The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Fear and Loathing at the #NRISummit: Can We Survive the Sarcasm Deficit?

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.




40 Responses to “Fear and Loathing at the #NRISummit: Can We Survive the Sarcasm Deficit?”

  1. Dai Alanye
    January 25th, 2013 @ 11:25 am

    That picture! Is it Jonah Goldberg as played by Orson Welles?

    As for Podhoretz, following an email exchange some years back I concluded he had either missed his meds or swallowed too many. He came across as hyper-sensitive to criticism but completely unaware of sarcasm.

  2. Finrod Felagund
    January 25th, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    Reminds me of an old college cheer:

    Rah rah ree, kick ’em in the knee
    Rah rah rass, kick ’em in the other knee

  3. scarymatt
    January 25th, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    I think Yuval is the only one on that panel I’d be interested in hearing on that subject.

  4. rmnixondeceased
    January 25th, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

    I’ll be there, shambling along in the back, out of the spotlight. Look me up for a beer Stacy. I can’t drink but the conversation would be enjoyable.
    To everyone else: Miss me yet?

  5. Christy Waters
    January 25th, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

    The fact that Joe Scarborough is a participant and Thomas Sowell is not, makes this event completely illegitimate regarding the “Future of Conservatism”, but I’m sure there will be plenty of sarcasm to go around at the #unsustainablebartab. 🙂

  6. Finrod Felagund
    January 25th, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

    In other news:

    A 3-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed the Obama administration a major defeat today, ruling that President Obama’s appointment of three members to the National Labor Relations Board last year violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which says that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.”

    If this is upheld by higher courts, this means that every decision the NLRB made in 2012 will be vacated for lack of a quorum, which is a Good Thing since the NLRB has been the labor unions’ best buddy under the Obama Administration. Even if they just rule the same way they did before, that’s time wasted that they can’t use to screw up anything else.

  7. richard mcenroe
    January 25th, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

    Sent you the usual bail kick-in. Don’t drink it all in one place.

  8. Adjoran
    January 25th, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

    “Granddaddy, what were YOU doing the day Saxby Chambliss retired?”

    “Mooching drinks in a hotel bar, honey – now go fetch Granddaddy a coozie.”

  9. Blake
    January 25th, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    “I have seen the future of conservatism, and it doesn’t look very conservative.”

  10. richard mcenroe
    January 25th, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

    AH, but the Justice Department says they are too constistutional, so there, nyeh! Hard to argue with airtight legal reasoning like that…

  11. Garym
    January 25th, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

    Exactly. We, as a group, have to stop worrying what progs think of us. We just need to hit them back and push for conservative ideas. Stop trying to make friends with people who hold with disdain.

  12. richard mcenroe
    January 25th, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    How about you organize some red blooded conservative wimmen to storm that panel and scare their stubbies clean up behind their sternums?

  13. Jaynie59
    January 25th, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

    Very funny.

    I love Mark Steyn so he alone is worth the $250 in my opinion.
    How he manages to survive amongst that wretched hive of scum and villainy I’ll never know.

  14. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    January 25th, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    Well said Christy. The only reason to invite Joe Scarborough, is to invite him behind the hotel for a good old fashioned ass whoopin.

  15. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    January 25th, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    Mark Steyn is a national treasure…even if he is a Canook!

  16. K-Bob
    January 25th, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

    I understand that the serious nature of this important piece of journalism has caused you to limit your appeals to readers to support this smart, philosophy forum.

    So I urge on Stacy’s behalf, that everyone please ignore his modesty in seeking our support, and contribute generously to the coverage of this impending, gravitational collapse of conservative cerebration.

    Someone has to smack the complacency off of their faces. Someone must utilize the lost art of gonzo-fu, and reach into their psyche’s thoracic region, and rip out their still-beating impulse-to-moderation and shove it in their faces. Stacy is just the man to do it.

    Like Spider Jerusalem, he’s just asking questions.

  17. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    January 25th, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

    At least Tabitha Hale is not there. Although she has almost five years experience in media!

  18. robertstacymccain
    January 25th, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

    That’s cold, man. You know I was on the “Retire Taxby” bandwagon on Day One.

  19. Christy Waters
    January 25th, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

    Preach sister! LOL!

  20. K-Bob
    January 25th, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

    I read about that at Legal Insurrection. I was confused over the commentary though. Unless I misread it, or there’s a typo somewhere, it appears to indicate that John Bolton’s recess appointment was unconstitutional, too.

  21. K-Bob
    January 25th, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

    As a friend of mine reported once after a brutal job interview (trying to escape working at the programmer’s hellhole at which we both spent many years), his interviewer said something like:

    “Mr. Jones, your resume indicates you have seven years experience in computing. But your job history would seem to indicate spending all of it with an employer not known for giving it’s programmers broad exposure to the field. I’m afraid that is more indicative of one year of experience, seven times over.”

  22. K-Bob
    January 25th, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

    David Brooks was unavailable, so Scarborough was slotted in at the last minute. I hope he gets assigned to the Colin Powell panel on foreign policy.

  23. rosalie
    January 25th, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    Please, don’t get Stacy started.

  24. Gotta Rideduc
    January 25th, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    You know what Stacy, I hate to bring it up here. I would have been there ready to ask some questions, if you had just answered my repeated emails. Apparently they went into the void. You are not alone. One of my pet peeves. If you want to get support, you must be approachable.

  25. Garym
    January 25th, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

    Nicely played!

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    January 25th, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

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  28. K-Bob
    January 25th, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

    Well, in his defense, because I’ve experienced the email thing with other folks, you really have to know a guy before you “get” the sarcasm.

  29. Quartermaster
    January 25th, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    You misspelled Womyn you sexist cretin.

  30. robertstacymccain
    January 25th, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

    My attention to e-mail is shamefully intermittent. My inbox is jammed, and I look at it with a sense of despair. This is entirely my fault.

  31. Dai Alanye
    January 25th, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

    And the hyper-sensitivity? Nah! He’s a loon.

  32. K-Bob
    January 26th, 2013 @ 1:29 am

    J-Pod may be many things, but I cannot agree that he’s a loon.

    Squishy as Captain Ed, maybe. But not a loon.

  33. K-Bob
    January 26th, 2013 @ 1:31 am

    I blame the Internet.

  34. Dai Alanye
    January 26th, 2013 @ 2:29 am

    Was a loon during my exchange with him, which is why I suspected the involvement of drugs–either illicit or the lack of needed prescription drugs. I mean what I say–no jokes.

    Since then I’ve passed by his columns for the same reason I always passed by those of the wife of Ohio’s former governor, Richard Celeste.

  35. Jaynie59
    January 26th, 2013 @ 9:06 am

    Everytime he mentions his place in New Hampshire I feel bad for him. I lived in New Hampshire in the 1980’s and boy oh boy was it awful. Scraping frost off the windshield from September to May. I don’t miss that. Dead batteries in the dead of winter and a two hour wait for AAA. I don’t miss that. One May we got 2 feet of snow and after spending an hour trying to clean off my Datsun 210 I gave up and walked to work.
    And I lived south of where he does! I lived in West Lebanon, NH and worked in White River Junction VT.
    It’s funny. My journey from liberal to conservative has been a really long road, but now that I think about it, I decided to live in New Hampshire instead of Vermont even though my job was in Vermont for only one reason. I liked the license plate.

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  37. K-Bob
    January 26th, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

    Well, that’s not good to hear. On the other hand, I rarely read stuff at commentary because of the massive squish factor. I wonder if he’s friends with David “J-Street” Levy?

  38. Bob Belvedere
    January 26th, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

    I blame Bush…Stacy started this blog when that guy was still in office.

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  40. andycanuck
    January 27th, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

    Did you go to Ball State, Finrod?