Anti-Trump "National Review" Throws in Towel, Admits Trump Massive Success


Among the pantheon of conservative publications, the National Review — the magazine founded by William F. Buckley, which has been the mouthpiece of the conservative movement for over a half-century — has been the intellectual center of the #NeverTrump movement on the right.

For all of Bill Kristol’s machinations and quixotic attempts to derail Trump, his Weekly Standard has come nowhere near publishing the amount of invective against the president that the National Review has.

In fact, just two Januarys ago, as it became clear that the real estate mogul wasn’t just a novelty candidate but a serious force to be contended with, the magazine went as far to publish an anti-Trump issue, complete with pieces from conservatives like the aforementioned Kristol, Glenn Beck, Thomas Sowell, Dana Loesch and Katie Pavlich, among others.

As late as last October, the magazine was still on the #NeverTrump train, with writer Victor Davis Hanson saying that the president “is a symptom, not the cause of the GOP’s internal strife” — arguing, of course, that those who supported him were the problem.

Perhaps it was the calendar turning over on Trump’s first year in the White House, or the fact that the president has shepherded more irrefutably conservative initiatives than even his most staunch supporters probably could have hoped for. Whatever the case may be, the magazine seems to have done a bit of a reappraisal on the president and his agenda — and while it may not be a 180-degree shift, it’s an undeniable sign that even #NeverTrump conservatives are beginning to come around on our 45th president.

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In a piece called “The Great Experiment” published earlier this week by National Review, the same Hanson who argued that Trump voters are the problem said that Trump’s presidency represented the first time in the post-war era that we’ve gone from a “hard left” president to a “hard right” administration in succession.

“Most new administrations do not really completely overturn their predecessors’ policies to enact often-promised ideologically driven change,” Hanson writes. “The 18-year span of Harry Truman to Dwight Eisenhower to John F. Kennedy was mostly a continuum from center-left to center-right, back to center-left. Kennedy was probably as hawkish and as much of a tax cutter as was Eisenhower.

“The seven years of Jerry Ford to Jimmy Carter were a similar transition — or even the twelve years of George H. W. Bush to Bill Clinton. The deck chairs changed, but the ship sailed in mostly the same manner to mostly the same direction. Even the supposed great divide of 1981 did not mean that Jimmy Carter had been as left-wing as Ronald Reagan was right-wing. Carter’s fight against inflation and renewed defense build-up was continued in part by Reagan. George W. Bush was not as markedly right-wing as Barack Obama was clearly left-wing. In sum, there have rarely been back-to-back complete reversals in presidential agendas.”

Hanson declared — in the same publication that has repeatedly declared Trump to be a moderate liberal in conservative clothing — that Trump had accomplished a rare feat — being able to go from the extreme left of the Obama administration and implementing a conservative agenda.

“Whatever Donald J. Trump’s political past and vociferous present, his first year of governance is most certainly as hard conservative as Barack Obama’s eight years were hard progressive,” Hanson writes. “We are watching a rare experiment in political governance play out, as we go, in back-to-back fashion, from one pole to its opposite.”

Hanson notes Obama’s foreign policy missteps in Libya, Syria, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Israel and Egypt (quite the list, one must note).

“All reflected his own larger visions of European Union and American progressivism as models for transnational world governance. A global council of Davos-like elites would best adjudicate climate-change crises, the excesses of capitalism, dangerous nationalism, the parochial and outdated restrictions on migration and immigration, and the lingering but still pernicious legacies of Western imperialism and colonialism,” Hanson wrote, noting that Obama preferred to let crises “more or less work themselves out on their own.”

And then there was identity politics, larger, more intrusive government, “big green” and ““you didn’t build that.”

“By January 2017, American culture and the economy at home and foreign policy abroad reflected Obama’s values: pathways to abortion on demand, radical gun control, tribalism, and democratic socialism,” Hanson writes.

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“Then came the unforeseen nomination, election, and governance of Donald J. Trump,” he continues. “Unlike George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, Trump was determined to ram through a conservative agenda not seen since the Reagan revolution of 1981–89 —  and to govern as conservatively as Obama had progressively.”

This includes “tax reform and reduction, conservative judges and cabinet heads, stepped-up energy production, deregulation, a new realist and deterrent foreign policy, (and) immigration recalibration.”

“In other words, free-market economics, deterrent foreign policies, and conservative cultural reform that are championed in the abstract in think tanks, on radio and television by conservative pundits, and in magazines and journals by conservative intellectuals are currently being put to work concretely in the real world, a rare occurrence,” Hanson writes.

In other words, Trump’s administration has been a massive success on almost every major issue that the National Review is pushing.

Hanson sounds a note of caution — that these ideas need to undergo the test of implementation. However, we’ve seen pleasant auguries so far, pleasant enough that even the National Review seems to be throwing in the towel on their #NeverTrumpism.

What a difference a year — and an administration — makes.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture