Civil War on the Right | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Civil War on the Right
by

What ever happened to Ronald Reagan’s “Thou shall speak no ill of a fellow Republican”? And what about W. F. Buckley’s admonition to always work for the Republican with the best chance to get in? He meant the most conservative candidate in a position to get in. I do not think he meant you should vote for the strongest conservative even when the strongest conservative was likely to get creamed by the weakest liberal. He meant you should vote for a weakly conservative or imperfectly conservative candidate if he is in a position to beat the left. No enemies on the right, is what Reagan and Buckley meant, in sum: two great men who thought alike in many ways and whom we miss, boy, do we miss them.

If Mr. Donald Trump declares himself a conservative and a Republican, and if he looks good, then what is the problem? This is, however, an academic question because as of now he has not declared himself either. As far as anyone knows he is a Democrat and a liberal. As Joe Queenan points out, there are strong reasons to believe he may be hand in glove with her.

Let me step back for a moment. Can you be a conservative and not be chivalresque? Meaning courteous and polite and solicitous of women? It is my view that you cannot, but I have what some view as foolish sentiments on this matter. I was raised on The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, and sometimes I fear I have not really, in my heart of hearts, progressed beyond this sort of thing. Also I like Mozart. I know così fan tutte, and I know you must forgive them, unless they are Milady in The Three Musketeers or that woman.

What I do not understand is how my colleague and drinking buddy Jeff Lord can be vituperative toward Erick Erickson, who is a conservative gentleman and concerned about how conservative politically ambitious men talk to or about women. Mr. Lord — Jeff to me, but this is a serious news column — says Mr. Erickson is condescending, male chauvinist! He uses those words! Jeff old man, what are you saying? Those are the left’s words, not ours! Mr. Lord says that Mr. Erickson is applying a double standard, that a lady journalist at Fox News should not be treated any differently from a male colleague. I am shocked. I am shocked. I cannot wait for the next time Mr. Lord and I have a long cold one in the bar at the Hay Adams so I can ask him what ever came over him.

Of course you treat them differently! Maggie Higgins was one of the best war correspondents in American journalism, worth a hundred Neil Sheehans and David Halberstams in Vietnam. And I will defend that case. But I will also defend the case that opening doors for her or helping her into a chopper — not that she needed help — was the right thing to do and insulting her was wrong where insulting a male colleague was perfectly okay. The insult does not mean the same thing, or genders ain’t different. If you don’t get that, you might as well be a Democrat.

Put it this way, Jeff: You would sing “I walk the line” to a girl, but would you sing it to a guy? You would? Jeff, I hardly knew ye if you reply affirmative.

But enough of this crap. This is precisely what I mean by referring earlier to Reagan and Buckley. This stuff MUST STOP immediately. We need debate, this is the debate season, we do not need excommunications and civil war. Let the best man win and all that sort of thing, and then close ranks.

Now one simple way to start, and I am open to other suggestions, is to call a few of these candidates before a panel of sensible fellows, including Mr. Lord and myself, and also Mr. Tyrrell and Mr. Pleszczynski, and while we are at it Mr. Erickson and Mr. Fund, the National Review guy, and let’s get Mr. Barnes too, the political ace from the Weekly Standard, and I think we should also have Miss Peggy Noonan and Miss Anastasia O’Grady, because otherwise Mr. Lord will say we are a bunch of male chauvinist hidebound pigs and I am not a pig, plus they are brilliant, brilliant, I get all my foreign insights from Miss O’Grady and my political views from Miss Noonan, except those I get from Bret Stephens and Dan Henninger.

The first question I would ask is, Why don’t you tell us what you think are the questions? The questions you would ask if you was us? What are the questions that should preoccupy a Republican in this season?

Okay, it would be a little unwieldy with so many guys and gals who love nothing so much as to yak yak but this would be a useful lesson to the Public. If you let someone yak long enough, you realize he — or she — has nothing to say, and that is useful to know. But maybe he — or she — can say something important in 271 words. And that too would be useful to know.

We could ask them, who is your favorite Republican in history, and why? And your second favorite? And also, what makes you a Republican and what makes you a conservative? And which of Mr. Buckley’s books is your favorite? And which of President Reagan’s speeches? And if you were in a bar with Mr. Bret Baier or Miss Megyn Kelly, would you say the same things than if you were with Mr. Baier alone or Mr. Baier and Mr. Chris Wallace? And you would say the same things to them, and to her, out of respect for their professional positions? Oh boy.

Observe that while doing this would be a True Service to the Republican Party, I must admit I am not sure it would win us the next election. But I bet it will! We should fight and fight again and I do not see why we have to be jerks and thugs while at it. This is still a civilized country, ladies and gentlemen.

And I still think we’d solve the whole problem by drafting Jim Webb and letting the other boys (and that smart business exec girl) fight it out for Secretary of Education. With a mandate to abolish it.

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