Rick Manning: ‘National Review Crowd Can’t Admit They Were Dead Wrong About Donald Trump’

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Gage Skidmore/Flickr

“The National Review crowd can’t admit they were wrong, dead wrong, about Donald Trump,” said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government.

Manning made his comments during Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour.

“[Donald Trump] is the most conservative president in my lifetime, and I include Ronald Reagan,” opined Manning, reflecting on National Review’s ongoing framing of the 45th president as lacking conservative bona fides.

National Review’s 2016 “Against Trump” article derided then presidential candidate Donald Trump as a “philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus.”

Manning reflected on National Review’s expressed contempt for “white working class” communities, recalling the magazine’s 2016 cover story by Kevin Williamson which described predominantly white and rural communities as “dysfunctional and downscale.” 

“White working class” communities “deserve to die,” wrote National Review’s Williamson in that 2016 cover article about then-candidate Trump’s voters. When confronted by criticism for this stance, the magazine doubled down

Manning said Williamson was “dead wrong” that we should “let rural America die.”

“Rural America is being murdered,” explained Manning. “They weren’t dying, they were being murdered by trade laws that sent out jobs overseas, by tax laws that made it too expensive to build stuff here, and by environmental laws that strangle the life out of anybody who wants to grow anything, extract anything, or build anything.”

“And that’s why Kevin Williamson was dead wrong in his arrogance in believing that free trade was everything, when in fact what’s really important is having trade based on a level playing field,” said Manning. “America tied both hands behind her back in a boxing match trying to use our forehead to fight with. We’ll never be able to win that boxing match. Donald Trump’s changed the game.”

Mansour said she is “still appalled” by that Williamson National Review article.

“They were trying to write off these working class communities in the Rust Belt and these rural communities throughout America,” said Mansour. “And yet, this was the same National Review that shilled endlessly for the Bush administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you know what? The sons and daughters of the very same people in these communities that National Review is telling us, ‘Oh, just let ‘em die off’ — those were the ones that went and fought the wars that National Review was shilling for. Those were the ones that bled in those wars. Those were the ones that came home injured from those wars, and National Review has the gall to then say, ‘Oh, your community should be allowed to die. You’re just lazy. You’re indefensible.'”

“It was the most appalling piece I had ever read,” said Manning of Williamson’s National Review cover article.

America’s decades-long hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs, said Manning, was not an inevitable phenomenon, but a function of irresponsible trade policies. Trump, he added, was working toward enacting changes to make America’s economic landscape more hospitable to manufacturing enterprises.

President Donald Trump is increasing American global economic competitiveness, said Manning, with specific aim at China.

“He is creating an environment where America will have a chance to regain all the momentum of an economy that they had when I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s,” said Manning. “We were the dominant economy in the world. We’re going to able to compete with the Chinese.”

“We’re going to compete,” Manning explained. “We’re going to fight for our market. We’re not just going to roll over on our backs and say, ‘Oh, it’s a new normal, and turn the world over to the Chinese.’ Donald Trump is getting rid of the obstacles that block those opportunities to expand our own individual lives. I’m just overwhelmed with joy, right now, that we have a world now where America will compete, and our people will be able to compete, as opposed to being shut out because their own government refuses to fight for them.”

Mansour concurred with Manning’s description of Trump’s conservatism.

“It looks as if after one year in office we can definitely say that Donald Trump is governing as a conservative,” said Mansour. “Everything that ‘Against Trump’ magazine cover article told us — that Trump is not really a conservative, that he’s a Democrat in sheep’s clothing — they were one hundred percent wrong. He’s a conservative. He’s actually done certain things that even the other so-called conservatives on the stage during the primary — the sixteen other guys — some of them wouldn’t have done.”

“Ivy league prigs” among the ostensibly conservative commentariat, said Manning, were myopic in their utilitarian and economic political analyses: “Ivy League prigs who sit there with their little theories not caring who gets harmed, hoping that they’ll be able to get a big screen TV for ten dollars less than they would’ve otherwise, in order to trade the jobs overseas. That’s got to end, and Donald Trump’s ending it, and that’s what’s important. That’s his victory.”

The most important metric of presidential success, said Manning, a president’s impact on social attitudes. Trump is succeeding in this dimension, he said: “Here’s the measurement by which I measure a president. Has he changed the culture? Has he changed the mindset, has he changed the belief in the country about where we’re going to go and the hope for the future? This president has.”

National Review markets itself as a “conservative” news media outlet.

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Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.

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