George F. Will is positively beside himself that the crass and tacky Donald Trump has invaded his garden party.
He is an affront to anyone devoted to the project William F. Buckley began six decades ago with the founding in 1955 of the National Review — making conservatism intellectually respectable and politically palatable. Buckley’s legacy is being betrayed by invertebrate conservatives now saying that although Trump “goes too far,” he has “tapped into something,” and therefore. . . .
Therefore what? This stance — if a semi-grovel can be dignified as a stance — is a recipe for deserved disaster.
Conservatives who flinch from forthrightly marginalizing Trump mistakenly fear alienating a substantial Republican cohort. But the assumption that today’s Trumpites are Republicans is unsubstantiated and implausible. Many are no doubt lightly attached to the political process, preferring entertainment to affiliation. They relish their candidate’s vituperation and share his aversion to facts. From what GOP faction might Trumpites come? The establishment? Social conservatives? Unlikely.
Soon the campaign will turn to granular politics, the on-the-ground retail work required by the 1.4 percent of the nation’s population that lives in Iowa and New Hampshire. Try to imagine Trump in an Iowa living room, with a macaroon in one hand and cup of hot chocolate balanced on a knee, observing Midwestern civilities while talking about something other than himself.
So, conservatives today should deal with Trump with the firmness Buckley dealt with the John Birch Society in 1962. The society was an extension of a loony businessman who said Dwight Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” In a 5,000-word National Review “excoriation” (Buckley’s word), he excommunicated the society from the conservative movement.
The Republican Party of George F. Will and William F. Buckley created the environment that hatched the Southern Strategy and their Confederate flags, the Christian Coalition and their religious bigotry, and the Tea Party with their low-education crowd of dog-whistling racists, all with the smug idea that they could control them and bend them to their will at the voting booth, then blithely dismiss them like the hired help when it came time to run the country.
Mr. Will, you created Donald Trump. You deal with him. And if you can’t well, then, in the words of your nemesis, “Later, losers!”