National Review: "they lived long enough for us to see them become the villain."

One of our co-founders, Ben Domenech, produces one of the best daily reads in my inbox. It’s the Transom. If you do not subscribe, you should. And if you do subscribe, today you got Ben’s thoughts on the two big conservative endorsements for Mitt Romney.


I think he hits the nail on the head and it is very much worth sharing.


Today the Washington Examiner and National Review endorse Mitt Romney. The Examiner does so honestly and forthrightly – you can read their rationale here. I disagree with them, but as I’ve said before, I limit my assessment of candidates to what they actually do, not what they say – others are of course free to take a different path.

But the Examiner’s approach stands in stark contrast to NR. Most observers presumed the magazine would endorse Romney again – they did so in Photoshopped glory in 2008 – but instead of just doing so straight up, they wrote an editorial which is 80% reasonable if severe criticism of Newt Gingrich’s candidacy and 20% insulting rant at the conservative base. The NR editors eliminate every other candidate with flippant dismissals, in the end deeming only Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum as possibilities other than Romney – two incredibly long shots with, at the moment, no realistic paths to victory. @baseballcrank: “Why NR thinks that Perry should be counted out of the field but not Santorum… indefensible.”

The editorial is an honest expression of what National Review really believes and has for some time, and is one more yelp from the once-proud flagship publication of the right. Unfortunately, NR remains as tone deaf as it was during George W. Bush’s second term, when they drifted and meandered along uncertainly. Here, their sloppiness and extreme tone play to the advantages of their targets. Had they been a bit more humble, limiting the scope of this editorial to Gingrich’s flaws and holding back on the Romney affection, they might not have just handed a lovely hammer to every dismissed candidate. But that sort of perception isn’t anywhere to be found in those pages. I would not be surprised even to see Gingrich cite it approvingly as proof that he’s no insider, which is its own kind of disappointing hilarity. . . .

It’s a real shame, when you think what might have been over the past few years, had NR recognized the rising movement outside their traditional base which aimed to change the party and the nation – if it could have seized an opportunity to become the voice of a renewed conservatism. That hypothetical publication would’ve had the heft gained not through the bellowed orders of a far-off would-be commander but the power gained through trust, through recognition that they are honest brokers and courageous advocates for the cause of human liberty. Instead, as the saying goes, they lived long enough for us to see them become the villain.



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