Old Corner hands know that that’s an acronym for First Post of the Day. But in this case it stands for First Post of the Decade, in this case the second decade of . . . The Corner. It was on this day at 6:12 a.m. in 2002 that the Corner was born (scroll from the bottom). But, since I missed that deadline, congratulations to John Miller for his first post of the Corner’s second decade!
The Corner was my idea. It was one of ten or so suggestions in a memo I’d written to Rich Lowry back in the days when I was the editor of NRO and spending a sizable chunk of my disposable income on airplane glue. Alas, the memo itself is lost to history. Rich always claims it was his genius that plucked the pearl of the Corner from the muck of my other ideas. I always say that for all we know the Corner was the worst idea on the list, it was merely the only one pedestrian enough for Lowry to understand. Either way, it changed history. It expanded the popularity of National Review Online enormously and became, in many respects, the water cooler of the American right. My idea for it was to help show — not tell — that there’s a lot more diversity on the right than the mainstream media and the left pretend. Particularly after years of Clinton and in the early days of the Bush administration a lot of commentators assumed an ideological and intellectual homogeneity on the right that I don’t think ever existed. If you were anti-Clinton or, later, pro-Bush, you were a rightwinger and that’s all people needed to know about you. I don’t think that’s the case nearly as much anymore. I don’t think the Corner is responsible for clearing the air, but we helped play our part.
The basic idea was for us to have arguments. Friendly arguments. Not just about politics and philosophy but about TV shows, sports, and the best kind of cocktail nut (cashews, obviously). The Corner was about disproving the claim of “epistemic closure” on the right before anybody ever thought to use the phrase. A couple times the arguments got testy. But for the most part we stayed pretty close to the ideal of showing those who cared to pay attention that conservatives could disagree about all sorts of things and that we had interests outside of partisan politics. Personally, I’d like to see it get back to some of the arguments of yore.
I’m not going to call the roll of all the Corner contributors over the years who made this such an institution for fear of leaving someone out. But I do need to offer some thanks. One person that does have to be mentioned by name is Kathryn Lopez who, at various times, has been the den mother, whip-cracker and broom sweeper behind this behemoth. Any fan of the Corner — or of NRO — must have some gratitude for Kathryn whether they realize it or not. Second, I need to thank you people. The Corner only worked because our readers got it, supported it, and helped it at every turn. I have made some great 3-dimensional friends via the Corner, and everyone around here has become a better writer and thinker thanks to the feedback we’ve gotten from you people.
The Corner was, I believe, the first political group blog of its kind. It was, I’m sorry to say, Andrew Breitbart’s inspiration for creating the Huffington Post. Its popularity and the ease of writing for it, I’m also sorry to say, helped kill the original Goldberg File (which itself was one of the first political blogs — inspiring the original KausFiles — and which now lives on as a “News”letter). The Corner has changed a lot over the decade, depending on the personalities involved and the demands of the times. We now allow comments — a very controversial move that no doubt will receive several chapters in the Official History of the Corner. This has had good effects, and bad. My mail from readers has dropped by about 80 percent — which has been good, and bad. We are victims of our success: Politicians and policy mavens pound on our door and send us gift baskets of mini-muffins to win their way into the Corner.
I have some ideas for the Corner’s second decade. But that’s for my next brilliant memo to Lowry. For now, let me just say thanks. Thanks to everyone on stage, behind stage, and in the audience.