NPR Anchor Finds GOP Veteran to Trash Conservatives as 'Post-Policy' Cynics

February 8th, 2024 3:19 PM

We know about CNN Republicans and MSNBC Republicans, but there are also NPR Republicans. Brendan Buck, a former aide to Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan, is a semi-regular pundit on Meet the Press. On Thursday, Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep kept asking Buck to describe Republicans as insincere extremists who don't want to govern. Buck played right along, calling conservatives "post-policy." 

Buck lamented that old-guard leaders like Mitch McConnell don't get enough respect:

BUCK: The Senate is starting to feel a lot more like the House, where you have a bunch of more conservative senators who are, frankly, undermining their leadership at every turn and then turning around and saying, gosh, isn't our leadership bad? So it just feels like there isn't enough respect and trust in leadership right now to assert their will in the way that Mitch McConnell has been able to do for many, many years.

INSKEEP: I'm wanting to argue with the labeling of conservative for some of the more conservative lawmakers. This bill that was rejected would seem from the outside to have a lot that you'd want if you're worried about border security - 1,500 more border agents, more courts so that people get asylum hearings a lot faster and get kicked out a lot faster if they shouldn't be here, a lot of things like that - maybe things you don't like as much as well, but a lot. Did none of this interest Republican lawmakers at all?

BUCK: So I think what we're running into is the party being somewhat post-policy, if you will, where the policy almost doesn't matter - at least it comes in second to the politics.

NPR won't bring someone on to argue that the Biden policy has been a disaster, and that this bill would make it worse. That doesn't make Steve Inskeep feel morally superior. 

INSKEEP: Democrats now will say - in fact, are saying - this shows Republicans don't actually care about border security policies. I feel that you're telling me that is functionally true. There may be Republicans who care, but politically they can't afford to care.

BUCK: I think they care. They're just not willing to do anything that would potentially trigger a primary challenge or get them cross with their activists in their districts. This is why this issue never gets resolved, is, frankly, there is no space for Republicans to do anything that would include Democrat support as well. 

Inskeep asked about Ukraine: "Do Republicans feel so strongly now against funding for Ukraine that there's really no deal they would ever accept to do that?" Buck said there's still a possibility for Ukraine aid, that McConnell if most interested in that (more than the border). Then Inskeep suggested conservatives are pro-Putin: 

INSKEEP: I'm trying to figure out the heart of the Republican resistance to funding for Ukraine, and I know there's a lot of reasons, but if you tried to find a basic reasons, is it just that Biden is for it, so they need to be against it? Is it that they think that Vladimir Putin is a great guy? Do they really think it's all being misspent? I mean, what is the bottom line here?

BUCK: There is a - has been and is a growing strain of isolationism in the Republican Party. And Donald Trump, I think, seized on that -- you know, his commentary on Iraq, however inconsistent it may be. There are a lot of people in the Republican Party and base Republican voters who don't like the idea of sending us taxpayer money abroad, period. 

It's quite a contrast with the Steve Inskeep that rolls over for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.