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August 04, 2010

David Klinghoffer (and His Liberal Amen Chorus): All the Good Conservatives Are Dead

Similar to how the quote got changed, what is really meant is "The only good conservative is a dead conservative."

I'm on my last nerve with the bleating intellectual pansies who are tearing down the movement because they find it too coarse and rude for their exquisite tastes at the moment. The latest example of a pretend-conservative-ripping-down-real-conservatives was by David Klinghoffer.

I won't direct you to his insipid whine (which one suspects was in fact written to garner those cocktail party invites, to be, as Tunku Varadarajan called a "Polite Company Conservative").

Instead, let Jonah Goldberg explain the fundamental dishonesty with this perpetual whine.

The latest example comes from my old National Review colleague David Klinghoffer in this paper. "Once, the iconic figures on the political right were urbane visionaries and builders of institutions — like William F. Buckley Jr., Irving Kristol and Father Richard John Neuhaus, all dead now," Klinghoffer lamented. "Today, far more representative is potty-mouthed Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart."

As someone who knew Buckley and Kristol (and was a brief acquaintance of Neuhaus), I think David's got it wrong. For starters, no one confuses Breitbart for Buckley — first and foremost, Breitbart himself — and the only people making that comparison are those wishing to indict contemporary conservatism for one reason or another.

Let's start with the left, which certainly has different motives than Klinghoffer's. The urge to lament how far today's conservatives have fallen from the "golden age" of Buckley & Co. is a now-familiar gambit. You see, this is what critics on the left always say: "If only today's conservatives were as decent or intellectual or patriotic as those of yesteryear."

The best conservatives are always dead; the worst are always alive and influential. When Buckley and Kristol, not to mention Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, were alive, they were hated and vilified by the same sorts of people who now claim to miss the old gang. The gold standard of the dead is always a cudgel, used to beat back the living.

Just so!

When Reagan was president, he was compared unfavorably to Eisenhower.

When Bush was president, he was compared unfavorably to Reagan.

Know this: When a Republican takes office in 2013, he will be compared unfavorably to Bush, who will be held out as a "conservative who at least had some heart and some sense of compassion" and the current Republican President will be, as each Republican President is called in turn, the worst President in all of history.

How slow liberals are to inform us years after the fact, years after it may have had some political usefulness, how very fond they were of all of our now-safely-dead-and-buried leaders!

What do you think could account for the fact they never speak up in a timely fashion about their respect and admiration for our leaders when they are vital and influential?

Perhaps they're just so thoughtful they take decades to properly compose their thoughts?

Instapundit has an interesting take:

Buckley was charming because he had to be. He got a lot of attention because it was a time when liberalism was at its zenith, and so was its control of the media. Liberals were secure enough to let guys like Buckley on, but only guys like Buckley, whose I’m-a-member-of-the-club aristocratic credentials made him seem safe. And only so long as he was sufficiently nonthreatening.

And how they loved him too, for not actually running for any offices! (Okay, he did, famously and disastrously, run for NY mayor at one point.)

Does anyone think that William F. Buckley, arch-conservative Senator from the state of Connecticut, would be so beloved by the left and the Polite Company Conservatives?

And one more observation. Were the Conservatives of Yesteryear so well-mannered and erudite? Did they avoid all the uncouth and boorish agitation of Breitbart and the Tea Party?

Zoom in on this editorial cartoon from 1934.

Why, they accuse FDR of planning a dictatorship! Why, that's racist, I've been reliably informed oh so many times of late.



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posted by Ace at 01:13 PM

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