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Ponnuru`s Complaint: Paleocons Keep Outing Him
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October 04, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Ramesh Ponnuru and Jonah Goldberg have now felt obliged to post six times at the NRO`s Corner blog about my recent article National Review`s Ramesh Ponnuru Instructs Us On The Right Way To Love Illegal Immigrants, a critique of Ponnuru`s attempt to finesse the immigration issue in a recent issue of the magazine.

My criticism of Ponnuru`s article was limited to the flaws in his analysis of immigration`s role in GOP politics—basically, he follows the conventional wisdom and ignores the white vote—and how it reflects a general pattern in his writing—advocating a "compromise" that effectively moves the immigration debate to the left Beltway consensus, while posing as a restrictionist. I argued that Ponnuru`s performance is, on balance, consistently negative to the patriotic immigration reform movement.

But instead of addressing my critique, Ponnuru responded by complaining that a (presumed) VDARE.COM emailer told him to go back to India. Then Jonah Goldberg tried to zing me by suggesting that since I was "half-Jewish and half-Korean" by the logic of this rogue e-mailer, I too should go back to my country(s) of origin. (Germany and Korea, if you want to know).

Of course, as I have pointed out, no one at VDARE.COM has suggested that non-whites, much less non-Mayflower descendants, were incapable of assimilating. We merely note to the obvious fact that some groups can assimilate more easily than others.

After this immaterial complaint, Ponnuru approvingly linked to a Wall Street Journal op-ed (Immigration Losers:
A new study shows the heavy price the GOP paid for "get-tough" border politics
, October 2 2007) by Richard Nadler of the America`s Majority Foundation—a think tank that ran a series of ads in support of the Bush amnesty.

Presumably Ponnuru`s purpose was to discredit my point that the GOP share of the Hispanic vote shows no sign of breaking out of its historic (low) range and anyway is trivial compared to the real prize - the white vote.

Nadler`s piece is just the usual special pleading. VDARE.COM`s Steve Sailer could deal with it in depth, as he dealt with a Nadler piece rebunking the Bush Hispanic vote share myth published on NRO (hmmm) in 2004. But I am amused to see that Nadler`s latest effort actually contradicts many of Ponnuru`s recent statements.

Thus Nadler overstates the GOP`s success among the Hispanics in 2004 and suggests Hispanics are natural Republicans due to their stands on abortion, entrepreneurship, and vouchers—two points that Ponnuru correctly derided in his original NR piece. Nadler also makes a straw man of mass deportation, when patriotic immigration reformers emphasize attrition through enforcement, and used loaded language like "comprehensive immigration reform" and "undocumented workers"—all aspects of biased immigration reporting that Ramesh Ponnuru instanced in his CIS speech, which I praised in my article.

(Nadler also made many of the same errors as Ponnuru. He ignores the white vote entirely, and calls J.D. Hayworth and more incredibly Henry Bonilla—F- from Americans for Better Immigration on Amnesty—hardliners on immigration. He also seems to forget that little things like Jack Abramoff and the war in Iraq—ardently advocated by National Review—had something to do with Republican failure in 2006.)

This summer, the National Review staff made a lot of noise when they challenged the Wall Street Journal editorial page  to debate them on the Kennedy-Bush Amnesty/ Immigration Surge bill. (Didn`t happen, needless to say.) But here we are, a few months later, and Ponnuru, as well as the always-appalling Larry Kudlow, are boosting pro-amnesty propaganda in the Wall Street Journal.

Ponnuru says there are many inaccuracies in my piece. But he only cites one: my failure to give him credit for opposing legal immigration.

In recent years, Ponnuru has indeed occasionally called for reductions in legal immigration. But—as demonstrated by his revived love for the Wall Street Journal editorial page—his views are only as good as his latest blog post.

My point was that Ponnuru did not mention legal immigration at all in his NR article proposing a spurious great compromise. ("It would help if comprehensivists took the idea of passing a grand bill off the table. They ought to scale back their ambitions. Restrictionists, meanwhile, need to scale back their rhetoric—and start making the case that limits on immigration would serve the interests of immigrants and native-born Americans alike." "Scale back their rhetoric" = shut up and stop inconveniencing Beltway conservatives` social life.)

Reason: Ponnuru doesn`t really oppose mass immigration.

Another Ponnuru complaint was that paleoconservatives can, to use the parlance of our times, "dish it, but not take it" when it comes to their conflict with the neoconservatives.

He suggests that I was wrong to describe his criticisms of Peter Brimelow, and Pat Buchanan and his implicit criticisms of John O`Sullivan (who published Brimelow`s seminal Time To Rethink Immigration NR cover story), as "vicious"—because he has praised the former two at times and because Buchanan was engaged in a plot to subvert conservatism.

I am perfectly willing to call my piece on Ponnuru an attack, even though I did gave him credit for giving "a genuinely insightful speech" at CIS. A few faint praises are moot compared to the theme of an article. All of Ponnuru`s pieces that mention people who criticized mass immigration before he changed his mind and decided to become a pseudo-restrictionist give off the gestalt that we should listen to him and not to those mean-spirited racists who have hurt their own cause. (I`ll leave Ponnuru`s comments on Buchanan for another day.)

Ponnuru`s Corner post "Poor Little Paleos" rightly notes that Paleoconservatives are capable of attacking neoconservatives, often with quite a bit of venom.

But the difference between the Neoconservatives and Paleoconservatives is that we aren`t destroying their careers and reputations. Many real conservatives who have lost their jobs or been demoted, like John O`Sullivan, Peter Brimelow, Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, and Kevin Lamb, were kicked out not because of any "hyperbolic" op-eds, but by surreptitious—and certainly vicious—lobbying by Ponnuru, his allies and mentors.

Plus, of course, it is neoconservative policies, not conservative policies, that have brought the party, the movement and the country to utter disaster.

Ponnuru says that paleos are full of unjustified self-pity, as if we are bullies who crave sympathy after our victims defend ourselves.

Well, I am 24 years old. I came into politics well after the paleocon highwater marks of Prop 187 and Pat Buchanan`s 1996 campaign. I knew I was fighting on the losing side. I could have made more money and won more status points by parroting National Review. I could see how quickly my sycophantic classmate Ben Domenech was promoted before his NR plagiarism was exposed.

But I decided there are easier and more honest ways to make money and friends than being a Republican Party mouthpiece.

Knowing what I was getting into when I started writing for VDARE.COM and similar publications, I do not pity myself for where my career is. I am fortunate enough to work for an employer who sees attacks by Ponnuru and Goldberg as a badge of honor. I would rather write for publications like VDARE.COM, where I can write what I believe, than beg for column space in National Review while worrying how my column will affect my publisher`s ability to have Tony Snow speak on their Cruise. I prefer creating our own institutions, like the Robert Taft Club, to worrying about what the conservative movement is wasting its time on.

The reason I attack Ponnuru, National Review and other pseudoconservatives (and I`m willing to admit that`s what I am doing) is not to gain sympathy.

It`s because I want to warn patriotic Americans who haven`t had the misfortune to live in Washington, as I do, against being duped into giving their money and their time to people like Ponnuru, and institutions like National Review, that are trying to co-opt and profit from the grassroots rage against immigration.

In reality, they have been trying to suppress the issue for years.

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.