Politics

It’s On! National Review Goes After Trump, Trump Swings Back

Derek Hunter Contributor

National Review, the bulwark of conservative journalism and opinion for 50 years, has, after months of jabs, finally taken off the gloves in its fight against the candidacy of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. With a cover reading simply “Against Trump” and listing well-known conservative contributors like Glenn Beck, William Kristol and Edwin Meese III, the journal founded by William F. Buckley pulled no punches in its attempt to stop the billionaire’s populist campaign.

Led by an editorial, NR warns, “Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.”

Calling Trump “a huckster,” they nevertheless cede some credit to him for exposing the disconnect between the Washington GOP and the grassroots. In a warning to conservatives, the editors write, “If they cannot advance a compelling working-class agenda, the legitimate anxieties and discontents of blue-collar voters will be exploited by demagogues. We sympathize with many of the complaints of Trump supporters about the GOP, but that doesn’t make the mogul any less flawed a vessel for them.”

The editorial’s conclusion is unambiguous is its condemnation of both Trump and those conservatives who’ve expressed support or even embraced him:

Some conservatives have made it their business to make excuses for Trump and duly get pats on the head from him. Count us out. Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.

In a separate piece in the magazine’s February 15th issue, NR has compiled short essays from 22 commentators, many of whom are conservative leaders.

Radio host Glenn Beck called Trump’s ascension “a crisis for conservatism,” while Weekly Standard editor William Kristol asks, “Isn’t Trumpism a two-bit Caesarism of a kind that American conservatives have always disdained? Isn’t the task of conservatives today to stand athwart Trumpism, yelling Stop?”

Ed Meese, former attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, laments that in a field of strong candidates with solid credentials of leadership, the rise of Trump meant “the political atmosphere is polluted by the vicious personal attacks” rather than a debate of ideas.

Meese concluded, “At a time when the nation is suffering under one of the most divisive and incompetent presidents in history, our people need positive, unifying leadership, not negative, destructive political rhetoric.”

Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas sees the anger of Trump supporters, admitting much of it is justified. However, he concludes, “Anger is not policy. Trump channels a lot of the righteous (and some of the unrighteous) anger of voters and sees the solution as himself. Isn’t a narcissist what we currently have in the White House?”

For his part, Trump responded how he has throughout so much of this campaign — via Twitter.

National Review responded by reminding Trump of what he’d said about the magazine only last April.

As a result of so forcefully speaking out against one candidate, NR publisher Jack Fowler reported they’ve been “disinvited” from co-hosting the February 25 GOP debate in Houston. Fowler wrote, “We expected this was coming. Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald.”