National Review`s Conservative Summit: “Making History and Yelling Go!”—But Where?

See
also
:


Immigration Genie Out Of Bottle At CPAC Conference
,
by Kevin Carter

For several years, publications like VDARE.com,

The American Conservative
, Chronicles,
and

LewRockwell.com
have been warning that the

Beltway-dominated
"conservative movement" is
becoming increasingly irrelevant, if not
counterproductive to the goal of "conserving" the
most important aspects of America. Since the

2006 midterm election disaster
, there has been even
more discussion. Is the

"conservative movement"
still relevant?
What should its relationship be with the Republican
Party and George W. Bush? In an effort to get the
conservative movement and GOP back on track, National
Review
magazine hosted a "Conservative Summit"
at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington D.C. over the
weekend of January 26-27. I went along.

The official conservative movement, led by
National Review
, has

reacted to its critics
by calling us pessimists and


"unpatriotic conservatives"
who were just
jealous that we couldn`t get President Bush to speak at
our fundraisers and should be read out of the movement.
NR took credit for the War in Iraq and GOP
electoral successes in 2002 and 2004. But unmistakably,
things are going south. Would National Review now
listen to the party poopers who were warning about the
need to reevaluate the movement when the rest were
celebrating?

Answer: Of course not. Even the morning after,
National Review
has yet to have its moment of
clarity.

And of course the rich donors who show up at events
like this would much rather be pampered by

Pangloss
than chided by

Cassandra
—who after all, was

still ignored
even after she warned of the

Trojan Horse
.

Although the $225 dollar price was not exorbitant,
especially given the four-course meals and top-shelf
open bars, the crowd felt more like that at a high
priced GOP fundraiser than at any other conservative
event I`ve been to. I couldn`t complain about having
steak for lunch and dinner. But when it came to

food for thought,
I asked myself at the end of the
weekend:

Where`s the Beef?

Rather than address the biggest failures of the
conservative movement and Republican Party, National
Review
barely even acknowledged that there was a
problem.

Foreign Policy

One of the biggest mistakes of the conservative
movement has been embracing a

neoconservative
foreign policy that entangled us in
an

unpopular and interminable war in Iraq.
Virtually
all analysts agreed that the major reason for the

2006 Democratic takeover
was the War in Iraq. Yet
National Review`s
symposium on foreign policy did
not include a single critical voice.

With their panel on a New Agenda of conservative
foreign policy, former NR editor

John O`Sullivan
gave a genuinely intriguing portrait
of the state of the world and the many challenges
America faced across the globe. Nonetheless, he insisted
that we stay in Iraq for quite some time, and felt that
we must continue to be actively involved in the Middle
East.

Cliff May
of the

Foundation For Defense of Democracies
(formerly
EMET, which means "truth" in Hebrew) and Bush I/
Reagan lawyer

David Rivkin
added little other than giving more
emphasis to the struggle against "Islamofascism"
and, somewhat paradoxically,

anti-Islamic Russia.

The other foreign policy debate, on the merits of
Bush`s "surge"
in Iraq, was between

William Kristol
and

Lawrence Korb
. Kristol, of course, represented the
neoconservative position—more
troops
—and Korb gave a number of reasons to oppose
it. What was odd is that Korb works for the

left wing
Center for American Progress and has
absolutely no conservative credentials whatever. (Not
that

Kristol has any either
, but still…) That National
Review
chose not to get a single

"unpatriotic conservative"
is very telling.

Not surprisingly, Korb received the coolest reception of
the day.

Immigration

In contrast to conservative pet causes like
privatizing social security—to say nothing of the War on
Terror and the like—immigration restriction is one issue
where an overwhelming majority of the public agrees.
Peter Brimelow`s 1992 National Review cover story


"Time To Rethink Immigration?"
is sometimes
credited with restarting the current debate, and the
magazine led the challenge to

Wall Street Journal
Open Borders
dogma until William F.
Buckley fired editor John O`Sullivan and

purged immigration critics
in 1998. Sometime after
9/11, National Review

half-heartedly
re-entered the debate. What now?

As one conservative journalist who attended the
conference told me: "A real conservative debate on
immigration should be between

Pat Buchanan
and

Tom Tancredo
."
But instead we were given Center
for Immigration Studies`

Mark Krikorian
, imported as National Review`s
immigration beard in response to VDARE.COM`s relentless
ridicule, and…the appalling

Tamar Jacoby
. Krikorian is the first to admit that
he is

to the left
of Peter Brimelow on immigration, and he
has a long history of

triangulating
against VDARE.COM to curry
Establishment favor. That he is now on the restrictionist end of the NR debate (why was
there a debate at all?) shows how far the magazine has
fallen over the last decade.

This is not to say that Krikorian does not have many
good things to say or that he cannot hold his own in a
debate. Tamar Jacoby—whom one student attendee said gave
off the aura of his feminist literature professors—made
a case based solely on a purported economic rationale.
Nevertheless, at one point, she claimed that the law of

supply and demand
does not apply to immigration. She
insisted that our economy needed more low-skilled
workers and bemoaned the low number of native-born high
school drop-outs.  When Krikorian asked: "So you`re
saying we want to import

high school dropouts
?"
the audience burst out in
laughter and applause. When Jacoby claimed that
Hispanics were
"natural Republicans"
with

family values
, Krikorian noted that

they certainly do not live that way
, instancing
their many

social pathologies
.

Even among this group of

Country Club Republicans,
Jacoby received the
coolest reception of all the speakers next to Korb.

Outside of this debate, the only speaker who brought
up immigration without being prompted by audience was

Michelle Malkin
.

A number of politicians and Presidential candidates
showed up to sell their conservative credentials to the
conference audience. Among them were Jeb Bush, Mitt
Romney,

Mike Huckabee
, and Newt Gingrich. Notably absent:

Tom Tancredo
,

Duncan Hunter,
and

Ron Paul
—the only restrictionists in the race.

None of the candidates who spoke said anything
substantive on immigration. But it was on the audience`s
mind.

Jeb Bush
was so hounded by questions about
immigration that he finally responded that all
immigrants

are assimilating
and the only problem is that there
are some people who don`t like people who have accents!
[VDARE.COM note:
Perhaps he`s thinking of

John Podhoretz
, who claimed that once, in an
immigration debate including Peter  Brimelow,
O`Sullivan, John Derbyshire, and George Borjas, he was
the "only person speaking with an American accent"—a
familiar form of xenophobia
.]

Affirmative Action

Along with immigration,

opposition to affirmative action
a.k.a. racial and

gender quotas
is one of the most popular conservative
positions among the general public. Unlike immigration,
this is an issue where conservatives of all stripes, be
they libertarians, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives,
or traditionalists, agree. In fact, it may be the only
policy issue that

unites all strands of conservatives
. But,
while I have yet to see a conservative defense of
affirmative action, the Republican Party and its
conservative movement mouthpieces are nevertheless

rapidly retreating
on the issue.


Michael Steele,
the black former GOP Lieutenant
Governor of Maryland,

Ward Connerly
, and

Abigail Thernstrom
spoke in a symposium,
"Trumping the Race Card"
, on how the GOP should be
the party of

African Americans.
Of course, a true conservative
debate about race would wonder if

minority outreach
is counterproductive because it
may alienate the white vote—the real prize in American
politics, as VDARE.COM`s

Steve Sailer
has pointed out in his

"Sailer Strategy"
articles. A true conservative
debate would also wonder

whether there are limits
to how much we can improve

their situation in American life.
And of course, as
a starting point, one would expect everyone to be for
dismantling affirmative action and the rest of the

racial spoils system.

But only Connerly, who has heroically led two
successful state wide ballot initiatives against
affirmative action, made opposing the policy a top
priority. Michael Steele said affirmative action was a
side issue—we needed to revitalize the black culture and

it will go away
. Thernstrom said it was pointless to
worry about

until the testing gap disappeared
.


Charles Murray
would no doubt have

much to say
about these silly claims. But he was
relegated to a tiresome panel on limited government.

Of course the entire "Race Card" symposium was
filled with adulatory references to Martin Luther King.
When one member of the audience mentioned

King`s leftism,
Thernstrom acknowledged he was
indeed
a socialist,
but insisted the true outrage was that
people ignored how deeply religious he was. She then

humbly
asserted that she "worshipped the ground
he walked on".

Middle Americans

While there was a great deal of talk about the need
to reach out to African Americans, there was no
discussion at all about

reaching out
to working and middle class whites.
Fewer than 10 percent of blacks voted for the GOP in
2006, but this has always been the case, even in the
Reagan-Bush landslides. However, the alienation of
Middle Americans, who felt that the GOP was serving the
interests of corporate America was a major cause of
conservative failure in 2006. A significant number of
populist Democrats were able to oust conservative
Republicans—Bob Casey Jr., Jim Webb, Heath Shuler.
Nowhere was this topic, or related issues like

trade
and

outsourcing
, even addressed. The closest anyone came
was radio talk show host Laura Ingram who made a very
quick aside comment about how Republicans needed to get
out of the country clubs and needed to find

a new strategy
in confronting candidates like Webb. 
The only response was Mona Charen`s questioning of Webb`s
patriotic credentials.

So, rather than addressing why conservatives are
alienating middle America with their support of a globalist foreign policy,

complete retreat
on issues like affirmative action
and immigration, and slavish support for the Republican
Party, National Review instead invited the most
prominent Republicans it could find,
continued its

globalist
agenda, and said nothing new on the
National Question.

Does this mean the conservative movement is finished?

Maybe not. It`s hard to imagine the

Democratic Congress
accomplishing much good. If

Hillary
or

Obama
get elected president, and when Americans
finally get fed up with them, no doubt they will turn to
the Republicans again. And the Beltway-based
"conservative movement"
will be whooping it up, and
raising money from gullible businessmen.

Still, when National Review was founded in
1955, William F. Buckley told its readers in its
inaugural editorial, that the magazine aimed to “Stand
Athwart History Yelling Stop
!"
At the
Conservative Summit`s final lunch, White House press
secretary

Tony Snow
told a cheering audience that now
"Conservatives make history, and we yell go!"

Yelling stop may not have been as profitable, and

Bill Buckley
could not have gotten as many high
profile politicians to speak at his meetings in 1955.
But at least they were conserving something.


Marcus Epstein
[send
him mail
] is the founder
of the Robert A Taft
Club
and the executive director of the
The American
Cause
and
Team America PAC
. A selection of his articles can be seen
here. The
views he expresses are his own.