Dear Weekend Jolter,
Earlier this year, National Review published a statement on America’s “crisis of self-doubt.” It was signed by dozens of prominent conservatives, endorsing views — we would argue truths — that should not be controversial yet are increasingly so, in the face of a relentless smear campaign against the country’s fundamental character:
No matter the fashion of the moment, we believe that America is a fundamentally fair society with bountiful opportunity; that its Founding was a world-historical event of the utmost importance and established governing institutions of enduring value; that its original sins have been honorably, if belatedly, repudiated; that it came to be wealthy and powerful primarily through its own internal strengths, not via expropriation and conquest; that its model of ordered liberty is a boon to human flourishing; that its people are a marvel and its greatest resource; that its best days needn’t be behind it, and that it remains a beacon to mankind.
The statement issued a call to “revivify” these notions. It is something National Review does daily, and we hope you will consider supporting this work, this Independence Day weekend, by donating as part of our webathon. Anyone who does should know that we have a force multiplier in play: Thanks to a generous donor, any contribution made will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.
We launched this webathon at the conclusion of a momentous Supreme Court session, out of which NR’s coverage — on the Dobbs decision and much else — has been unmatched. Dan McLaughlin, Alexandra DeSanctis (read more about Xan’s work here), Kathryn Jean Lopez, Philip Klein, John McCormack, Andrew McCarthy, and many others are providing crucial context for today’s debates.
But in honor of the holiday, I’d like to broaden the scope a bit. Among the many causes NR has championed over the years, perhaps the most fundamental is that of this country. And lately, she really needs an advocate. After all, the erasure of the American story in ways big and small shows little sign of abating, most recently with Cornell’s bizarre removal of a bust of Lincoln and a plaque of the Gettysburg Address after “someone complained.”
You won’t find that kind of tosh (as my colleague Charlie Cooke might say) here.
Earlier this year, the magazine devoted an entire issue to refuting the slanders about the American Founding. We’ve published essays on the case for American optimism. Jim Geraghty just penned a characteristically informed and honest holiday-weekend ode. And even with new revelations about the shameful events of January 6, 2021 — which NR does not sugarcoat, even if this brings us some heat — we have stressed the hero’s role played by the U.S. Constitution in preventing a terrible episode from spiraling into an existential crisis. Further, we followed up that aforementioned statement with others by the signers, urging a restoration of American confidence.
To be sure, these are difficult times. They call not for denial or defeatism (even CNN has noted a “malaise” flavor lately to President Biden’s rhetoric), but what Washington described in his farewell address, in reference to his own service to country, as “upright zeal.”
We’ll be here, sporting zeal, and appreciate any support you can spare. In the meantime, peruse in patriotism the week’s highlights below.
NAME. RANK. LINK.
Taking stock of all that has happened before the Court this year: A Historically Great Term
Kevin Williamson: Will Dobbs Matter in November?
Charles C. W. Cooke: Sorry, Progressives, No One Is Coming to Save You
Dan McLaughlin: Supreme Court Lets High-School Football Coach Kneel in Prayer
Kathryn Jean Lopez: With the End of Roe, Let’s End the Violence
Andrew McCarthy: Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony against Trump Is Devastating
Rich Lowry: No, the Conservative Justices Didn’t Lie
Luther Ray Abel: Timeline of the Uvalde Shooting: A System Failure
Madeleine Kearns: Dave Portnoy and the ‘Bro-Choice’ Crisis
Brad Weisenstein at the Illinois Policy Institute explains an exodus: A Company That Moves the Earth Couldn’t Move Illinois
Dominic Pino reports that the striking spirit is alive and well: Unions Have No Qualms Making Supply Chains Worse
LIGHTS. CAMERA. REVIEW.
Kyle Smith recognizes Beavis and Butt-Head as oracles of our time: To Stupidity, and Beyond
Brian Allen writes about the AAA — the other AAA, that is: the Archives of American Art — seeing as he’s been dwelling there lately for research on a biography he’s doing. It’s part of that constellation of D.C. archival treasures that many visitors, and residents, might not know existed. Read on: The Archives of American Art: The Ultimate Gold Mine in Culture Studies
THESE EXCERPTS BURN HOTTER THAN A ROMAN CANDLE
John McCormack fact-checks a misleading viral claim:
Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade, there has been a lot of viral misinformation spread on social media that women with ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions may not be able to be treated in states with laws limiting or banning abortion. . . .
In fact, no abortion law in any state in America prevents lifesaving treatment for women with ectopic pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions. That was true of abortion laws in 1972, and it’s true of abortion laws in 2022. “All states had at least a life of the mother exception before Roe v. Wade,” Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life, told me in an email. See, for example, the language in the Texas abortion statute struck down under Roe v. Wade in 1973 that said nothing in the law applies to an abortion performed “for the purpose of saving the life of the mother.” The other lie in Ali’s tweet is the idea that women undergoing abortions will be prosecuted. As Forsythe wrote in 2006, states prosecuted abortionists, not women, under pre-Roe laws. Every state abortion law triggered by the overturning of Roe includes an exception at least to save the life of the mother, but that didn’t stop Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer from falsely claiming at a May 10 press conference (emphasis added): “If the MAGA Republicans get their way, pregnant women could lose their lives because there will be no exception for the life of a mother if there’s a dangerous complication in the pregnancy.” . . .
Many state laws, including the law in Texas, explicitly exclude treatment for ectopic pregnancies from the definition of abortion. On this matter, Planned Parenthood, anti-abortion Republican doctors, and the Catholic Church agree.
Planned Parenthood’s official website states that treatment for ectopic pregnancies “isn’t the same thing as getting an abortion.”
Even with some details of Cassidy Hutchinson’s January 6 committee testimony in dispute, the account she provided is damning (see more here and here). Andrew McCarthy explains, and provides a comprehensive overview of her claims. Here’s the scene upon Trump’s return to the White House that day:
Whatever happened in the SUV, Trump returned to the West Wing incensed, especially at [Mark] Meadows, whom he blamed for preventing him from going to the Capitol. [Cassidy] Hutchinson said she did not witness whatever conversation first occurred between the president and his chief of staff. When she found Meadows in his office, though, he seemed catatonic. The television was on, the rioters were closing in on the Capitol, and Hutchinson tried to snap Meadows out of it, asking if he’d spoken with Trump. No, Meadows said, Trump wanted to be alone right now. Feeling like she was watching a slow-motion trainwreck, she pressed him, bringing up Meadows’s friend, Congressman Jim Jordan: Mark, do you know where Jim is? Rioters seemed poised to enter the Capitol. No, Meadows indicated that he hadn’t heard from Jordan, but the thought at least seemed to get his wheels spinning.
Just then, [Pat] Cipollone came racing down the hall. “Mark,” he thundered, the rioters had gotten to the Capitol. “We need to go see the president right now.” Meadows fecklessly replied that Trump was aware of what was going on but didn’t want to do anything at the moment.
Cipollone was incredulous. Things had already turned violent. “Mark, something’s got to be done right now.” If it wasn’t, “blood will be on your hands.”
That, Hutchinson recalled, happened sometime around 2:15 to 2:25. Cipollone browbeat Meadows into going to see Trump.
As Hutchinson waited behind, Jordan called, desperately seeking Meadows. Hutchinson ran with the cellphone over to the dining room off the Oval Office. The door was closed. After confirming with the valet that Meadows was inside, she stepped into the room and got Meadows’s attention. As she handed him the phone, she could hear chaotic background noise, including the now-infamous “Hang Mike Pence” chants. Hutchinson then left Meadows and Cipollone to their tense discussion with Trump.
Moments later, the dejected pair came back to Meadows’s office — Hutchinson believed they might have been accompanied by associate White House counsel Eric Herschmann. She remembered Cipollone continuing to light into Meadows: “We’ve got to do something, they’re calling for the vice president to be f***ing hung.” Referring with resignation to the conversation they’d just had with Trump, Meadows told Cipollone, “You heard him. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
When David Mastio, then the deputy editorial page editor at USA Today, tweeted that “people who are pregnant are also women” last August, it put a target on his back that would send leadership at the paper scrambling to concoct a case against him that could justify a demotion and $30,000 pay cut.
In response to the tweet, opinion editor Kristen DelGuzzi and editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll sent Mastio a memo, obtained by National Review, in which they lambasted the veteran editor and asserted that his decision to question the orthodoxy of gender ideology “calls your judgment into question.”
“There have been other times when we’ve discussed lapses in judgment,” continued DelGuzzi and Carroll. “In 2018, an op-ed from President Trump that you handled was not thoroughly vetted, resulting in deserved criticism and requiring a column from our standards editor as well as a fact check to be paired with it. In 2017, you wrote in an editorial that President Trump was ‘unfit to clean toilets,’ a comment disparaging to an entire segment of workers.”
As a result of his position, they argued, “your lapses in judgment have impact, not only on you and your career but also on your colleagues and on the reputation of USA TODAY. Each of these instances outlined resulted in negative – and avoidable – attention, all of which can call into question our integrity and trust and relationship with our readers.”
“As of Aug. 20, in your new role as opinion writer, you do not have supervisory responsibilities, nor do you have an editing role. If you bring in content, it must have an editor… This is a written warning that any further instances of unacceptable conduct will lead to additional disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of your employment without further warning or notice to you,” concluded the memo.
In an interview with National Review, Mastio described that memo as the culmination of an effort to go “back through my career” in search of reasons to sanction him for the tweet.
“They just kind of made it up,” said Mastio.
Charles C. W. Cooke identifies a trend:
The most famous scene in Peter Weir’s hit movie, The Truman Show, depicts Truman Burbank’s wife, Meryl — who, unbeknownst to him, is an actress — growing alarmed by her husband’s behavior, breaking the fourth wall in a panic, and shouting, “Do something!” to the producers of the titular show, who are hidden off-set. Obliging her request, the producers immediately dispatch a neighbor — also an actor — to show up at Truman’s front door, deus-ex-machina–style, and defuse the situation. “Who were you talking to?” Truman asks Meryl before the neighbor arrives.
For more than seven decades now, America’s boundary-pushing progressives have chosen to behave like Meryl: Whenever things have gone south, they’ve cried, “Do something!” And, sure enough, the powers-that-be have usually sent someone over to fix the problem.
At long last, in 2022, this pattern may be changing. . . .
For the first time in a century, a majority on the current Supreme Court is more interested in the law than in political freelancing, and, better still, it seems to be uncowed by activist pressure. Having reached a fever pitch of wokeness during the presidency of Donald Trump, America’s corporations are now slowly learning to stand up to internal and external agitators. Exhausted by the neo-Puritans that are destroying them from within, a growing number of universities and media outlets are rediscovering their spines. Rogue prosecutors are being recalled. Referenda are being honored. Executive overreach is being reversed. At Netflix, at the University of Chicago, and even in the city of San Francisco, the progressive movement’s calls to “do something” are starting to fall on deaf — or indifferent — ears. For a while, this will yield disbelief, chatter about “illegitimacy,” and more than a few tears on the left. And then, when the realization has fully sunk in, it will prompt the sensible there to do the slow and hard work from which they have been shielded for so long.
Aaron Sibarium, at the Washington Free Beacon: Inside the Investigation of Axed Princeton Prof Joshua Katz
Melissa Klein & Larry Celona, at the New York Post: Hundreds of NYC prosecutors quitting woke bosses and onerous reforms
Jennifer Kabbany, at the College Fix: Cornell library removes Gettysburg Address, Lincoln bust
Something holiday-appropriate is in order. So, from the best Springsteen album (author runs for cover . . . ), the Jolt jukebox would spin “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).”
There’s a timeless quality to the Jersey shore — so wild and innocent — and this song’s portrait of boardwalk adolescence endures, even if the “greasers” no longer “tramp the streets.” It conjures childhood memories, for me, of gawking at fireworks a few miles north of Asbury, sand spilling across the beach towel. Happy Fourth, and thanks for reading.