The Weekly Standard bit the dust this month. Because of their late Never-Trump-ism, this is being decried as some sort of defeat for principled conservatism, that something important and worthwhile is being lost and we’re all poorer for it. To which I would say: this opinion is only possible if you were literally born on November 9, 2016 and were not alive for one second of American politics in the preceding 25 years.
Because I wasn’t born yesterday, I’m well familiar with the Weekly Standard, a rag whose principle identity from its founding wasn’t Never-Trump, but Never-Clinton, an animosity in which name they tolerated all manner of excess, of conspiracy, of running off the road paved by the norms and traditional of American political culture. And then, when George W. Bush got into office in circumstances largely indistinguishable from Trump, they became the foremost cheerleaders of the neocon crusade, of marching from Afghanistan to Iraq to Iran and solving the world at the point of a gun with Toby Keith trumpeting overhead.
As with so much of the conservative establishment, the Standard ’s opposition is risible when set against two decades of crying in the wilderness to make ready the way of the Trump. Every wink-wink toward Ken Starr’s endless prosecution, every proclamation that “real men want to go to Tehran,” every pretense that the Tea Party was something other than an astroturfed whitewash of the existing GOP base – all of it ploughed the furrow for Trump. And then they want to pull the ripcord with the other Respectable Republicans and say “HOOCOODANODE” and pretend that all of this happened out of a clear blue sky and wasn’t the result of two decades of damage to the body politic.
So to hell with them. I know that it’s bad to celebrate anyone being out of work at the holidays, and that’s as may be, but this isn’t a bunch of ironworkers laid off by a heartless corporation or a bunch of migrant laborers disposed of when no longer needed. To paraphrase an original member of the masthead, this is a bunch of rich, white, privileged people who could not even bother to abide by the political norms and traditions of a freely constituted society of their own making which had provided them with everything a civilization can be expected to provide. It’s hard to weep for someone who celebrated their opiate addiction for twenty years only to burn themselves to death on Russian krokodil.