I spent a blissful weekend watching both football and the mites-level Bridgewater Bears as they took on all comers in a 3-on-3 hockey tournament (in which a certain 8-year-old near to my heart lit up the scoreboard several times). Consequently, I had the good fortune to miss hearing about the Daily Caller’s accusations of collusion between NR and the GOP establishment on the latter’s “Pledge to America.” I now see that Tucker Carlson, of whom I am a fan, has for whatever reason continued to stoke this story, here. (Rich responded to Jon Ward’s original Daily Caller report, here).
For my own part, I’d note the following. I wasn’t wild about the NRO editorial about the pledge, but the Daily Caller’s suggestion that it was a head-over-heels endorsement is an exaggeration. More to the point, I thought the pledge was awful and said so in my Saturday column, which detailed many of my objections at length. I submitted the column to the editors on Friday, going through the process we always follow. None of the editors made a single suggestion to me that any point I raised should be dropped or softened.
The column was promptly posted on schedule first thing Saturday morning, under the headline “Empty Promise.” To be sure, that headline was a description of my views, not NR’s. Yet, it is noteworthy that I did not write the headline. It was written by one of the editors, after which the column was prominently displayed on the NR homepage, under that headline, throughout the weekend.
And since Tucker raises the National Review Institute, where I am a senior fellow, I should probably also report that neither Kate O’Beirne (NRI’s president) nor anyone else at NRI urged me to say anything positive (or, for that matter, negative) about the pledge, nor did Kate or anyone else at NRI object to my column trashing it.
Tucker is certainly right that “there is an important debate taking place over the direction of conservatism and the future of the Republican Party.” My personal experience with NR is that it has been a leader in that debate, encouraging and airing all sides of it. Tucker and the Daily Caller have an important seat at the table, too — as do the other flagships of the conservative press. We should stick to that serious debate, which implicates the future of our country. A sideshow involving publications squaring off against each other does no good. The real story is about the debate, not the publications.