The Other McCain

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

‘Be Not Conformed to This World’

Posted on | December 6, 2018 | No Comments

The words of the Apostle Paul came to mind this morning when I read John Nolte’s article, “Conformity Killed the Weekly Standard”:

The easiest way to sum up the failure of the Weekly Standard is this: Why would anyone on the right offer financial support to the Weekly Standard when CNN will call us a racist for free? And why would anyone on the left offer financial support to the Weekly Standard when CNN will call us a racist for free? . . .
Smug virtue-signaling and superior Trump-bashing are the cheapest commodities in today’s news business. They are literally everywhere. And so, instead of offering a unique voice and perspective in an ocean of left-wing media, the Weekly Standard instead chose to sit in the middle of this ocean and sell saltwater. . . .

Read the whole thing.  What’s the value-added of your journalistic product, as a conservative magazine, if your essential message is, “Liberals are right”? It is possible to dislike President Trump or to criticize his policies without joining Bill Kristol, Rick Wilson, Jonah Goldberg and Rich Lowry in the #NeverTrump chorus of sore losers whose basic argument is that the nearly 63 million Americans who voted for Trump were wrong to do so. According to the #NeverTrump chorus, because their favorite candidates did not win the GOP nomination, therefore Hillary Clinton should be president. They have devoted themselves to delegitimizing Trump’s presidency, and are we surprised that this message was so unpopular with conservatives that the Weekly Standard became a publication without a readership?

It is perhaps sacrilegious to invoke Romans 12:2 in such a secular context, but the conservative journalist, surrounded by liberals, is very much like the first-century Christian surrounded by pagans. We know that more than 90% of American journalists are Democrats, we know that dissenting from this hegemonic consensus will not make us popular with our peers, and we can expect only vilification from them.

For 20 years, the Weekly Standard had a “brand” represented by Bill Kristol’s frequent appearances on Fox News, which was no coincidence, because the magazine was originally funded by the same company that owns Fox News. The magazine was thus insulated from the market pressures of finding a readership. The Fox News audience was also the Weekly Standard‘s readership and, not coincidentally, a ready-made market for the lucrative Weekly Standard cruises.

As Kurt Schlichter says, “Ahoy.”

 

Just as Milton’s Satan would rather reign in hell than to serve in heaven, so also neoconservatives would never be part of any movement if they were not acknowledged as the movement’s intellectual leadership. Neoconservatives were content to have John McCain win the GOP nomination and lose to Obama, since this result did not impair the market for what Kristol, et al., were selling — political commentary and policy analysis. What really threatened their racket, however, was when Republican primary voters in 2016 refused to be herded into the camp of any of the neoconservative-approved candidates. Make no mistake, Bill Kristol would have much rather seen Jeb Bush or Chris Christie win the GOP nomination and then lose to Hillary, than to have a Republican president who wouldn’t take advice from Bill Kristol.

Questions of policy — is Bill Kristol in favor of enforcing our immigration laws, or not? — were ultimately less important to the fate of the Weekly Standard than their intellectual pride. Neoconservatives decided in 2015 that Donald Trump should not be the Republican nominee and, when their advice was rejected by GOP primary voters, the neoconservatives doubled-down and decided that Hillary Clinton should be president. When that didn’t happen, they doubled down again, and declared Trump’s presidency illegitimate. At no point, apparently, did it ever occur to them to ask, “What if we’re wrong?” The possibility of error was not something Bill Kristol (Harvard, Class of 1979) was willing to consider. Sort of like Kirby Smart calling for a fake punt on fourth-and-11.

We cannot know what the future holds. President Trump’s election contradicted all the “expert” predictions, and so the prognostications of the political elite are now useless. By repeatedly doubling-down on its #NeverTrump stance, the Weekly Standard squandered its credibility, and everyone associated with that publication must be regarded by conservatives as permanently tainted by their failure. Let us hope that younger conservatives viewing the sorry end of that once promising publication will learn a valuable lesson. Selah.



 

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