There’s a tradition that dates back a good 30 or 40 years or so, when it shared as its charter members Kevin Phillips, David Gergen, and John Dean. In the mid-2000s, it added first Jumpin’ Jim Jeffords, and then Andrew Sullivan to the list. After the 2008 election, David Brooks, David Frum, Colin Powell, and arguably most prominently, Christopher Buckley joined the club. Establishment liberal magazines such as Time, and liberal TV chat show booking agents love anyone who would hold himself out as a conservative or Republican (not necessarily the same thing), but trashes everything that most conservatives believe, particularly at the apex of a painful internecine scrum. (Long after his freshness rating had expired, Pat Buchanan received plenty of airtime on MSNBC of all place, for his attacks on GWB.) After Christopher Buckley went into full “screw dad” mode during the run-up to the 2008 election by publicly supporting Barack Obama, Iowahawk brilliantly summed up this phenomenon by inventing the character of T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII, the scion of “National Topsider” magazine and publishing his legendary rallying cry, “As a Conservative, I Must Say I Do Quite Like the Cut of this Obama Fellow’s Jib.”
There’s a far older tradition in journalism in general, regardless of ideology: Don’t **** where you eat. (Depending upon whether you like your blog posts G, PG, R or NC-17, you can substitute whatever word you prefer where the asterisks are.) Rare indeed is the New York Times column where say, Maureen Dowd really tears into Paul Krugman’s rantings, or Krugman writes that Thomas Friedman is absolutely bonkers on China. It’s considered rather bad form. Not to mention a quick way of becoming the office pariah.
I hope I’m wrong, but my first thought when otherwise little-known NR editor Jason Lee Steorts attempts to bigfoot Mark Steyn’s defense of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, is that the next David Frum or Christopher Buckley has just identified himself. I look forward at some point in the next few weeks — months — years — for Steorts’ column in the Daily Beast telling us everything that is wrong with conservatism.
From a self-identified conservative’s conservative perspective, of course. T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII wouldn’t have it any other way.
Update: Oh, and speaking of Iowahawk:
Nobody has a right to have a show on A&E. Just like nobody had a right to be a Hollywood screenwriter in 1948.
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) December 20, 2013
Related: “Mark Steyn and Me,” from Rand Simberg.