'National Review' Devotes Issue To Taking Down Trump, Crickets Are Heard

The Republican Party has chosen the form of its destroyer, but instead of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, it foolishly chose another white leviathan from deep in its collective unconscious: Donald Trump.

Now the party, and quite possibly the country, will have to deal with the consequences of this choice for years to come.

The Republican establishment and ideological conservatives — two different, somewhat overlapping groups — are understandably horrified by the rise of Donald Trump, whose policy proposals, such as they are, have little to do with either of their agendas.

They have everything to do with appealing to the prejudices, resentments and authoritarian fantasies of older, working-class white folks with early onset dementia.

And that might just be enough to propel him to the White House.

Still, they deserve some credit for trying to stop him, however quixotic these efforts wind up being. This week, the National Review, long the voice for respectable intellectual conservatism, devoted an entire issue to explaining why Trump would be a disaster for the GOP, the conservative movement and the country.

The Donald responded in typically bilious fashion, attacking the publication as a business.

The issue, with a cover headline simply reading “Against Trump,” features essays and polemics by 22 well-known conservative figures, including Glenn Beck, Michael Medved, William Kristol, Edwin Meese III and John Podhoretz.

The decision to run a whole issue devoted to taking down the leading primary candidate prompted the Republican National Committee to boot the magazine from its role as co-host of the upcoming Republican debate. (Previously, the RNC gave the heave-ho to a newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader, after it attacked Trump).

Anyone who reads the NR’s takedown of Trump will find plenty of evidence for the magazine’s contention that he is “a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP.” Following are a digest of some of the most damning arguments:

Glenn Beck: “Over the years, there have been endless fractures in the façade of individual freedom, but three policies provided the fuel that lit the Tea-Party fire: the stimulus, the auto bailouts and the bank bailouts. Barack Obama supported all three. So did Donald Trump.”

Mona Charen: “Is Trump a liberal? Who knows? He played one for decades — donating to liberal causes and politicians (including Al Sharpton) and inviting Hillary Clinton to his (third) wedding. Maybe it was all a game, but voters who care about conservative ideas and principles must ask whether his recent impersonation of a conservative is just another role he’s playing. When a con man swindles you, you can sue… When you elect a con man, there’s no recourse.”

Dana Loesch: “Trump wrote in his book, "The America We Deserve," that he supported a ban on ‘assault weapons.’ Not until last year did he apparently reverse his position. As recently as a couple of years ago, Trump favored the liberal use of eminent-domain laws. He said that the ability of the government to wrest private property from citizens served ‘the greater good.’ Is that suddenly a conservative principle?”

Andrew McCarthy: “The presidency’s most crucial duty is the protection of American national security. Yet, interviewed by Hugh Hewitt months into his campaign, Donald Trump did not know the key leaders of the global jihad. The man who would be commander-in-chief was unfamiliar with Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader who has been murdering Americans for over 30 years; Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s longtime deputy who has quite notoriously commanded al-Qaeda since the network’s leader was killed by U.S. forces in 2011; and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State (ISIS) and a jihadist so globally notorious that many teenagers are aware of him.”

David McIntosh: “For decades, Trump has argued for big government. About health care he has said: ‘Everybody’s got to be covered’ and ‘The government’s gonna pay for it.’… Trump has also promised to use tariffs to punish companies that incur his disfavor. He offers grand plans for massive new spending, but no serious proposals for spending cuts or entitlement reforms. These are not the ideas of a small-government conservative who understands markets. They are, instead, the ramblings of a liberal wannabe strongman who will use and abuse the power of the federal government to impose his ideas on the country.”

And it goes on and on.

Trump returned fire with ad hominem attacks against the magazine, tweeting, “National Review is a failing publication that has lost it’s way. It’s circulation is way down w its influence being at an all time low. Sad!” He also tweeted: “Very few people read the National Review because it only knows how to criticize, but not how to lead.” And a final potshot: “The late, great, William F. Buckley would be ashamed of what had happened to his prize, the dying National Review!”

Regardless of whether the NR is truly “failing” and “dying” – its total average circulation in the first half of 2015 was 147,096, down 16% from 174,639 10 years ago, which is par for the course for print magazines – the real question is whether its comprehensive dismantling of Trump will have any impact on the Republican primary race at all.

No doubt many of its readers will agree, but that’s just preaching to the choir. The people whose support has brought Trump this far, probably don’t read the National Review, but (if they know anything about it) consider it another tool of the very establishment they hate. It is a magazine printed on paper, and therefore a media thing.

In summary: media is bad, Trump is good, and if you’re the kind of person who gets lost on their own block coming home from the early-bird special, a bunch of pointy heads in New York or wherever aren’t going to convince you otherwise.

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