Claremont Institute last Fall made a major splash by publishing a revolutionary manifesto by a Trump-supporting intellectual, who struck learned, classical poses while championing Alt-Right demands for a new blend of Populism and Nationalism to replace the Conservative Movement and the politics of Goldwater, Buckley, and Reagan.
This provocative writer chose to be anonymous, appearing in the mode of 18th century polemicists under a Classical pen-name, in his case: Publius Decius Mus, a 4th century B.C. Roman consul who, according to Livy, facing imminent defeat, deliberately sacrificed himself in battle, having first offered up himself and the enemy to the gods of the Underworld and the Earth, thus gaining for Rome the victory.
Several further articles by Decius appeared during the course of the electoral campaign, and word leaked out in Conservative circles that Decius was none other than Tucker Carlson, who needed to be anonymous because he was right on the verge of a major new deal with Fox News. I, like a lot of people, believed those rumors, but we all politely kept our mouths shut, thinking that, despite our disagreements, the author was entitled to his privacy and his career opportunities.
It appears that it was just as well that nobody went public with the Tucker Carlson rumor, because here is Michael Warren, in the Weekly Standard, telling us that Mousey is a completely different guy, a fellow named Michael Anton.
On a late January afternoon, as press secretary Sean Spicer walked into the White House media briefing room, a tall, thin, bespectacled man poked his head in the doorway for a moment before turning around and heading back into the West Wing. Later that week, at another briefing, the man stayed longer, standing in the corner behind the podium, out of view of the array of television cameras.
The reporters peppering Spicer with questions were unlikely to know it, but the wallflower watching over the proceedings happened to be the leading conservative intellectual to argue for the election of Donald Trump. His pseudonymous essays during the campaign sparked more discussionâ€”and disputationâ€”among thinkers on the right than just about anyone else’s. Rush Limbaugh spent hours on his radio show promoting what he hailed as the writer’s “shaming” of the Never Trump conservatives. 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 declineâ€”making a cerebral case to make America great again.
Looking up Michael Anton on the Internet proved tricky.
There appeared to be three of them: one Michael Anton wrote articles for Claremont Review under his real name; one Michael Anton (Michael Anton Mansour) attended Auburn, played football there, and then went to Hollywood where he became an actor, writer, and filmmaker; the third Michael Anton is a sort of contemporary Beau Brummel, a style-maker expert on masculine tailoring and haberdashery, who has written a book, The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style under the pen-name Nicholas Antongiavanni.
Michael Anton Number 3 is all over the place on the Internet, pontificating pompously on male clothing. Photos of him, I believe, are up there misidentified as being of the actor-writer-filmmaker Michael Anton Number 2.
My own guess is that Michael Anton Number 1, Alt-Right Trump supporter and Claremont Review’s Decius, is the same as Michael Anton Number 3, the clothes horse. Compare the photo below to the one above.