Why donate to National Review? There are some obvious reasons, or at least reasons that seem obvious to me — to someone who was a National Review reader and enthusiast long before he was a National Review writer: Jay Nordlinger’s “Impromptus” by themselves are worth a buck a week. But there’s Goldberg, Brookhiser, Cooke, Lopez, McCarthy, Timpf, a panoply of think-tankers, elected officials (when a conservative senator needs to set the New York Times straight about the Second Amendment, where does he go?), guest contributors, and big brains of various persuasions. And, for those of you who are into that sort of thing, the occasional Ponnuru–Williamson child-tax-credit death match.
And National Review, as I noted last time around, is careful with your money — conservative, tight-fisted, etc., with the sight of publisher Jack Fowler squeezing a nickel until it coughs up six cents a common occurrence. We may have a podcast called “Three Martini Lunch,” but our hospitality for visiting dignitaries and the like is generally more like a tuna sandwich takeout from across the street. If you’ll forgive my quoting myself:
We have been known to buy a tuna-salad sandwich for a visiting senator, but Jack Fowler runs a remarkably tight ship. I’ve worked for big, publicly traded companies and tiny little startups, and I cannot think of any organization as conscientious about a dollar as is National Review. The reason for that is of course because we do not have very many of them. Flip through the magazine sometime or look at the website. Those corporate special interests whose alleged bankrolling of the conservative movement we’re always hearing so much liberal handwringing about are not in much evidence. And that’s how it’s probably always going to be: We are in the business of reminding people of eternal if often unpleasant truths. The liberals have their schemes for saving the salamanders or reorganizing the family or redistributing the wealth, and we are standing athwart. We are not peddling rainbows.
We may have a podcast called ‘Three Martini Lunch,’ but our hospitality for visiting dignitaries and the like is generally more like a tuna sandwich takeout from across the street.
Since 1955, National Review has been the home of literate, thoughtful conservative commentary, a place where we conservatives can go for insight and enlightenment, to read about the books we should be reading and the candidates we should be following, to do the necessary and irreplaceable work of fighting among ourselves about everything from Iraq to same-sex marriage, and to enjoy ourselves doing it. Every time I open the physical or digital pages of National Review — which is several times a day, as is the case with most of us — I discover something delightful, something despair-inducing, something maddening . . . and, sometimes, all three in the same piece.
Wonderful as it is, none of it makes a great deal of sense from a strictly business point of view — it never has. The Suits do an admirable job (from my vantage point, one that appears to be practically magical) keeping things running, and not only running but running so well that the only time we writers have to think very much about the financial realities is when we write these appeals. A little peak inside National Review: I never hear from the people who sign my paycheck that I should or shouldn’t write about thus-and-such a person or institution, because they’re donors or advertisers or because of other concerns. My only mandate from the Suits is to write as much as I can about what’s interesting and enlightening in the world, and to write it honestly and, when possible, amusingly. (When possible! It is impossible to write amusingly about the economic thinking of Elizabeth Warren, as I have discovered.)
We are constantly conscious of our celebrated founder, and, with apologies to Bill Buckley, I am proud to be here, standing athwart national insolvency yelling “You have got to be f*****g kidding me!” That is the greatest luxury a reporter or columnist ever gets, and for that I am — and we are — indebted to our readers, our subscribers, and our insanely generous donors, without whom none of this would be possible. I ask those of you who find value in what we do to support our work.