Jaw-dropping contempt for Trump and his voters from National Review star columnist Kevin Williamson
It is sad, but perhaps inevitable that contemptuous, raw class-hatred for Trump voters would be featured so prominently in the National Review almost immediately after the swearing-in of Joe Biden yesterday. National Review, after all, produced the infamous "Against Trump" issue in January 2016, assembling conservatives from many publications in an effort to derail the nomination of the man who became our 45th president.
The chief complaints about Trump centered on style...and class. But graciousness in victory apparently is not an element of civility that appeals to Kevin Williamson, a talented wordsmith and star at what was once the flagship publication of the conservative movement. You may recall that roughly half a year before the February 15, 2016 "Against Trump" issue appeared, Williamson descended to vitriol with a June 16, 2015 column on Trump's announcement of his candidacy in the Trump Tower lobby titled, "Witless Ape Rides Escalator," explicitly dehumanizing him.
Yesterday, he bookended his Trump coverage by returning to an insult that, if he had applied it to Trump's predecessor, would have gotten him deplatformed and condemned to ignominy (ask Roseanne Barr). In "Witless Ape Rides Helicopter," Williamson broadened his contempt for Trump into an attack on the voters who dared to reject Williamson's views and voted Trump into office, and then added millions to their ranks and voted for his re-election. They are all morons, you see, toothless, rural semi-humans whom Williamson calls "Cletus," no doubt after a character on The Simpsons, described by Fandom as "a stereotypical redneck[.]"
Williamson begins his screed:
Well, that sucked.
Memo to MAGA and all its myriad fellow-travelers: Maybe Death of a Salesman as presented by Leni Riefenstahl just wasn't the show Americans were dying to tune into this season.
And, while we're at it, maybe turning your party over to Generalissimo Walter Mitty, his hideous scheming spawn, and the studio audience from Hee-Haw was not just absolutely aces as a political strategy.
Think on it, Cletus. I know this whole thing still sounds like your idea of a good time — how's that working out for you?
Nazi, cornball-humor, country-music-loving idiots support Trump, you see, and they still haven't figured out how Hillary Clinton would have been a much better president.
Williamson likes the Cletus insult so much that he uses it twice:
You Trumpish Republicans sneered that Joe Biden was too corrupt and too senescent to win a presidential campaign, that he was one part mafioso and one part turnip.
That turnip kicked your dumb asses from Delaware to D.C.
So you rioted. Real smart move, Cletus.
It is almost as if Williamson is trying to satirize the elitism that has always been part of National Review's persona. Founded by William F. Buckley after he rocketed to cultural prominence after writing his book, God and Man at Yale, National Review sought to make conservatism respectable in the eyes of the cultural elite.
With his latest chapter of the Witless Ape saga, Williamson has inverted Buckley's original tactic of reaching up, using a large vocabulary and complex syntax as signs of intelligence, into kicking down, employing stereotypes, ungrammatical language ("Think on it..."; "Real smart move"), and vulgarity to demean Trump-supporters, who are the mainstream of conservatism now, whether or not National Review and the Williamsons of the world approve it.
Maybe Williamson is hoping to get his job at The Atlantic back. I'm not sure what future his National Review has.