In March, First Things published a manifesto of sorts signed by several mostly youngish, mostly Roman Catholic writers, who argued that “there is no returning to the pre-Trump conservative consensus that collapsed in 2016,” that “any attempt to revive the failed conservative consensus that preceded Trump would be misguided and harmful to the right.”
Against whom, concretely speaking, was this declaration directed?
I don’t claim to speak for the other signatories. But as one of the principal drafters, I have given the question a great deal of thought, both before and since the document’s publication. And I can now say that for me, “Against the Dead Consensus” drew a line of demarcation with what I call David French-ism, after the National Review writer and Never-Trump stalwart.
- Response What Sohrab Ahmari Gets Wrong, by David French. National Review 05/30/19:
What is singularly curious about this, and Ahmari’s essay on the whole, is the extent to which it depends on the creation of two fictional people: a fictional David French far weaker than I think I’ve shown myself to be over many years of fighting for conservative causes, and a fictional version of Donald Trump as an avatar of a philosophy that Trump wouldn’t recognize. It is within the framework of these two fictional people that my approach is allegedly doomed to fail and Trump’s approach has a chance to prevail. ...
- David French Is Right: Classical Liberalism Is the Best Framework for Protecting Religious Freedom, by Robby Soave. Reason 05/31/19. "In which First Things throws a temper tantrum."
- The High Church of the Low Blow: Sohrab Ahmari embraces Trump’s sucker punch politics, by Bret Stephens. New York Times 05/31/19.
- Sohrab Ahmari Vs. David French, by Rod Dreher. The American Conservative 05/31/19:
I don’t have Ahmari’s faith in smashmouth right-wing politics of the Trumpian sort. David French’s fundamental decency as a man and as a Christian is not a fault, but a feature. I don’t get why his decency and honor is a liability. If we lose that for the sake of winning political battles, are we not at grave risk of having sold our souls?
- David French and Sohrab Ahmari: What Are We Debating?, by Ramesh Ponnuru. National Review 05/31/19.
- ‘David French–ism’ without David French, by J.J. McCullough. National Review 05/31/19. "French has been unfairly caricatured — but the caricature is worth defending."