Claremont Review of Books
|Editor||Charles R. Kesler|
|Publisher||The Claremont Institute|
|Based in||Claremont, California|
Legal scholar Ken Masugi was editor of the first iteration of the Claremont Review of Books which existed for just under two years in the mid-1980s; according to John Baskin, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, it "looked more like a college newspaper" and had about 600 subscribers.
The Review was re-established in 2000 under the editorship of Charles R. Kesler in what the New York Times describes as "a conservative, if eclectic, answer to The New York Review of Books." In 2017 it had about 14,000 subscribers.
Joseph Tartakovsky is a contributing editor. Contributors have included William F. Buckley Jr., Harry V. Jaffa, Mark Helprin (a columnist for the magazine), Victor Davis Hanson, Diana Schaub, Gerard Alexander, David P. Goldman, Allen C. Guelzo, Joseph Epstein, Hadley Arkes, and John Marini.
Kesler's "Democracy and the Bush Doctrine" was reprinted in an anthology of conservative writings on the Iraq War, edited by Commentary Managing Editor Gary Rosen. The CRB was party to a high-profile exchange in Commentary between Editor-at-Large Norman Podhoretz and CRB editor Charles R. Kesler and CRB contributors and Claremont Institute senior fellows Mark Helprin and Angelo M. Codevilla over the Bush Administration’s conduct of the Iraq War.
According to historian George H. Nash the editors and writers at Claremont are Straussian intellectually, heavily influenced by the ideas of Leo Strauss and his student Harry V. Jaffa. In their view, the Progressive Era culminating in the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson marked an ideological and political repudiation of political ideals of the Constitution and the American Founders, replacing a carefully limited government with government by experts and bureaucrats who were insulated from popular consent and wielded potentially unlimited power. The fin de siecle progressives also replaced the previous American understanding of rights as natural and unalienable, with a novel claim that rightsare derived from government—the state—which has the right to created or abridged the rights of citizens as deemed expedient, rights, that is, will change according to modern conditions and the perceived imperatives of progress.
The staunchly conservative Review, took a pro Trump position during the 2016 election campaign, with an article by Charles Kessler criticizing teh #NeverTrump movement, "Conservatives care too much about the party and the country to wash our hands of this election," he writes. "A third party bid would be quixotic.". Nevertheless, the Review published articles by both Trump supporters and by Never Trumpers during the 2016 campaign, moving after the election to a thoroughly pro-Trump position. According to the New York Times, in the spring of 2017 the Review was "being hailed as the bible of highbrow Trumpism."
John Baskin understands the Review's pro-Trump stance as "an expression of the belief that conservative intellectuals can cut a path between the East Coast Straussians’ political reticence and the ineffectual tinkering of the think tankers," but is at a loss to explain "how a group so attached to the principles of the Constitution could place its faith in the author of The Art of the Deal." According to senior editor William Voegeli, the reason lies in Kesler’s scholarly examination of the origins of American progressivism. In a series of articles and I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Future of Liberalism, Kesler has argued that Woodrow Wilson and the first generations of American technocrats with PdDs earned at American universities produced the modern American "administrative state." To Kesler and the other Claremonsters, the administrative state has not only produced a series of costly and ineffective social programs, it has eroded democratic norms, substituting the shallow certainties of social science. In Baskin's phrasing, "one of the things that is most disturbing about Trump for liberal and conservative elites (including some East Coast Straussians) — his utter disdain for expertise and convention — is what is most promising about him from the point of view of the Claremonsters." In Voegeli's phrasing, "Our view is that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, whereas progressives are inclined to think that government derives just powers from the expertise of the experts."
In September 2016, two month before the general election that made Donald Trump President of the United States, the Review published an article by Michael Anton entitled "The flight 93 election, and "incendiary essay" that compared the election to choices that faced the passengers on Flight 93, the commercial airliner hijacked on 9/11 in which the passengers knew that they were on a suicide flight and the only way to stop the hijackers from destroying a major American target was to rush the cockpit in what was virtually certain to be a suicide mission. In it Anton argued that allowing the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to become President was the equivalent of not charging the cockpit, and that Republicans must do whatever it would take to win the election.
- Schuessler, Jennifer (20 February 2017). "'Charge the Cockpit or You Die': Behind an Incendiary Case for Trump". New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
- Baskin, Jon (17 March 2017). "The Academic Home of Trumpism". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
- "The Great Resenter". www.claremont.org. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
- Kesler, Charles (Winter 2004). "Democracy and the Bush Doctrine". Claremont Review of Books. The Claremont Institute for Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
- "The Unforgivables: Trump's Top Collaborators". Daily Beast. 19 October 2016.
- Steven F. Hayward (2018). Patriotism Is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments that Redefined American Conservatism. Encounter Books. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
- George H. Nash (10 October 2010). "An Outcry Against Government From Above". New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
- Fred Barnes (6 June 2016). "Trump's Intellectuals". The Weekly Standard. 21 (37).