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Hold That Baton

Readers on Ann Coulter: pro and con. Stop stagflation now! Hillary's revenge. Plus more.

2.28.08

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BUCKLEY'S LEGACY
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s William F. Buckley, RIP, Alfred S. Regnery's Conservatism's Heart and Soul, and Tributes and Reminiscences:

I enjoyed very much your reminiscence of Bill Buckley. That is, until the penultimate sentence. I recognize that the deceased do not often have the privilege of choosing to whom their torch is passed on to; however, I would find it difficult to believe that Mr. Buckley would choose to hand his off to Ms. Coulter. And this for some of the very characteristics that you so fondly remembered in Mr. Buckley. His was a conservatism of intellect and erudition, as you so rightly point out; he commanded by his very manor the respect of friend and foe alike, conservative and liberal. His graciousness was of the kind long passed from this scene, even to his most ardent opponents whose ideas and ideologies he held with contempt. Ms. Coulter does not have the benefit of any of these. I'll perhaps grant you intelligence, but this is so rarely in view given her penchant for sensationalism and beside-the-point demagoguery. As I sat in my office yesterday and watched a YouTube video of Buckley's debate with Chomsky on the Vietnam War, I resigned myself to the fact that there is simply no one at this point in the history of the conservative movement who can even approach what Buckley did and was for the movement these last 50 years; CERTAINLY NOT Ann Coulter. Perhaps Mr. Gingrich, but he is too stained by the taint of politics past. Thank God Buckley never followed through on his presidential pretensions.
-- Jeffrey A. Wilcox, Ph.D

I began to get interested in politics again a few years ago when my youngest son fresh out of college came to me telling me I just had to see Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. I was so shocked by the brainwashing he had received that I immediately began to have daily discussions with him on several topics. I subscribed to National Review among other conservative leaning publications so that I could pass along articles that might persuade him to look at America's history a little differently. His comment that I had fed him to the liberal wolves in college made me wake up to what is happening to our great country. I graduated from Indiana University in 1967 but came away nearly unscathed by the radical liberalism sweeping college campuses of that era.
-- Jan Wood

RET's beautiful remembrance of William F. Buckley ended on a strange note, "And so the baton is passed. On the conservative side it passes from Buckley to Ann Coulter." That is like replacing a finely tuned piano with a shrill whistle or sour sounding harp(y).

Like Buckley, Coulter has a rapier wit and a dazzling intellect, but she lacks his joi de vive; his warmth. Buckley was a peaceful warrior; even when debating he displayed a sense of camaraderie. Coulter makes almost every exchange a reenactment of Ragnorok. Buckley made his points politely, inviting his opponent to find common ground. Coulter shoots off sharp barbs that leave no room for compromise. Buckley was a gentleman; the word "faggot" would mean only one thing on his lips: cigarette. When having an intelligent debate, even when emotions come into play, it is difficult to get your true point across in a screed; no one listens to the sound and fury if it overpowers the true message.

In Chiam Potok's The Chosen, a brilliant boy, the son of the Rebbe, is an intellect without peer, but the Rebbe understand that knowledge without compassion is as dangerous as a saber without a sheath. Intellect must be tempered with humor and compassion or it can become a great danger to all who encounter it.

Ann Coulter's steadfast commitment, her brilliant reasoning and writing and wit are all great assets to the conservative cause, but her manner makes communication difficult, to say the least.

William F. Buckley cannot be replaced, and he will be missed sorely. Let the trumpets sound a harmonious tune at heaven's ramparts.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Though I came extremely late to the movement and the magazines, yours, his, and others -- and though I found I did not see eye to eye with every position or opinion of the late Mr. Buckley -- I already miss the absence of his voice -- in both senses.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

One would hope that Ann can take the baton and run like the wind with it and that more importantly those who call themselves "conservatives" and not just being conservative are up to the task WFB left for us to do. One thing WFB and his kind have always understood about the world is that the battles and the war over ideas are never ending. Given the leadership vacuum today Bill has left us with a very large "to do" list on our plate.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

Since plagiarism is in the air, politically speaking that is, I'll steal a few words of my own I sent to NRO on this doleful occasion, and add a few more.

I was on my way home in my gas guzzling, CO2 polluting SUV, when the announcement of Bill's passing came over the radio. I had to pull off the road, the tears welled up, loss as well as joy. Without Bill, I might never have had the courage to own an SUV. I think he would've appreciated that with a laugh. Like so many of you reading this, I grew up with National Review magazine, "Firing Line," everything Bill Buckley. One bonus for me is, that I even met Bill once, a day I shall never forget. It was in Houston, 1984, after a dinner talk he had given, and not long after one of National Review's fund raisers.

The magazine was on hard times back then, probably because we now had Reagan, and thought we didn't need NR any more. After introductions and a short chat about his presentation, I told Bill I'd given National Review $100 toward its fund drive, a token amount in my estimation. He was so gracious, and grateful, it was as if I'd given $100,000. Never in my life have I felt so appreciated, when it was supposed to be the other way around. That was Bill Buckley.

In the moments after I had pulled off the road, when the grief took hold, I realized something about Bill Buckley and conservatism. It was not God and Man at Yale, National Review, "Firing Line," Young Americans for Freedom, the Conservative Party, Blackford Oakes, sailing, or any of the other things he accomplished in life that I will keep in my heart. Bill affirmed our souls, conservative, and liberal alike, even those who say they don't believe they have a soul. His life was a celebration of life, an in your face statement that ultimately, conservatism is life. In such a person resides a spirit which is given over to a cause much higher than most of us will ever taste. Oh, how we shall miss him.

We shall not see his like again/ Amidst life's endless trial/ But God be thanked for blessing us/ He gave us Buckley for a while.

I hope there are typewriters in Heaven.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

For me, the mere mention or sight of Bill Buckley's name for the past twenty plus years has reflexively conjured fond recollections of my first boss after college, and my first roommate. Both of these guys were extraordinarily conservative, intelligent and humorous, and given as well to a potent touch of irreverence on the side every now and again. They were also WFB acolytes in the extreme.

In the end, the very company that Mr. Buckley attracted says about him pretty much all that one needs to know.
-- Francis M. Hannon, Jr.,
Melrose, Massachusetts

Most interesting. Leave it to Mr. Tyrrell to his view of the field all on the table. I am comfortable in the proposal Ann Coulter now carries the torch, she is brilliant, she is clearly extremely conservative, and she can take the battle to our political enemies as necessary. His throwing this idea into the debate will simply infuriate the left and even NRO I suspect how appropriate.
-- Roger Ross

I wish I could say I knew him. I didn't. But I watched "Firing Line" every Sunday and was hugely disappointed when it was cut from one hour to a half hour.

I marveled at Mr. Buckley's sublime wit. Sometimes the only props on his show were the table and chairs one might find in any church basement, his mind and what he might say being the center of attention. Yesterday I looked in my 1985 Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes and found this well known pearl revealing his sometimes rascally humor. Mr. Buckley had sent fellow author, Norman Mailer a copy of his latest book. Mr. Mailer was disappointed that there was no message from Buckley on the flyleaf. He turned to the index to see if he had been mentioned. Along side his name was the hand written greeting "Hi!"
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

Were it not for my Aunt passing on her copies of National Review to me in the mid seventies I would probably be becalmed in the liberal sea.

WFB was indeed a kind and generous man. I sent him first edition copies of "Windfall" and "Racing through Paradise" asking for his signature. Imagine my delight when they came back with a signed copy of "On The Firing Line" also a first edition.

May he RIP.
-- Jim Woodward
Midvale, Utah

Very small of Tyrrell to suggest Buckley's torch has been passed to Coulter. Very small.
-- Brian Monaghan
Woodridge, Illinois

NONE OF THE ABOVE
Re: Matt Bowman's A Pro-Life Chinese Puzzle:

Fourth option: Announce we are not putting up with John McCain anymore and that we pro-life conservatives are going to vote and support Ambassator Alan Keyes should he run in November as the nominee of the Constitution Party.
-- Michael Skaggs
Kentucky

STAUNCH SUPPORT
Re: Quin Hillyer's Staunching Stagflation:

"Now, again, I am no expert on the precise mechanisms by which dollar strength can be re-established." Mr. Hillyer's suggestion to Senator McCain, I think Mr. Hillyer should stick to commentary and give up speech writing. To reach the "stagflation" he's concerned with (that of the late 1970's) we need the following: yields on the US treasury bonds in the 15% range and corresponding inflation, unemployment at 12+%, a Fed Reserve that intends to raise interest rates as high as necessary to stop inflation while increasing taxes and regulations that further strangle investment and liquidity. But we've redefined "conservatism" to include John McCain, why not 5% (or less) inflation, 4.8% unemployment, sub 5% mortgage rates, and low taxes as the new "stagflation."

The simplest way to strengthen the dollar is to raise interest rates; this will immediately shore-up the dollar, raising the rates to or above those of the European Union's Central bank will give investors more options for a return on investment. This in turn will lower the cost of oil and gold by shrinking the disparities between currencies. Then decrease government spending, regulation and taxes to offset the impact on businesses and individuals of the higher cost of money. But McCain while talking a good game has really no interest in lower taxes (lack of support for Bush tax cuts), reduced regulation (McCain-Lieberman Global Warming Initiative and non-support for ANWR or off-shore oil drilling) or spending reductions.

You don't need a Kemp-Gramm "Blue-Ribbon" committee, the answer is right in front of us, but unfortunately, Mr. McCain lacks the credibility to deliver this speech no matter who writes it.
-- Tim Reed
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

When you cut through all the fog surrounding the value of the dollar one truth emerges: the devaluation of our currency is being done to help the irresponsible: those who bought homes they couldn't afford, banks who made risky investments, those who believe maxing out their credit cards is an entitlement, etc., etc.

Responsible Americans who save and spend wisely? The feds have two words for us -- and you can't print one of them.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

Mr. Hillyer is right. Please send his article to the President and John McCain ASAP.
-- Joseph D'Ambrosia

We have had words in the past; some angry, some not. I believe we ended on a happy note.

The subject article was interesting and informative in pointing out the problems facing us. It was, however, manifestly vacant of solutions. It is great to propose strengthening the dollar but would you mind suggesting a way to do this? I believe in one of our prior exchanges, I mentioned my experience with various European currencies, whose governments tried to prop up their value. They all sooner or later realized the error of their ways and abandoned this idea, letting the market decide the value of their currencies. This is the only solution.

The real way to combat stagflation is to strike at the source and remove the barriers to economic growth. Industry is presently so burdened with meaningless regulations that it can scarcely move. Oil and other energy companies are prevented from developing the abundant resources that this country has. The threat of multi-billion dollar lawsuits discourages any but the most foolhardy of starting up needed refineries and chemical processing plants, not to mention nuclear power plants. And note that I haven't even mentioned the inflationary pressure of meaningless adherence to a phony carbon-emissions hoax.

And Jack Kemp and Phil Graham are going to lead us out of the wilderness? Give me a freaking break!
-- Les Arbo
Daphne, Alabama

Sound dollar -- strong economy makes sense, but what specifically should be done other than talk about it? I guess I'm asking Mr. Hillyer to get in the weeds and wonkish. If we know what to ask for we can demand it not only of the White House, but Congress too.
-- Michael Tomlinson

Quin Hillyer replies:
I did not go into detail about solutions here for two reasons. First, because I was writing in Sen. McCain's voice, and no presidential candidate would be expected to get into such detail. Second, and more importantly, because I linked to my two previous columns which did so in some detail. This column did so by linking to further, more erudite, more solution-specific columns than my own; and in this column. I summed up a larger discussion of the subject thusly: THE COMBINATION OF an immediate "float" of interest rates with an announcement of a long-term bias towards dollar restoration. Beyond that, I have gone even further into the weeds in some blog posts by relaying what several economists tell me about HOW to effect the "long-term bias towards dollar restoration." The answer: Selling (and/or buying, as the case may be) dollar-denominated assets. Finally, it should be noted that fiscal and policy also affects the dollar's value, at least indirectly, and there are numerous things that could be done on that front -- but, alas, no Democratic Congress is likely to do them any time this year.

I do, however, thank both Arbo and Tomlinson for keeping me on my toes, as good readers should always do!

HELL TO PAY
Re: Jennifer Rubin's Closed Broders:

Jennifer Rubin writes, regarding Hillary: "If you treat people like dirt, they are not going to cut you much slack, at least once they are reasonably certain you won't be president."

Former Friends of Bill, beware. When Hillary resumes her day job as de facto senior Senator
from New York, she'll still be packing a wicked left jab and right cross.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh

GET YOUR INDULGENCES HERE!
Re: Rick Arand's letter (under "When Readers Attack") in Reader Mail's She's With Bubba:

With the indulgence of the editors of the American Spectator, I would like to respond to Mr. Arand's letter.

Mr Arand wrote: "The gambit of choice, used by liberals of all stripes, is to paint all who voice opposition to federal wealth re-distribution programs as some sort of uncaring and evil pariahs. The question that needs to be answered is, "Who can best meet the needs of those who require help?" After decades of governmental malfeasance associated with having Congress in control of doling out welfare benefits, it should be obvious that the let-the-federal-government-do-it approach to this problem, espoused particularly by Democrats, has failed to meet its stated objectives at every level.

I would like to remind Mr. Arand that President Clinton and Congress changed "welfare as we know it" in 1994 with the passage of the Work and Responsibility Act. The act did two things: First, it changed the goals of welfare under Aid to Families with Dependent Children by imposing time limitations for welfare payments (two years) and by introducing "family caps" which eliminated increased welfare benefits for additional children born to mothers already receiving benefits. Secondly, with block grants, the federal government also gave considerable authority to states to devised aid programs for the poor. Clinton was castigated by the left for this reform and from the right he received little thanks from those who complained that he had "co-opted" their program. Such is politics. In 2006 conservative Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation wrote concerning welfare reform: "As a conservative analyst who spent much of the 1990s working against most of Bill Clinton's agenda -- including even some aspects of his welfare reform proposals -- it pains me to say this. Bill Clinton was right."

Mr. Arand continues: "What most conservatives want to see is real compassion for the poor. This cannot be done from Washington. We want programs administered by entities within our local communities that eliminate dependency by making people self-sufficient, not groveling politicians who pander to an underclass they perpetuate and can count on to get themselves re-elected." So, Mr. Arand, how is Missouri and your county doing in achieving these goals in the context of "real compassion for the poor?"
-- Mike Roush
North Carolina

HOPE FLOATS
Re: Philip Klein's The McCaining of McCain:

Conservatives are disappointed in the choices we have for November, but here are some long-shot grounds for hope:

1) We backed Bush, and he turned out to be a dud. We opposed McCain but maybe he'll surprise us and be a great president.

2) McCain has always been the rebel. But if he becomes President, he can hardly play the rebel anymore. Hopefully he will remember that it was Republicans who put him there.

Seems like everyone wants to be the be the courageous maverick, rebelling
against "the establishment" but somebody has to be the establishment.
-- C.Baker
Ft.Worth, Texas

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