Last summer, George F. Will, the elder statesman of conservative pundits, declared Donald Trump “an affront to anyone devoted to the project William F. Buckley began six decades ago with the founding in 1955 of National Review––making conservatism intellectually respectable and politically palatable.” He urged conservatives to treat Trump as Buckley once treated the John Birch Society.
On Thursday, the National Review published its bull of excommunication. Its new issue leaves no doubt about where the magazine stands on the race for the GOP nomination.
Say the editors, “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.”
The editorial savages Trump’s foreign and domestic policies alike. “For someone who wants to project strength, he has an astonishing weakness for flattery, falling for Vladimir Putin after a few coquettish bats of the eyelashes from the Russian thug,” it states. “Trump has shown no interest in limiting government, in reforming entitlements, or in the Constitution.” It finally declares that the very core of Trump’s approach is dangerous:
His obsession is with ‘winning,’ regardless of the means — a spirit that is anathema to the ordered liberty that conservatives hold dear and that depends for its preservation on limits on government power. The Tea Party represented a revival of an understanding of American greatness in these terms, an understanding to which Trump is tone-deaf at best and implicitly hostile at worst.
He appears to believe that the administrative state merely needs a new master, rather than a new dispensation that cuts it down to size and curtails its power.