Is NRO Beginning to Wake Up?

NoRINOsThumbby N. A. Halkides   7/11/14
One of the reasons so many of us have given up on National Review except for a small fraction of their authors (getting ever smaller with the losses of John Derbyshire and most especially Mark Steyn) is that it was becoming ever more Establishment by abandoning rigorous Conservatism for mushy, middle-of-the-road “moderate” Republicanism, a/k/a moderate statism, along with the abandonment of social issues such as same-sex “marriage.” We were treated to a number of articles explaining how there really were no divisions within the Republican Party, which was just one big happy Conservative-leaning family, even as back in the real world the Republican Establishment was openly declaring war upon its own base (Conservatives). (See The Case Against the Establishment GOP for a partial account of this struggle). Some of us were beginning to wonder if and when NR was going to go soft on abortion; at any rate, I certainly felt they were dangerously close to becoming irrelevant in the struggle against the Left.[pullquote]No, gentlemen, the two sides are not coming together in some sort of synthesis, which is inconceivable once you understand the nature of the GOP Establishment. What happened is a series of battles in the form of elections.[/pullquote]

But there may be a faint glimmer of hope: on July 7, 2014, NR editor Rich Lowry along with long-time NR contributor Ramesh Ponnuru penned an article entitled Establishment Tea – the GOP is coming together, not apart. Not that they have exactly seen the light – their thesis, that there is some sort of reconciliation or merging of the opposing factions (“the party as a whole is fumbling toward the right combination”) is ludicrously mistaken – but this thesis implicitly admits the existence of two ideologically-opposed factions within the GOP – Tea Party vs. Establishment – which is what writers like Jonah Goldberg and even Charles Cooke had been denying for months.

To save time here (not to make myself sound like a crowd) allow me to dispose of Lowry & Ponnuru’s argument by quoting my own response:

“We must also nominate,” they urged, “candidates who have substantial credibility as candidates, can articulate a vision of what they believe, can propose real solutions to problems, and don’t make significant mistakes on the campaign trail. We need conservative candidates, but they must also be skilled candidates in order to win.”

That’s obvious, and was never denied by tea partiers, a/k/a true Conservatives. In no way, shape, or form does that negate the existence of the mortal combat now taking place between Conservatives and Establishment-men (by the way, I’m gratified to see my use of the term, which I may have invented, taken up by no less than Ponnuru and Lowry, although I usually hyphenate it).

The Establishment is still fundamentally un-intellectual and uninterested in attacking the Democratic Left, with whom they agree in principle but disagree with on precise spending amounts (dime-store Democrats, we might call them). They are motivated primarily by a desire to play the big shot, and also to secure favorable treatment for the large business interests from whence they generally come. In this, they are slightly different than the Democrats, whose sole interest is to rule by brute force, but they are also different from Conservatives, who wish to restore some semblance of liberty in this country. They are the chief obstacle standing between Conservatives and the Democratic Left, and as long as they’re in control of the GOP they will prevent us from really taking the fight to the enemy.

Lowry and Ponnuru apparently don’t understand this, and so they don’t understand the Cantor and Cochran cases. In the first, immigration wasn’t the “blasting cap,” it was the box of dynamite that blew the hopes of one of the most powerful Establishment-man incumbents straight to Kingdom come; and a mighty blow against that Establishment. Cochran was so much more interested in power than principle that he enlisted the aid of Democrats to (illegally in many cases) vote for him – an act of betrayal we Conservatives will neither forget nor forgive.[pullquote]In other words, Lowry & Ponnuru somehow managed to interpret the open warfare of primary battles – an overt struggle for power within the Republican Party – as if it were some sort of polite summit conference to discuss the best way to advance Conservative policy goals![/pullquote]

No, gentlemen, the two sides are not coming together in some sort of synthesis, which is inconceivable once you understand the nature of the GOP Establishment. What happened is a series of battles in the form of elections. Some were won by Conservatives; others by the Establishment, but the war goes on, and on its outcome may well hang the fate of the United States, for only Conservatism can save the country and the Establishment wants no part of it.

In other words, Lowry & Ponnuru somehow managed to interpret the open warfare of primary battles – an overt struggle for power within the Republican Party – as if it were some sort of polite summit conference to discuss the best way to advance Conservative policy goals! But they finally admitted the existence of a Republican Establishment, even using the term “Establishment man” which I believe is my own invention. And as the saying goes, the first step toward getting cured is admitting you have a problem. Reading the comments on their articles may be the first step for NRO’s management in restoring its place in the struggle of Conservatism against the Left. Now all they need to do is replace Managing Editor Jason Lee Steorts with our own Brad Nelson, and the next thing you know, we’ll have Mark Steyn back again!


Nik is a freelance writer, former professor, and has written for FrontPage Magazine.
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19 Responses to Is NRO Beginning to Wake Up?

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I prefer “Beltway Bandit” to “Establishment man”, but what the heck, the key is to realize that they’re not our friends. On the other hand, they aren’t always enemies either; but it would help if any Establishment leader would repudiate the “bridge too far” for conservatives in Mississippi: Henry Barbour’s reliance on a Democrat consultant to engage in race-baiting not only against McDaniel, but against Tea Party voters. So why should those voters support Cochran, who smeared them? (Even Ann Coulter failed to see this in her most recent article.)

    I’ve never given up on NRO, of course, But then, I’ve written blog responses to articles in Politico and Bloomberg that were linked on Hot Air (and have tried in other liberal venues, such as The Atlantic, but many are very restrictive in what they allow in).

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Tim – your “Beltway Bandit” is more alliterative than my “Establishment man,” which I think I chose because it almost sounded archeological, reminding one perhaps of “Peking Man,” and like that sturdy hominid, a fossilized relic belonging to an era whose time has gone. And like you, I found Henry Barbour’s conduct in Mississippi to be absolutely reprehensible.

      • Rosalys says:

        Snarky little right wing extremist wacko that I am, I prefer “Beltway Bandit!” However, I can see where “Establishment man” may be far more useful a term when dealing with timid-mush-middle as it sounds kinder. “Fossilized Relics” – another wonderfully descriptive term!

    • David Ray says:

      It appears that McDaniel and Steyn have something in common . . . both have been the recipients of cowardly betrayal. (I have half an urge to join what’s left of ACORN so I can vote against Cockran a few dozen times.)

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I would probably buckle under the responsibilities of being managing editor of NRO (and I’d be interested in only the online portion).

    But I would like to be part of the kitchen cabinet, NRO‘s ombudsman, if you will. I don’t fancy having to go to the various functions and cocktail parties and pretending that the shallow people there are interesting. It would drain me to have to suffer fools gladly simply to keep the funds flowing. My hat is off to those who undertake the hard work of a successful commercial site and the excrement sandwiches that one is forced to sometimes eat by the nature of the business.

    But, geez, I’d love to have a pipeline to Rich Lowry where he could connect with real conservatives. I really like the guy. When he’s off on his own writing columns, he’s often right-on.

    Let Rich be the good cop while Brad the Ombudsman is the bad cop. I could handle that. But NRO does need a dose of reality. Simply hoping that conservatives and Establishment Republicans are coming together doesn’t make it so. And I have a nose for RINOs like a pig does for truffles. I could be useful and I work cheap, Rich.

    • ronlsb says:

      “I have a nose for RINO’s like a pig does for truffles”… I love that phrase. That’s as good as Rush’s phrase for sniffing out liberals, though at the moment the exact phraseology he uses skips me. This whole article by NAHALKIDS was spot on as to the significance of what’s going on within the Republican party.

    • Rosalys says:

      Simply hoping that conservatives and Establishment Republicans are coming together doesn’t make it so.
      “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride!”

      Yup, and wishful thinking never got anyone anywhere. Perhaps this little seed, this acknowledgement that there just might be a divide, is indeed the beginning of an awakening to reality.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        There can be no unity until the Beltway Bandits understand why the grassroots conservative voters really didn’t like Henry Barbour race-baiting not only his opponent but them. If the leadership can’t bring itself to repudiate him, why should we support them with our money and (even more important) our time and perhaps even our votes. (I’ll admit that it’s hard to imagine not voting to defang slimy Harry Wormwood Reid, admittedly. But any request for more than that gets a reminder of Barbour’s iniquitous deed, and a demand that he be repudiated.)

  3. Rosalys says:

    “We must also nominate,” they urged, “candidates who have substantial credibility as candidates, can articulate a vision of what they believe, can propose real solutions to problems, and don’t make significant mistakes on the campaign trail. We need conservative candidates, but they must also be skilled candidates in order to win.”

    Sarah Palin was one such candidate and she was undermined by the “Beltway Bandit/Fossilized Relic/Establishment-men” in the Republican Party!

    We need conservative candidates, but they must also be skilled candidates in order to win.”

    I would rephrase that to “We need conservative candidates, and they must also be skilled candidates in order to win.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Sarah Palin was one such candidate and she was undermined by the “Beltway Bandit/Fossilized Relic/Establishment-men” in the Republican Party!

      She embarrassed many of the Beltway Bandits because she was conservative and came from a background where she was more likely to encounter moose droppings than nicely-creased pant legs.

      It goes without saying that a candidate should be skilled, etc. But that is not an honest evaluation by the RINO Republicans. What they mean is that such candidates must exude an air of country-club sophistication and superiority. And, as they would tell you if they were honest, sophisticated and superior people have good manners enough not to bother with such fly-over-country issues as gay marriage, abortion, drill-baby-drill, and illegal immigration.

      The Establishment Republican is dead-set against change, for change requires having a position other than the status quo. And many of these assholes are getting very rich and power via the status quo, whether inside politics or in and around the chirping “conservative” media.

      And do not dare do anything so antique as push for love of our country, as founded. That’s simply not “progressive” enough.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        As I once put it, they didn’t like her non-elite background, so they opposed her on the grounds that she was almost as inexperienced as Obama and sometimes misspoke as badly as Biden routinely did. But this was basically the beginning of the current war between the GOP Establishment and its grassroots voters.

      • Rosalys says:

        I’ll take moose droppings over the avalanche of sh*t oozing forth from Washington any day!

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I just had a look at Mark Steyn’s site and read his latest update on the legal suit brought against him and NRO by the phony climatologist Mann.

    As you might know, Steyn got fed up with NRO’s slippery way of handling the law suit and demanded to stop the delaying tactics which NRO had been using.

    After reading today’s post, I find NRO’s actions are much worse. Steyn’s latest post states;

    By contrast, National Review, for whom I wrote for a decade and a half, are offering the curious and fainthearted defense that they were never my publisher but merely an “interactive computer service provider” to which I had the access code (see page 49 of their most recent brief). They’re a court filing or two from claiming they’re Lufthansa and I’m Andreas Lubitz – just some crazy guy who locked himself in the NR cockpit.

    NRO’s actions are disgusting, and yet another reason to avoid the site. W.F. Buckley must be turning in his grave.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks for the update, Mr. Kung. Mr. Steyn is an unofficial ideological founder of this site. This all began, in part, because a number of us began to smell the rotting fish over at NRO. If they weren’t posting the bland stuff from second-rate Establishment Republican writers (yikes, just read that Avik Roy is the advisor to Governor Perry in his bid for the presidency…you can pretty much scratch him off my list now), they were doing what they could to smear conservatives. And when Jonah jumped the shark with his support of homosexual marriage (basically surrendering in the culture wars and, by choosing this battle to wave the white flag, gave up all possible rationale for confronting the agenda of the Left), there wasn’t much left to do but whisper to Andy McCarthy “Will the last conservative at NRO please turn out the lights.”

      The thing is, I like Rich Lowry, at least in regards to most of what he writes. I’m not an insider. I don’t know where the rot comes from. But clearly the place is rotten.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Yes, I was reading that article at about the same time, and noticed that too. I don’t know if NR/NRO is really that bad, but certainly there’s something rotten at the top.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        NRO (ironically) is such a wonderful example of “the long march through the institutions.” That the immune system of conservatism cannot detect the infection is remarkable to watch…and stinks as well.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Clearly NRO is still the propaganda rag it has been for some years now. The people who took it over from Buckley were financier types. To such people the only thing that matters is how they can make more money.

    And one should not forget that Buckley created a couple of left wing pundits himself; note Michael Kinsley and Garry Wills. I can’t recall the names of some others.

    I have long suspected that effete Little Richie Lowry is another one of these types. He certainly got excited when describing his belief that Carly castrated Trump. A little too excited for my tastes.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/11/05/national-reviews-debunked-bald-faced-lies-charge-dr-ben-carson-diminishes-venerable-publications-60th-anniversary/

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I don’t think Lowry and Geraghty are actually liberals in disguise, but they are clearly Establishment Republicans who don’t like outsiders Carson and Trump, and are willing to ally themselves with anyone who might help them get rid of these haunting specters.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m a bit surprised that Lowry had the long knives out for Trump. But clearly this marks Carly as the Establishment Republican that she is.

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