Sunday, January 22, 2012
How Mitt Lost South Carolina and National Review is losing conservatives
It's pretty sad when one has to read National Review the same way one reads The New York Times---with an eye more to what they're not telling conservatives rather than what they write.
It's been like that this whole campaign.
Ramesh Ponnuru denied being in the tank for Romney, but it was clear for weeks prior that he was, such that when he finally came out with his "It's Mitt" confession, it surprised very few commenters here.
Mark Krikorian savaged Newt Gingrich for his illegal alien amnesty stance---as one might expect---yet said not one word about Mitt Romney's position, which was even more radical and unwelcome than Gingrich's because he supported citizenship rather than mere residency status for illegals.
K-Lo, one of the formerly staunch pro-lifers in the NRO ranks, has had nothing to say about Romney's past embrace of abortion, his alleged Damascus conversion at the hands of a bioethicist (what, no Mormon elders are pro-life and could have put the point to him?), or his defense of Romneycare, including as it does provisions for taxpayer-funded abortions, a huge red flag to pro-life conservatives.
Rich Lowry continues to cover the race as "us (Mitt) vs them (every conservative in the race", infamously remarking on the emergence of a conservative frontrunner as "X Leads...for Now" and most recently remarking on SC as "a crushing loss" without feeling the need to specify he was speaking of Romney and not Santorum or Paul (for whom the loss was even more crushing). This followed his jeremiad against Gingrich wherein he claimed Romney, Huntsman (!) and the then-back-of-the-pack Santorum as the only acceptable GOP candidates. Indeed, he slammed Gingrich for conservative apostasy after conservative apostasy----while dutifully ignoring the numerous heresies of Romney, Huntsman, and even Santorum. And oh by the way he dismissed Bachmann and Perry out of hand. In radio interviews defending the editorial, especially on Charlotte talker Keith Larson's show, Lowry made it very clear the only concern he has is "electability" this cycle---while not making the case for Romney's electability over the rest of the pack at all, nor accounting for why we conservatives should elect a liberal and be happy about it.
If anything, the debate Twitter feeds were even more telling, as NROnik MittBots praised Mittens while mocking the conservatives in the field for every perceived misstep, or simply for not "looking presidential" enough.
It's all very clubby and high school.
But the real issue is not who the NR pundits support----it's their lack of any attempt to evaluate the field ideologically and to support the most conservative candidates in the race to any significant degree. When they aren't actively undermining the same, as they've done with every Not Romney frontrunner.
There are exceptions---Michael Walsh, Mark Levin, Andy McCarthy, and Mark Steyn have all criticized Romney and the other candidates on conservative grounds and proffered arguments from a principled conservative POV. We are welcome to disagree with their arguments---but at least there is something to disagree with, unlike Ponnuru's ex cathedra statement that Romney "will govern as a conservative." Really? What evidence of there is that? None was offered. To the extent that Ponnuru is still a conservative and not David Frum II, it may be wishful thinking at best.
Old NR hand and WFB nepher Brent Bozell said it best after the notorious "Against Gingrich" editorial: “National Review's endorsement of Romney & Huntsman proves only that this is no longer the magazine of William F. Buckley Jr. My uncle would be appalled."
I know I'm appalled---I cancelled an NR subscription I've held since 1991.