Donald Trump has invoked William F. Buckley, Jr.’s name multiple times in recent weeks. The crux of his retort to Ted Cruz’s “New York values” remark centered on the fact that Buckley lived in New York (actually, he lived both there and in Connecticut). Now, the wake of National Review‘s “Against Trump” issue, Trump has argued that Buckley would be ashamed of the decline of his old magazine. Unfortunately, Buckley has been dead for almost eight years, so we have no way of hearing what he would have to say about Trump’s run for Presidency.
Or do we?
This is not Trump’s first rodeo. In 2000, Trump made a run at the Reform Party’s nomination for the Presidency, and this is what Buckley had to say about the Donald back then:
When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.
Does this mean the “late, great” William F. Buckley, Jr. is now a “hater” and a “loser”? As usual, he was entirely accurate in his description of Trump, circa 2000. Things haven’t changed much since then. In fact, if anything, he has grown more arrogant, narcissistic, and bombastic since then. Perhaps that’s what happens when you get a reality TV show centered around showcasing that side of your personality.
Trump’s recent invocations of Buckley’s name are nothing more than an attempt to cover up for his liberal, establishment-loving past. To the extent that he has any core beliefs, that’s what they are, but more than anything else, Donald Trump loves Donald Trump. The more we expose this, as Buckley did, the more we can weaken, bit by bit, his candidacy.