Tucker Carson’s outfit, the Daily Caller, has been dinging National Review since late last week. First they reported on possible coordination between NR and the Republican establishment. An extremely positive NR editorial on the GOP “Pledge to America” seemed to have been coordinated with a Republican press conference. Carlson backed up the story early this week.
In addition to the two trusted sources who spoke on background to Ward, we have evidence that there was in fact coordination between National Review and Congressman Cantor’s office. We know that GOP leadership aides were aware of, and excited by, National Review’s editorial before it was published. We know that the piece was posted online just minutes prior to the start of the Wednesday evening caucus meeting, yet somehow aides were ready with copies to pass out to members. A coincidence? Please.
…There is an important debate taking place over the direction of conservatism and the future of the Republican Party – one in which Tea Party and other grassroots activists have developed an understandable distrust of the Washington-based Republicans who claim to represent them. In this case, National Review has taken sides, providing ideological cover for the party’s establishment wing at a critical moment. We think it’s worth knowing a lot more about that arrangement.
It would be shameful if House Minority Whip Eric Cantor had requested such an editorial to help get conservative backbenchers on board. But we haven’t heard anything of this kind of coordination yet. Giving a few people an important first look at an editorial is not at all uncommon or necessarily objectionable.
And the so-called “Pledge” is just campaign rhetoric, some of it admirable. But the whole is humdrum stuff signed by men who should have little credibility with movement conservatives.
This morning, Daily Caller reporter Jonathan Strong got to the heart of the matter: Is National Review too close to the GOP? Though we suspect there is a personal issue between these two outfits, Strong’s piece is worth reading.
Obviously we’re inclined to answer Strong’s question with a yes. We’ve been tough on NR for years-especially for their support of a misbegotten war in Iraq. But if you throw a dart at a group of TAC contributors, you’re likely to hit someone who has very dear feelings toward National Review as it existed during the Cold War. That affection makes it frustrating to read NR today. Instead of making the pitch for conservative ideas, they often seem satisfied to make the GOP pitch to conservative readers.
It would be easy to overpraise NR‘s founders. But in truth, they were human and often got things spectacularly wrong. I once read a James Burnham column that gave the black nationalist movement surprisingly good odds for carving out their own nation-state in North America. And we know good people at NR today. The problem is not necessarily the candlepower in NR‘s offices – but a shrinking vision.
Buckley famously launched the ship saying, “It stands athwart history, yelling Stop.” This past summer, NR’s subscription ads read “Standing Athwart Democrats, yelling ‘Stop!’”
It’s just an ad, I said to myself, when I saw that depressing bit of copy. The problem is that it is perfectly true.