Politics & Policy

National Review Is Irrelevant

(ilkercelik/Getty Images)
It falls to me to declare it.

It’s time somebody just said it: National Review, which I never read anymore, is totally irrelevant. Further, and this bit is important, National Review happens to be the reason why everything is going wrong in the conservative movement and even the country.

Nobody reads National Review anymore. Especially not since the “Against Trump” issue, which — I cannot stress this enough — rendered the institution useless forever. During a time period somewhere between several months and several years after that issue came out, I decided it was the reason I will never take any of those people seriously again. Instead, I resolved to read and listen to the conservative outlets run by . . . errrr . . . the other contributors to National Reviews “Against Trump” issue, people I can trust to be straight with me and not to bend with the prevailing political wind.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when National Review endorsed transgenderism. No, I’m not going to mention that the column I’m referring to — by an outside contributor — was immediately met with several blistering rebuttals by full-time staffers of the magazine. And no, I’m not going to mention they have the leading conservative reporter in the Anglosphere making a skeptical examination of the phenomenon her beat. And no, I’m not going to mention that Kevin Williamson got canceled from a syndicated column for defending the traditional view of these things at National Review. I’m not going to mention any of that, because National Review is irrelevant and cowardly, and though this is my 310th blog post in a series on that institution’s faults, I don’t read it.

Gay marriage, too. Don’t look up all the pieces on the site that criticize, directly or indirectly, Anthony Kennedy’s ruling in Obergefell. Just focus on the less than a handful that don’t.

But actually, the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when National Review ran roughly 20 pieces celebrating the life, legacyand contributions of Rush Limbaugh to the conservative movement. I won’t even mention that he won and accepted National Review Institute’s Buckley Prize for Leadership in Political Thought in 2019. Because there was another piece that questioned whether Rush Limbaugh occasionally turned people away from conservatism. Only a man with an expensive drug habit could doubt Rush Limbaugh’s universally attractive virtues. You heard it here: National Review hates Rush Limbaugh and wishes anyone who listened to Rush to die of scabies. Don’t search out the site for yourself, just take my word for it.

And that’s the other thing. When I grew up, National Review took risks. Where’s the National Review that’s willing to put people’s noses out of joint? Instead, National Review’s writers are universally admired in the liberal press. Their writers are celebrated as heroes among the woke and given boundless respect, even in outlets that had opposed them for decades. Buckley once threatened to sock Gore Vidal in his face. But when Kevin Williamson entered The Atlantic, he didn’t have to say anything — it was a safe space. And he’s worked there happily for several years, receiving the occasional high-five from his colleagues.

At least, I assume that’s how it turned out. My argument would be complicated otherwise. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, I don’t read this completely irrelevant tosh anymore. I’ll expand on why in my 311th blog post on how destructive National Review is.

It’s too bad, really, because we need an institution like the old National Review, one that is strong and self-confident enough to be disagreeable and willing to offend people.

Just not me.


The Latest