With the installation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and a yet-to-be-named reliable replacement for the unreliable Anthony Kennedy, Donald Trump will have confirmed himself as the most consequential conservative president of the modern era (or a close second to Reagan if you’re nostalgic). This will be complete vindication for Trump supporters, which means it’s really the end for the so-called Never Trump conservatives. Of course, there have been so many humiliating defeats for that crowd that we are spoiled for choice. What was your favorite blunder, or blown prediction, which marked their ignominious end?
For some, it must have been in March when Bill Kristol, longtime editor of the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard, showed up in New Hampshire telling people he would run against President Trump in 2020. Or in April when the conservative website RedState was taken over and purged of writers who were “insufficiently supportive” of the president. Some go back to October 2017 when a Twitter spat broke out between Stephen Hayes and Brit Hume of Fox News over the Weekly Standard’s anti-Trump editorials. With the death last week of Charles Krauthammer, the revered neocon commentator and prominent Trump skeptic, the eclipse of the neocon intellectuals is complete.
…Looking back, it now seems self-evident that conservative pundits were preposterously out of touch. (Who isn’t amused by the poindexter pretentiousness of George Will’s bow-ties or the pseudo-scholarly piffle of Jonah Goldberg’s byline as “the inaugural holder of the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty?”). These intellectuals barely noticed the opioid crisis running through small town America; or the base’s anger regarding illegal immigration; and they were adamantly opposed to any restriction of free trade while working class frustrations mounted over NAFTA and its ilk. (This explains why J. D. Vance and his book Hillbilly Elegy was Washington’s must-read book of 2017: it provided a portrait of rural America that the political class could digest without condescending to visit such places or talk to such voters.) It turns out that conservative intellectuals, living inside the “Acela Corridor” and funded exclusively by think tanks and foundations, are poor barometers of Republican voter concerns.
…There is also a low-testosterone, dilettantish strain of conservatism that has overdeveloped in the “mainstream” media to create such sterile hybrids as Michael Gerson and George Will and David Brooks. Nothing sunk these so-called wise men lower in the estimation of their fellow conservatives than their blithe indifference to the Clintons’ gangsterism. While Trump threw wild verbal haymakers at Hillary at campaign rallies, these intellectuals were basically on TV announcing they would be accommodationists for the Clinton Machine’s inevitable victory. Trump’s base was fighting a war; these guys were sipping tea. The contrast in styles of conservatism was stark: it was the pugnacious billionaire against the stuffy wimps.
And there you have it. Millions of Americans were ready to try and save a country they loved that they knew was slipping away from them. These are men and women who refuse to let that happen without a fight. They just needed a leader willing to fight with them, and for them, and alongside them.
That leader is Donald Trump. D.C.’s intellectual elites couldn’t understand because their arrogance and self-serving brand of weak-tea conservatism made them ignorant to the world around them. Their time is over. Trump’s time is here – and America is much better for it.