July 9, 2017 – NATIONAL REVIEW

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Targeted by the unabomber in 1993, Yale professor David Gelernter can truly be said to be engaged in the culture wars. In Friday’s WSJ he takes conservative intellectuals to task for their disdain for Trump and their unwillingness to take on his execrable predecessor.

… I’d love for him (Trump) to be a more eloquent, elegant speaker. But if I had to choose between deeds and delivery, it wouldn’t be hard. Many conservative intellectuals insist that Mr. Trump’s wrong policies are what they dislike. So what if he has restarted the large pipeline projects, scrapped many statist regulations, appointed a fine cabinet and a first-rate Supreme Court justice, asked NATO countries to pay what they owe, re-established solid relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia, signaled an inclination to use troops in Afghanistan to win and not merely cover our retreat, led us out of the Paris climate accord, plans to increase military spending (granted, not enough), is trying to get rid of ObamaCare to the extent possible, proposed to lower taxes significantly and revamp immigration policy and enforcement? What has he done lately?

Conservative thinkers should recall that they helped create President Trump. They never blasted President Obama as he deserved. Mr. Obama’s policies punished the economy and made the country and its international standing worse year by year; his patronizing arrogance drove people crazy. He was the perfect embodiment of a one-term president. The tea-party outbreak of 2009-10 made it clear where he was headed. History will record that the press saved him. Naturally the mainstream press loved him, but too many conservative commentators never felt equal to taking him on. They had every reason to point out repeatedly that Mr. Obama was the worst president since Jimmy Carter, surrounded by a left-wing cabinet and advisers, hostile to Israel, crazed regarding Iran, and even less competent to deal with the issues than Mr. Carter was—which is saying plenty. 

But they didn’t say plenty. They didn’t say much at all. The rank and file noticed and got mad. …


Conservative intellectuals think that if Trump were asked about the conservative canon, he would ask why anyone is interested in obsolete artillery; missing entirely the point of the collection of thought containing the intellectual basis for the idea of free markets. The magazine National Review has been the center of effort of the conservative “Never Trump” movement. And there has been little change in their negativity since the election. Reagan quoted de Tocqueville and Frederick Hayek so thinkers on the right warmed to him. But there is little chance that will happen with Trump. Consequently writers from National Review have been scarce in our pages for the last year. This post aims to begin to correct that. John Fund, an old friend and Pickings reader has written a good piece on London’s towering inferno.

I was in London last week and woke up to horrifying pictures of the inferno that engulfed the GrenfellTower public housing project in London. They were among the most unsettling images I’ve seen since I watched the WorldTradeCenter collapse from my office building just across the street on 9/11. …

… GrenfellTower was owned by the local council, which in turn had turned over management to the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Company, a not-for-profit that is managed by a board of directors consisting of eight elected tenants, four council members, and three independent members.

“Social housing” in Britain — what we call public housing in the U.S. — has turned into areas of deprivation and neglect. Although many tenants have bought their units under plans initiated by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, many current tenants are poor, recent immigrants without the wherewithal to buy their units.

It was the council that made the key decisions about the controversial retrofit of the building. …



Notable in his absence from the “never Trumpers” at National Review was Victor Davis Hanson. His essay on the never ending ironies of the Trump presidency is worth a read.

The Left was mostly untroubled for eight years about the often unconstitutional abuses of Barack Obama — given that they saw their shared noble aims as justifying almost any means necessary to achieve them.

There was the not uncommon Rice-Gruber-Rhodes-Holder sort of deception (on Benghazi, on the conduct of Bowe Bergdahl, on the Affordable Care Act, the Iran deal, on Fast and Furious, etc.) — a required tactic because so much of the Obama agenda was antithetical to the wishes and preferences of the American electorate and thus had to be disguised and camouflaged to become enacted. …

… So along came the next Republican president, empowered by Obama’s exemptions to do almost anything he wished, albeit without the thin exculpatory veneer of Ivy League pretension, multicultural indemnity, and studied smoothness.

In biblical “there is a season” fashion, for every sermon about not building your business, making too much money, or profiting at the wrong time, there was a Trump retort to profit as never before.

For every too-frequent gala golf outing of a metrosexual Obama decked out in spiffy attire, there is a plumper Trump swinging away, oblivious to the angry pack of reporters that Obama once so carefully courted.

For every rapper with an ankle bracelet that went off in the White House, there is now a White House photo-op with Ted Nugent. …

… Even the most die-hard Never Trump conservative has had to make some adjustments.

Despite assurances that Trump would not get the nomination, he did.

Despite assurances that he could never be elected, he was.

Despite prognostications that Trump was a liberal wolf hiding in conservative fleece, Trump’s appointments, his executive orders, his legislation pending before the Congress, his abrupt withdrawal from the Paris global-warming accords, his fierce support for vouchers, his pro-life advocacy, and his immigration normality were so far orthodoxly conservative. …



David Harsanyi asks, “What If Donald Trump Doesn’t Sink the Republican Party?”

What if Republican voters who don’t particularly like President Donald Trump are also able to compartmentalize their votes? What if they dislike Democrats more than they do the president? What if, rather than being punished for Trump’s unpopularity, local candidates are rewarded for their moderation? This would be a disaster for Democrats. And Tuesday’s runoff election in Georgia’s Sixth District shows that it might be possible.

Now, had Jon Ossoff come out ahead of Karen Handel, the coverage would have painted this as a game-changing moment: a referendum on conservatism itself, a harbinger of a coming liberal wave, and a rejection of Trump’s disastrous presidency. It would have illustrated that Democrats had figured out how to flip those suburban and affluent Republicans who aren’t crazy about the president.

Perhaps some of that will still play out during the midterms, because one race (or even four) doesn’t tell us everything we need to know. Every district is unique. Still, there are definitely ominous signs for Democrats. …



For sheer fun, you can’t beat Kevin Williamson on the Clintons – “Big Creep, Mrs. Creep, and Little Creep.”

… Chelsea Clinton, most recently lionized on the cover of Variety, is a 37-year-old multi-millionaire who has never uttered an interesting word about any subject at any time during the course of her life. Judging from the evidence of her public statements, she has never had an original thought — it isn’t clear that she has had a thought at all. In tribute to her parents, she was given a series of lucrative sinecures, producing a smattering of sophomoric videos for NBC at a salary of $600,000 a year. She later went more formally into the family business, leaving her fake job at NBC for a fake job in her parents’ fake charity. She gave interviews about how she just couldn’t get interested in money and bought a $10 million Manhattan apartment that stretches for the better part of a city block.

And, since her mother’s most recent foray into ignominious defeat, she has been inescapable: magazine covers, fawning interviews, talk of running her in New York’s 17th congressional district. The Democrats are doing their best to make Chelsea happen.

And, who knows, it might work. It would be tempting to write her off as a know-nothing rich kid who has made a living off her family connections while operating one of the world’s most truly asinine Twitter accounts, but . . . well, you know.

But, for Pete’s sake, stop it. Have a little self-respect, Democrats. Build Bill Clinton a statue or . . . whatever. Send him your daughters like a bunch of bone-in-the-nose primitives paying tribute to the tribal chieftain. But stop trying to inflict this empty-headed, grasping, sanctimonious, risible, simpering, saccharine little twerp on American public life.

It’s stupid enough out there.



Rich Lowry writes on the Dem blindspot on culture.

How much do Democrats really want to defeat Donald Trump?

It’s worth asking in the wake of the latest Democratic failure to notch an electoral victory for the resistance, this time in the Georgia special election.

There’s no doubt that Democrats want to watch TV programs that excoriate the president. They want to give money to candidates opposing him. They want to fantasize about frog-marching him straight from his impeachment proceedings to the nearest federal penitentiary. But do they want to do the one thing that would make it easier to win tough races in marginal areas, namely moderate on the cultural issues? Not so much.

In retrospect, Jon Ossoff’s loss in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District was overdetermined. Youthful to a fault, he didn’t live in the district and had no record of public service. Yet it didn’t help that he was an orthodox liberal who conceded nothing on cultural issues, even though he was running in a Republican district in the South.

In this, Ossoff merely reflected his party’s attitude. Stopping Trump is imperative, so long as it doesn’t require the party rethinking its uncompromising stance on abortion, guns or immigration.



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