Obituarizing Wes Pruden - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Obituarizing Wes Pruden
Wesley Pruden in 2005 (C-Span, Screenshot)

We live in an era that must be very confusing for people who do not immerse themselves fully in politics. For that matter, we live in an era that is very confusing to people who do immerse themselves in politics.

Supposedly the contending forces are two: the liberals and the conservatives. The conservatives are portrayed as being very ideological, narrow-minded, and primitive. The liberals are reasonable, broad-minded, and sophisticated. What is more, the conservatives are racists, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, and do not bathe regularly. From this point on defining liberals becomes tricky, because the liberals are not — truth be known — liberal. No wonder people are confused.

Those who call themselves liberals today are mostly members of the Left or self-styled progressives. They have turned their backs on all the liberal values that made liberals admirable in the past — perhaps wrong-headed but generally admirable. No true liberals would show such disregard for personal liberty, as so-called liberals demonstrate today. No true liberal would find it so difficult to enter into conversation with conservatives about a whole range of matters. It is the mark of a modern-day leftist that there is no area into which they will not infuse politics, their politics. Every aspect of our culture is polluted by their politics.

The other day a conservative giant passed away: Wes Pruden. He was a major force in conservative media. For 16 years he was the editor-in-chief of the Washington Times; after that he became editor-in-chief emeritus and twice-a-week columnist. All over America, people longed for his twice-weekly serving of good sense and good humor. He died at his home doubtless contemplating his next column. He was 83, going on 39.

Wes was a friend of mine, and I can report that in some 30 years of friendship he never betrayed to me an ignoble thought. He was an honorable man. Within two days of his death this is the way the Washington Post portrayed him in its hopelessly biased obituary: “A punchy, defiantly abrasive columnist,” whereupon the obituarist descended to pass on every malign thought he could dredge up about Wes. My guess is Wes would be proud. From the Post Wes expected no better. Now, without Jeff Bezos’s generosity, the Post would be out of business.

The Post went on to quote invidiously from such leftist sources as the Nation, the now-discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, and David Brock, the conservative quisling, who testified that “There were endless controversies and resignations over what became known as ‘Prudenizing’ news copy — slanting it in a conservative direction.” Yes, I recall one of those ‘Prudenizing’ moments. It involved me. Wes always refused to allow me to use an exclamation mark at the end one of my fortissimo sentences. Apparently, the Post could not find any conservative to say a nice thing about Wes. As I say, every aspect of culture is polluted by the leftists’ politics. They never know when to call timeout, and they insist that it is we conservatives who are partisans.

I was not familiar with the name of the leftist who wrote the obituary for Wes in the failing Washington Post, and I try to keep up with such matters. I looked high and low, mostly low, but I came up with nothing. I reviewed recent Pulitzer Prize winners for literature and found nothing. The man’s name is not all that unusual. It is Harrison Smith. Finally, I found it.

Using Google up popped the name of Harrison Smith. He is an “American football safety for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League.” Google goes on to say, “He was drafted in the first round, 29th overall of the 2012 NFL Draft.” Exactly when he joined the staff of the Washington Post Google does not say, and it supplies no examples of his literary work. Yet no other Harrison Smith is listed by Google, so this must be the culprit.

Well, it is reassuring to read that Mr. Smith found a career after football. So many of these NFL stars end badly. They often become fall to the opioid epidemic afflicting our country or they have run-ins with the police. I have even heard that there are NFL veterans numbered among the homeless. Of course, Mr. Smith is just getting started as an obituarist. He might someday become an editorialist for the Post or land a gig on the celebrated “Style” page. In his picture on Google he displayed a very sunny smile.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
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R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief ofThe American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: The Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn’t Work: Social Democracy’s Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery. He makes frequent appearances on national television and is a nationally syndicated columnist, whose articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, National Review, Harper’s, Commentary, The (London) Spectator, Le Figaro (Paris), and elsewhere. He is also a contributing editor to the New York Sun.
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