Congratulations, National Review! You Got Your Wish!

The biological entity known as Joseph R. Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Success has a thousand fathers—and one of them is a conservative publication where many principled conservatives spend their days tearing down the most conservative president in generations. 

I therefore would like to congratulate National Review and its principled conservers of conservatism on a job well done. At long last, your efforts to undermine Donald Trump and make yourselves irrelevant have borne fruit. For National Review this has always been less about policy and more about “personal and moral character.” With Joe Biden, National Review can finally have a man of real character in the Oval Office. Mission accomplished, guys.

In the run-up to November 3, the leading lights who conserve conservatism at that magazine thundered against Trump. The theme was always the same: character. Trump’s—unlike his opponent’s—was so lacking, so threadbare, so inadequate to the task, that nothing Trump ever did or would do could make up for the deficit. 

Take Kevin Williamson. Williamson, who was booted from the Atlantic a few years ago because his pro-life views were said to be incompatible with “journalism,” reserves special contempt for President Trump. In case anyone doubted where Williamson stands, he wrote a piece shortly before the election, dripping with sarcasm and denigrating Trump’s accomplishments. That Trump was able to achieve anything at all in the face of four years of non-stop sabotage of his presidency is itself remarkable—but Trump’s lack of character trumped all.

So I want to congratulate Kevin Williamson on the election of Joe Biden. There are many reasons for the hardcore Left and the harder-core Left to celebrate, but for those National Review conservatives conserving conservatism, certainly character is first and foremost. Take abortion—Biden has been lying about his “opposition” to abortion for decades. For that matter, he’s been lying about his religion for decades—he is no more a Catholic than I am a Rastafarian. 

President Trump’s actions on abortion have been everything any serious pro-lifer can hope for. Biden’s Olympic-level gymnastics on why he now supports abortion up until college graduation, if the mother finds the child inconvenient, are par for the course for Biden and a man of his character. This should be a core issue for Williamson; yet he is evidently fine with the flexibility of Biden’s character.

Congratulations also to Dan McLaughlin. He wrote a lengthy piece explaining why a NeverTrumper couldn’t vote for Biden, saying 

As for Biden, he at least has been around government forever, but he remains a gaffe machine, and has frequently been confused about his own proposals. Everything he actually ran during the Obama administration was a fiasco—remember how we could trust that ‘shovel-ready projects’ would get done quickly and cleanly because ‘nobody messes with Joe?’ He will be 80 years old halfway through his term, and he is getting worse.

But since McLaughlin couldn’t quite bring himself up to vote for Trump either (character, you see), in the end, he must find Biden acceptable. McLaughlin has written quite a bit about the Hunter Biden corruption saga. Hunter Biden, the 50-year-old idiot First Son-to-be, is nothing, a shitstain on a toilet bowl. The story of Hunter Biden’s corruption, influence peddling, and sleaze is the story of Joe Biden. The central actor is not Hunter Biden, who has no influence of his own to peddle—it’s the Big Guy. 

When money from China, or Russia or Ukraine flowed into Hunter Biden’s accounts, he was merely a cutout, and his purchases of cocaine and underage hookers had only minimal national significance. What is of supreme national significance is that the Big Guy was the real profiteer. The Biden family wasn’t getting foreign cash for access to Hunter—they were selling access to Joe. And National Review is satisfied with the character of a sleazy, corrupt-to-the-bone-marrow lifelong politician, who has accomplished absolutely nothing in his 78 years on Planet Earth. 

McLaughlin understands all that. McLaughlin knows perfectly well that foreign countries purchased Biden while he was vice president. McLaughlin has been witnessing the drip-drip-drip of corruption evidence, linking the Biden family to a cesspool of domestic and foreign graft on a grand scale. Yet Biden’s character is still sufficiently preferable to Trump’s. Congratulations, Dan!

Congratulations go also to Ramesh Ponnuru, who penned a piece about why he wasn’t voting for Trump. In a word: character. According to Ponnuru, “character flaws keep [Trump] from meeting the threshold conditions to be entrusted with the presidency.” Unlike the flawed-character Trump, Biden “was always a fabulist, sometimes a demagogue, never a man of principle; and now he is also fading.” What’s not to like? Not voting for either (as he recommends) is half a vote for Biden. Ponnuru, who wants a man of character to occupy the Oval Office, must feel he can entrust the presidency to Biden. Congrats, Ramesh!

Charles C. W. Cooke also opined on the character dilemma: “When one admires a politician’s character and judgment and his policy prescriptions, it is easy to cast one’s vote for him. By contrast, when one admires a politician’s policy prescriptions but believes that his character and judgment represent a threat, the choice becomes considerably more difficult.” This dilemma exists only when the other choice is a politician whose policy prescriptions one hates, but whose “character and judgment” are exemplary. Evidently, Cooke admires Biden’s character and judgement. So congratulations, Charles!

Michael Brendan Dougherty, another National Review “principled conservative,” has always had particular scorn reserved for Donald Trump. There is no ambiguity in his piece—Trump is worse than any Democrat. Few have been as bilious in their condemnations of Trump—he is a snake-oil salesman, and anyone voting for him is a fool of the first order. 

Some of Dougherty’s criticism focused on Trump’s COVID-19 response—Dougherty obviously believes Biden would have done a vastly better job, despite there being zero evidence of it (and wagon loads to the contrary). Biden, in his eight decades of existence, has never successfully run a lemonade stand—but still, Biden would have managed the COVID-19 response with greater foresight and competence. Now, with mass vaccinations beginning, Trump’s performance as a COVID-era president is probably better than that of most national leaders. But, character, you see. So congrats, Michael. 

The incoming “president” is a caricature, his running mate has a voting record to the left of Bernie Sanders, his staff is determined to turn America into a Venezuela-of-the-North, but, you know, character. It was all worth it, these principled conservatives will tell you, because conservatism had to be destroyed in order to save it from Trump.


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About George S. Bardmesser

George S. Bardmesser is an attorney in private practice in the Washington, D.C. area. He is the author of Future Shot and Distance to Target, as well as a contributor to The Federalist and American Greatness. He is sometimes heard on the "Inside Track" radio show on KVOI in Tucson, Arizona, and sometimes seen discussing politics (in Russian) on New York’s American-Russian TV channel RTVi and the Two Cats Video Productions politics podcast.

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