William F. Buckley Jr.
A current MSNBC personality just passed the half-decade mark as a host on the channel. A former MSNBC personality who’s made plenty of comebacks just made another one. The Washington Monthly’s D.R. Tucker praised each man to the skies this past weekend. Tucker called Chris Hayes "the classiest man on cable” and opined that from the get-go, he was brilliant, “an engaging, charismatic host whose mind moved faster than Usain Bolt’s legs." As for Keith Olbermann, now of GQ, Tucker gushed that Olby "recognizes that conservatism…is a metastasizing cancer within the American body, and that if that cancer is left untreated, the American body will be consigned to hospice care."
The New York Times Sunday Book Review featured former book editor Sam Tanenhaus talking about several news political tomes under the rubric “Why Populism Now?” And when we say “talking about,” we mean using the books as a pretext to slime Republicans as demographically doomed, out-of-touch racists. Also: Libertarians give you cancer.
In a Tuesday post, New York magazine’s Chait suggested that conservatism is driven not by an elite but by its riff-raff. Chait asserted, “Whatever [the] abstract arguments for conservative policy…on the ground, Republican politics boils down to ethno-nationalistic passions ungoverned by reason,” and remarked that Donald Trump’s supporters “have revealed things about the nature of the party that many Republicans prefer to deny.”
During the GOP presidential contest, indicated Chait, the “lunatic theories professed by most Republicans: the theory of anthropogenic global warming is a conspiracy concocted by scientists worldwide; the Reagan and Bush tax cuts caused revenue to increase; George W. Bush kept us safe from terrorism,” have lost ground to Trump’s “entirely different set of crackpot beliefs that lie outside conservative ideology.”
Michael Lind thinks that movement conservatives are becoming a minor force in American politics, supplanted less by liberal Democrats than by what might be called Trump Republicans.
In a Wednesday article for Politico, Lind contended that growing “populist discontent” is bringing about “the gradual replacement of Buckley-Goldwater-Reagan conservatism by something more like European national populist movements, such as the National Front in France.” He also opined that conservative ideas never were all that popular, claiming that movement conservatism as well as “neoconservatism, libertarianism, the religious right…appear to have been so many barnacles hitching free rides on the whale of the Jacksonian populist electorate.”
National Review was created by the great William F. Buckley, Jr., the brilliant pioneer of the modern conservative movement. Throughout the current presidential campaign season, NR has been a consistent critic of Donald Trump, whose conservatism it views with, to say the least, skepticism. And so it was entirely consistent for NR to publish "Against Trump," a special edition appearing today that assembles essays by an array of leading conservatives, including our own L. Brent Bozell.
That said, "Against Trump" came in for a barrage of criticism on today's Morning Joe. John Heilemann called it an "in-kind contribution" to Trump, by depicting him in precisely the way he prefers: as pitted against the Establishment. And Nicolle Wallace said it was a "stupid move and a stupid piece" that risks splitting the conservative media from the conservative base.
In 1968, ABC News tried to improve on its lowly third-rank status by bringing on some rock-em, sock-em commentary around the two party conventions from two intellectual heavyweights: William F. Buckley Jr. On the right, and author Gore Vidal on the left.
A new documentary – from the left, considering it carries a tag from Independent Lens, a leftist documentary series for PBS – explores the battle, that turned personal on television. The filmmakers insisted on Wednesday night in Washington that it made them a pre-cursor to today’s talk/shout TV:
In a glowing tribute to radical left-wing commentator Gore Vidal on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams could barely contain his adoration for the "prolific writer" who was "unquestionably brilliant." Williams further gushed that Vidal, "got his larger wish in life, to be remembered as both a polemicist and a man of letters. One of the most active and agile minds of his generation."
Compare that fawning eulogy to the shots Williams took at conservative icon William F. Buckley, upon his death in 2008: "Buckley paid dearly for some of his words: His defense of Senator Joe McCarthy, his early views on race and remarks he made about AIDS, saying those with AIDS should be tattooed to prevent its spread."
William F. Buckley, Jr., founding father of the modern conservative movement, famously asserted his doctrine of voting for the most conservative candidate who is electable.
Let me presume to add an analytic codicil: The GOP and the conservative movement have tended to support the most conservative policies only when they are understood to be conservative and are plausibly supportable by the conservative half of the electorate.
It’s a discussion for another day as to why those entrusted with the delivery of news so stubbornly refuse to cover the very deadly war being waged at this very moment against Christianity in the Middle East. The aggressors are radical Islamists, the victims Christians, especially those wearing the cloth. Every week another report detailing another attack seeps through the wall of non-information, of men condemned to death in Saudi Arabia for the crime of conversion, of Catholic churches bombed in Baghdad on Christmas Day, of Coptic congregations slaughtered in Egypt, and the like.
Sad and troubling to be sure, but it’s over there…over there. Do you have any recollection of the story fifteen years ago of the small community of Trappist monks in Algeria kidnapped in a prisoner-exchange plot, and then murdered? To the extent I was aware of the brutal story it was something I quickly filed away in the memory banks under, “Oh, dear.” Nothing more.
French filmmaker Xavier Beauvais challenges us to remember. He has delivered the hauntingly beautiful “Of Gods and Men,” winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. “Schindler’s List” was aimed at your heart; “Of Gods and Men” captures your soul.
As NewsBusters reported Saturday, George Will this weekend lambasted Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee about separate comments the two have made regarding Barack Obama's background and upbringing.
On Monday, during his fifth day in a row on this subject, MSNBC's Chris Matthews actually compared Will's column to William F. Buckley Jr. banning anti-Semitic writers from the National Review in the '50s (video follows with transcript and commentary):
"I've been looking for years to find a man like him.... I've combed the whole goddam country. There are lots of good journalists around, but they're all cockeyed left-wingers."
That's how publisher Eugene C. Pulliam praised M. Stanton Evans in 1960, when he tapped the 26-year-old conservative Yale graduate and close friend of National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. to edit the Indianapolis News.
On MSNBC Friday, anchor John Harwood spoke with New York Times Week in Review editor Sam Tanenhaus about the health care debate, wondering: "...you know an awful lot about the patron saint of modern conservatism William F. Buckley. What do you suppose Bill Buckley would think of the nature of the arguments that are being made against the Obama health care plan right now, death panels and all the rest?"
Harwood, hosting the 2:00PM ET weekly New York Times Edition broadcast, was asking about Tanenhaus’s upcoming book, ‘The Death of Conservatism.’ Tanenhaus argued: "Well, you know, one of the great contributions Bill Buckley made to conservatism was to move it toward the center. And one way he did that was to repudiate in a very forceful way what was then called the lunatic fringe."
At that time, Harwood interjected: "The John Birch Society." Tanenhaus continued: "And they weren’t necessarily a dangerous group, but what they did was discredit serious conservative arguments." He then made the comparison to the current health care debate: "...and we may see in the days ahead where serious responsible Republicans and conservative thinkers say if they’re going to make a forceful argument the country can accept, they’ll have to cut themselves off from this more extreme view."
Harwood concluded: "Well, it’s an interesting point. It’s – I don’t see right now anybody cutting off that extreme view all that much."