Posts Tagged ‘William F. Buckley’
Something stirred in my conscience in the fall of 1979. I was 9 years old, I had gotten into the habit of setting my clock radio alarm to go off at the very moment the local radio station was beginning its broadcast day with the Star Spangled Banner. I would leap out of bed, grab by younger brothers out of bed and stand stick-straight with my hand over my heart – and on more than one occasion, a tear in my eye.
Yes, I was that much of a nerd.
But that period of time was an ideological awaking. I began to read National Review, and my mother was teaching us about the Founding Fathers and the threat of the Soviets. And my parents had real hope in some guy named Ronald Reagan (I had never heard of him before I was nine) who was going to run for President again.
By the time the U.S. Hockey team beat the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics, I was a full-throated American patriot. I believed (probably because my mom believed) that Ronald Reagan was going to win the presidency and save the nation from communism, because God helped a bunch of young scrappy amateurs beat the most fierce hockey machine in the world. Just like God helped the young scrappy amateurs of the colonies beat the fiercest army on the planet when we won the Revolutionary War.
That was my idealistic mindset: that God truly loved this nation and would help it succeed so that millions upon millions of His children could enjoy the blessings of liberty.
That’s what made me a conservative. It’s what motivates what I do to try to advance conservatism every day. It’s because I want my children to continue to be free. I cherish my conservatism – because I spent years reading the great conservative thinkers and plunging into a career in politics and public policy to defend and advance those ideals.
So you’ll forgive me if I fear what Donald Trump is doing to conservatism.
That theme was masterfully addressed by Jonah Goldberg in this piece last week. Here are a couple excerpts:
The late Bill Rusher, longtime publisher of National Review, often counseled young writers to remember, “Politicians will always disappoint you.” As I’ve often said around here, this isn’t because politicians are evil. It’s because politicians are politicians. Their interests too often lie in votes, not in principles. That’s why the conservative movement has always recognized that victory lies not simply in electing conservative politicians, but in shaping a conservative electorate that lines up the incentives so that politicians define their self-interest in a conservative way. But if it’s true that politicians can disappoint, I think one has to say that the people can, too.
And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons. We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them.
Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.
If I sound dismayed, it’s only because I am. Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!” How many Republicans have been deemed unfit for the Oval Office because of comparatively minor character flaws or ideological shortcomings? Rick Perry in 2012 saw his candidacy implode when he couldn’t remember the third item on his checklist of agencies he’d close down. Well, even in that “oops” moment, Rick Perry comes off as Lincolnesque compared with Donald Trump.
Unsurprisingly, Jonah received a lot of hate mail and pretty harsh comments. As he wrote in his follow-up piece:
There’s no way I could — or should — respond to all of the criticisms or attacks. So I’ll just focus on a couple themes. The biggest criticism — in terms of quantity, not quality — is that I am a RINO squish faker fraud no-goodnik lib sucking at the teat of the establishment blah blah and blah. These usually take the form of angry tweets and e-mails. So I’ll fold my response to this silliness into my responses to the longer-form stuff.
He then does a pretty good job explaining why he feel strongly about this issue:
I don’t think Trump is a conservative. I don’t think he’s a very serious person. I don’t think he’s a man of particularly good character. I don’t think he can be trusted to do the things he promises. Etc. If all that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry. But there’s no need to make up imaginary motives. The reason I’m writing such things is that I believe them — and that’s my job.
Even though it may not necessarily be “my job” to point out that Trump is no conservative and is doing real harm to the conservative movement, I feel very, very strongly about it – because I became a conservative as a result of years of thinking, reading, arguing, debating, defending, and advocating.
Trump just decided the next step in his ego-fueled, reality-TV existence was to run for President as a Republican, so he magically became a “conservative” overnight. Terrific!
I believe if William F. Buckley were alive today, he would once again stand athwart history yelling, Stop!
Jim Martin is an American hero. Since 1992, when he founded 60 Plus Association, Jim has led the effort to advance conservatism by mobilizing seniors to action.
I was honored to be asked to pay tribute to Jim at a 60 Plus Association dinner Thursday night honoring him for his unfailing commitment to freedom. It was a bit intimidating to share the stage with the likes of Pat Boone, Charlie Black, Morton Blackwell and Grover Norquist.
Here is what I said:
Earlier this evening I was talking to my 16 year-old daughter. When you are my age, realizing that you have a 16 year-old makes you feel really old… and then I walked into the dinner tonight – a 60 Plus dinner. I represent the -40 crowd.
Jim Martin and I share a few things in common– a deep-seated love of country, a commitment to the conservative cause, we were both journalism majors – I didn’t go as far as Jim, because I was a broadcast journalism major and they told me I had a face for radio. But most of all, we both love to play softball.
Now, Jim is a much more accomplished softball player than I am. He led his 55+ senior softball team to two consecutive appearances in the Senior World Series
Men’s softball, which is really the place where wannabe baseball players go to re-live the glory days, is a microcosm of politics.
In politics, just like in softball, if you stick to fundamentals – your principles – and you treat every election as if the future of the nation depended on it, you can succeed in staving off the onslaught of liberalism and the creeping intrusion of government control.
Jim Martin has been a part of each of the major victories of conservatism in the last 50 years – call them the “transformational elections” – most significantly 1980 and 1994.
And now, he stands in the middle of what could be another conservative transformational election as he leads America’s seniors in the pushback against the greatest threat to freedom they have faced since WWII – a leftist President enabled by liberal majorities in the House and Senate. Jim takes William F. Buckley’s lead in “standing athwart history, yelling Stop!”
And I’m confident that he will succeed, along with many others in this room, in stopping the threat come November.
There is something that will drive the left crazy as Jim takes them on – his unwavering optimism, and his constant smile. They hate it when he smiles – well and that he looks like one of their heroes, Ted Turner.
And that is Jim Martin’s secret – it’s what makes him a “happy warrior” – he’s optimistic and smiles…. Because he knows he is right.
Jim, you are a hero, not just as a decorated Marine, but because you have toiled in the vineyard for five decades. Your fight is not quite over – so let’s play ball!
I don’t get a lot of time to read books, that is, to really sit down and read a book in a day or two. However, recently a friend of mine sent me a book that I HAD to read. The book is “Losing Mum and Pup” by Christopher Buckley.
An interesting and heartbreaking story of an only child being orphaned at age 55 when both parents die within a year. The story is even richer and more interesting because the parents are Pat and William Buckley.
As a disciple of WFB since I was 12 yrs-old, I was captivated by Christopher’s emotion, anger, fear, humor and self-exposure. I was particularly fascinated with the drama of planning the memorial service for WFB at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and Christopher’s account of that day. I was at the Memorial service, and was particularly happy with the reprint of Henry Kissinger’s remarks because I had the hardest time hearing him at the service.
The book was even better than I had expected. I laughed, I grimaced, I chuckled and I cried. While Christopher has been heavily criticized by some on the right, I find the criticism unfair and short-sighted. Certainly the man who stood athwart history yelling “Stop!” can withstand some scrutiny from the insecurities of an only child.
It should be the next book you read.
A few people have asked me why, as a hick from Show Low, Arizona, do I use a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge on the blog. A couple reasons. It’s just a really cool picture. And I can envision that the scene could have been essentially the same in 1955.
If we had time travel, the first place I’d go would be New York in 1955. Just think about some of the things that were happening. In the span of about a month, the Dodgers win the World Series, Ayn Rand finishes writing “Galt’s Speech”, and William F. Buckley “stands athwart history, yelling Stop” with the inaugural issue of the conservative movement’s most powerful publication, National Review.
Talk about some pretty cool stuff. My all-time favorite pitcher is Sandy Koufax and 1955 was his rookie year – albeit pretty forgettable. In 1956, one of my other favorite players of all-time, Jackie Robinson, spent a good chunk of his last season in baseball fighting with management to give Koufax more starts. Talk about class. Interestingly, Koufax was the last person to throw a pitch for the Brooklyn Dodgers before their move to Los Angeles.
New York in the 1950’s would be a great place to visit. I suppose that’s why one of my favorite TV shows is Mad Men.
So how does a kid who grew up in a small Arizona town develop a fascination with New York in 1955? The answer is the imagination that comes from reading. I read my first biography at age 10, and it was of Sandy Koufax. I then read one about Jackie Robinson. By age 12, I was reading National Review (because Ronald Reagan did). The three political publications I recall being around the house growing up were National Review, The New American (my mom had that subscription, which did not please my dad – it is too conspiratorial for me) and Human Events. It is any wonder I’m a hardcore conservative?
(Link alert – this post has the most links I’ve ever put in a post!)