Look, we get it: Bill Kristol, Max Boot and a whole bunch of the other ‘neo-conservatives’ don’t like President Trump, mostly personally but also for most of his policies. It was Mr Kristol’s personal hatred of Mr Trump which helped bring the once-flourishing The Weekly Standard to its end. David Brooks, the (supposedly) moderate conservative columnist for The New York Times, could not conceal his scorn for the market forces which meant the end for the Standard:
The closing of The Weekly Standard is being told as a Trump story, as all stories must be these days. The magazine has been critical of Trump, and so this is another example of the gradual hegemony of Trumpism over the conservative world. That is indeed the backdrop to what happened here.
But that’s not the whole story. In reality, this is what happens when corporate drones take over an opinion magazine, try to drag it down to their level and then grow angry and resentful when the people at the magazine try to maintain some sense of intellectual standards. This is what happens when people with a populist mind-set decide that an uneducated opinion is of the same value as an educated opinion, that ignorance sells better than learning.
In that sense, the closing of The Standard resembles Chris Hughes’s destruction of the old New Republic. This is what happens when the commercial forces trying to dumb down the American media run into a pocket of people trying to resist those forces.
The peasants, it seems, were revolting! Heaven forfend, but the voters were not quietly taking their orders from their betters.
The esteemed Mr Brooks blamed the corporate owners of The Standard for closing it down, but even he admitted that it was losing money. Circulation dropped from over 100,000 in 2013, but dropped to 72,000; from 2016 to 2017, circulation dropped by 7,000, roughly 10%. The magazine had gone pretty much all-#NeverTrump, all the time. A conservative political opinion journal might have survived, even if the editors didn’t like Mr Trump, if it had attempted at least some semblance of balance, but, for the editors of The Standard, that was a bridge too far.
The problem is simple: a lot of conservatives like and support President Trump, perhaps even some who were subscribers to The Weekly Standard. When you annoy your customer base, you start to lose your customer base; that’s the free market at work. In that, the neo-conservatives managed to shoot themselves in the foot: readers who supported Mr Trump might be open to some persuasion, had the editors shown some discretion, but by taking the path they did, those readers won’t be reading the brilliant articles that The Standard would have presented to them.
And today, we see more evidence of Mr Kristol’s anti-Trump paranoia:
An earlier bully and demagogue, Joe McCarthy, succeeded as long as the objects of his ire were diplomats and politicians. His attack on the military led to a rapid decline and fall (the Army-McCarthy hearings). Should House Armed Services hold hearings on Trump and the military?
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 1, 2019
Really? On what basis? Has President Trump issued an illegal or unconstitutional order to the military? Some on the military might not care for Mr Trump’s policies — Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned over the decision to pull American troops out of Syria, a decision which left the neo-cons aghast — but the order was certainly a legal one. The military leadership exist to advise the civilian leadership on matters within their purview, but it is still the civilian leadership who take the policy decisions.
Civilian control of the military is one of the cornerstones of our constitutional republic, and our civilian President is, constitutionally, the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces. Does Mr Kristol believe that that cornerstone should somehow be chipped away just because he hates Mr Trump? Does he believe that the Congress should try to limit the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief, or perhaps impeach Mr Trump over decisions former Secretary Mattis disapproved?
That last was a rhetorical question: of course Mr Kristol wants President Trump impeached, on any pretext, by any means necessary. He’s simply gone off the deep end in that area. The real question is why Mr Kristol, knowing as he most certainly does that, absent an unexpected health crisis, President Trump will leave office peacefully on January 20, 2021 — or January 20, 2025! — and knowing that all of the neo-conservative’s tweets won’t change that, tarnish his own image and reputation with idiocy such as his tweet above? That’s an indication that Mr Kristol has simply lost it when it comes to the President. Donald Trump, it seems, is living, rent-free, in Bill Kristol’s head.