NeverTrump “Conservative” Michael Medved: A Look Back

Now that Donald Trump has had what is, by many accounts,  an astonishingly successful first year—according to the Heritage Foundation, at any rate, an even more successful year than the one enjoyed by sainted Ronald Reagan—it is worth looking back on just how spectacularly wrong were some of the president’s “conservative” critics.

This is a crucial exercise for at least two reasons.

First, voters accustomed to identifying as “conservative” need to recognize that many of the commentators to whom they’ve turned in the past are scarcely the gurus they once may have seemed.

Second, in attending carefully, especially in hindsight, to the words of self-avowed “conservative” talking heads, it’s a bit easier to see that perhaps their ideas of what it means to be “conservative” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, it becomes increasingly difficult in some cases to discern any significant differences between these “conservatives” and those on the left against whom they rail.

Radio host and “conservative” columnist Michael Medved is a classic case in point.

Medved has been a NeverTrumper from day one. According to his friend and colleague, Mike Gallagher, with whom Medved had a debate of sorts recently, it sounds as if Medved has had something of a change of heart on Trump. Still, unlike his other colleague, Dennis Prager, Medved has yet to admit, unequivocally, that he had been disastrously wrong about the president. If he wants to be taken seriously going forward, he should.

Why? Because some remarks are harder to forget than others. Here are some examples:

After Trump put Ted Cruz out to pasture and secured his party’s nomination, Medved remarked:.

I actually believe that Trump represents the very, very worst elements of our politics and would be very threatening and damaging for the future for my kids, the Republic, our economy and our national security.

He insisted further that, “more than any other candidate in my lifetime, [Trump]“represents a threat to the viability of the United States of America.”

Wow. Let that sink in: Medved argued that more than any other candidate in his 70 or so years, Donald Trump would all but spell the ruination of all that is good with the country.

Lyndon Baines Johnson launched the War on Poverty and plunged us into the Vietnam War. Richard Nixon had to resign due to Watergate. Jimmy Carter presided over a recession, astronomical inflation, and the Iranian hostage crisis. Bill Clinton was impeached. George W. Bush, on false pretenses, embarked America on two wars that, in varying degrees, continue until this day. And Barack Obama—well, this speaks for itself for a whole host of reasons.

And yet, it is Trump who Medved predicted would prove to be dramatically worse than them all.

“On all of the issues, the core issues that make people conservative, Trump is wrong. He is on the other side,” Medved said.

It isn’t just that Trump is “on the other side” of what Medved understands when he says conservatism. Regarding “the issues that matter most to conservatives,” Trump “is probably worse…than Hillary [Clinton],” Medved claimed.

Be clear: Medved, a “conservative” commentator, confessed to suspecting that Hillary Clinton would prove to be a better president, from a conservative standpoint, than a President Trump.

Medved forecasted that Republicans would “get wiped out” in 2016. “I think this [Trump’s alleged unpopularity] means we get wiped out in the next election.”

Medved also said that Trump could increase his chances of prevailing over Clinton only if he selected Oprah Winfrey as his running mate.

“The one candidate he would pick, it would horrify me but probably help him, would be Oprah.”

Trump did, once, publicly entertain the possibility of selecting Oprah as a running mate. Medved explained why he thought that only Oprah could salvage the Donald’s candidacy.

“Who would be, of these celebrity candidates, more qualified and more effective? Oprah is a better communicator than he is. She is more beloved. She does have a spiritual core. She has a more inspiring story. She worked her way up from great difficulty.”

Medved concludes: “In every capacity, she is more qualified to run for president than he is”.

To be fair, Medved denied that he would vote for Clinton. Rather, he was giving consideration to voting for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. This is particularly ironic, for Medved spent many years on the air blasting Libertarians as “losertarians” for failing to realize that third parties in the American political system simply aren’t viable.

This, at any rate, is the tune he whistled as long as his listeners had problems with his candidates of choice: the Bushes, the McCains, and the Romneys.

Medved always urged those who were disenchanted with the GOP to seek to change it from within. Of course, once they proceeded to do just that by rallying behind the outsider Trump, Medved decided to follow exactly the counsel he had castigated so many of his listeners for following in previous elections. If Medved and other “conservatives” are coming around and beginning to see our political situation a little more clearly that is, of course, a development to be cheered and—even—appreciated. But forgiveness shouldn’t mean forgetting in this instance. Fine people can have bad political judgment. And when it is revealed, as it was in so many instances in 2016 among the NeverTrump “conservatives,” the rest of us must never forget.


About Jack Kerwick

Jack Kerwick earned his doctorate degree in philosophy from Temple University. His areas of specialization are ethics and political philosophy, with a particular interest in classical conservatism. His work has appeared in both scholarly journals and popular publications, and he recently authored, The American Offensive: Dispatches from the Front. Kerwick has been teaching philosophy for nearly 17 years at a variety of institutions, from Baylor to Temple, Penn State University, the College of New Jersey and elsewhere. His next book, Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism is pending publication. He is currently an instructor of philosophy at Rowan College at Burlington County.

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28 responses to “NeverTrump “Conservative” Michael Medved: A Look Back”

  1. Because of Medved’s NeverTrumperism I switched the dial and have never looked back.

    • #metoo. I was an avid listener and subscribed to Meadhead. I haven’t listened to his show in over a year

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  2. I neither voted for Trump nor Clinton but was relieved when Trump won. I can now, in good conscience, support and vote for President Trump in 2020.

  3. Mea Culpa…. I was one who thought Trump was a charlatan, I am now on board. He has surprised the hell out of me.

  4. Trump does that to some people, brings out their truest and often worst self. Medved’s reputation is sleepin’ with the fishes to me.

  5. There’s always room for repentance.

    “Gevalt!!! Never give up hope! There is no despair.”

    Likutey Moharan II, 78

  6. Stopped listening to Medved in 2012 after that clown guaranteed Romney’s victory and never looked back.

  7. Medved tries so hard to be fair and impartial, that he winds up being the exact opposite. He needs to remember his legal training, and become an adversary. Let the opposition make its own case.

    • Its the bagelism
      Savage and levin get this from time to time.

  8. Mea Culpa…. I was one who thought Trump was a charlatan, I am now on board. He has surprised the hell out of me.

  9. Medved is a Jeff Flake republican, and a wanton metrosexual. His comments are exactly what one would expect.

  10. Trump has THAT blue collar Queens
    Brooklyn speech bravado that sends chills spines. And gives
    Rashes to the polished. Political class
    Of elected Bernie Madoffs namely
    Congress. After THE memo TRUMP
    Should ask Mark Warner why he failed

    To mention his pal governor. Terry. McAuliffe. Of. Colluding with campaign funds for the FBI WIFE

  11. Has anyone heard what Medved’s current thinking on Trump is?

  12. Michael Medved admitted on his show that he voted for Evan McMullin. Of course he has always said that voting for third party candidates was a waste of time.

    I think he is in the “I’ll praise him when he does good and call him out when he does bad” camp now with Trump. But I have never heard him make the “I was wrong” statement as Dennis Prager has. I have felt he has had to moderate what he says to keep from losing his listeners and his ratings.

    I was listening to his show the when it was announced Trump fired Comey. He thought this was awful. And we know better than ever now it was a good thing. Now I only hear him when flipping channels during commercials, out of habit. But I quickly turn him off when he gets into the gray NeverTrump area.

    I think we all, like myself, realigned who we read and listened to. I can’t stand NeverTrumpers, especially the hardcore ones like Bill Kristol, Bret Stephens, George Will, etc.

  13. I used to listen to Medved’s radio show all the time. I just thought that he was just really really smart guy even though he’s hard headed and a bit snobbish.

    I no longer will listen to him ever again after seeing his stance on Trump or legalizing marijuana.

    His mind is closed on both issues thinks he’s right and anyone who does not agree with him is just misinformed.

    • He invites people who disagree with him to call in, but then as soon as they get a sentence or two out, he interrupts and doesn’t let them finish a sentence.

  14. I used to listen to him all the time. No more. I swear he’s a RINO. Thinks he’s a know it all and is a snob for sure!

  15. I’m so glad to see your comments about Medved. About twice a year I hit the button and see what Medved is saying. This week I was curious to hear what he thought about “the memo”. After I finished shaking my head, I went back to a different station. Michael used his whole time talking about Christopher Page. He rarely mentioned what came later…Steele dossier, Fusion GPS, FISA court, etc. No, all he wanted to discuss was Page! Medved is a lost cause.

  16. What blinds even good, moralistic Jews to Trump is their civic religion of “niceness”. To be impolite is the gravest sin to Jews. Trump’s short, brusque form of speech and his penchant to never provoke but always fight back violated Jewish norms and signaled to Jews that Trump did not have any religious charisma to be a legitimate leader. There were others however who knew beforehand that Trump was going to be a conservative president. How could this be? It is a cultural perception problem. Evangelical Christians even had a more realistic sense about Trump than religious Jews. How so? Because many are working class and such type of talk does not bother them. To Jews appearance constitutes behavior and there is no separation between public and private. To Evangelical Christians there is a separation between the private and public spheres. Such a separation is essential for modernity (as opposed to say Saudi Arabia where everything is pulbic). Sociologist John Murray Cuddihy wrote two books about Jewish civic religion of niceness: 1) No Offense: Civil Religion and Protestant Taste and 2) The Ordeal of Civility: The Jewish Struggle with Modernity. I would suggest Medved and Prager read them.

  17. “George W. Bush, on false pretenses, embarked America on two wars that, in varying degrees, continue until this day.”

    I stopped reading right here. Are you stupid or a liar? Both? And you are going to warn us about faux conservatives? You should have written this piece under the name “useful idiot”.

  18. Left Medved and Glenn Beck behind. Good riddance.