In Defense of Rich Lowry

As the flagship publication of American conservatism, a political movement deeply riven by disagreements over first principles, their application, and political tactics, it is appropriate that National Review publish writers with conflicting ideas, a feat that Rich Lowry should count as an achievement of his tenure.

Among NR’s regular contributors are some of my favorite writers, including friends of The American Scene Jim Manzi, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam. Other conservatives prefer to read Mark Levin and Andy McCarthy. So long as editors require that everyone meet basic standards of factual accuracy and intellectual honesty, I’d prefer a publication that encompassed the perspectives of all these people, and many others besides.

Dan Riehl desires a narrower publication, or so I gather from this post.

Mr. Riehl writes:

I suppose the boy Editor will eventually argue, “Well, it was only her words, you see”. As if the childish looking dupe could ever pull off a decent Buckley imitation.
What is it going to take for conservatives to finally accept that William F. is dead, the heirs to the throne, with too few exceptions, are a bunch of 2nd and 3rd generation elitist brats who belong to the Inside the Beltway set? They are not a part of the conservative movement that must re-define American politics, just as Reagan did, if there is to be anything like conservatism going forward in the nation’s political discourse.

This is classic Riehl World View rhetoric: start by disparaging your target with not very clever name-calling, proceed by asserting that he is an “Inside-the-Beltway” “elitist” who isn’t really a conservative, and conclude having conspicuously failed to offer any reasoning or analysis to back up your attack. It ought to be an embarrassment to attack another person so thinly.

Here is how Mr. Riehl concludes his post:

A combination of American heroes, including the late William F. Buckley and, even more importantly, Ronald Reagan brought new voices and ideas to Washington over two decades ago. Unfortunately, as happens, the seedlings of failure always come hidden within the fruits of great success.
The sprouts of Buckley and Reagan took root, flourished for a time and now seem tired-old and dying on thick-ish vines. If we can’t root these weeds up and out, we should at least smother them in dung and fertilizer so as to prepare a bedding for what must come next.
Their continued feeding and nurturing through donations by conservatives is, not just a mistake, but an utter waste of resources we can ill afford to squander by supporting oily-leaved, slippery eyesores such as NRO.
If you insist on staking them, at least have the decency to stake them through the heart and rid conservatism of their undeserved overgrowth and underlying composted rot.

Mr. Riehl once strenuously objected when I called him a heretic hunter, insisting that he didn’t have any interest in pronouncing upon who gets to be part of the conservative movement and who doesn’t. So how does he respond to a National Review editorial that dares criticize a specific comment made by Sarah Palin? By arguing that the magazine should be covered in metaphorical excrement, and that the “decent” thing would be to stake it through the heart.

Insofar as people like Mr. Riehl and his like-minded readers succeed in pressuring National Review by way of ad hominen and illogical hysterics, rather than logically stated criticism, they do a disservice to the magazine and the movement of which it is a part.

UPDATE: There is, however, some good advice on offer in this Dan Riehl post.