I did read Jeffrey Hart’s piece, and what struck me about it was how he allowed himself to be so meanspirited. Note the subhead reads, “William F. Buckley’s last gift to conservatism may have been his opposition to the Iraq War.” That seems to read, “William F. Buckley’s last gift to conservatism was a position I agree with.” Was it, though? A gift to conservatism? A gift?
It’s a good time to make the point that a good number of Mr. Buckley’s eulogizers have remarked just how nice he was. But the compliment is leveled at a trait held at arms length. I can’t guess what Mr. Hart is thinking when he writes:
But I think this line in the next paragraph (regarding Buckley’s association also with liberals) is illuminating:
This omits a more important lesson. Civility IN GENERAL is desirable. Describing somebody who’s been as helpful to the movement as this supposedly “fat” “blowhard” (who is currently no heavier than your average man of years). Why conservatives heap onto other conservatives in such a way, I don’t understand.
Sure, Rush Limbaugh, who reaches drive-time listeners, appeals to a larger audience than the intellectual establishment was used to. His style is different than that of Buckley’s. Namecalling is unnecessary, especially when Rush has given no offense.
Speaking of which, I haven’t seen much namecalling among the “younger generation” of conservatives, as you put it. Ross Douthat, Reihan Salam, Jim Antle, Peter Suderman — Certainly, no one I mention among this group is currently super-famous, but I doubt that when the time comes, they’ll heap it on like this.
As for the momentary pall that’s come over conservatism — you’re right, Christopher, it’s curious that the older conservatives are gloomy. The ideas are still salient — so who cares about political power? Us young folk got all the time in the world.
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