Donald Trump, the National Review tells us, is a huckster, a dangerous demagogue, and an irresponsible fool. The first voice that the National Review brings out to tell us so, in the anti-Trump blurb collection that the magazine promoted to the New York Times yesterday and released to the bedtime internet last night, is the voice of Glenn Beck.
Trump, Beck warns us, is the latest avatar of “ever-expanding government,” a proven sympathizer with the Obama Administration’s tyrannical goals. “While conservatives fought against the bank bailouts,” Beck writes, “Donald Trump called them ‘something that has to get done.’” This is an interesting reconstruction of the politics around the question of whether to let the finance industry collapse; “it needed to be done,” was also how the Republican presidential nominee at the time described the bailout of AIG. (The bailout “was, unfortunately, necessary,” Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina said.)
The more notable historical oddity, though, is that the National Review should give that space to Glenn Beck at all. The magazine originally defined its place in the conservative intellectual world through William F. Buckley’s bold attacks on the John Birch Society and the paranoid conspiratorialist wing of the Republican Party. Beck is a neo-Bircher who built his career by weeping on television about the wicked machinations of America’s hidden enemies. Yet there he is, leading off Buckley’s magazine’s effort to explain why Donald Trump doesn’t belong in the conservative movement.
The further one reads through the National Review’s anti-Trump pleadings, the more sense Beck’s participation makes. If Buckley declared that his magazine “stands athwart history, yelling Stop,” the Trump package stands alongside history muttering “History? History, history... Hmm, nope, doesn’t ring a bell.”
There are, at this point, two fairly straightforward thoughtful arguments that a conservative publication could make against the rise of Donald Trump. One would be a pragmatic or tactical one: Despite his theatrical contempt for liberal elites, Trump is unpredictable and insufficiently committed to the conservative movement’s plans and goals. Where a President Ted Cruz would fill the federal bench with names from a Federalist Society spreadsheet (or a spreadsheet Cruz himself had prepared for the Federalist Society), for all anyone knows, a President Trump might appoint Nancy Grace to the Supreme Court. That would surely make liberals mad, but it wouldn’t get the big job done.
The other argument that a conservative publication could make against the rise of Donald Trump would be an unsparing self-examination and self-criticism, reckoning with the currents of brutish populism that have run from Nixon through Reagan through George W. Bush to the present-day circus, and humbly apologizing for its role in creating them. Any real attempt to write Donald Trump out of the Republican Party needs to engage, head on, with the fact that Donald Trump is currently polling far ahead of the field with people who identify as Republican voters. What is the conservative movement if it is not the way that voters who identify as conservative are moving?
National Review writer Kevin Williamson has an interesting post up at The Corner right now. The post describes his trip to the theater Wednesday night, which was disrupted by a woman next to him who kept using her phone throughout the performance. He asked her several times to stop, and she refused, telling Williamson to mind his own business. So Williamson did what any petulant child or criminal would do: he grabbed the phone from her hands and threw it across the room.
What is "the case for supporting Assad," the brutal Syrian dictator whose government is indiscriminately targeting civilians in a violent, gruesome civil war? For some Syrian civilians, surely, there is a political and tribal case for supporting Assad; for his foreign allies, there is an economic and hegemonic case. And for maniac Islamophobe Daniel Pipes there is the sociopathic case:
Conservative columnist Mona Charen would like to offer a "mild dissent" about Todd Akin, the Missouri senate candidate who claimed that in cases of "legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Sure, she acknowledges, there isn't any scientific evidence, at all, to bolster that claim. But doesn't it just feel right?
For the last few days, the Republican Party has been reeling over the shockingly retrograde attitudes towards rape and abortion expressed by one of its senate candidate — attitudes that reveal an ignorance about, and disregard for, women and women's health. But into the breach rides The National Review's Kevin D. Williamson, ready to show American women (and the non-women who love them) that the Republican party is inclusive, open, and highly respectful to women:
Everyone knows that conservative magazine National Review is not racist. Sure, it used to publish John "avoid concentrations of blacks" Derbyshire — but it's also treated race with sensitivity and restraint, as in this column about how President Obama isn't really black and this all-white symposium on black unemployment. So why is writer Jay Nordlinger using the ethnic slur "wetback" in his column today?
Frequent readers of National Review Online's The Corner might have stumbled over this odd foreign word in contributor Michael Walsh's column about Chief Justice John Roberts: Dolchstoss, which Walsh uses to refer to Roberts' ruling that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Literally translated, Dolchstoss means something like "dagger-thrust," but, like so many other words, this one has a particularly interesting valence. Let's take a look at Kevin Baker's 2006 Harper's article "Stabbed in the back! The past and future of a right-wing myth," shall we?
After publishing an article advising his children to avoid black people, writer John Derbyshire lost his column at uber-conservative magazine The National Review and weathered a firestorm of outrage this weekend. Nonetheless, after undergoing his regularly scheduled chemotherapy treatment for Chronic Lymphomatic Leukemia this morning, an unperturbed Derbyshire agreed to a Gawker Q&A. His only request: That we publish his answers exactly as he wrote them. We agreed, and have not edited him.