Don’t Be a Grouch
There’s no billionaire here writing checks, just normal Average Joes and Janes like you.


Jack Fowler

I am here to represent what Jonah refers to as “The Suits.” Which isn’t accurate because NR/NRO is so skeletal an operation that the proper term is really The Suit, singular. And so threadbare that The Blazer (With Elbow Patches) is most fitting — loosely, of course.

We need you to donate (right here please), and if we have to insult you to accomplish that, well, then I am the man for that. Here goes.

Let me tell you about my friend (Yes! I have one!), Scotty the Grouch. He used to (and still does) roam the halls of NRO throughout the day (swiftly clicking off when his boss passes the cubicle). He’d call: “I loved what VDH wrote today about . . .” This went on for some time. Then one day I casually asked: “Hey, Scotty the Grouch, do you subscribe to NR?” “No,” he said. “Why should I, when I can get all that good stuff free on NRO?!”

So, in an ensuing blegathon, I made reference to Scotty the Grouch and his exuberant no-pay-to-play/pulling-one-over-on-NRO habit. No, I didn’t reference him by name, but he called and admitted: He saw himself when he was reading my rant about the well-heeled mooches who suck at the NRO intellectual teat . . . 

Okay, Mr. Tact is getting carried away here — and not because I left the meds at home (not this time, anyway). Carried-away is what happens to you after the NR financial reports are dropped on your desk, the red ink pouring off the pages, getting all over your Buckley books.

If you want to know why we ask for help, and often, it’s this simple. NR revenues: $X. NR expenditures: $X plus a huge pile of dough.

Hey, paysan: It takes money, and lots of it, to stand athwart the Internet yelling “Stop these crazy blankety-blanks before they destroy this country!” Despite what you might think, this ain’t no free air hose at the Texaco station. You know what I mean? And no one is living large (well, there is Jonah’s waistline). Here’s the God’s honest truth: The Sugar Daddy we never had packed his suitcases decades ago. Flew off on the goose, and he took all the golden eggs and pixie dust and even the last piece of Hoo Hash with him. Leaving us like a bunch of broke Okies in a duststorm.

Okay, okay, I have to admit, you’re right: Despite my rant, NRO is free. Every danged blistering, liberal-head-thumping word that comes from the Corner, Battle ’10, Campaign Spot, and Impromptus, our fantastic daily avalanche of articles, columns, blogs, and commentary, all the razor-sharp utterances of McCarthy, Ponnuru, Goldberg (him again), Steyn, K-Lo, Jay, Geraghty, Lowry, and a cast of thousands — yep, all of it is free. That makes us influential.

It also makes us a Sponger’s Paradise, where you can haunt NRO 24/7 and not have to cough up a plug nickel for the privilege. Ever.

NRO cadgers can do that because a number of good souls send in financial support. They know that NRO needs help — the real, old-fashioned, reach-into-your-wallet kind of help. They know NRO simply must survive. I bet you do, too. They put their money where their beliefs are. How about you?

No disrespect here if you’re one of our benefactors. You again have my deep, deep thanks (and those of you who have gotten a 4:27 a.m. Blackberry gracias from me know I mean it). But for every generous soul, there are at least a score of NRO mooches who get their conservative jollies here but duck when to comes to doing the right thing, like tossing a few Abe Lincolns NR’s way.

You know the type: conveniently in the loo when it’s his turn to buy a round. Taking up the collection plate but never dropping a buck in it. Acting like no one is home when the kids come trick-or-treating. Yeah, you know that type. I wonder: Do you ever see it looking back at you in the mirror?

Offended? What are you going to do, cancel your NR subscription? Oh, that’s right — you don’t have one because you’re too . . . 

Okay, maybe I was wrong about the meds. Gotta check the briefcase — sometimes there’s a loosie in the bottom. Still, I’m calling you out. We need your help and you know it, and I know you know . . . Well, let’s leave it at this: You know that NRO is the locus for sanity in the ongoing, endless American political debate, and without NRO things would be a heck of a lot worse, and if you don’t think they can get worse, let me share with you the two scariest words in the English language: “Obama Reelected.” Why not? Stranger things have happened (like me becoming publisher, but that’s another long story involving film negatives).

Look, Scotty the Grouch wised up and is now not only a generous NRO benefactor but also an NRODT subscriber and an NRODT gift-subscription benefactor. And he’s happy to be all of them. (God bless ya, Scotty, and when you stop snarling about the RINOs, we’ll bend an elbow at you-know-where!)

Why don’t you get wise, too? You’ll be happy when you do what your conscience tells you: stop living off NRO. There’s no billionaire here writing checks with lots of zeroes. Normal Average Joes and Janes are the ones who put gas in the engine. I’m asking you to do your part, to help NRO survive, thrive, and expand. It may be a website, but it’s also a cause. Mount the ramparts with us!

I read this once in a book: “It is in giving that we receive.” We give the world’s best conservative commentary, and you receive it. Now how about you give some financial assistance — dearly needed, wisely spent (my chair is held together with rubber bands, which is an engineering marvel given my avoirdupois). We’ll be tickled pink to receive it. Count on this: You will surely feel good about finally stepping up and doing the right thing. And we’ll love you for it.

Heck, we love you regardless. Okay, gotta go rummage through the briefcase. While I do that, why don’t you donate here. And e-mail if you want to tell me what I can do with my attitude.

Jack Fowler is publisher of National Review.