I know it won’t last – probabilistically, it can’t last – but right now each new day brings better news the previous.
As has been noted in this blog’s pages previously, the essay “The Flight 93 Election“, written under the moniker of Publius Decius Mus was one of the most important, and one of the most talked-about, essays leading up to the election.
Well… Publius Decius Mus has been unmasked!
His name is Michael Anton and he is now in the Trump administration, as senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council.
The Weekly Standard (how ironic) has a piece on the unmasking:
Leading conservative opponents of Trump, like New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg, and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, published critical responses to his most widely read essay. The writer even granted a postelection interview to the New Yorker, on the condition that his real identity not be revealed. The magazine described him as among those trying “to build a governing ideology” around Trump.
Now he’s helping to implement that governing ideology directly. The writer is a senior national-security official in the Trump White House, nearly a decade after serving in a similar role for George W. Bush. His unmasking ends one of the remaining mysteries of last year’s crazy and unpredictable election.
The enigmatic writer’s real name is Michael Anton, and he’s a fast-talking 47-year-old intellectual who, unlike most of his colleagues, can readily quote Roman histories and Renaissance thinkers. But readers knew him throughout 2016 as Publius Decius Mus, first at a now-defunct website called the Journal of American Greatness and later in the online pages of the Claremont Review of Books. As Decius, Anton insisted that electing Trump and implementing Trumpism was the best and only way to stave off American decline—making a cerebral case to make America great again.
At the center of Anton’s/Decius’s argument (distilled best in his September essay for the Claremont Review entitled “The Flight 93 Election”) was the belief that the decline of the United States under the direction of the progressive left has been abetted by a bloated and lethargic conservative movement of “think-tanks, magazines, conferences, and fellowships” that exists to perpetuate the status quo. Conservative intellectuals had been living a contradiction, wrote Decius, decrying the decay of America’s social, economic, and political traditions while offering nothing but tired ideas that tinkered on the margins of public policy—if they did anything at all. More nefariously, Decius suggested, professional conservative intellectuals were more motivated to preserve their own status (and steady stream of paychecks) than to reconsider their positions and ideological priors…
Anton wasn’t always where Trump is on these issues, and he has the profile of exactly the type of movement conservative for which Trumpism has no use. He was inculcated in the Straussian conservative world of the Claremont Graduate School, reading—besides the late political philosopher Leo Strauss—ancient philosophy, modern political theory, and Machiavelli.