RNC boots National Review from GOP debate after its anti-Trump issue
This isn’t quite what the Republican National Committee has in mind, but it just took an action that more than ever underscores how the Republican Party is now becoming the Trump (and Palin) party. Yes, there are thoughtful, principled thinking conservatives — although it’s heresy to ever point out to anyone who isn’t conservative that they exist, just as its heresy to ever point out to anyone who isn’t liberal that there are thoughtful people on the left. These days, to the demonizers and noise makers go the spoils.
Except in moderating a GOP debate if you’ve come out against Donald Trump:
The publisher of the conservative National Review suggested on Thursday that the Republican National Committee is “depriving” its party by disinviting the magazine from hosting a debate because of an anti-Donald Trump symposium it published.
National Review publisher Jack Fowler told BuzzFeed News in an email Thursday night that he was not surprised that the RNC had rescinded its invitation to the magazine to co-host a GOP debate next month. “That said I would argue that the RNC should have waited for someone to complain, if someone was going to,” Fowler said. “The presumption is that our moderator / participant would not have asked an intelligent / fair question.”
“But maybe the RNC based the decision on something along the lines of — you guys just crossed a line (for a debate participant). I’d like to see their statement, if / when it comes out,” Fowler said. “After all, it’s their party and they can deprive [it] if they want to.”
On Thursday, National Review published an “Against Trump” issue that features essays arguing against nominating Trump by a range of conservative thinkers, including radio host and blogger Erick Erickson, radio host Glenn Beck, writer John Podhoretz, and evangelical leader Russell Moore. The magazine also published its own editorial calling Trump a “menace to American conservatism.”
Fowler published a post on Thursday after the manifesto came out announcing that the RNC had uninvited National Review from the debate it was supposed to co-host on February 25.
Reached on Thursday night, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed the rescinded invitation and said “A debate moderator can’t have a predisposition.”
To be sure, but the RNC hasn’t shown itself to be a pristine symbol of objectivity. To many Republicans, a thoughtful, fair journalist is symbolized by Sean Hannity.
The irony of this situation is when it comes to traditional conservatives, it is likely too little too late. The genie with the notable hair has been let out of the bottle while people who might have shoved him back in were too fearful to do so, hoped he’d go away, hoped they could perhaps bottle part of his power, or stood around and waited for someone else to get rid of him.
Now they can’t.
And some say National Review helped create this Trumpenstein which will create (for better or worse) a new branding image for the GOP. The New Republic:
National Review is the great intellectual gatekeeper of the American right, a journal of opinion that has long served as the arbiter of what counts as respectable conservative thought. Throughout its six-decade history, the magazine has been known for launching crusades against ideological factions it regards as unworthy of belonging to the conservative tribe, including anti-Semites in the late 1950s, libertarians and members of the John Birch Society in the 1960s, and anti-war conservatives in the 1990s and post-September 11. Acting as a kind of bouncer, National Review has earned enemies who accuse it of purging dissident thought on the right. But there’s no question that the many wars National Review has fought to purify the conservative movement have often had a salutary effect, particularly in excluding anti-Semitism and more overt forms of racism.
So when National Review launched its special issue “Against Trump” last night, it was keeping to a venerable tradition of policing the right. The magazine has been fiercely skeptical of Trump since he announced his candidacy last summer, but the special issue, which boasts an array of right-wing media personalities and pundits as well as a feature editorial, seems designed to be its definitive statement, a historical milestone on par with William F. Buckley’s denunciation of the John Birch Society in 1965 or the magazine’s rejection of Pat Buchanan’s anti-Semitism in 1991.
Yet, despite some good polemics, “Against Trump” is a weak-tea effort. Too much time is spent trying to prove that Trump is not a real conservative, while ignoring the fact that the racist nationalism he is espousing has its origins on the right. Trump, the editors argue, 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.” There’s much that can be questioned here: After all, National Review didn’t have a problem with “free-floating populism” in 2008 when it celebrated Sarah Palin (now an enthusiastic Trump cheerleader), and historically the magazine has loved strongmen dictators like Mussolini and Franco.
The symposium gets off to a rocky start by beginning, admittedly for alphabetical reasons, with a contribution from Glenn Beck. With his long history of racism and conspiracy-mongering, Beck has all the flaws of Trump many times over. To get Glenn Beck to denounce Donald Trump as an unsound thinker makes about as much sense as hiring Larry Flynt to write about how Hugh Hefner demeans women.
Decades from now, when historians try to figure out the genealogy of Trumpism, they will have to pay careful attention to the pages of National Review in the 1980s and 1990s, when a crucial debate was being played out between neo-conservatives and paleo-conservatives. Although National Review ultimately sided with the neo-conservatives, it gave ample room to such paleo-conservative voices as Joseph Sobran, Peter Brimelow, John O’Sullivan, and Samuel T. Francis. Even after these writers were purged from the magazine, the white identity politics they argued for was taken up by other National Review writers, albeit in more muted and coded form. This paleo-con tradition created the idea of a politics centered around immigration restriction and a more robustly nationalist foreign policy (including trade policy). Many of these writers seeded the ideas that helped form the alt-right, which is the faction on the right that is most enthusiastic for Trump.
In truth, the relationship between National Review and Donald Trump is like that of Victor Frankenstein and his monster. Horror-stricken by what the monster is doing, Frankenstein might deny his own creation and say that it has a will of its own. But without Frankenstein, there is no monster. And without a conservative movement that fostered and indulged white identity politics, there is no Donald Trump.
If you indulge yourself with too much food you burp.
You get the feeling the Trump Belch will be long, be heard throughout the land, have consequences — and will not be forgotten.