by Monsieur Voltaire
It’s not a secret that Stubborn Things was born partially from a growing sense of dissatisfaction with NRO, the site that used to be the favorite watering hole for most posters here. But who started diverging from whom? My contention is that it was NRO, and I want to offer a brief number of the reasons why I for one have grown increasingly tepid towards that once-great site.
1 – The 2012 firing of John Derbyshire. Derb (for short) is an astute commentator and a true polymath—thinking and writing with equal clarity and insight on subjects from politics to metaphysics, from mathematics to religion. His “offense” was to pen a provocative (in the intellectual sense of the word) piece about race on a different site. For that, he was immolated on the detestable altar of zero-tolerance political correctness—and the only party that lost in this transaction was NRO, now a lot poorer from the departure of a great writer and an original mind. (By the way, some points very similar to Derb’s article in question were made recently on NRO by another commentator, causing nary an eyebrow to be lifted. Capricious standards? Which leads me to my next point.)
2 – The truly atrocious readers’ comment moderation. Any site where overt trolling and flaming is tolerated, but thoughtful, lengthy posts are deleted for no apparent reasons is a site that will get increasingly more of the former and less of the latter. The same bizarre standard by which Derb got fired by saying the same things as another opinion writer who got to stay seems to apply to the comment section—in spades.
3 – The growing squishiness of commentators. NRO seems to be moving towards being a mouthpiece for establishment Republicans, neocons and sausage-factory insiders. Writers like Robert Costa, for instance, write maddening pieces cheering on the dirty bipartisan horse-trading that usually results in the passage of 10,000-page bills like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and now (hopefully not) “comprehensive immigration reform.” Sorry, but politics is not a spectator sport to be enjoyed per se. We get to live—and too often suffer–under the end-results of such parliamentary shenanigans. Anyway, there are still a lot of talented writers at NRO (e.g., Steyn, Hanson, Goldberg, Williamson). But my prevailing feeling is that the old National Review is to the new what Ronald Reagan is to John McCain.
4 – The lack of a true Conservative agenda. Agenda means “to do list.” It feels as if NRO is stuck on the “disbelief” step of a 12-step program, and is incapable of moving forward. We don’t need to keep asking rhetorical questions like “what if Bush had said the outrageous things Obama just said? Wouldn’t it make front page news?” We all know the answer to questions like that—we have known it for decades. The issue now should be, “what do we do about it?” (And hint: it’s not what the Democrats tell us to do—like in the case of granting amnesty to illegals.)
These are the main reasons why, even before the founding of Stubborn Things, I had decided to part ways with NRO. Part as friends: I still stop to say hello occasionally, but my heart is no longer there.
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