EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Since most of this “news”letter is going to vex friends, let’s start with something that all right-thinking people can agree upon: If Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to continue being considered an intellectual, he should really stop talking (or at least stop tweeting).
Just before I started to pound out this dyspeptic cri de coeur of consternation, I saw this amuse-bouche of vapidity:
Almost all armed conflict in the history of the world came about because opposing sides believed different things to be true.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 16, 2017
The problem with Peter’s critique is that he’s cherry-picking various columnists to construct a narrative that doesn’t hold up. He doesn’t point to any NR editorials, and his examples come from stand-alone columns written by writers — some of whom don’t work for the magazine — who have the freedom to say what they want. If guest writer X writes that Trump is a God-King, that doesn’t mean that National Review writer Y has changed his position on anything. Moreover, Peter makes no effort to acknowledge that much of the “anti-anti-Trump” media criticism is really quite valid. Saying the election of Donald Trump is the equivalent of Pearl Harbor is ass-achingly stupid. Pointing that out may be helpful to Donald Trump, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
Lastly, the fact that National Review runs a variety of pieces reflecting different points of view on the right is not quite the damning charge Peter seems to think it is. Beinart was the editor of The New Republic for quite a long time and I know he knows that that magazine (back when it was good) often had internal disagreements that make those at NR today seem like a fight over what kind of scones to serve at a tea party. I have disagreements with some of my colleagues (last week’s “news”letter was mostly dedicated to a pretty serious one with my boss), but that strikes me as a sign of National Review’s intellectual health. What Peter and a great many of his peers in the liberal press need to understand better is that a failure to agree with them on the nature of the moment isn’t necessarily evidence of hypocrisy; it’s evidence that we are conservatives who are inclined to take our own counsel. That this should shock anyone is a mystery to me.
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Canine Update: The beasts are doing well, but we’ve gotten ourselves into a bit of a pickle. One of my wife’s favorite things to do is to feed dogs ice cream. If she could find a way to monetize the practice, she’d probably go pro. So, for a while at night, after dinner and the evening constitutional, she would give each canine a scoop of vanilla in a little dish. Pippa wisely prefers to make the experience last, licking her portion methodically. Zoë follows in the footsteps of Cooper (seen here in one of the greatest YouTube videos of all time), devouring the ice cream as quickly as possible. Once it’s gone, she seems to immediately forget that she was ever given any ice cream and looks at Pippa the way a 400-pound prison inmate looks at a white-collar criminal with a pop tart.
But that’s not the problem. The dogs now consider the ice cream to be an entitlement. And when we don’t have ice cream, they follow Jessica around the house barking and howling as if she has the power to make it materialize (which, after all, she does in their little canine brains). We’ve tried to put them on a twelve-step program, but they have no interest in earning daily chips for their ice-cream sobriety and since they believe that their higher power is an ice-cream dispenser they remain baffled.
Thanks to the YPU: On Monday night, I debated at the Yale Political Union. It was my second time and it confirmed for me that I had not dreamed how weird the first time was. Still, they were a very impressive bunch of kids for the most part. The proposition to be debated was that the “Elites should rule” — a topic I didn’t choose and wasn’t particularly interested in defending the way I was expected to.
I began by telling them that debating whether the elites should rule could be rephrased as “Should Yale students continue to get their monies’ worth from their tuitions.” I was more than a little dismayed by how many of them have so little use for democracy, the Constitution, or federalism and I was more than a bit shocked to hear two members of the Conservative party talk about the need to switch to either an unelected Catholic aristocracy or the Confucian model of the civil service. But, hey, youth.
Afterwards, the Party of the Right took me out to The Owl for liquor and cigars and that was truly a grand time. Thanks again to everyone.
ICYMI . . .
Why Trump is probably not playing 4D chess.
Why there’s more to the Middle East conflict than the Israeli–Palestinian dispute.
How history will remember Obama’s presidency, why Tom Hardy may or may not make a good James Bond, and other observations I made on the Fifth Estate podcast.
I talk what-aboutism, Trump’s rocky early weeks, Hamilton, Oscar predictions, and more on the latest Ricochet GLoP podcast.
Don’t forget to sign up for the National Review Institute 2017 Ideas Summit in D.C. on March 16-17.
And now, the weird stuff.