We’re all somewhat inured to their civic and moral depravity by now. Yet the prospect of Tucker Carlson chatting engagingly with Andrew Tate on Tuesday and serving as an ideological filter for the first Republican presidential contest on Friday feels like an exciting new frontier in the corruption of conservatism, to the extent it still exists.