Posted on | January 25, 2013 | 40 Comments
Perhaps National Review‘s famed cartoonist Roman Genn can do a savage caricature of the donnybrook brawl I’ve been trying to incite for this weekend’s National Review Institute “Future of Conservatism” Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Was it a smart career move to kick Jonah Goldberg in the knee? No, of course not, but there are a lot of things I’ve done over the years that could be characterized as the diametric opposite of “smart career moves.” I’ve always preferred the Eric Stratton Philosophy of Life:
Boon: I gotta work on my game.
Otter: No, no, no! Don’t think of it as work. The whole point is just to enjoy yourself.
Some readers misunderstood my purpose in subjecting Jonah Goldberg to the kind of blunt sarcasm I habitually aim at liberals. Do I want a fight with Jonah? Oh, hell, no — he’s the size of a linebacker, and I’m not enough of a journalistic celebrity to rely on the “David Gregory Loophole” in D.C.’s strict gun-control policy. So I’ll be unarmed and defenseless when I show up at the National Review Summit this afternoon.
Although I understand they’ve hired heavy security at the Omni Shoreham to deal with any troublemakers, what’s to stop Jonah Goldberg from slipping the guards $100 to look the other way while he pounds my head up against a brick wall?
No, I don’t want to go mano a mano with that savage giant. My point in depicting the NRI Summit as a conclave of effete snobs was to incite grassroots resentment, to inspire a populist mob to pay their $250 and show up at the Omni Shoreham howling for blood: Stir up some kind of controversy — “fireworks” as the headline-writers say — that will provide an approximation of actual news for me to report.
Readers who contribute to the Shoe Leather Fund aren’t paying me to go down to D.C. so I can write up the tedious proceedings of a series of panel discussions. No, the tip-jar hitters want some real news: At least a couple of angry shouting matches, if not indeed a brutal mob beatdown on Joe Scarborough. It was a smart idea to invite America’s Least Popular “Republican” TV Personality™ to this event, if only on the basis on the venerable principle that there is no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary. Speaking of obituaries . . .
When I told a certain investigative journalist friend of mine I was coming to town for the NRI Summit, he said, “You mean the one with the panel on ‘what’s wrong with the Right,’ where the answer to the question is, ‘The people on stage’?”
Panel: What is Wrong with the Right?
Moderator: Reihan Salam, National Review Online
Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard
Yuval Levin, National Affairs
John Podhoretz, Commentary Magazine
Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’
Ross Douthat, New York Times
Notice — and I hate to be the one to point this out — that there isn’t a single female or Latino on that panel? So there’s one answer to your question: “Intellectuals who are clueless about optics.” This is not to endorse a tokenistic system of affirmative action among the rightward intelligentsia, but when you exclude key demographics and the closest thing to a “youth” presence you can offer is 33-year-old Harvard classmates Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat . . .
Finish that sentence however you want.
If the proprietors of Conservatism, Inc., want to run their operation as an Old Boys Club for Ivy Leaguers, who am I to object? It’s a free country. My advice was never solicited, and it’s unlikely the heirs of the Buckley Legacy would listen if I offered unsolicited advice. So I kick ’em in the knee, give ’em free publicity, and hope maybe some of our readers will pay $250 for the right to ask a few pointed questions.
And, honestly, it won’t be a totally lame snobfest. A few of the participants in this weekend’s NRI Summit proceedings:
Mark Steyn, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Charles Krauthammer, Laura Ingraham, Michael Barone, Kathryn Lopez, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Mona Charen, Mia Love, Peter Thiel, Mark Krikorian, James Pethokoukis, Amity Shlaes, Kevin Williamson, Robert Costa, Jay Nordlinger, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, John O’Sullivan, Larry Kudlow, Ed Whelan, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, John Fund, Tim Phillips, Heather Higgins, Kellyanne Conway, Cleta Mitchell, Jim Geraghty, Jim DeMint, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Arthur Brooks, Maggie Gallagher, Brad Wilcox and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
Maybe you think all of those people are part of the problem, and you can pay $250 to get in their face and tell ’em so. But surely any conservative could look at that list and see at least a few names that might be part of the solution, and you can pay $250 to show up and cheer them.
The point is that I’m not anti-NRI Summit. I am anti-boredom, however, and even if the angry dissent and controversy — “fireworks”! — are as dramatically phony as professional wrestling, we need some infighting and bloodletting and perhaps even random violence among the panelists, if only to justify my spending a weekend in D.C.
If you’re not going to pay $250 to attend this event, it would be absurd for me to expect you to hit my tip jar for $10 or $20 just so I could write up a bunch of intellectual navel-gazing and tepid policy discussions. No, you want some real live action for me to report:
Conservative journalist John Podoretz is “expected to recover” from the critical injuries he suffered during a savage fistfight that broke out Saturday afternoon during a panel discussion on immigration policy at the National Review Institute Summit.
Podhoretz was “conscious and responsive,” said a spokesman at George Washington University Hospital, where the Commentary magazine editor was rushed by paramedics after he charged the stage during a presentation by Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies.
“It was totally unexpected,” said Krikorian, who was questioned and released by Metropolitan Police. “All I did was defend myself.”
Stunned witnesses said Podhoretz seemed to become agitated when Krikorian made several sarcastic references to the “open borders lobby” and “gutless neocons” whom he blamed for recent political setbacks suffered by the Republican Party.
“John started trembling and then his face became contorted by rage,” said Jim Geraghty, a National Review staffer who was moderating the panel. Geraghty said that Podhoretz shouted “anti-Armenian slurs” before charging across the ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel and attempting to attack Krikorian, who responded by slamming Podhoretz into the floor. . . .
Could that really happen? We certainly can’t rule it out. Bad blood between Krikorian and the “gutless neocons” has been brewing for years. Everybody knows who he’s talking about. Podhoretz’s irrational Fear and Loathing of Armenians isn’t exactly a secret, either.
That’s why readers want to contribute to the Shoe Leather Fund and send me down to D.C. for the weekend: If there’s going to be trouble — and it’s at least an outside possibility these vicious internecine rivalries might lead to an all-out riot at the National Review Institute Summit — you’re gonna want me to provide an on-the-scene report of this epic battle. Because I’m strictly a Neutral Objective Journalist.