Whatever you might think of National Review’s Thursday night attack on Donald Trump is beside the point. That’s not what I’m here to talk about. Just forget about The Establishment versus… Trump versus… This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with tactics and media savvy. There are many fine people at National Review, smart people, which is why the incredibly lame and heavy-handed execution of this “broadside” against Trump is something worth talking about.
Conservatives cannot win elections, most especially national elections, living in the 19th century. If you are going to go to the trouble of building what you believe is a Nuclear Bomb — and a full issue of National Review devoted to annihilating Trump is obviously crafted with that in mind — you have to also build a 21st century delivery device.
All that time, all that work, all that effort, all that organization, and by noon the next day, because of a terrible launch platform, National Review’s nuke has already belly-flopped and disappeared into the sea.
The entire execution behind the delivery of this dud immediately brought this to my mind:
INT. PRIVATE CLUB – K STREET – VICTORIAN ERA
Long hallway. Oak paneled walls. Ends at two closed, imposing doors.
The only sound is horse-drawn carriages passing by outside and the echo of IMPORTANT MEN discussing IMPORTANT MATTERS from behind those doors.
From somewhere a bell tinkles. Immediately a BOY in a heavily-starched uniform appears. The doors swing open. A toxic cloud of cigar smoke swallows the boy. As the smoke dissipates, we see that the room inside is filled with WELL-DRESSED IMPORTANT MEN pleased with themselves. They sit in leather chairs and drink brandy.
The BOY is handed a piece of paper – A PROCLAMATION.
Like it is as sacred as the Magna Carta, the BOY runs to make his delivery as the WELL-DRESSED IMPORTANT MEN confidently celebrate how their proclamation will change the world.
Other than the usual-usual Fox News appearances, that is exactly what National Review did last night.
I’m sorry but even if it ever did, the world does not work this way anymore. Even if you believe 100% in every word National Review wrote against Trump, if there ever really was an era where one could change the world by stuffing a bunch of opinions in-between magazine covers, this sure as hell isn’t it.
This is 2016. Opinions are not changed with the drop of a magazine filled with Very Important Thinkers espousing Very Big Thinks about How We Should All Think. This approach only backfires because it looks self-important, stuffy and conceited from good people who are none of those things.
If I may paraphrase the Coen Brothers: Nobody likes the high hat.
Drudge doesn’t issue proclamations.
BuzzFeed doesn’t issue proclamations.
The Mainstream Media doesn’t issue proclamations.
Hearts and Minds are changed through Narratives — narratives built over time and tested with carefully-crafted storytelling, characters, caricatures, tweets, Facebook posts, attention-grabbing headlines, pictures, videos, and yes, even gifs.
The only message coming out of this National Review issue today is that A BUNCH OF FAMOUS CONSERVATIVES PILED ON DONALD TRUMP…
It’s all one big Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!
And how is that effective in a year where being an outsider is sexier than Sophia Loren in a lace teddy?
It is arguments that change minds, small, tight, individualized arguments that have been honed, tested, and perfected to drive a Narrative. Narratives change minds. Narratives stick. Narratives leave a mark.
Ironically, it is this very narrative-method that has kept Trump on top; it is this very method that has allowed Trump to successfully destroy Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, and the DC Media. It is this very method that Trump is using right now to dismantle Ted Cruz.
And here’s the kicker: this is also the very method Trump has used to inoculate himself from laughably late-hits from the likes of a National Review.
National Review isn’t hurting Trump, like a Keystone Cop, National Review is stepping directly into his well-honed anti-establishment narrative.
Before you attempt to bury Donald Trump, maybe you should try and learn a thing or two from him.
All due respect, all I learned from National Review today is that Republicans still suck at media.
The Establishment has absolutely no idea how to fight.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC