Thinking about Bonnie Bernstein.
Screenshot: YouTube

Stephen Moore has built a long career in and around conservative politics by repeatedly advocating for the government to cut taxes. He is not great at it, but it is a quirk of that job that he doesn’t really have to be great at it, or even good at it. He just needs to do exactly what’s expected of him, always. Moore’s first foray into actual politics didn’t end well—he co-founded the Club For Growth in 1999 with the aim of electing Republicans who would pledge to cut taxes, but mismanaged the organization such that it was forced to pay a $350,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission in 2004. He was forced out that same year, and has spent most of his time doing his Libertarian Teddy Ruxpin duties in various sinecures ever since.

Donald Trump wants to appoint Moore to the Federal Reserve Board because he’s seen Moore on TV—he’s on TV a lot, generally being “wrong all the time, about pretty basic things,” in the words of the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell—and because Moore has spent the entirety of Trump’s administration flattering Trump in impossibly goofy ways. Trump probably likes that Moore has advocated outright that the Fed’s job is to pursue policies that will help Trump be re-elected, but he definitely likes that Moore’s obsequiousness has extended to advocating that Trump receive the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics and telling an audience at a Young America’s Foundation event that Trump himself “looks like a football player, in incredible, great shape.”

On Monday, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski revealed that Moore’s scouting report on the president was somehow not remotely his worst sports opinion. Kaczynski dove into Moore’s blogs from the National Review’s website in 2001, 2002, and 2003 and found posts asserting “that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing or beer vending at men’s college basketball games, [and] asking if there was any area in life ‘where men can take vacation from women.’”

Other columns discussed ... well you know every hacky moan that has ever been registered by some replacement-level barnacle about hysterical women or nagging wives or creeping cultural fruitiness vis-a-vis sports? Moore did all those, too. He complained about women’s college basketball games being aired on ESPN in 2002. He complained about women playing alongside men in pickup games. He complained about women’s tennis players advocating for better pay. “If there is an injustice in tennis,” Moore wrote in 2000, “it’s that women like Martina Hingis and Monica Seles make millions of dollars a year, even though there are hundreds of men at the collegiate level (assuming their schools haven’t dropped the sport) who could beat them handily.” Moore complained about women broadcasting sports over and over again, but later allowed himself a saucy caveat—“Women are permitted to participate, if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein. The fact that Bonnie knows nothing about basketball is entirely irrelevant.” In retrospect, Moore complained a lot!

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“This was a spoof,” Moore told CNN when they reached him for comment. “I have a sense of humor.”

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It is clear that Moore is trying to be funny in these columns, or in this one—you can still read it on the Cato Institute’s website—called “Soccer Mom Hell,” in which Moore complains about how socialistic and un-American soccer is, the awful disgusting moms that show up at the games to cheer on their kids, and (once again) the fact that boys and girls participate together at the youth level. Here’s a taste:

What makes peewee soccer particularly insidious is that boys and girls play together. The left has converted this sport into a giant social experiment imposed upon us by the geniuses that have put women in combat in the military. No one seems to care much that co-ed sports is doing irreparable harm to the psyche of America’s little boys.

At this pre-puberty state of life girls tower over the boys and typically have greater coordination. Last year the Pele of my son’s league was a kindergartner named Kate Lynn—Secretariat in pig tails. During one game, Kate Lynn stampeded over Justin repeatedly, which, of course, did wonders for his fledgling self-esteem. After the third knockdown, I quietly pulled him aside and advised: “Remember that rule about never hitting a girl. Let’s suspend that for the next 40 minutes.” But he never did because she was bigger than he was.

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Moore will never apologize for any of this—he was spoofing, you see, and also apologizing for anything is a great way to lose Donald Trump’s respect, and also none of this is stuff that would draw even fleeting censure in Republican politics in 2019. Perhaps in a less luridly devolved age—2015, say—Moore might have extruded some statement to the effect that he regretted if anyone took offense to his spoofing, goofing, and fuming about women messing up his sports or brutally nutmegging his son Justin in a youth soccer game.

That all of the above is sexist matters, at least insofar as it tells you a little bit about what Stephen Moore is about. But it’s probably just as meaningful that all of it sucks—that it’s lame and dull and smug and so utterly, totally beat in every way, and that all of it is so spotlessly mediocre in the way it rephrases ancient stupidities so that they somehow feel even older and less interesting than they are. That tells you something about Stephen Moore, too, I guess, but it’s also nothing that wasn’t already obvious, and already something very much like his job.