National Review Embroiled in Full-On Civil War

Jim Manzi's bomb-drop on Mark Levin divides the right

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It all started with Ross Douthat. The conservative New York Times columnist blogged, "Conservative domestic policy would be in better shape if conservative magazines and conservative columnists were more willing to call out Republican politicians (and, to a lesser extent, conservative entertainers) for offering bromides instead of substance, and for pandering instead of grappling with real policy questions."

National Review's Jim Manzi, thinking this good advice, took the opportunity to negatively review fellow National Review conservative Mark Levin's book, Liberty and Tyranny. The rhetorical civil war that has since unfolded on National Review's blog--reminiscent of when National Review columnist Christopher Buckley was purged from the magazine for endorsing Barack Obama--has been fierce.

  • McCarthy: Manzi's Attacks 'Beneath Him'  Andy McCarthy is the first to hit back. "For now I would just observe that Jim Manzi's post on Mark Levin's widely acclaimed book is beneath him," he writes. "Why pick Mark for the Pearl Harbor treatment?"
  • Levin Hits Back: Who Is This Guy?  The target himself, Mark Levin, says he's never met this Jim Manzi person. "I don’t know Jim Manzi, but given his out-of-nowhere rant, you’d think I ran over his dog or something. Feel free to read my book, and the chapter Manzi distorts and cherry-picks, yourself. You don’t need Manzi to interpret it. He’s no true expert on the subject, nor is he logical or coherent in his post. Indeed, he’s a very, very angry advocate of open and well-reasoned debate!"
  • K-Lo: 'Deeply Disappointing'  Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez is unhappy. "I love debate, as people here know, but to treat Mark Levin as a mere 'entertainer' who was just looking for a bestseller is to not know Mark Levin or have taken his book seriously," she writes. "I found Jim's tone deeply disappointing. Especially at a time when Liberty actually is endangered and Mark Levin is not to blame."
  • McCarthy: 'Appalling,' 'Pompous,' 'Elite'  Worst of all, Andy McCarthy's second go at Manzi accuses him of being an ally of climate scientists. "The most appalling thing about Jim Manzi's attack on Mark Levin's Liberty & Tyranny is its pompous invocation of 'epistemic closure' as a cudgel to beat the side of the climate debate arguing for epistemic openness — and trying to make that argument against transnational scientific elites who desperately seek to enforce ontological closure in a most unscientific manner."
  • Steorts: 'Pretentious' Word Choice  Jason Lee Steorts scoffs at Manzi's use of "epistemic closure." "Can’t we please say 'closed-mindedness' instead? It would be less pretentious and more accurate."
I frankly don’t know if every statistic in Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative was correct or not. Nor do I know if every statistic or number in Reagan’s A Time For Choosing speech in 1964 was correct. I DON’T CARE. I know the facts were in the ballpark, and more importantly, the principles were timeless and correct. I have read Mark’s book, and I know a little about the topics in question – and it’s a good book, with good citations and a lot of good facts.
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