Long before I was privileged to write a sentence here, I was a devoted reader of National Review. For good reason: William F. Buckley Jr.’s creation was the bedrock of a movement I felt, and feel, part of. It stayed that way because National Review understands what a leadership mission is. More than anything else, it involves fidelity to getting it right — which naturally means getting it Right.
This was especially attractive to me because of my background: I was not a journalist but a trial lawyer and appellate advocate for the country’s premier United States Attorney’s office, headquartered in Manhattan. The ethos of that office was getting it right. As a matter of routine, that involved vigorous internal arguments to ensure that our prosecutions and enforcement policies were as sound as they could be. It also involved a commitment not to duck the hard cases, and the ethics of due process and self-policing, which meant dealing fairly but firmly with the opposition and faithfully reporting to the court when we discovered we’d made some error or other, as inevitably happens in any human endeavor, no matter how careful you try to be.
What I most liked about it was that no one got a medal for doing the right thing. It was what was expected. Pride came from feeling like you belonged in such a place.
National Review is just such a place, and I’ve never been prouder to belong here than I have over the last year.
Just a week ago, on the Corner, NRO published a dissent I wrote in response to an editorial we’d published a bit earlier on the hard case we are dealing with today: the prospect of U.S. military intervention in Syria. I was not alone in demurring . . . and that is exactly the point. In the best tradition of our founder, Rich has always encouraged spirited debate and the conviction that to be a beacon most means trying to get it right: providing a forum where the best thinkers we can muster build the best cases they can and submit them to rigorous examination. In fact, when Jonah had the foresight to develop the Corner, years before it became the go-to website for thoughtful commentary and exchanges between conservatives, getting it right was a big part of it: the conversation, the need to push each other, check our premises while staying current, and get to places that made principled good sense.
National Review is leading on Syria, just as our exchanges have led on Libya, Egypt, and other Obama misadventures of the “Arab Spring.” We continue pushing each other on what makes the best sense for American national interests — not the best political calculation of what is good or bad for our political adversaries in the White House.
It has been the same way with all of today’s critical issues, including scandals that have plagued the Obama administration this year, from the Benghazi massacre, through Big Brother’s monstrous use of the IRS to harass conservative activists, to the Obamacare reckoning and the vexing question of whether robust national-defense powers — including expensive surveillance capabilities in an era of terrorist atrocities — can be trusted in the hands of an abusive executive.
Read National Review about Syria or NSA spying and you’ll find passionate but diverse conservative views — you may agree with some and disagree with others, but you’ll find insight in all of them. Read Eliana Johnson’s peerless coverage of the IRS scandal, and you’ll see how a painstaking case is made and how a strong point of view becomes ever stronger when carefully bolstered by real evidence. As we mark the one-year anniversary of the murders of four American officials in Benghazi — and the twelfth of the murder of nearly 3,000 Americans in our own homeland — read National Review and know that the determination to get answers and accountability is as dogged as ever, even if Washington would rather “move on.”
It is a fact of life that getting it right is not free, even if NRO is. Rich and Jack need to assemble and get the most thoughtful work out of the best conservative thinkers and subject-matter experts (I know, redundant). That takes resources. Unlike my old employer the Justice Department, NRO has no seemingly unlimited, taxpayer-funded trough. We rely on our readers. It is you who prove that National Review is indispensable and that our ability to make an impact on the public debate 24/7 through NRO is imperative. Very simply, we cannot carry out our mission without your help. If you believe in this mission, we need you to contribute — which I urge you to do, here.
You’ll be helping us get it right. Trust me, that will make you proud.