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Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Review's Pet Rock

Just 15 months ago, the people at National Review decided to bind themselves together with a few friends elsewhere in the Washington Establishment with an Against Trump edition. They would stop him just as they had stopped Patrick Buchanan and Newt Gingrich. My reaction was:
National Review Hoists White Flag, Defiantly Rows To Outcast Island
Now they want back in.

In a cover story by David A. French -- who for a week was Bill Kristol's official Third Party candidate -- the magazine pushes forward the political ambitions of Dwayne Johnson, an action actor known as The Rock.

From National Review:
As polarization brings with it the politicization of everything, celebrities are expected to toe their respective political lines. The GOP has a celebrity in the White House, he brings in celebrity friends for photo ops, and, outside the White House gates, progressive celebrities spew vitriol at their hated former entertainment-industry colleague. 
The Rock, however, has followed a different path. Rather than self-seriously viewing his career as secondary to his activism, Johnson clearly aims to entertain. He understands a core truth: that there is nothing wrong — and a lot right — with sheer, unmitigated fun. Not everything has to have a Message. Not everything needs to reveal Larger Truth. Sometimes a man has to shoot down an attack helicopter with a minigun. Not for social justice and not for individual liberty — but because it’s a cool thing to do.
At the same time, Johnson is keenly aware that he’s come a long way. He’s an unabashed patriot, and his Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of expressions of gratitude to his country and his fans. He constantly reminds fans that he was once broke and struggling. He blesses his family with the fruits of his labor. And in his own turn, he seems to positively delight in bringing joy to others. His Instagram feed is full of small incidents demonstrating his love for “the people,” even the smallest admirers of The Rock. If young girls hold up a sign on his route to work, asking him to stop for a picture, he stops for a picture. If a two-year-old asks him to play patty-cake while he’s on the set of Hercules, he plays patty-cake. And when it comes to veterans, he’s extravagant with his praise and his time. 
Part of the legend of The Rock is this May 1, 2011, tweet: “Just got word that will shock the world — Land of the free . . . home of the brave DAMN PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!” He tweeted this at 10:24 p.m. It was not for another 45 minutes that major networks began reporting Osama bin Laden’s death, and it was 11:35 p.m. that night when Barack Obama formally announced the successful raid. How did The Rock know in advance? He had a cousin in the SEALs, but he won’t confirm his source.
Inside joke?

Half-assed attempt to satirize President Trump?

No, this is a lame attempt to regain the respect and relevance the magazine's management threw away last year by standing athwart history whinging clown. The magazine was willing to let Hillary be president -- giving the court to Democrats for the next 40 years -- just to spite the conservative majority in America that eventually backed President Trump.

The ideological charade was over. We saw the donor-craven establishment in Washington up close and personal, and had to turn away. They sold their souls for NAFTA. Nationalism is evil -- unless it is to "support the troops" in a war. The very human consequences of NAFTA are of no concern of National Review nor most of its staff and contributors.

In an article last March, the magazine called him the Fuhrer and implied that his supporters are opioid-addicted racists too stupid to find jobs in the big city like they did.
“If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.”
Imagine saying that about black people or brown people anywhere in America. The piece got worse:
“The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul. If you want to live, get out of Garbutt, New York.”
The piece reflected the globalist attitude of donors to National Review and the think tanks that fed it writers.

But the people rebelled and no longer allow a small set of elitists in Washington define conservatism. Just as William F. Buckley Jr. jettisoned the John Birch Society and Ayn Rand (the first was too religious, the later not religious at all; both were rivals) the conservatives in America have jettisoned National Review.

With Trump as president, National Review has no access to offer donors, and no influence on policy. Heritage Foundation and others do a better job. While National Review was rooting for Hillary, Heritage gave Trump a list of 21 judges and state justices to consider for the high court.

So down this bunny trail of the Rock goes the publication.

I would say the Rock deserves better, but then I made the mistake of watching his movies. That's meant as a joke. He's actually quite good with just enough self-depreciation to endear him to critics. And if he seeks a career in politics, well, we have done worse. Evan McMullin, for instance.

The trouble with publications is journalists never admit mistakes.

It would be nice to have an influential Washington-based conservative magazine.

But how can you trust someone who was willing to throw the Supreme Court away just to get its way within the Republican Party?

So we are left with this sideshow.

The original, "Trump the Press" chronicled and mocked how the media missed Trump's nomination.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.
Then came "Trump the Establishment," covering the election, which again the media missed.

It is available on Kindle, and in paperback.

Autographed copies of both books are available by writing me at

Please follow me on Twitter.

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  1. The success of your immune system shows in this one, Don. Great quotes. Chapteresque.

    Indeed, The Campaign has put a lot of writers (notice the use of that word) out of business. In a good way. (Even though they might not know it just yet)

    Speaking of which, what does a NRO/Uniparty writer do when seeking to avoid the U6 classification? Ron Swanson's they are definitely not. Mammary glands on bulls actually come to mind.

  2. When did conservatism meant you had to sell out your country's sovereignty and harm American people?

    1. When your "conservatism" is just a mask for international socialism. National Review morphed into a nest for former Trotskyites. They are a a fraud and they unmasked themselves in the past year. Good. Riddance.

    2. Well said. Thanks. I simply did not (and still do not) understand the so called conservatives who got onto the never Trump bandwagon.

      They were prepared to allow the SCOTUS to cleave strongly left for perhaps forty years for the apparent delusion that Trump was not conservative enough.

      It talks to a level of irrationality that I thought only lefties were capable of.

  3. Never fear, they can always reinvent themselves as the Jelly-Donut-of-the-Month Review.

  4. I love The Rock: he seems just seems like one of the coolest, most decent guys around. NRO is another thing altogether. I know they've been a regular whipping-boy around here, and they've deserved it. I check back in from time to time to see if they've come around to their senses, but it just seems like they've doubled and tripled down on their Trump hate.

    And I'm from hardscrabble, white-trash America and wouldn't have it any other way. God forbid you grow up around people who don't think Washington DC is the center of the universe.

  5. Dear Mr. Surber,
    I know whereof you speak regarding National Review. I read that piece you mention and was not surprised, as the magazine had for some time been on the, he's an orange-utang kick. In a piece by Kevin D. Williamson titled "Manners, Even in the Age of Trump", posted in late Dec. '16, the author equates President Donald J. Trump's two eldest sons to Uday and Qusay Hussein, and his entire family to the cast of the movie American Psycho. The columnist Jonah Goldberg also penned a column comparing the Trump sons to the Hussein brothers. I imagine them(the authors) having a good chuckle over their insult. I recall reading through the comments to the Williamson post and it wasn't till well into the feedback that a commenter admonished the author over his comparison. Williamson is simply a vile piece of excrement. His place in the sewer that NR has become is secure.

  6. Great piece, Don, wonder what Williamson, et.tal. will think when
    that Canadian soft wood tariff really kicks in I know here in NE
    Oregon there is talk of reopening
    NRO can Kiss my Skinny Appalachian
    bred Scots-Irish/Cherokee/Swiss Arse.
    TG McCoy (Hatfield too on Mother's side.)

    1. Lovely comment.
      Seems all McCoys are Hatfield on the mother's side. Not much else to do in Williamson

    2. I resemble that.... ;-)

  7. David French believes in the principles of conservatism, Don, and his reasoning is far less emotional and likely far more rational than your populism that concedes none of Trump's errors in the 100 day war.

    Trump needs to get out of his perpetual campaign mode that puts him in our faces far more than necessary - and he should spend a little time filling his mind with facts before he spills ignorance from his mouth. He obviously does not listen to advisers.

    Now I see that he is keeping NAFTA with some updating of the treaty. He might start with the agreements already in place in the TPP that were hammered out to modernize NAFTA. Mexico, Canada and the US were the major players in TPP.

    1. How much are you being paid for this crap!

    2. Two bits per post, but I heard they've been hounding her for refunds. Writing while drunk wasn't in the contract.

    3. If there was even one single, solitary, iota of a thought that maybe, just maybe- NRO wasn't actually full of crap: gadfly comes along to remove all doubt!

      He's just like ex-president Zero in that respect. The flies know what crap is, and they are attracted to it no matter what!

      (PS- thanks for my first bellylaugh of the day, gadfly!)

  8. "We saw the donor-craven establishment in Washington up close and personal, and had to turn away."


    Kristol, NR, Podhoretz, Will, Goldberg, the whole bunch, they're dead to me.

    And, BTW, thanks again for exposing the racket Podhoretz is running at Commentary many months ago.

  9. "Nationalism is evil -- unless it is to "support the troops" in a war."
    Funny, how all the wars they want us in are in the ME to support a highly nationalized and ethnic "best ally".
    Note how the Russia stuff disappeared when he bombed Syria. Most of the democrats are closet neocons, too.

    1. Well, yes, nationalism is only bad for white Christians, it's totally fine to be a Black Nationalist (Keith Ellison), a Hispanic supremacist (Luis Gutierrez), or a supporter of an ethnoreligious enclave in a VERY bad neighborhood. although that's getting less acceptable. It's so frustrating trying to convince my family that Trump isn't L I T E R A L L Y H I T L E R and that massive immigration to drown the most philosemitic group of people in history (American Christians) in a sea of third worlders who hate you because you watched "Jesus Camp" and think that every Christian in America except about 50% of the Unitarians is waiting for Pence to give them the high sign to put you on the cattle cars to Trumpschwitz is STUPID. But that's me.

  10. I use to love National Review. Now I hate it.

  11. There were lots of reasons to be sceptical of Trump.
    But even added all up and multiplied by ten they were still never enough reason to prefer Hillary over him.
    Hillary is cancer.

  12. This article reflects everything I have felt and said about National Review since their "Never Trump" edition after he became the nominee - I AM DONE WITH NATIONAL REVIEW ! ! ! I do feel bad because I had loved the magazine in the glory years when WFB ran it, but they betrayed their founder, who correctly said that conservatives should always work to elect Republican candidates even if they didn't meet all conservative standards. That Rich Lowery, Jonah Goldberg, et al, were perfectly willing to allow HRC be elected and see SCOTUS become ultra-liberal for the next 2 or 3 decades, instead of the opposite, which we are now gloriously going to see, absolutely made my blood boil. I will never trust nor read any of the NR crew again.

  13. NRO: Nuts Rolled Over. The secret of gun control is carefully aiming at a target, holllllllllllllllllding steady, and squeeeeeeeeeeeeezing the trigger...after insureing the target is A) not your feet, and B), not your wallet.