National Review Helps Clear Way For Rubio With War On Trump

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at 'Politics And Eggs' at the Radisson Hotel, on November 11, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Coming off the fourth debate Trump continues to run strong in the polls. (Photo by
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

National Review’s Kevin Williamson is out promoting his soon-to-be released book entitled, “The Case Against Trump.” A recent news release from a public relations firm pushing Willamson and the book suggests that the book’s “thesis” will present both a condemnation Trump and the plurality of Republican voters who support Trump.

The release reads in part:

THESIS… [Trump] has connected with an under-appreciated strain of right-wing populists, ranging from anti-NAFTA activists to outright white nationalists, by focusing his fire on a single issue—immigration, especially illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America. In this Encounter Broadside book, National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson takes a hard look at the Trump phenomenon, and the failures of the national Republican leadership—and defects in our national character—that gave it life.”

The release suggests that Trump is not a conservative, in part, because “he has a long history of taking views opposed to those of mainstream conservatives and Republicans” such as being “against free trade”. Interestingly, the release does not mention that polls show that among the American electorate, Republican voters are the group most skeptical of free trade— with a nearly five-to-one margin of Republican voters believing that free trade deals slash wages rather than raise them. Indeed, only a minuscule 11% of GOP voters, according to Pew, agree with Williamson’s apparent view that so-called free trade deals will be good for wages— placing his free-trade support far outside the mainstream view of GOP voters, millions of whom have suffered economic devastation as a result of the closure of manufacturing plants across the nation. As the President of the Steelworkers Union recently wrote:

“Unemployed, desperate and despairing, these once-middle-class workers are killing themselves at unconscionable rates with guns, heroin and alcohol-induced cirrhosis… Bread winners couldn’t pay their bills and couldn’t foresee a future when they could. That is because jobs in manufacturing and construction – jobs that had provided middle-class incomes for workers without college degrees for decades – disappeared.”

Williamson’s new book seems to confirm the reporting of Washington Examiner’s Byron York, who recently suggested that an upcoming GOP debate may have a ‘National Review Problem‘. In last week’s column, York noted that the National Review’s participation in the Republican debate may prove problematic given the publication’s anti-Trump bent. York chronicled some of the various instances in which the magazine’s writers— beyond simply Williamson— have decried the GOP frontrunner as, “a witless ape,” “a virus,” and “a low-rent carnival barker.”

While one of the National Review’s flagship writers has authored a book tearing down Mr. Trump, no one at the publication has written a book entitled “The Case Against Rubio,” whose signature policy issue is opposed by at least 92% of GOP voters.

Indeed, National Review’s senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru wrote a recent column which suggests that National Review may have a second bias that could color its participation in the GOP debate—namely, a soft-spot for donor-class favorite Sen. Marco Rubio.

In a piece entitled, “How Rubio Survives Immigration,” Ponnuru— a so-called “Reformicon” whose movement is closely aligned to Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy— implied that Rubio’s troublesome record on immigration is behind him.

Ponnuru writes:

“Will the issue [i.e. immigration] doom him in the presidential primaries? I don’t think so… Rubio explains his record in a way that might mollify many of the soft opponents of the bill. He says that while he was making a good-faith effort, he underestimated the public’s distrust of Washington’s ability to solve the problem in one giant bill and now understands that trust in enforcement has to be earned well before any path to legalization or citizenship.”

Yet, as Breitbart News has reported, and as Jeff Sessions recently stated, Rubio has not changed any of his policy positions on immigration.

The assertion that Rubio’s immigration bill— which would have issued 33 million new green cards in the span of a single decade— was part of a “good-faith effort” to resolve the nation’s immigration crisis, represents a marked shift for the publication, which once published an article that accused the young senator of “lying” in order to “fool voters” into passing “the Left’s objective” on immigration.

Ponnuru declares that Rubio’s position on immigration won’t be “a deal breaker” for Republican voters, writing: “Rubio doesn’t need Ann Coulter’s vote to win the nomination.”

Ponnuru leaves out the reporting of National Review’s own Reihan Salam, who observed that “only 7 percent of Republicans favor… an increase” in immigration, as Rubio does. In other words, it’s not just Ann Coulter, Rubio would be spurning— but more than 9 in 10 GOP voters.

Even liberal outlets like MSNBC have come to understand just how much of a “deal breaker” this issue is for GOP voters— contrary to Ponnuru’s assertion. As Rachel Maddow’s producer Steve Benen observes:

“If I were a Republican presidential candidate, and I were at all worried about Rubio, I’d probably repeat one talking point every minute of every day: ‘Marco Rubio partnered with liberal Democrats to write Obama’s ‘amnesty’ bill.’ For the GOP base, the bipartisan immigration reform package is truly despised – it’s right up there with ‘Obamacare’ – and yet one of the party’s leading presidential candidates is one of the bill’s authors.

Ponnuru, however, is not alone at National Review in his favorable coverage of the young Senator.

Former opinion editor, Patrick Brennan wrote several positive pieces about Marco Rubio before he eventually left National Review to take on an official position on Rubio’s campaign.

In a piece entitled, “Rubio’s New Immigration Plan Sounds Pretty Good,” Brennan dismissed CBS’ Bob Schieffer legitimate question about whether a President Rubio would sign the Gang of Eight legislation into law. Brennan describes this as “an odd question” and notes that “the ideas [Rubio] offered Schieffer sound worthy” and “soun[d] pretty good”. Brennan does not mention, as other reports did, that Rubio dodged the question entirely, telling Schieffer, “that’s a hypothetical.” Brennan instead writes about Rubio’s declaration that we need a visa tracking system. Brennan does not mention the fact that Rubio voted down an amendment that would add a visa tracking system to Obama’s immigration bill.

Similarly, after Rubio’s first debate performance, National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote: “Marco Rubio was really, really good tonight. Shining.”

The National Review has rapturously intoned over even the most banal and, at times, nonsensical responses from Rubio. In the first debate, Rubio was lobbed a softball question, to which his stumbling answer included these four lines, “God has blessed our country. This country has been extraordinarily blessed. And we have honored that blessing. And that’s why God has continued to bless us.” However, the National Review praised Rubio’s response to the softball question writing, “Marco Rubio got the best reviews, and deserved them. Even when Megyn Kelly threw him a baffling question— essentially asking him to say something about God and veterans simultaneously— he pulled it off, saying that God had blessed us with our veterans.”

National Review’s Charlie Cooke has similarly been trilling over Marco Rubio. During the second GOP debate, Cooke tweeted:

“Oh look, a solid policy answer. More Rubio please.”

“Rubio gets the biggest applause of the night.”

“Trump is no match for Rubio, who actually… knows things.”

As a non-citizen immigrant who cannot yet vote in U.S elections, Cooke’s Rubio-boosting raises the moral question of whether it’s ethical for a foreign national to come to the United States and prop up a presidential candidate whose signature agenda item, according to his own publication, “does not serve the economic interests of the United States.” Interestingly, the National Review has been critical of Jorge Ramos, a foreign national who— after arriving in the United States— has advocated for open borders.

While National Review‘s editor Rich Lowry recently acknowledged Rubio’s troublesome record on immigration, Lowry leaves the door open for Rubio to run even as he continues to push Obama’s immigration agenda. Lowry does not inform his readers that in recent months, Rubio has indicated support for giving green cards—and thus citizenship and welfare— to illegal aliens, expanding refugee resettlement, massively increasing the number of H-1B visa issuances, and declaring that his “ideal” plan is to leave Obama’s unconstitutional 2012 executive amnesty in place while pushing for legislative amnesty.

While National Review has published the occasional glancing criticism of Rubio, it generally appears in a broader context of a great openness to a Rubio candidacy. It is notable that the publication would so aggressively write off Trump while remaining open to a Rubio Presidency, given that Rubio would be in a better position than anyone to— in words once used by Rich Lowry— “pu[t] a stake through [the] heart” of National Review‘s immigration platform.

Indeed, the seemingly publication-wide soft-spot for Rubio’s candidacy is a dramatic turnabout for a magazine, which once featured as its cover story a picture of Rubio with the headline “Rubio’s Folly”. In the cover story, National Review laid out the repeated false statements Rubio made to National Review and every other conservative outlet on behalf of Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.

The magazine’s then-Washington editor explained that Rubio was the “linchpin for [the Gang of Eight’s] success” because he was “beloved by most conservatives”. Rubio used the trust conservatives had placed in him to “assuage” and “sooth[e] conservatives’ anxiety” and opposition to Obama’s immigration agenda.

“Unless [Rubio’s] an idiot, which I do not think to be the case, he’s trying to fool voters, not persuade them,” read an article in the National Review.  It continued: “First, [Rubio repeats] a familiar talking point: the bill doesn’t provide amnesty. For crisssake, of course it’s amnesty! Stop lying!”

Rich Lowry even declared “The next time I hear a Republican strategist or a Republican politician say that there are jobs that Americans won’t do, that person should be shot, he should be hanged, he should be wrapped in a carpet and thrown in the Potomac River.”

Yet this is precisely what Rubio’s aides said when explaining why Rubio was committed to admitting even more foreign labor into the country. When the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza asked why Rubio’s plan would give away unfilled jobs to imported foreign labor rather than helping get unemployed Americans back to work, a Rubio aide said, “One of the problems you have with this, ‘Oh there’s American workers who are unemployed.’ There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly because–.” At which point another Rubio aide jumped in asserting, “But the same is true for the high-skilled worker.” To which, the first Rubio aide replied, “Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.”

What makes National Review’s praise for even Rubio’s most anodyne political clichés interesting is that – assuming Pat Buchanan is correct in his assertion that immigration is “the issue of the 21st century”— National Review is boosting a candidate who stands diametrically opposed to their editorial position on this defining national question.

National Review even published a cover story in 1997 called “Electing a New People,” warning that the ongoing green card gusher would turn America increasingly blue. Rubio’s immigration plan called for tripling the number of green cards, a position he has never backed down from.

In fact, only a few months ago, Rubio introduced a bill that would essentially lift the university green card caps and triple the number of guest workers admitted on H-1B visas to replace American workers at lower cost.

And just a few months ago, Rubio announced his support for importing even more Muslim refugees into the country, on top of the existing clip of about 280,000 annual temporary and permanent Muslim migrants let into the U.S. According to Pew, only 11% of U.S. Muslims identify as Republicans or lean-Republican. Half, according to a recent poll, would trade the U.S. constitution for Sharia.

In an attempt to elucidate the reason for the publication’s shift, Breitbart News reached out to National Review’s Charlie Cooke and asked if he could think of any reason why Republican voters should trust Rubio given his record on immigration.

Breitbart asked:

“Given Rubio’s multitudinous misrepresentations about the contents of his Gang of Eight bill; given his support for a new immigration bill which would substantially increase immigration; and given the pro-amnesty billionaires who are funding his campaign— can you think of a single compelling reason why voters should believe that, if elected, Rubio would not seek to enact the entirety of the Gang of Eight immigration agenda[?]”

Cooke refused to answer: “This is an odd question to ask me. Like all the other candidates, Rubio has made his position on this issue clear. One either believes him or one doesn’t,” Cooke said in an email.

So eager was Cooke to promote Rubio that Cooke jettisoned his own publication’s reporting on the economic harms of mass immigration.

Breitbart News asked Cooke about recent studies showing all net job gains going to foreign workers. Cooke responded by citing a Washington Post fact check and insisted, “the picture you have painted in your question is an extreme one. The claim that all jobs have gone to foreign workers rests upon clever phrasing and simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.”

Yet, National Review has published multiple news articles and opinion pieces documenting the finding that all job gains among the working-age between 2000 and 2014 were netted by immigrant labor. [See: here, herehere, here, here, and here]. Cooke is essentially contradicting his publication’s own reporting.

In fact, as Breitbart News has previously reported, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that between the beginning of the recession in December of 2007 and March of 2015, all net employment gains— among workers aged 16 years old and over— went to foreign workers. In December 2007, the number of foreign workers was 22,810,000. In March of 2015, the number of foreign workers was 24,937,000, which means foreign workers gained 2.1 million new jobs. In the same time frame, the number of native-born workers decreased from 123,524,000 in December 2007 to 122,698,000 million in March 2015—or a decline of 826,000 among native workers. During this time period, the total native population, aged 16 years and older, increased by more than 11 million, even though the number of native workers fell.

Cooke has promoted Rubio even despite his own acknowledgement— in an interview at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada— that Rubio’s position on immigration has not changed. When Breitbart News noted in the interview that Rubio still supports every little bit of the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill, Cooke agreed: “Right.”

Cooke continued:

“But let’s put policy aside for a moment, he’s clearly thought through his positions. He can speak on them fluently. He can engage a room. He is a self-deprecating man, which is always useful in politics…There’s something likable about Marco Rubio—that can be used to his advantage. I have my own issues with him on immigration. His foreign policy is probably slightly too hawkish and I don’t like his tax plan as much as others. Maybe the question for Republicans eventually is which is the candidate that can win and deliver 60 to 70 percent of what we want rather than a Hillary Clinton administration that may replace Justice Scalia with another Ruth Bader Ginsburg? So, I’m up on Rubio overall though I have my disagreements. I’m certainly pleased that he is a face of the Republican Party.”

In effect, what Cooke is saying is that while Rubio has similar policies to a Jeb Bush or John McCain or Lindsey Graham, Cooke feels like Rubio will be better able to sell amnesty and globalist trade pacts and get them enacted.

This sentiment was recently echoed by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait who wrote, “Marco Rubio has carved out a valuable niche in the Republican field as the candidate who will carry out the agenda of the party’s donor base, but who has the identity and communication skills to sell that agenda more effectively.”

As one hill aide told Breitbart News: “Conservatives stopped George Bush’s amnesty bill, they stopped Barack Obama’s amnesty bill, and they could stop Hillary Clinton’s amnesty bill, but there is no scenario in which President Marco Rubio’s amnesty bill isn’t signed into law.”

It is interesting that while the publication seems delighted to heap accolades upon Rubio— a candidate who has demonstrated a willingness to repeatedly make materially false factual representations to them without any seeming compunction—the publication has been extremely critical of Donald Trump, as Byron York observed. In fact, the National Review has even gone after Trump’s blue-collar supporters who have no social power and whose kids are likely to face an uphill climb getting into universities, getting jobs, and achieving stable incomes and retirements if Rubio’s immigration policy were put into effect.

As Cooke admitted in a recent column, he finds the thought of a Trump presidency more disturbing than the disenfranchisement of millions of conservative Americans whose votes will be further drowned out by an influx of migrants who favor big government policies.

“Do you know what’s worse than the possibility that demographic change will shift the American psyche over time?” Cooke writes. “Hillary Clinton in office in 2017; Joe Biden in office in 2017; Donald Trump in office in 2017.”



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