National Review is Obsessed With Itself.

  • by:
  • 08/21/2022

The folks at National Review have finally woken up from their decade-long slumber during which the formerly influential conservative magazine was known to mumble incoherently about "muh free markets" until it was jolted up with night terrors in 2016, shrieking, "Never Trump! Never Trump!"

The magazine has now become obsessed with its own decline, which frankly, few people are interested in.

Having lost a seemingly internecine war against Sohrab Ahmari and First Things over the future of conservatism, the mag's once-trusted writers are still attempting to wage war (think Hiroo Onoda) while at the simultaneously claiming to have never tried to fashion an ism around their lead writers.

French was the primary assailant of Ahmari and the First Things manifesto that set the tone for a debate on the right that French now claims he wasn't even trying to win anyway, or something.

Writing on June 3rd, Kevin Williamson insisted:

"I have known David French for some time. I like him a lot, and admire his work and the way he has lived his life. But it was news to me that there is such a thing as David French-ism. It might have been news to David French, too. I suspect it was."

French was the primary assailant of Ahmari and the First Things manifesto that set the tone for a debate on the right that French now claims he wasn't even trying to win anyway, or something.

That's what "stone cold losers" always do. "I didn't want her number, anyway!"

[caption id="attachment_177855" align="alignnone" width="6164"] Sohrab Ahmari speaks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo[/caption]

The whole thing has read rather gleefully for the left. "The right," they reckon, "is at war with itself". They're wrong.

Ahmari and the First Things manifesto don't represent an opening of hostilities. They represent a shift from establishment conservatism to a more muscular, conservative nationalism. Far more appealing at the ballot box than what George W. Bush or Mitt Romney ever brought to the table.

National Review only really has itself to blame for its loss. And we have it to blame for ours, historically.

While Trump may have fired the first shot in a political sense, National Review and their cohorts in Conservative Inc. (alongside the NeverTrump Conserva-bros on Twitter) had been waging a war against conservatism and the American right for some time. The thing is, they brought a knife to a gun fight.

Between the religious fervor the magazine exudes over capital, and the inevitable "holier than thou" mindset that stems from such self-pedestal-placement, National Review found itself distinctly out of touch with conservative America.

The site and its leadership have been wearing "Kick Me" signs on the subject of social media censorship of conservatives, going so far as to grovel at the feet of New York Times readers following the digital gulaging of Alex Jones.

When the Covington Catholic kids were under fire, National Review joined the side of the establishment media. Their humiliating climbdown worsened by the fact they then published articles slamming the media for the same kind of coverage they offered. Julie Kelly has more of their indiscretions over at American Greatness: “Who needs [Russia Today] when you have got Sean Hannity?”

Thinking more broadly, it wasn't so much the opposition to where the conservative movement was headed, but rather the confusion created by the establishment right that did them in.

In the magazine's haste to attempt to monopolize the conservative media sphere, it ended up coming across as garbled and off-putting...

National Review, over the past few years, has published relentlessly and incoherently on any number of issues. It has no vision, and it was telling its readers this every day with what it published.

Some articles had headlines like: "Defending the Tea Party", while others took issue with it.

There was "Gentle Criticism of the Tea Parties", and "The (Tea) Party Is Over".

There was "The Tea Party’s Wasted Energy" and "Does the Tea Party Exist?"

[caption id="attachment_177856" align="alignnone" width="3494"] meltedplastic on Flickr - CC[/caption]

In similar breaths, National Review published headlines like "The Tea Party Lives" but also "The Death of the Tea Party".

To French's credit, he wrote "Stop Slandering the Tea Party", though true to form the article was mainly about himself. Or at least someone who happened to share his name, which he admits piqued his interest.

In the magazine's haste to monopolize the conservative media sphere, it ended up coming across as garbled and off-putting. It did conservatism a disservice in pursuing endless clicks. No doubt to shore up its ad revenue and memberships, while failing to truly define a conservatism that can win.

Cue President Trump, and cue the breakdown of NR and others.

New rule: anything that makes CNN gloat is bad.

National Review will likely go the way of the Weekly Standard. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I leave for you to decide.

The Never Trump convulsions of 2015 and beyond has left these one-time behemoths of conservative thought depressed. And with depression comes unhealthy introspection and self-obsession. This is what National Review now is. Obsessed with itself, and no one wants to read that.

That's why its e-mail fundraising appeals have become more frequent and alarmist.

But they're still not willing to do what is necessary to secure the magazine's future: apologize. Maybe even retire.

Their 'Against Trump' front cover was hurtful not just to the victims of the magazine's unflinching fealty to "free market capitalism" (read: corporatism in implementation) and the inevitability of open borders and multicultural rot it brought along with it. It was detrimental to Trump, Trumpism, and those who would have conservatives winning again.

It taught the right that National Review is disloyal to everyone except itself, as well as being priggish and churlish about it all. If you're going to rob the food from the mouths of your would-be voters, at least smile at them while you're doing it!

Also, new rule: anything that makes CNN gloat is bad.

So National Review owes Trump and his voters an apology. My colleague Will Chamberlain tells me, during discussion of this article, that he believes an apology isn't good enough. He reckons French, Frankovich, and the others responsible for the magazine's decline should be straight up fired.

[maxbutton id="2" text="Support Human Events Today." ]

I doubt they'll ever get to an apology, though, let alone joblessness.

Even when they tried to give Trump some credit in a piece entitled "‘Kick Me’ No More", they couldn't help but start the whole article by calling the president "bumptious".

As a result of its inability to draw the correct conclusions from its last 10 years of navel gazing, National Review will go the way of the Weekly Standard. And honestly, I'm not sure many people will mourn that.

Raheem Kassam is the Global Editor in Chief of Human Events