Will National Review go the way of Sports Illustrated?

Having a petite faiblesse for Megyn Kelly – unrequited as far as I know – I found myself listening to her interview Tuesday with two worthies from National Review, longtime editor Rich Lowry and snob-in-residence Charles C.W. Cooke.

They were speaking specifically of that day’s New Hampshire primary but more generally about Nikki Haley, Donald Trump and Republican voters.

In listening to the pair I was reminded of the recent fate of Sports Illustrated. Once the flagship brand of sports media, SI shut its doors recently, the victim of its own past success.

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Like SI, NR long ago came to think of itself as more righteous than its audience. Putting a fat girl on the cover of its famed swimsuit edition last year signaled SI’s capitulation to its own hubris. For NR, Nikki Haley has been that fat girl.

Conservative readers prefer Donald Trump in much the same spirit that SI readers liked hot models. There is a natural connection. Trump has an earthiness, a rawness, a pugnacity lacking in every other GOP candidate of the past 30 years. NR doesn’t get him.

In truth, editors at the flagship publication of the respectable right have had trouble relating to its potential audience since its founding in 1955.

This strategic caution became obvious in 1960 when NR condemned the less “respectable” John Birch Society. Rationalized an editor in an internal memo, “We can’t afford to jeopardize the grudging status we’ve earned in the liberal community.”

Not to deny the dazzling National Review founder William Buckley his due, but Buckley established a modus operandi that has endured to this day.

During the Obama years, editor Lowry never stopped worrying about the “status” the liberal community begrudged his publication. As Lowry once noted, “Mr. Buckley’s first great achievement was to purge the American right of its kooks.”

Today those kooks are all that stand between the continued success of the world’s greatest republic and its ruin. Lowry and Cooke don’t get it. While the nation is poised to rupture, they are busily arranging the canapés for their next editorial board meet.

As nominal members of the right, the NR people are uncertain of their status in the Jacobin club that rules Washington. So they try hard not to displease.

In the way of background, in 1789, in Paris, a caucus of increasingly radical deputies from the National Assembly met in a former convent. There, the deputies formed the Society of the Friends of the Constitution. In time the group would become better known by the name of the convent in which they met, “The Jacobins.”

Harnessing the wrath of the Parisian mobs to intimidate opponents, the Jacobins seized a major share of power. Swearing allegiance to the “Cult of Reason,” the Jacobins and their allies encouraging the looting and desecration of Notre Dame and renamed the famed cathedral “The Temple of Reason.”

Now with thousands of clubs nationwide, the aggressively godless Jacobins hunted down their political and spiritual enemies. The “reign of terror” they unleashed resulted in at least 30,000 executions, many without even the show trials afforded Parisian dignitaries.

To restrain the mobs, the Jacobins finally centralized power under the Committee of Public Safety and ruthlessly suppressed free speech. It was too late.

In 1794, having sown the wind, the Jacobins reaped the whirlwind. The Jacobin Club was shut down that year, and its most influentially ally, Robespierre, was hoisted headless on his own petard.

Ignoring the lessons of history, America has developed its own increasingly faithless elite that eerily mimics the French Jacobins. Thinking themselves wiser than God, Jacobins have set out to “fundamentally transform” America in their own light.

To this “club” in Washington belongs every elected Democrat, some elected Republicans, much of the intelligence community and most of the administrative state.

Jacobin clubs in Hollywood and Silicon Valley exercise nearly monopolistic control over their respective industries. Jacobins rule higher education and increasingly, through its fully owned teacher unions, the public education establishment.

Harnessing the faux moral power of the George Floyd mobs in 2020, Jacobins now control almost every major newsroom and most corporate boardrooms as well as the health care establishment. Increasingly, they have wormed their way into strategic positions in the military.

To appease those mobs, the Jacobins have no more trouble putting innocent people in prison than did their French role models. Even a former president is now fair game for Jacobin justice.

For club members in the know, the ultimate goal is power, global power. Having transcended the nation state, they ally themselves with Jacobin elites throughout the world.

Standing in the way of these elites and the mobs they control is one man. Lowry and Cooke think him a kook, Cooke sneeringly. At their post-New Hampshire editorial meeting, they will decide whether NR will back Donald Trump for president in 2024.

Best guess is they’ll sit this one out and hope that the tumbrils they hear rolling through the D.C. streets are coming for someone else.

Jack Cashill’s latest book, “Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities,” is available in all formats.


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