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Conservative Columnist: It's Time To De-Emphasize Politics, Mend Fences

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump's false claims about the election are presenting a test for Republicans and conservatives. Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, said frivolous lawsuits are bad for the country. The Republican secretary of state in Georgia vowed accuracy in the count where the numbers now put Joe Biden ahead this morning. Fox News joined The Associated Press in calling Arizona for Biden and resisted pressure to back off. But also on Fox, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz spoke supportively of the president. Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch is with us. Jonah, good morning.

JONAH GOLDBERG: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What did you make of the president's numerous false claims last evening on television?

GOLDBERG: You know, you get into this problem of getting so - like the boiled frog getting used to pricing in Donald Trump's behavior, that because it doesn't surprise you anymore, you tend to take it for granted. And the problem is that's really dangerous because what he did last night was simply outrageous. It was dishonorable. It was dangerous. And it was - I mean, not to get into alliteration - deceitful. And it's deeply, deeply depressing to me how many people on sort of my side of things are going along with it when they know better. I mean, I know that they know better. I mean, some don't. Some have lost their minds, but most - but a lot of them know better. Lindsey Graham knows that this election isn't being stolen, but he is caving into pressure from, you know, the - from Trump world. And a lot of these other people are, too. And it's disgusting and depressing.

INSKEEP: I'm baffled as to why Lindsey Graham would, as you put it, be caving in to pressure. He did face a tough reelection fight, but he's been reelected now. You'd think he would be free to tell the truth.

GOLDBERG: You think he would, now that he doesn't have to run for reelection for six years, be twirling in some open meadow like Julie Andrews from "The Sound Of Music" saying la-di-dah (ph) I don't have to do any of this stuff anymore, but that is not the way it is. And he - you know, there is this intense pressure from MAGA world to go down fighting in all of this. And I have no great explanation for it other than the fact that maybe Lindsey Graham wants to stay relevant in that world or he wants to live in the Senate forever.

INSKEEP: Is there pressure on potential 2024 presidential candidates? And I regret to say it, we don't even have a decision in the 2020 election, but people are positioning themselves for 2024.

GOLDBERG: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we saw yesterday the Trump sons tweet in rage that 2024 Republicans weren't stepping up to defend their father. Where are they? And almost instantaneously, 18 minutes later, Senator Cotton started saying, we have to fight and stand by President Trump. And Nikki Haley had a more subdued and equivocal tweet, which was more defensible. But then she got attacked by Matt Gaetz, the congressman from Florida, who beclowns himself regularly. And you saw Ted Cruz get in the action. This is - the fatwa has gone out. Everyone must join the parapets (ph) and fight this thing and pretend that an election is being stolen when it's not.

INSKEEP: In about 10 seconds, can you name a Republican or conservative who has responded to this properly?

GOLDBERG: Sure. Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, Larry Hogan, you know, they've all called for counting the votes and getting through this.

INSKEEP: OK.

GOLDBERG: But it's not a long list.

INSKEEP: Jonah, thanks so much, appreciate it.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Jonah Goldberg is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.