Saturday, January 23, 2016

Where The National Review Went Wrong

(hat tip to Oolon Colluphid)

There's been a bit of chatter the last day or so about the National Review's attempt to nuke Donald Trump from orbit.

Mostly about how the special issue fails to do the job.

To quote Tom Scocca over on Gawker:

...The further one reads through the National Review’s anti-Trump pleadings, the more sense Beck’s participation makes. If (William F.) 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.
This would have been a reasonable - as Scocca calls it "pragmatic" - attack on Trump's candidacy, because it highlights Trump's obvious lack of political experience. There IS honestly no guarantee or previous history in Trump's background to ensure he would adhere to the conservative values NR is supposed to champion.
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?...
This isn't likely to happen. The last twenty years have proven the Conservative elites are incapable of self-reflection and admission of failure. The last time I recall anyone from the Right side of the political spectrum apologizing like this is whenever a Republican Party official was forced to apologize to Rush Limbaugh for lack of fealty.

Reviewing even the first three or four articles of NR's "Against Trump" issue focuses too much on just Trump as a candidate as though he exists in a political vacuum. My readings of the articles rarely reveal any admission or examination about how Trump appeals to a large swath of "Conservative" Republican primary voters. The articles are too busy trying to define "what" the REAL Conservative voter should be (and which (Cruz) candidate (Cruz) such voters (Cruz) should support (I think the commentators are pushing Cruz)).

So, in short: National Review has the right idea - FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T VOTE TRUMP - but lousy arguments.

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