His little bow tie aflutter over the ascendency of populism among the legitimate right in the U.S., perennial cornball nebbish George Will boldly writes instead about a subject with which he's familiar, conservatism's crown prince of intellectual prostitution:
Conservatism is soiled by scowling primitives By George F. Will | Opinion writer | May 31
In 1950, the year before William F. Buckley burst into the national conversation, the literary critic Lionel Trilling revealed why the nation was ripe for Buckley's high-spirited romp through its political and cultural controversies. Liberalism, Trilling declared, was "not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition" in mid-century America because conservatism was expressed merely in "irritable mental gestures." Buckley would change that by infusing conservatism with brio, bringing elegance to its advocacy and altering the nation's trajectory while having a grand time.
In a reality light-years removed from Will's hagiographic fiction, Buckley merely endued to his brand of conservatism a sophisticated veneer to divert attention from his situation as chief evangelist of American imperial ambition, the abusive and destructive collusion of governmental and corporate entities and the subversion of anti-Communism from a principled opposition to Marxist atrocities to a vehicle by which rivers of blood were shed for industrial profit. Ever voluble and invariably grandiloquent onscreen, Buckley was in actuality a passive-aggressive churl whose choler revolted no few among his acquaintances and cognates.
Today, conservatism is soiled by scowling primitives whose irritable gestures lack mental ingredients.
Something's to be said of or against an adult who feels such a lightweight conceit's worth ingemination.
America needs a reminder of conservatism before vulgarians hijacked it, and a hint of how it became susceptible to hijacking.
It certainly doesn't, esp. when the likes of Will are still syndicated, and lightweight, dupable clots like Kasich or Romney were prominent just last year...
Both are in Alvin S. Felzenberg's "A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr." Yale University Press published this biography of the man who first challenged the liberal consensus in 1951 with an excoriation of his alma mater, "God and Man at Yale."
To be fair, who else cares to peddle this pap?
Influenced by his isolationist father,
To controvert a lie purveyed by corrupt historians and tools like Will that the American public has stupidly accepted, I'll reiterate this verity as often as I must: neutrality/non-interventionism is not isolationism. The peaceful, sane foreign policy of Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. as Washington envisioned it isn't analogous, much less identical to China during the Ming and Qing dynasties or Mao's cultural revolution, Paraguay under Francia or Japan when ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate.
Buckley was precociously opinionated. He named his first sailboat "Sweet Isolation." While at school in England in September 1938, the 12-year-old Buckley saw Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain deplane from the Munich Conference proclaiming "peace for our time." On May 23, 1941, Buckley, then 15, attended an America First rally in Madison Square Garden addressed by Charles Lindbergh. As a soldier stationed in Georgia in April 1945, Buckley was a young officer selected for the honor guard for Franklin D. Roosevelt's casket en route to the train from Warm Springs to Washington.
This genus of historiography by personal witness was never more syrupy or obnoxious as when fictionalized in Forrest Gump, but Boomers are addicted to the mawkish archetype of The Good American present at historical events. Had the nation any sense, Roosevelt's rancid casket would've been interred in a landfill, and young Buckley designated its gravedigger.
In the Yale Daily News, Buckley inveighed against the 1948 presidential campaign of leftist Henry Wallace because, Felzenberg writes, Buckley's "reading of history persuaded him that ideas advanced in the course of elections could outlast losing campaigns, capture the imagination of budding intellectuals and, under the right circumstances, gain acceptance over time."
If Buckley hadn't purged every personality employed by National Review who postulated a contention that incensed his supposed opponents, mayhap a few of whatever these "ideas" were might've been preserved.
So, National Review, founded by Buckley in 1955, functioned, Felzenberg says, as Barry Goldwater's "unofficial headquarters and policy shop" during the 1964 presidential campaign.
Could Will have possibly punctuated that sentence with more commas without committing a solecism? Is he innovating some mindless new syntactic experiment to maximize punctuation?
Goldwater lost 44 states but put the Republican Party on the path to Ronald Reagan.
However one may adjudge Goldwater, he only ever disavowed the endorsement of the KKK rather than that of every prospective supporter and ally who ever voiced an uncomfortable indelicacy: the modus operandi of Buckley that Will never mentions in the scant substance of this advertisement.
Some Buckley judgments were dotty (Goldwater should offer the vice presidential nomination to the retired Dwight Eisenhower),
I Like Ike. I was born in 1979, but unlike Buckley, I can clearly discern Eisenhower's retirement nigh a score antedating my birth as unequivocal.
puerile (Eisenhower was "a miserable president"; Douglas MacArthur was "the last of the great Americans") or worse (the name of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conceded that its constituents were "less advanced").
Yet Buckley routinely disenfranchised and disclaimed any conservative who uttered a racial sentiment far less inflammatory.
But Buckley's ebullience, decency and enthusiasm for learning propelled him up from sectarianism.
I'll play exegete: dissidence and schismatic fortuity were never a problem at National Review while Buckley was about to jettison anyone who didn't play by the left's rules as stringently as he.
He had the courage of his convictions, which were costly. Although one of National Review's staunchest benefactors was Roger Milliken, a protectionist textile magnate, Buckley supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, urging conservatives "to stand steady, joyful in our faith in the basic propositions of a free society."
How can one esteem a man so blatant in his globalist venality to support the immiseration that NAFTA guaranteed for so many working-class families in the United States and Mexico? Of course, Will's cut from the same putrid sackcloth: decades before his trifling output was published under the auspices of the odious Jeff Bezos, the online mogul's predecessor Donald Graham expressed no scruples regarding conflict of interest whilst surreptitiously lobbying for the security of his holdings enumerated in the GATT pact. As usual, Will was preoccupied with his precious baseball.
Said the novelist Edna Buchanan, "Friends are the family we choose for ourselves." Buckley, with his talent for friendship, had an extraordinarily extended family that included Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who in the 1970s wrote that something momentous had happened: The Republican Party had become the party of ideas. Some, however, were incompatible, producing the dissonance that currently is crippling conservatism.
"Some" are herein unmentioned, of course; many among them were repudiated and often axed by Buckley, always more concerned about perceived opprobrium than credibility or anything resembling actual principle. In the interest of perspective, erstwhile contributors terminated or disowned by National Review for irreverence, dissent, patriotism and populism include Pat Buchanan, Jared Taylor, Samuel T. Francis, Ann Coulter, Peter Brimelow, Steve Sailer, and most famously John Derbyshire, all of whom have demonstrated greater prescience and accuracy, and exercised superior influence than any of the risible neoconservatives constituting a present majority of National Review's newswriters and pundits. Indeed, Francis astutely observed in Shots Fired:
Well, many of them needed to be turned away, but in the process, the "movement" spit out just about anyone who was interesting, different, or creative [who can argue that the list of people booted from National Review isn't wildly more interesting than those now writing for the magazine?]. The result was a movement all right -- of apparatchiks, enlivened by the occasional con artist and outright crook.
It also purged anyone who wasn't acceptable to the standards of liberalism -- that seems to be the common denominator of the types "turned away." If there was anything the "conservative movement" dreaded more than "kooks," it was being attacked by the liberals they claimed to oppose.
The "dissonance" to which Will glibly adverts was generated by the failure of Buckley's Burkean conservatism to conserve anything at all -- certainly not jobs, rights, or any semblance of public security -- and aggravated by the disaffected messengers of populism and reality renounced for affronts of honesty. Will's likely too busy mixing Metamucil while his grandchildren configure The YouTube for his daily consumption of a video (perhaps two!), but the right is now populated by actual conservatives who detest the neoconservatives' grand contribution to the erosion of sovereignty, societal requisites and governmental probity, alt-right populists prepared to burn our political edifice to the ground to secure their society and culture, and racial and ethnic nationalists who'd thrill to a racial holy war during which this trite milksop and his fellow elitists would be gibbeted or guillotined as a serial sideshow. Trump's election merely marks a climacteric of trends engendered by impoverishment, frustration and estrangement that the snide elites of an entrenched political class couldn't be bothered to notice. Conservatism was crippled not by "dissonance" but an absence of noblesse oblige, and the disposition of Buckley and his ilk to reject anyone not in step with a game wherein they played the role of controlled opposition to great lucre.
Buckley famously said he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by Harvard's faculty, but he briskly defended the Council on Foreign Relations from "those American right-wingers who specialize in ignorance."
One can only infer that globalists always represent fealty to one another as virtue because they've no genuine principles.
"All his life," Felzenberg writes, "Buckley walked a tightrope between elitism and populism," never resolving the tension between them. If only he had.
He did no such thing. Buckley was a congenital elitist who could scarcely conceal his contempt for the third estate, or his disregard for their welfare.
He, to his credit, befriended Whittaker Chambers, whose autobiography "Witness" became a canonical text of conservatism. Unfortunately, it injected conservatism with a sour, whiney, complaining, crybaby populism.
How uncouth of the little people to bemoan their gradual destitution and demographic replacement! Why, their presumption rumples our every ascot!
It is the screechy and dominant tone of the loutish faux conservatism that today is erasing Buckley's legacy of infectious cheerfulness and unapologetic embrace of high culture.
No: Buckley's legacy is dissipating in contact with the solvent of reality. Moreover, conservatism was never compelled to embrace erudition by Buckley's example any more than Libertarianism by Harry Browne's. Most of Buckley's logophilic conception of erudition was superficial: tumescent verbiage of a gilt sheen over a shortfall of insight and elegance, sesquipedalian indulgences infusing otherwise clunky and convoluted prose. This same dynamic could be observed in his performance of the harpsichord, characterized by stilted competence sans depth. He possessed the lexicon of a Waugh or Burgess without their sprachgefuehl, the dexterity of a Landowska or Hantaï minus the sensitivity that assured virtuosity.
Chambers wallowed in cloying sentimentality and curdled resentment about "the plain men and women" — "my people, humble people, strong in common sense, in common goodness" — enduring the "musk of snobbism" emanating from the "socially formidable circles" of the "nicest people" produced by "certain collegiate eyries." Buckley, a Bach aficionado from Yale and ocean mariner from the New York Yacht Club, was unembarrassed about having good taste and without guilt about savoring the good life.
His naysayers? Well, who could possibly know of their opinions? This impuissant nerd's only remarkable attribute isn't an inability to relate to any beneath his stratum, but an antipathy to try. His obtusity and facileness actually complement one another in the most insular manner.
"His true ideal," Felzenberg writes, "was governance by a new conservative elite in which he played a prominent role." And for which he would play the harpsichord.
Personally, I can't conceive of a more effete image. Neoconservatism won't enjoy an epitaph. At best, it may be remembered as a curious symptom of SCALE tinged with an evanescent ideological pretense. Fortunately for those most mundane among the commentariat like Will or Ken Burns, baseball is likely to endure.