The Sad Descent of the Flight 93 Apologists

Fox News host Laura Ingraham at a Trump campaign rally in Green Bay, Wis., October 30, 2020 (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Upset by Rich Lowry’s latest column in Politico, which took aim at Michael Anton’s famous 2016 essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” Anton and Laura Ingraham teamed up on the latter’s show to excoriate National Review and its editor in a segment called “The Cowardice of ‘Never Trump’ Exposed.” They made the same tired arguments that the most craven of Trump boosters in the media have been making for four years — contradicting themselves and outright lying along the way.

Ingraham says that Politico only publishes Lowry, who has had a regular column there since 2012, because he uses it to “trash Trump” and “echo Democrat talking points.” She also accuses him of being “self-satisfied” because the siege on the Capitol gave him a “classic I told you so moment,” and speculates that Lowry is only attacking Trump now because he perceives the president’s political career as being finished. It’s an odd charge, since Ingraham herself acknowledges that National Review published its “Against Trump” issue back in February 2016, Lowry declared that he would not be voting for Trump in 2020 on Margaret Hoover’s Firing Line a few months ago, and even a half-hearted effort at going over the body of both Lowry and this publication’s work over the last few years would reveal that he and it have consistently praised Trump for his administration’s accomplishments, defended him from unfair critiques, and been forthright about his failures and character flaws. It’s called honesty. But Ingraham presumably doesn’t understand because she’s not in the business of research, or journalism, or truth.

She goes on to blast Lowry for taking issue with the “Flight 93” thesis, which was not only that Republicans needed to get behind Trump because the American Left is bad and even dangerous — a truth that is axiomatic to those of us on the right but that Ingraham treats as a brilliant fresh insight — but also that we needed a different kind of conservatism than that represented by Mitt Romney (whom Ingraham criticizes in the segment but went to bat for as “the conservative’s conservative” back in 2008). A conservatism that not only tolerated Donald Trump’s dishonorable behavior, but justified it.

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Since Trump won the White House, Anton has largely got his wish. The consequences of the MAGAfied Republican Party’s embrace of Trump and his incivility, his power worship, and his ends-justify-the-means ethic were made sadly obvious by last week’s assault on the Capitol, which was egged on by the president himself. Not to mention that Trump has given us unified Democratic control of the federal government. That’s what prompted Lowry’s column.

Ingraham says that the idea that character and norms don’t mean anything to people like her is a “straw man argument,” while always only being willing to criticize Trump’s “tone” and “style” and praising Trump for “fighting for others.” Is that what he was doing when he lied about having won the election and encouraged an angry mob of wayward souls to march on the legislative branch and his own vice president? Who was doing the fighting that day? Who was fighting for whom? And how many ultimately died? Ingraham says that the rioters were not intent on overthrowing the republic, but were just “desperate people.” Who, exactly, made them feel so desperate? Who told them their country was being “stolen” from them? It wasn’t Mitt Romney, and it wasn’t National Review.

She goes on to launch a few more insults that are mostly not worth responding to. For example, she simply asserts that Lowry doesn’t care about opposing open borders, or Communist China, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or “the cancel culture,” subjects this publication spends a considerable amount of time on. As a matter of public record, though, it is worth pointing out that it is Ingraham, not Lowry, who relies upon “corporate bigwigs writ[ing] checks” — indeed, her whole job is to deliver ratings and profits to an enormous corporation, which is probably one reason that she is so often afraid to tell her audience the truth.

Enter Anton, who took a brief victory lap on “predicting” that the Left would get crazier before asking if National Review’s subscribers knew that its editor had made the case for supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 (he didn’t), and blasting Lowry for publishing his column in Politico where they couldn’t see it. Of course, Lowry’s column is now up here at National Review, where all of his Politico pieces eventually go up, but even if it wasn’t, he has not exactly hidden the ball on this site.

That Anton and Ingraham disregard the truth so blatantly and resort to such tinny arguments is probably a sign that they know that their Flight 93 presidency is ending very badly, that the project that they invested in so fully and threw away every standard to support is coming apart at the seams.

They’re letting their desperation show.

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