Some conservatives lambast National Review for being too closely aligned with Republican establishment

Regarding ideological disputes, National Review’s decision to back government bailouts for Wall Street struck some as particularly galling, especially considering the magazine has condemned the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) under the Obama presidency.

“We were looking for allies to placate conservatives on the TARP. And National Review was early and quick in support of it,” said one former Bush White House official, who declined to speak on the record. “National Review was basically acting, at least in some people’s view, against what their principles were.”

“When it became politically convenient, when Obama became president, they changed their mind,” the former Bush official said.

Others cite National Review’s energizer bunny-like defenses of the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war and its tepid criticism of Republican-backed legislation in 2003 to create a new entitlement system for prescription drugs.

“We do not quite blame the president and his Party for the massive expansion of Medicare,” NR wrote.

So when National Review offered its full-throated defense of the GOP’s new agenda, many saw the action as fitting into a pattern, perhaps explaining why some conservatives expressed irritation with the publication as a whole.

National Review editor Rich Lowry revealed in a Monday article the magazine had, as first reported by TheDC, coordinated with House Republican leadership before publishing their editorial.

Lowry said in the article that unidentified NR writers met Monday with a House Republican leader who gave them details about what was in the “Pledge,” to which National Review officials expressed their support.

Lowry also said that NR received a full copy of the “Pledge” on Wednesday afternoon. He argued “this sort of thing – getting an embargoed advance copy of a document—is extremely standard in journalism.”

But not in this case. TheDC did not get a copy of the “Pledge” ahead of when it leaked into the press, though a reporter asked for one. And TheDC has confirmed with other publications that they did not receive embargoed copies. Staff for House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican, kept a notably tight hold on the “Pledge” document.

Lowry’s account contradicted another account provided Friday by a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner. Then, the spokesman, Brendan Buck, said NR had not received an embargoed copy. Asked to clarify the discrepancy, and to say who House GOP leadership gave embargoed copies to, Buck refused, deeming the questions “stupid.”

“I don’t have time for stupid,” Buck said.

Lowry declined to address the criticisms in an e-mail, citing time constraints. But the loud and populous conversation among conservatives on NR’s pages means for some, in the end, that no one editorial represents the publication as a whole anyway.

Jon Henke, a libertarian blogger and new media political consultant, cited the broad range of opinion that NR regularly publishes, which included a lengthy condemnation of the “Pledge” by Andrew McCarthy that was posted Saturday morning.

“It would be unfair to characterize National Review as anything but a diverse collection of voices of the Right,” said Henke.

Jon Ward contributed to this story