Liberals: Megyn Kelly is Not Your Friend


Megyn Kelly gained many plaudits from the center-left from her many media bouts with President Trump. (Exchange Associate/Flickr)


During the Republican primary season, the vast majority of media attention was intensely fixated on the eventual victor, President Donald Trump. Through the grueling months of pageantry and spectacle, Trump successfully spellbound the media with demagogic rhetoric and political theatrics. One of the most widely focused-on incidents came during a Fox News Republican Primary debate, in which tension arose when moderator Megyn Kelly questioned if Trump possessed the “appropriate temperament” to serve as President of the United States. This conflict was heightened as Trump responded to the criticism in media, attempting to undercut Kelly with a misogynistic reference to her menstruation. Kelly’s feud with Trump turned her into an overnight hero of journalistic integrity among liberals and centrists. To many, this was proof that she was the “good kind” of conservative,  a member of an “honorable opposition” that could be trusted to foster reasoned debate.

However, in liberals’ haste to recruit an enemy partisan to their side, Kelly’s actual record as a mud-slinging right-winger was swiftly forgotten. Her new fair-weather friends forgot about numerous outrageous statements that had won her their contempt years before, such as her gravely serious insistence on air that Santa “is white,” or that community activists should “stop complaining” about the excesses of police brutality. The sands had shifted, and no matter how contemptible her stances on the issues were, she would be exalted as a hero of idealized decency. The problem with this is simple: as the political spectrum shifts further to the right, more and more reactionary figures will seem positively reasonable by comparison. In fact, this is already happening.

Politicians formerly decried as right-wing extremists and war-mongers have now been deemed principled figures of a bygone era. Comparisons have been made longing for the days of George W. Bush, whose administration used false information to kickstart a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Others who have been forgiven for past offenses when criticizing Trump are Paul Ryan, whose number one political goal is the privatization of social security and medicare, and Chris Christie, who has waged an all-out war on teachers’ unions in his tenure as Governor of New Jersey. Naturally, both capitulated to Trump as soon as it became politically expedient.

Liberals reveling in the spirit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is nothing new. During the 2016 Democratic National Convention, former Reagan administration staffer Doug Elmets received lavish applause when he declared to the Republican nominee: “Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan.” While this has quite a bit of rhetorical stopping power, it is a form of historical revisionism that seeks to exonerate a particularly shameful period of American history. It seems doubtful that Trump would be so offensive to a man who refused to sanction apartheid in South Africa, funded anti-communist terrorists, and ignored the AIDS epidemic while thousands of Americans languished and died. Attempts to paint Reagan as a man who would be appalled by the evolution of Republican Party are at best naive and at worst disingenuous. When the man decried in the 70s as the most extreme right-wing candidate the party had yet seen is appealed to as a moderate forefather, a grave historical error has been made.

Instead of real dissent or argument, many liberals remain satisfied with pining for a forgotten “rational conservatism.” Many seek to re-write history to suit the narrative that reactionaries of the present-day are historical anomalies that The Right of the past would want nothing to do with. This practice does nothing to help liberals; it only exonerates their past enemies.  If the center-left does not cease with this reckless variety of political rehabilitation, they might someday be forced to laud Trump in the face of a president so reactionary he will seem reasonable in comparison.