Donald Trump Is More Like Ike Than George W. Bush. Why movement conservatives hate the GOP frontrunner. By SCOTT MCCONNELL
National Review’s barrage against Donald Trump won’t make much difference in the race, but clarifies nonetheless. In an editorial and 22 signed contributions, the magazine urges conservatives to reject Trump. Ninety percent of those likely to be influenced by National Review (a small, but not negligible number in a GOP primary) would have come to that conclusion without any help: Trump is not and never has been an establishment conservative, and other perfectly capable candidates are filling that niche. Nonetheless, NR‘s “Against Trump” campaign reveals much about the magazine and the current state of the conservative movement.
National Review has a a history, and not entirely a dismal one, of efforts to exclude people from the ranks of respectable conservatism. In the 1950s, it hardly helped conservatism of any stripe to have the John Birch Society proclaiming that Eisenhower and his brother were witting communist agents: it simply made the Right seem kooky and stupid. Buckley’s dismissal of the group was prudent. But subsequent purges targeted not kooks, but ideological opponents, especially after the end of the Cold War. Twenty years ago National Review sought to damage Pat Buchanan’s presidential bid by publishing various polemics and jointly signed statements against him. Buchanan was vulnerable because part of his appeal was as a loyal Republican who had spent many years at Nixon’s and Reagan’s side, before he began to challenge the GOP consensus.