National Review Descends (or "Witless Rag Rides Escalator")

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

It’s been almost five years since Kevin Williamson wrote his rather uncharitable headline “Witless Ape Rides Escalator” to announce the candidacy of now-President Donald Trump in National Review.


It’s been almost four years to the day since National Review ran its cover “Against Trump” (or as Dan Surber terms it “The fourth anniversary of National Review’s suicide“).

The adage “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” comes to mind.

Williamson wrote at the time:

Trump’s is a fill-in-the-blanks agenda: He claims to have a plan for defeating ISIS, but he cannot say what it is for reasons of operational security for the mission that exists only in his mind. He assures us the plan is “foolproof,” but whoever coined that word had never met a fool like Donald Trump.

Some might say the blanks have been filled with a vengeance. Trump smashed Daesh and took every last square inch of their misbegotten caliphate. As it turned out, part of the president’s plan was to scatter scraps of elusive terrorist leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi across an acre of Syria, to the cheers of millions within and without the United States.

Williamson’s talk of fools brings to mind Proverbs 18:2:”A fool has no delight in understanding, but only in expressing his own opinion.”

National Review should be forgiven for looking askance at the president in the beginning. Few people had any idea what to expect from the cipher that was Donald Trump. But today? Time has passed. The president has proven himself in spades, demonstrating the courage to stand up to Democrat intimidation and frame-ups again and again. Yet National Review has chained itself to the banister and refuses to budge. Who’s the fool now?


Columnists including Williamson, David French, and Jonah Goldberg have continued writing increasingly desperate shame jobs, blaming Donald Trump for a moiety of the outrage eruption in politics since 2016. Most of it boils down to “He’s a nasty man.” They sound a lot like Hillary Clinton: the same self-awareness, but less forgiving.

Goldberg wrote just last week that “Our Nation Is Paying for Trump’s Refusal to Be Presidential.” Are we really? Or are we paying for years of utter capitulation by pseudo-conservatives since Bush 2? Progressives have mugged the country for years with only a token resistance from the party of McCain and Romney. “PLEASE TAKE THE COUNTRY! JUST DON’T CALL US NAMES!”

Where was National Review when the Republican Party really needed criticism? Where were the headlines like “Mitt Romney’s Presidential Hair Doesn’t Matter–He’s Still a RINO Catchfart” or “Party Traitor John McCain Should Help Democrats Draft Their Policy Platform”? National Review manifestly had the sarcasm and snark in store–why didn’t they use it to fight the burgeoning irrelevance of conservatives in power?

Instead, National Review has stood by and described the scenery while progressives have beaten the daylights out of conservatives, steamrolling and paving them over in institutions from government to the academy. Now that Donald Trump has stepped in and returned the beating with compound interest, National Review prates about how Donald Trump “is a person of bad character.”


The debate around the president’s character can go round and round without end. The real terminus is this: nobody cares about the character of the man who stops a vicious mugger plying his evil trade. Nobody cares whether the unlikely hero has been married three times, or his company declared bankruptcy, or that he speaks to the mugger in ways that have the Think Tank Tweed Brigade reaching for their smelling salts.

As discussed before, in a truly Christian worldview, a man’s present actions define him, not his past. Oskar Schindler (of Schindler’s List fame) was a philandering Nazi spy and Jewish slavedriver, before he risked everything to rescue his Jewish prisoners from the gas chambers and ovens. Schindler’s past makes the president’s look in contrast like the life of a choir boy.

Had National Review been around at the time, they no doubt would have complained that Schindler showed “bad character,” as evidenced by lying to the Nazis and cheating them of their labor. The headline probably would have read: “The Allies Are Paying for Schindler’s Refusal to Be Honest and Truly Heroic.”

President Trump is single-handedly teeing up what looks like the most crushing Republican victory in decades. National Review may want to get ahead of the emerging situation and join forces with The Bulwark now. Leave the rest of us unmolested to rescue the country from Bernie Sanders’ Swedenization.


Whatever National Review decides, readers who are tired of the beatings and the impotent think-tanking have a message. To quote Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets: “Sell crazy someplace else. We’re all stocked up here.”


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