The Corner

Trivial Pursuit

Marc: I take it as read that you’re right about the CBS Saturday-night debate disaster and moderator Scott Pelley, but let’s look on the bright side: The MSM just did every conservative, including the candidates, a huge favor by letting the mask slip and flashing its true ugly face for the cameras. Mr. Newt has been rising in the polls not simply because the anybody-but-Romney (count me in that camp) vote needs to go somewhere, but because he’s taking the fight to the enemy — and the Enemedia — as thousands cheer.

But let’s also understand how they look at it. By Pelley’s lights, he was only doing the Lord’s work, holding the Right’s feet to the fire on basic principles in a way that journalists generally would never do for the Left. When questioning their own side, “fairness” for most reporters of a certain age involves discussing aspects of various programs, never whether the programs themselves ought even to exist. Arguments, if any, are meant to take place around the margins, not at bedrock level. Hence the looks of disgust and disdain on their faces — and the shouts of “stupid!” — whenever a “right-winger” seems unfamiliar or uncomfortable with some arcane bureaucratic detail or other; for the Left, life is an extended version of Trivial Pursuit and to hell with the real-world consequences.

That’s because they’ve internalized the Left’s Manichean world view — not simply that Right=wrong, but that there’s no real discussion to have regarding the other side’s basic philosophy, which they regard as outmoded and/or malignant. As I mentioned last night on the “Night Owl” panel to our splendid group of NR cruisers here in the Caribbean, when I started in journalism back in 1972 there was a feeling among many of my coevals that being a reporter was what you did if you couldn’t become a Southern Poverty Law Center lawyer — that your job wasn’t just to get the facts, but to frame the argument in favor of “social justice.” And these are the guys n dolls who run major news organizations today.

What Newt is doing — finally — is showing the Right how to fight back, by turning the Left’s own weapons (in this case, of sneering disdain) back on them. Principles, not programs: those three little words, not 57-point manifestos, ought to be our mantra heading into the crucial 2012 election, and the candidate who can best make that case will defeat Barack Obama. 

Some idiot ought to write a book on the subject.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.