by Julie Kelly
Kurt Schlichter is funny. Really funny. Unlike so many commentators on the Right—especially those staid NeverTrump harpies—Schlichter has a wry, cutting sense of humor that animates his radio and television interviews, his Townhall columns, and his latest book, Militant Normals.
The book expands on what Schlichter—a retired Army colonel and California-based trial attorney—has been saying about the Trump era for more than three years: The election of Donald Trump was as much about an uprising by the “normals” against the ruling elite as it was about the man himself. In Trump, millions of Americans found a leader who, for the first time in years, actually spoke to their deep concerns about the current condition of the country they fiercely love. “The Normals chose Trump. And it was not okay with the Smart Set.”
While Republicans and Democrats spent the past decade jockeying for props on global issues like climate change and peddling the myth of unbounded “free trade” between nations, working-class voters became increasingly nervous about the rise of illegal immigration; the unseen and ignored toll of international trade agreements; a deadly tide of illicit drugs; a fixation on unwinnable foreign conflicts; and the breakdown of trusted institutions from trade unions to academia to the Catholic Church.
Then along came a brash billionaire from Manhattan who could speak to soybean farmers and masonry workers in Des Moines better than anyone. “The Elite did not just fail to do its job running our institutions and providing us a stable society and economy, though it has failed to do those things,” Schlichter writes. “The Elite has decided to declare war on the people who make up the backbone of this country because it just cannot live knowing the Normals are out there living free and uncontrolled. And in doing so, the Elite ignored the conflict we are living through today.”
Like me, Schlichter was not an early Trump supporter. His epiphany occurred exactly three years ago this week during an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon. (You can watch the clip here.) Lemon became agitated when Schlichter refused to condemn Trump for using the word, “schlonged.”
“This is why I hate the media because you make me defend Donald Trump,” Schlichter told Lemon, a familiar phrase lots of us still use to this day. When Schlichter reminded Lemon about a “president who turned his intern into a humidor,” Lemon became irate and cut off Schlichter’s feed.
A Militant Normal was born.
That kind of fearless and droll imagery is found throughout Militant Normals. Schlichter is a powerful story-teller: He creates two characters—one raised in a community long forgotten by the Elite and one raised in Elite privilege—who illustrate the current chasm between the Normals and the ruling class. “Kaden” is a spot-on version of a typical Millennial who conforms to every expectation of the Left and the fussy establishment Right, who attended private schools, had a Spanish-speaking nanny and was taught to believe America-loving, church-going, gun-owning normals were stupid, ignorant and racist. His whole life revolved around getting accepted into a proper Ivy League university: “After obtaining explicit consent, Kaden hugged his girlfriend. Being attracted to women was a burden—he was bummed that he identified as cisgender straight, no matter how hard he tried to change that. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying, just like his.”
Schlichter must be particularly jolly this holiday season because he was an accomplice in the so-called murder of the Weekly Standard. He mercilessly has thrashed its now-defunct editor, Bill Kristol, mocking him on social media with his cruise ship emoji. The Weekly Standard, Schlichter wrote, was part of “Conservative, Inc.,” the cabal of Bush-era politicians, opinion outlets, and swamp-dwelling influencers who lined up against Trump in 2016.
“The Weekly Standard was a particularly interesting example of the Conservative, Inc. syndrome. Bill Kristol founded it. His father was a well-known conservative intellectual. Bill got a gig as chief of staff to Dan Quayle, so winning is in his blood, and then bopped around riding the conserva-cash wave until he started the magazine as a sort of hipper, more practical National Review. It used to brag about being the idea factory for the conservative movement. It was, but many of them were terrible, terrible ideas.”
Chief among them, Schlichter reminds us, was his cheerleading for the Iraq War—which of course involved sending off the children of the Normals to fight in a hellhole while Conservative, Inc. boasted about its courage and bravery.
Other “NeverTrumpers” are outed in the book, including George Will, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, and Max Boot.
In the last chapter, Schlichter assesses Trump’s potential Democratic challengers in 2020 and warns about the consequences of a Trump loss: “The danger, the real and scary danger, is if the Elite starts winning. They will not only ignore the problems that made the Normals militant in the first place, but they will focus on both ensuring that the Normals never again have the ability to interfere in the Elite’s affairs while punishing the Normals for their insolence. They will clamp down even as they ensure there is no way for the pressure to vent.”
A scary scenario, indeed. But Schlichter’s book is a good reminder that, despite the Elite’s power, prestige, money, and influence, the Normals can still win.
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