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Friday, October 20, 2017

The Cognitive Dissonant Pundit

I remember Rich Lowry two years ago on the Megyn Kelly show saying, “Last debate, let's be honest, Carly cut his balls off with the precision of a surgeon and he knows it.”

Where is Carly Fiorina today? Where is Donald Trump? Where is Megyn Kelly?

We know where Rich Lowry is. Still on TV. Still editing National Review. Still writing freelance pieces. Still getting President Trump wrong.

No class of losers is paid better and has more job security than these experts on nothing.

Lowry's latest piece is "The Cognitive Dissonance Presidency."

He continues his assumption that President Trump has no training or experience as a chief executive -- despite Trump's degree from the Wharton School of Business and 45 years as a CEO, amassing a multi-billion-dollar fortune.

However, Lowry believes Obama was eminently qualified after Harvard Law, a decade as a back-bencher in the Illinois legislature and part of a term in the Senate.

From Lowry's subheadline:
The Trump administration has formidable obstacles, but none looms quite as large as the fact that Trump himself has no idea how he wants to govern.
The befuddlement is on Lowry's part. Trump is leading. He is winning. He is doing all those things Lowry has claimed to want: conservative judges appointed, regulations stripped, and America as the leader of the free world again.
Trump’s approach keeps everyone guessing and keeps him from getting pinned down, but it is no way to lead a party. This is why Trump’s strong suit is things he can do on his own, namely culture-war battles, fights with the news media and other critics, and executive actions. These don’t involve many moving parts and don’t require much constancy; in fact, Trump’s tendency to fix a target for attack and then move on when he’s bored or it no longer serves his purposes, often works in his favor in his feuds.
For Trump, very little is ever truly ruled out or ruled in, and before long, a bipartisan health care deal will surely again strike his fancy. 
In short, President Trump is doing the things a president can do with his limited power.

How do I put this politely?

Oh to hell with comity: Lowry either does not understand the Constitution, or he is dishonest. I suggest the former, although both are possible.

I get Lowry's frustration with the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. But that is the fault of congressional Republicans, who led President Trump and the voters astray by pretending to have a plan in place before the election.

Lowry is superficial when it comes to Trump. Lowry is more concerned with style than substance. That tells me more about Lowry's conservatism than it does about Trump.

There was this nonsense from Lowry.
Trump’s decision to end Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments last week made sense as a political strategy only if he wanted to pressure congressional Republicans into a bipartisan deal. The termination of the payments wasn’t going to discomfit the Democrats, who could scream “sabotage” and blame Trump and Republicans for every failing of Obamacare going forward. It was nervous Republicans who were going to feel compelled to remove the political heat by propping up Obamacare.
This was not Trump's decision. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered it so.

Trump decided not to appeal her decision.

Lowry seems unaware of his own failed leadership at his magazine. He went with Against Trump, as he tried to purge conservatism of its plurality leader, who is now its true leader.

Likely, Lowry saw this as his Buckley Moment, in which the legendary conservative ex-communicated Ayn Rand and the John Birch Society.

Turns out, this time Lowry is Ayn Rand and his cohorts are the John Birch Society.

A wise man would have learned from his error (and rudeness) two years ago when he truly said Fiorina had ended Trump's candidacy.


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  1. We know where Rich Lowry is. Still on TV. Still editing National Review. Still writing freelance pieces. Still getting President Trump wrong.

    And still a Never-Trumper.

  2. Lowry has taken a once proud, conservative thought-leading magazine and turned it into Mad Magazine.

    It's now read only for laughs, and not subscribed to by anyone that wishes to see a conservative agenda enacted.

  3. Lowry is being a bit of a determinist so let's apply the logic to him. He's the "conservative" equivalent of a tenured professor. So he's evolving in the same direction that those people do. His lack of accountability leads him to an arrogance that detached him from reality more every day, and that arrogance, and the bubble in which he lives with others so detached keeps him from being able to see the world as real, but only in his distorted abstract vision.

    He has become a philosophe, just as blind as the abtstractionists running France that Burke decried in his Reflections.

    He sees the peasants in revolt and wants to drown them in the Loire.

  4. It's sad to see Lowry and NR decay in this way. Maybe we can call these guys "pants-crease Conservatives" due to the emphasis on style over substance.
    In the meantime, this short essay stands the test of time. Reading it was my first insight that maybe, just maybe, Trump was not beyond the pale. After the experience of Gov Ah-nold here in CA I was biased towards looking askance at celebrity leaders.

  5. Lowry is Ayn Rand? No no no no no!

    Ayn Rand predicted exactly what we've ended up with: bloated government parasites who govern by whim and regulation gone mad.

    Rand's books are still eminently readable. Not so, the fevered mutterings of National Review. NRO has ended up not in Galt's Gulch, but in a sewer!

  6. Seems like the Lowery, Goldberg, Kraut, Will, Kristol, etc. never Trump insane crowd tries to outdo each other every week. Over 7 more years of insanity to go.

    1. Give these guys a break. They are still grief-stricken over Hillary's loss.

  7. There is nothing harder to take than a living working symbol of one's failure. President Trump is that for Lowry. Everyday he is reminded that he was on the wrong train, and determined to argue with geography will ride it no matter how many times it circles the earth still trying to get to his preferred station. If this keeps up, inside of four years we'll see Lowry standing on a bucket on Constitution Avenue, tattered and unshaven, hollering doom at the passersby. And President Trump will walk by and drop a coin into Lowry's cup.

    Those who opt for style over substance usually end up with neither.

  8. Oh, Trump's candidacy did end eventually.

    When he became President-Elect.

  9. The establishment must have sent out a desperate memo to defend it against Trump. Chris Establishment Weasel Wallace just called out his fellow Fox colleagues for calling fake news fake news - this while the the media still screams about the Trump/Russia collusion and ignores the mountain of evidence linking Obama/Clinton/Mueller/Rosenstein/Comey in a massive Russia scandal selling out American national security.

  10. The great Robert Conquest who chronicled the horrors of Soviet Communism and was treated as Cassandra until the fall of the USSR and the opening of the Venona transcripts said, "Any institution not expressly right wing will, over time, become left wing."

    While I disagree with the concept of wings in American politics since we are truly about maximizing or restricting liberty, Conquest has accurately predicted the fate of the NR. I think the rot had set in with Buckley's declining health and it has accelerated since his death in 2008. It's a shame as I was once a subscriber and relied on it as a goto resource. Now I only read it to become indignant or bemused.

  11. I learned a new term this week, "empty barrel", from General John Kelly. In my humble opinion, Rich Lowry and most Washington politicians, pundits, and journalists living in the Beltway Bubble qualify as empty barrels. Of course there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. They got away with it for a long time until an outsider, Donald Trump, was elected President and suddenly they were exposed to the world. The Never Trumpers may be the worst of the lot.

  12. Well done, and well said Mr. Surber. Spot on!
    Posted from a reader of your column many years agao (AF_Vet)

  13. Lowry hasn't been as ridiculous as the rest of his magazine. He has been somewhat reasonable once his anti-Trump tantrum resided. He ridiculed the idea of putting in a different candidate at the convention who didn't run, as well as Electoral College shenanigans.
    He failed to support Cruz when it mattered, calling for everyone to support Rubio.

  14. I have one disagreement with Don. The House passed all but the first attempt which was frustrated by the Freedom Caucus. The failure in the Senate is attributable to one Senator with personal grudge and another faux Libertarian who doesn't really want to repeal ACA. We knew Collins and Murkowksi were probable no votes and that was the margin of error.

  15. Everything you need to know about Rich Lowry:

    Fight Al Franken? I Guess Not…

    Scroll down to "My Pundit Can Beat Up Your Pundit". Rich Lowry (and Jonah Goldberg) are candy asses of wide renown.

  16. So now that GW Bush has found his tongue and attacked President Trump after 16 years of silence (eight having the media drive his approval to 36% and eight watching Obama destroy the land), I won't be surprised to hear the Left suddenly say, "Good ol' W. Such a noble ex-president. Not like that Hitler we have in there now."

    1. Already happened. According to Democrats and the media (redundant, I know) ever Republican president is the most evil, destructive ever.... until the next Republican president who is even more evil and destructive.

  17. When someone, Lowry or whomever, says Trump doesn't know how to do this or doesn't understand that, what they really say is that THEY don't understand Trump.

    Because none of them have any first-hand knowledge of Trump's plans or thinking, and they refuse to give him any benefit of the doubt.

    They are really very narrow, closed-minded, and not half as smart as they think they are.

    btb, I am NOT saying Trump is always right or I agree with everything... but people who think they know what is going on inside the head of someone they do not know and admit they do not like, are just plain stupid.

    1. I don't like Trump and never have but watching his enemies shriek and fling poo like monkeys is entertaining.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Uh... "Lowry is Ayn Rand"? I'm so tired of the stupid anti-Rand smears.

    1. Rand is guilty of being amazingly prescient and pissing off the elites. She is hated by the left and denigrated at every opportunity and the cuck 'conservatives' agree in the hope of staying in the 'elite' clique even if it's only as a subordinate member.

  19. Some of us knew what Lowry was when he purged John Derbyshire.

  20. NR was my natural home until Against Trump. It was wonky, heavy on social research studies and history, and it just fit me. Then I learned that it writers were heartless gentry class members who valued their stock values above permitting the working class to earn fair value for their labor.

    It was a brutal and unwelcome awakening, and I haven't been back.

    1. I don't think it was about money, I think it was about their revulsion for Trump that was and is so strong that it dominates their thinking to the exclusion of everything else. It's so bad that they'd prefer Hillary who has a long track record of corruption, incompetence and intolerance over Trump. It's rather sad.

  21. I was a fan of WFB as a young teenager and tried to watch every episode of Firing Line. I found and enjoyed a copy of "Quotations from Chairman Bill" in my high school library. For many years I was a subscriber to National Review and read The Corner every day online. Now I ignore NR almost entirely, with the exception of VDH. I'm sad for what has happened to a once serious publication

  22. NR and most of its contributors liked its evident position in the right wing of the cool rich kids, with all the status and self-esteem that comes with that. This, even though NR has had zero effect in recent years on any policy or anybody inside or outside the DC Beltway. Nordlinger's sneering at Trump's Queens accent and at outer-borough New Yorkers in general was emblematic. Suddenly, this clique became much less cool and was exposed along with the rest of the in-crowd. Total failure feels really bad, so Lowry can't admit it.