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Monday, January 25, 2016


Mark Steyn Disses National Review

Since the NR issue opposing Donald Trump came out, there has been a sharpening of the lines within the Republican party.  Steyn chooses his sides and NR doesn't come out well.

~National Review's initial reaction to Donald Trump's entry into the presidential race appeared a few hours after he launched his campaign under the headline "Witless Ape Rides Escalator". Their condescension has got a little subtler since then, and it's now gone long-form with an entire issue dedicated to the singular proposition: "Against Trump".

I've received a ton of emails today asking me what I make of the National Review hit. I used to contribute to NR, and I generally make it a rule not to comment on publications for which I once wrote. Just move on with your life, that's my advice. In this case, we parted on not terribly pleasant terms, and we remain co-defendants on the unending Mann vs Steyn et al law suit, which means I have to get on well enough with Rich Lowry so that he doesn't want to punch my lights out when we're sitting in the dock together - or, if things go really badly, sharing a cell.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding some contributors I admire, the whole feels like a rather obvious trolling exercise. As I explained yesterday, I don't think Trump supporters care that he's not a fully paid-up member in good standing of "the conservative movement" - in part because, as they see it, the conservative movement barely moves anything. If you want the gist of NR's argument, here it is:

I think we can say that this is a Republican campaign that would have appalled Buckley, Goldwater, and Reagan...

A real conservative walks with us. Ronald Reagan read National Review and Human Events for intellectual sustenance...

My old boss, Ronald Reagan, once said...

Ronald Reagan was famous for...

When Reagan first ran for governor of California...

Reagan showed respect for...

Reagan kept the Eleventh Commandment...

Far cry from Ronald Reagan's "I am paying for this microphone" line...
Trump is Dan Quayle, and everyone and his auntie are Lloyd Bentsen: "I knew Ronald Reagan, I worked for Ronald Reagan, I filled in Ronald Reagan's subscription-renewal form for National Review. And you, sir, are no Ronald Reagan."

You have to be over 50 to have voted for Reagan, and a supposed "movement" can't dine out on one guy forever, can it? What else you got?

Well, there are two references to Bush, both of them following the words "Reagan and". But no mention of Dole, one psephological citation of Romney, and one passing sneer at McCain as a "cynical charlatan" - and that's it for the last three decades of presidential candidates approved by National Review, at least to the extent that they never ran entire issues trashing them.

Will the more or less official disdain of "the conservative movement" make any difference to Trump's supporters? Matt Welch in Reason:

Many or even most of the people who make a living working in politics and political commentary—even those who think of themselves as outsiders, such as nonpartisan libertarians—inevitably begin to view their field as one dedicated primarily to ideas, ideology, philosophy, policy, and so forth, and NOT to the emotional, ideologically unmoored cultural passions of a given (and perhaps fleeting) moment.

I'd put that contrast slightly differently. The movement conservatives at National Review make a pretty nice living out of "ideas, ideology, philosophy, policy, and so forth". The voters can't afford that luxury: They live in a world where, in large part due to the incompetence of the national Republican Party post-Reagan, Democrat ideas are in the ascendant. And they feel that this is maybe the last chance to change that.

Go back to that line "When Reagan first ran for governor of California..." Gosh, those were the days, weren't they? But Reagan couldn't get elected Governor of California now, could he? Because the Golden State has been demographically transformed. From my book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn:

According to the Census, in 1970 the 'Non-Hispanic White' population of California was 78 per cent. By the 2010 Census, it was 40 per cent. Over the same period, the 10-per cent Hispanic population quadrupled and caught up with whites.

That doesn't sound terribly 'natural', does it? If one were informed that, say, the population of Nigeria had gone from 80 per cent black in 1970 to 40 per cent black today, one would suspect something rather odd and profoundly unnatural had been going on.

The past is another country, and the Chamber of Commerce Republicans gave it away. Reagan's California no longer exists. And, if America as a whole takes on the demographics of California, then "the conservative movement" will no longer exist. That's why, for many voters, re-asserting America's borders is the first, necessary condition for anything else - and it took Trump to put that on the table.

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