Republican congressman Matt Gaetz has announced that he is hiring Darren Beattie to join his team. Gaetz tweeted on Friday that he was bringing Beattie on board as a “special advisor for speech writing.” The announcement made news because of Beattie’s recent past.
Darren Beattie was a speechwriter and policy maker for president Donald Trump who left his job after it was revealed that he had participated in a conference associated with white nationalists. He is also an academic who graduated from Duke University with a PhD in political science and wrote about bioethics, morality, and ethical treatment of animals.
Beattie first came to national attention in 2016, when he was one of just 136 American academics who signed a letter supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. Beattie was also one of the first people to successfully predict that Trump would win the presidency.
The White House confirmed late on that Beattie no longer worked at the White House. A White House spokesman told CNN that he couldn’t say exactly when, or why, Beattie left his job, but CNN reports that Beattie’s White House email worked until late Friday and was no longer working on Saturday morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Beattie Has Said There Was Nothing ‘Objectionable’ About His Speech at the H.L. Mencken Conference
Beattie attended the H.L. Mencken conference in 2016, when he was a visiting professor of political science at Duke University. He had just recently earned a PhD in political science at Duke.
There are no public recordings of Beattie’s speech to the conference, and there is no way of knowing exactly what he said. Beattie himself says that there was nothing objectionable at all in his speech. He told CNN on Saturday, “In 2016 I attended the Mencken conference in question and delivered a stand-alone, academic talk titled ‘The Intelligentsia and the Right.’ I said nothing objectionable and stand by my remarks completely.”
Beattie added that he continues to be a strong supporter of the president, even though he no longer has a job working for the White House. He said, “It was the honor of my life to serve in the Trump Administration. I love President Trump, who is a fearless American hero, and continue to support him one hundred percent. I have no further comment.”
2. Beattie Said He Admired Trump For Fighting Back Against Political Correctness
Beattie is a Trump supporter who doesn’t consider himself a conservative. He was an early supporter of Donald Trump and one of the first people to publicly say that Trump would win the 2016 presidential election; he began supporting Trump in July 2015. But Beattie says he doesn’t believe in traditional political parties, which he believes are outdated — he says he supports Trump because the president has questioned traditional dogmas and has challenged the ways the political parties are aligned.
Beattie said he admired Trump’s views on economic nationalism, on the judiciary, and on immigration. He also admired Trump’s ability to take on what he called “institutionalized” political correctness. He has also pointed out that Bernie Sanders’ original views on immigration were very close to Trump’s views.
Beattie also said that the “principal” reason he supported Trump was his position on immigration. He said Bernie Sanders “wasn’t a serious fighter” and wasn’t willing to do what it takes to win — which Trump was.
3. CNN Asked the White House About Beattie’s Attendance at the Conference Last Week — And a Week Later, Beattie Lost His Job
CNN’s K-File originally asked the White House last week about Beattie’s presence at the H.L. Mencken conference. The White House reportedly asked CNN to “hold off” on the story for a few days. CNN says that its reporters reached out to the White House repeatedly to see whether there was any comment on Beattie, but received no answer.
On Friday night, the White House reportedly told CNN that Beattie had left his job. The spokesman, Hogan Gidley, did not provide any details about when — or why — Beattie left his job. The email to CNN said simply, “Mr. Beattie no longer works at the White House. We don’t comment on personnel matters.”
4. The H.L. Mencken Conference Has Been Called a ‘Safe Space’ for People to ‘Vent Their Racist Views’
The H.L. Mencken Club was founded in 2008 and takes its name from the southern journalist and man of letters H.L. Mencken, whose private journals have revealed racist and anti-semitic views. The H.L. Mencken club describes itself as an organization for independent-minded intellectuals and academics of the Right. The club holds an annual conference.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says that the H.L. Mencken club “has hosted some of America’s most prominent white nationalist ideologues in the past, and serves as a safe space for professors to vent their racist views, something they clearly had to keep quiet during their time in academia.”
Past speakers at the H.L. Mencken conference have included Richard Spencer, a self-described white nationalist.
5. Beattie Says the Democratic Party — And Much of the Media — Has Become Obsessed With ‘Extremely Destructive’ Identity Politics
In an interview on Blogging Heads last year, Beattie spoke at length about “identity politics,” which he says has taken over a lot of US politics and media. He says that the Democratic party has abandoned economic issues and support for the working class in favor of “identity politics,” focusing on minority groups and immigrants.
Beattie said that “mega corporations” have embraced “the whole identity politics agenda,” which, he says, “encompasses gender relations, gay rights and so forth.” Beattie says that the left has grown too close to big business and has abandoned its traditional base.