Last night National Review ran a pair of important articles on its site about the GOP presidential primary race, and specifically Donald Trump’s presence in it. In a symposium piece containing the opinions of a large number of prominent, and in fact anti-establishment, conservatives (Glenn Beck, Erick Erickson, Andrew McCarthy and Club For Growth president David McIntosh, for example, are not friends of Mitch McConnell or John McCain) were presented scads of arguments against a Trump candidacy on a full spectrum of issues important to conservatives, and in a main editorial Rich Lowry and the other editors of the magazine offered a strong bill of particulars for why Trump as the Republican nominee is simply not a good idea.
National Review, which as a vehicle for the dissemination of a broad spectrum of conservative and center-right thought sometimes contains establishmentarian views, sometimes is insufficiently conservative or insufficiently populist for my tastes. But as a gold standard for right-of-center thinking, the publication founded by William F. Buckley still does well.
And National Review is being savaged this morning for its writers – some 23 of them, including the aforementioned but also including such luminaries as Jonah Goldberg, Thomas Sowell (who also addressed Trump’s candidacy in a brilliant piece for Investor’s Business Daily yesterday), Cal Thomas, Ben Domenech, Dana Loesch and Brent Bozell – having come forward to voice their rejection of Trump as a conservative standard bearer.
The things being said are largely unprintable. What isn’t vulgar beyond repetition generally refers to the NR critics as RINO’s, something called “cuckservatives” or The Establishment.
Which is ironic, since yesterday several GOP establishment figures, namely some of the worst offenders among the RINO crowd in the Senate as well as a number of bought-and-paid for DC corporate lobbyists, were voicing the same rejection of Ted Cruz as National Review’s gang were voicing against Trump. The Establishment, as it turns out, thinks they can do deals with Trump to keep the status quo largely in place while Cruz can’t seem to get along with them on account of his principles.
It’s a classic bit of “attack the messenger.” There has been no substantive response to any of the concerns National Review raised against Trump – his eminent domain abuses (Google Vera Coking of Atlantic City, New Jersey if you’re not aware of her story and tell me if Trump is a man you’re comfortable with putting in charge of protecting your rights – or you can just read this), his diarrhetic foreign policy pronouncements, his views on taxation, his disjointed immigration sentiments, his views on abortion and gun rights. None of those concerns have been refuted. Instead it’s a never-ending stream of personal attacks on his critics – people, I would caution, who have been fighting for conservatism a whole lot longer than Donald Trump has.
It is hardly corrupt or reactionary to demand the bona fides of those who would carry our standard. After all, the reason the GOP Establishment is in such poor odor with the Republican base is the very question of credibility – the McConnells, Orrin Hatches and Grahams of the world managed to survive re-election between 2010 and 2014 because they promised to fight Barack Obama’s agenda effectively on Capitol Hill, and have ignored those promises to their own voters.
That’s why the anti-establishment candidates have ruled the roost in the GOP primaries to date, and it’s why the Republican nominee this year will be an anti-establishment, anti-Washington candidate.
But if you’re looking for someone who is an anti-establishment candidate, shouldn’t you apply the same level of scrutiny and skepticism to that candidate that you rightfully apply to the members of Congress and other Republican fatcats who you’ve concluded lied to you for your vote and treated you as a rube? Why would you put yourself in a position to be lied to and treated as a rube by someone new as a response to the first offense?
Because Donald Trump has made a career off exploiting rubes and conning people. Look at Trump University. Look at the way he destroyed the USFL. Look at how he treats contractors who do work for his construction projects. Look at his personal life. Trump puts on a good show, but nothing in his past shows any concrete signs of principle or conviction.
The level of emotion and commitment many of his supporters are showing is frightening. It’s becoming a Republican cult of personality to rival that of Barack Obama in 2008, and that was the creepiest phenomenon in American history.
It’s beginning to come down to a playback of the famous 1952 film The Manchurian Candidate, in which several members of an Army platoon captured and brainwashed by the North Koreans are set loose to shill for one of their number who is to be groomed for high political office as a communist mole. And an implanted saying immediately comes to their minds when his name is introduced to the conversation…
Don’t be brainwashed by the Trump roadshow. If you want to support him, fine. That’s your right. But read the National Review critiques of his candidacy and give them due consideration. Or read Matt Labash’s long summary of Trump’s background in business and celebrity so you’ll know what you’re getting in a potential nominee and what the Democrats will have to work with as they mount a run against him. You’d better have some clear eyes before making your final decision about who bears your standard against the evil that is the Democrat Party and the pair of Third World kleptocratic would-be tyrants vying for their nomination.
If Trump is to be the nominee, I will support him. Yesterday in The American Spectator I castigated those who would pursue a third-party option, because beating the Democrats and keeping them from having another four years to turn America into Chicago or Detroit is too horrific a prospect not to resist with any available force. But this is a strong field of Republican candidates, and it is not necessary to choose Trump as the alternative to a boring moderate squish.
– Joe Cunningham, at RedState, weighs in on the National Review Trump critique…
There is very little to feel accomplished about in voting for Donald Trump. There is very little that feels right about supporting a man whose positions for decades have been anathema to what being a Republican, and more importantly a conservative. It is telling how many conservatives on that list are willing to forgo the benefits of the legions of Trump supporters praising them in an effort to stand up for principle, while other prominent conservatives have implemented the candidacy of Donald Trump into their business strategy. Where we should have the long-standing fighters for the movement seeing what Donald J. Trump has been and will be and saying “No!” to him, we see or hear them outright defending or even openly supporting the man because of what it means in terms of viewership, readership, and listenership.
This is not right. It is not fair to the movement many of these leaders helped form into an elite force of ideology. Trump has openly supported growth in government power, government spending, the mingling of government and business, the rights of abortion, and so many other positions that in any other election year would disqualify him from seeking a Republican nomination for dogcatcher, much less president of these United States. However, a combination of star power, xenophobia, and outright hatred of the government has led to this monstrosity of a campaign that has up-ended every expectation we had for a solid race.
– Kevin Boyd weighs in on Facebook with an observation I also agree with…
Conservatives and the GOP establishment alike need to take the blame for creating him. It was the conservative culture of perpetual outrage and grievance that spawned him. It was the failure of the GOP establishment to articulate a principles-based, positive vision for the country for years to helped make the conditions ripe for a Donald Trump to come along. In other words, if we’re looking for someone to blame for Trump, I suggest looking in a mirror. I’m just as guilty as others.
A million views on YouTube in basically 24 hours.
And I don’t get it. What does this ad actually say? That people are going to Bernie Sanders rallies? Yeah, we know that.
Maybe it makes socialism somehow an American thing. That was Jonah Goldberg’s take. I don’t get that at all. The only way you can make that sale is to make sure nobody watching the ad actually hears anything Bernie Sanders says. Which is exactly the way the ad presents him.
It’s crap with an aesthetic value to it, but it’s still crap. Maybe that’s enough in American politics now.