Twitter Personality of the Week #46: 10 Questions for Joshua Trevino (@jstrevino)

Josh Trevino’s Twitter feed, without a doubt, is an all-purpose destination. Want to see the clueless progressive flavor of the day receive a withering smack down?  Check. How about a geopolitical analysis of the latest hot spot in the Middle East, on which you couldn’t hope to hold forth for even 30 seconds? Check. All combined with, by turn, targeted seriousness and a wicked sense of humor? Yes, that too.

Me at Mount Athos, Greece, visiting Orthodox monasteries there in 2007.

When in search of a sharply cogent voice that cuts through the fog of opinion with ruthless clarity, Josh Trevino’s opinion is always one
of the first I seek. As one of the founders of the powerful RedState commentary site, Josh intuitively comprehends social media and how to utilize it effectively. Josh is well read, and has traveled the world extensively. He has also participated in Republican politics for over a decade. All in all, a valuable perspective.

Josh first came to my attention towards the end of 2009 as a member of Chuck DeVore’s team when Chuck was seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat. Today, Josh serves as VP of Communications for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Within the last couple of months, he is one of a minimal cadre of lonely, but vocal conservatives who have appeared on MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur. This time slot has subsequently been awarded to Al Sharpton; Josh amply holds his own with Uygur’s vapid successor, as well.

Josh is an eloquent and informed voice for robust conservative ideas and how they apply in modern times. May his number increase
in manifold proportions.

10 Questions for Joshua Trevino

1. I’ve gleaned from bits and pieces of your bio that you once served as a speechwriter in the Bush White House. How did you secure that opportunity and what did it involve?

To be specific, I was a speechwriter in the George W. Bush Administration — not the Bush White House. I was a Schedule C Presidential
appointee, assigned as a junior speechwriter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This sounds a bit grandiose, but isn’t: it’s sort of like being a Confederate general, in that there are so many of us with such fantastic titles.

Getting to be a Schedule C Presidential appointee, for me, was a matter of showing up in 2001 to speak with the woman then running the estimable Heritage Foundation Job Bank. She graciously arranged an interview with the HHS Secretary’s chief speechwriter, and the rest is history. I remain in her debt, and his.

2. Moving to the present, you currently serve as VP of Communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Can you tell us about TPPF and more specifically, about your role?

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a free-market think tank dedicated to the principles of limited government, individual responsibility, and liberty, based in Austin, Texas. It is, if I may modestly say so, among the most effective and esteemed State Policy Network institutions in the country. TPPF focuses upon the work of policymakers and officeholders in the great state of Texas, and our research and advocacy helps steer policy here in a pro-liberty, pro-markets direction.

As you know, Texas has done remarkably well compared with the rest of the nation in the past few years. There are many reasons for that, not least the choices of Texans themselves, who have returned some remarkable leaders to office time and again in the past decade. I have only been with TPPF for six months, but I cannot survey Texas’s achievements in recent years without concluding that it deserves its share of credit as well.

As Vice President for Communications, my job is pretty straightforward: I work with a superb communications team, including well-known Austin media veteran David Guenthner and longtime PR professional Kristen Indriago, to get the word out about the superb scholarship and analyses of TPPF’s scholars. They provide the ammunition — we pull the trigger.

3. I’m not sure how many are aware that you, Ben Domenech and Mike Krempasky started RedState. Whose idea was it initially and who brought Erick Erickson on board?                          

My recounting of the origin of RedState is here.

In brief: I had the idea, Ben Domenech, Mike Krempasky and I made it happen, and Erick Erickson made it great. I am quite pleased with where it’s gone, even if I can claim no credit for anything that happened after I left in September 2005!

4. Were you raised in the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christianity from your youth up and if not, what drew you in that direction?

I was raised Roman Catholic, and first attended a Greek Orthodox service in 1995. My respect and affection for Orthodox Christianity
grew and deepened over the succeeding decade, as I came to understand that it represented a greater fidelity to the Church of the New Testament as described in Acts than any other denomination. The Greek approach to spirituality also proved itself more appealing on emotional and intellectual levels both, especially during my Army years. I ended up converting to Orthodox Christianity in an Arab (Antiochian) parish in Maryland in 2004.

Despite all this, I must emphasize that my conversion to Orthodoxy was not a rejection of Catholicism. Rather, in my eyes, it was a
fulfillment of the things Catholicism rightly taught me to value: Apostolic succession, historic continuity, faithfulness to tradition, and the endurance of the Church in spite of all trials. When I traveled to Istanbul in 2006 for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, I took this photograph, which symbolizes for me the proper relationship between the two ancient Churches that Pope John Paul II properly described as the two “lungs” of Christianity:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/trevino/311007609/in/photostream/

5. You were a vocal supporter of Rick Perry’s long before it appeared that he was even flirting with running. What led you to that decision and how do you feel about his chances now?                        

Me clowning around at Rick Perry's podium following his victory in 2010.

Any objective analysis of the reasons for Texas’s relative prosperity will lead to the conclusion that the Governor deserves major credit
for creating the conditions that made it possible. It’s as simple as that. Should he decide to run for President, his narrative on this alone will likely prove compelling.

6. You are one of the more (to say the least) fearlessly and eloquently combative conservatives on Twitter. Have you always enjoyed argument and debate?

To the regret of parents and superior officers, yes.

7. Instead of the “favorites” question I often pose in this series, in your case, I’d like to ask what your influences have been along the road of politics and policy, whether literary, cultural or spiritual?

Steven Runciman’s “History of the Crusades” was essential for teaching my fourteen-year old self about adventure, fanaticism, distant
lands, and glory. William Manchester’s “The Last Lion” laid forth Churchill in full, ending (inadvertently but poetically) at his moment of triumph and peril in June 1940, and taught my seventeen-year old self about greatness. The United States Army humbled me in every way, and taught lessons about the primacy of character over intellect that did not fully bear fruit until years later. And I was blessed to come into consciousness in an age of giants: Reagan, Thatcher, John Paul II. My formative years saw them do nothing more, and nothing less, than save the world. The task of my generation is to keep faith with them, and defend what they preserved for us.

8. In what part of the United States were you raised and how early on were you interested in the life of the mind in general (history, philosophy, etc) and conservative politics, specifically?

My father was a U.S. Air Force officer. From birth through college, I grew up in Texas, Colorado, Virginia, South Korea, Virginia again,
and Florida.

Me as a Second Lieutenant at the Furman University ROTC Dining-In, 1998.

My first self-identification as a conservative was instinctual rather than intellectual: on election day 1984, the Armed Forces Korea Network broadcast the live results on Wednesday morning in Seoul. I recall asking my father who the North Koreans wanted to win, and he replied that Kim Il-Sung would probably welcome a Mondale victory. I was a Reagan enthusiast immediately. In the intervening 27 years, nothing has dissuaded me from that enthusiasm.

I have tried and generally failed to engage with philosophy on its own terms, excepting Kierkegaard, whom I find endlessly delightful and morose. Make that delightful because morose. History, by contrast, is always more interesting than any fiction, and I will read it until the end.

9. Is it fair to characterize your ideological niche as robust neo-conservatism?

That has become progressively less true in the past half-decade. It seems I am simply, and happily, conservative.

10. You’ve lived in DC and California and have now migrated to Texas, where, it appears, you are quite content to reside. How does it compare to your former home states?

Sam Houston said, “Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has ever blessed my vision.” I’ve lived in ten states and been to nearly
forty countries, and I quite agree. California has magnificent scenery, and I’m sure I could think of something good about D.C., given sufficient time; but Texas, where my family’s roots go back over two centuries to the dominion of the Spanish Crown, is where my heart and soul are at home, and at peace.

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