Saturday, March 09, 2019

Can Trump Stop the Border Invasion?

March 8, 2019

President Donald Trump (C) is shown border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump (C) is shown border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

In its lead editorial Wednesday, The New York Times called upon Congress to amend the National Emergency Act to “erect a wall against any President, not just Mr. Trump, who insists on creating emergencies where none exist.”
Trump “took advantage” of a “loophole” in the NEA, said The Times, to declare “a crisis at the border, contrary to all evidence.”
The Times news desk, however, apparently failed to alert the editorial page on what the top story would be that day.
“Record Numbers Crossing to U.S., Deluging Agents” was the page one headline. The Times quoted Kevin K. McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection: “The system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point. …This is…a border security and a humanitarian crisis.”
Reporter Caitlin Dickerson explained what is behind CPB’s alarm: “The number of migrant families crossing the Southwest border has once again broken records, with unauthorized entries nearly double what they were a year ago.”
She continued, “More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border without authorization in February, an 11-year high…newcomers continue to arrive, sometimes by the busload, at the rate of 2,200 a day.”
Only if one believes in open borders is this not an emergency, not a crisis. Consider the budgetary impact alone of this invasion.
The majority of migrants breaching the border are from Mexico and Central and South America. Most do not read, write, or speak our English language, are not college graduates, and arrive with few skills.
Almost all will enter the half of the U.S. population that consumes more in social benefits than they will ever pay in taxes.
With the U.S. national debt over 100 percent of gross domestic product and the deficit running at nearly 5 percent of GDP at full employment, the burden the migrant millions are imposing upon our social welfare state will one day collapse the system. For they are coming to a country where K-12 education is free, and where, if the Democrats take over, pre-K though college will be free.
These folks will be eligible for city, county, state, and federal programs that provide free or subsidized food, rent, housing, and health care.
All were enacted for the benefit of U.S. citizens. Uninvited, many more are coming to partake of them.
With 328 million people here now, approaching twice the number as in 1960, how many can we take in before government sinks under the weight of its beneficiaries?
And there is a larger issue.
If, as appears probable, President Trump is not going to be able to build his wall and all the security measures taken in this century prove inadequate to stanch the invasion of America, how does it all end?
Or is this the endless invasion, where the future is decided on our 1,900-mile border with Mexico, and we, as the last superpower, are a pitiful, helpless giant too morally paralyzed to stop it?
The resolution and determination of Third World peoples to come to America, even if they have to break our laws to get in and stay, is proven.
If there is no matching national will to halt the invasion, and no truly effective means that would be acceptable to our elites, the migrants are never going to stop coming. And why should they?
Politically, this invasion means the inevitable death of the national Republican Party. When Texas votes like California in a presidential election, that is game, set, match.
What is remarkable is how our cultural elites are giddily embracing what most of the advanced world is recoiling from.
The Times that berates Trump for trying to secure the border with his wall constantly bewails the rise of ethnic nationalism, populism, tribalism, and “illiberal democracies” in Europe. But the rising “isms” of the new Europe are driven by popular fear and loathing of the very future the Times cannot wait to embrace.
Japan’s population of 127 million, the second oldest on Earth, has begun to shrink. But there seems to be no desire in Japan to import millions of East or South Asians or Africans to replace the vanishing Japanese.
Does China look upon its diversity as its greatest strength?
Hardly. Beijing is repopulating Tibet with Han Chinese, and has set up “re-education camps” to de-program Uighur Muslims and Kazakhs in the west so they sever their birth attachments to their ethnicities and faiths and convert into good communists.
In the U.S., the ball is now in Trump’s court.
If he cannot get a Democratic House to fund his wall and the forces now on the border are overwhelmed by the migrants, as CPB reports, how does he propose to halt the invasion?
And if he does not stop it, who will? And what will failure mean for America’s future as one nation and one people?
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at

The Clarity Accompanying the Democrats’ Takeover of Congress

March 7, 2019
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George Will and William Kristol
Months before the midterm elections last fall, several self-described “conservatives” implored Americans to vote for Democrats. Still stung that Republicans ignored their advice to reject Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and unmoved by Trump’s solid record of conservative accomplishments in office, these embittered outcasts claimed that a legislative branch controlled by Democrats would cauterize Trump’s alleged “authoritarian” tendencies.
The most notable of these windmill tilters, attacking an authoritarian impulse that wasn’t there, was George Will. For decades, Will occupied a vaunted perch in the hierarchy of the conservative commentariat. He also was deemed acceptable by media outlets hostile to the Right including the Washington Post, where he now is a contributor. Disgusted at the Trumpification of the Grand Old Party in 2016, Will officially renounced his party affiliation just weeks before the Republican National Convention.
Two years later, in a disorganized rant, Will instructed voters to oust Republicans from power. “In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream,” Will wrote in June 2018. “A Democratic-controlled Congress would be a basket of deplorables, but there would be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate’s machinery, keeping the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control and asphyxiating mischief from a Democratic House.”
Other lesser-known commentators jumped on Will’s “Vote Democrat” bandwagon, including author Tom Nichols, losing presidential candidate Evan McMullin, and Will’s Post colleagues, Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin. Former George W. Bush aide Michael Gerson argued that a Democratic House was needed because “American politics is in the midst of an emergency.” National Review’s David French announced right before the 2018 election that he no longer was a Republican and would consider voting for third-party candidates.
It’s unclear whether their collective edict had any bearing on the outcome of the November 2018 election and—given that their audience is now so contracted as to include, primarily, Democrats—it is likely that most of their readers needed little persuading. Nevertheless, they got their wish: Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in January.
And what a revealing two months it’s been so far.
Will’s prediction that congressional Democrats would be a basket of left-wing deplorables vastly underestimated the reality. What Will, Nichols and other NeverTrumpers encouraged to be foisted upon our nation is a cabal of cretins devoted to crushing the economic, political, and cultural bones of our body politic in the most ruthless and irreversible way.
And for that alone, perhaps we should thank them. Without the spectacle are now are witnessing, Americans wouldn’t have a realistic grasp on the menace that the modern-day Democratic Party poses to our country. Further, those tempted to imagine that a Democrat in the Oval Office in 2021 might be a much-needed respite from the topsy-turvy news cycle accompanying Trump have been treated to an eye-opener over the past 60 days.
The incivility, immorality, and bullying tactics that NeverTrumpers insist are the reasons why they reject Donald Trump have escalated to a level unseen in American political history. The Democrats are unleashing a Scorched Earth approach that is intentionally raw and shows no attempt to camouflage their destructive pursuits. Fear and intimidation have replaced persuasion and dialogue.
Their compatriots in the media have been similarly emboldened. They don’t care who they hurt, even if it means teenage boys or newborn babies will suffer in the process. Imaginary crimes are adjudicated, imaginary victims are consoled, and imaginary perpetrators are convicted.
It’s anti-American at its unmerciful, tyrannical core. The radicals in control of Congress see this as their moment—folks like George Will helped to see it bequeathed to them.
The insanity isn’t limited to the freshman class of the 116th Congress. Democratic elders and presidential candidates en masse have embraced the dangerous far-left orthodoxy now mainstreamed by telegenic newcomers such as Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
And it’s not just the typical progressive promises about 70 percent income tax rates or free college tuition that sets this particular Democratic caucus apart from its predecessors. It’s not just their economic ignorance or their unjustified arrogance that makes their unhinged behavior so alarming. It’s how they arethreatening and harassing their way into power. Anyone who dares to challenge their authority is smeared and berated; even a Republican colleague who barely survived an assassination attempt isn’t spared their vile accusations. Shortly after being sworn-in, one new lawmaker referred to the president as a “mother f***er.”
In a moment of candor, Ocasio-Cortez lashed out at critics of her Green New Deal. “I don’t care anymore because I’m at least trying and they’re not,” she complained last month. “The power is in the person who’s trying regardless of the success.” Then she went off the rails. “I’m like, you try! You do it! ‘Cause you’re not! So, until you do it, I’m the boss! Until then, we’re in charge.”
The anti-Semitism that many NeverTrumpers bizarrely tried to pin on President Trump has not just been excused when exhibited by members of the Democratic Party, it now has been normalized. Omar’s repeated and hateful comments at Jewish-Americans remain unpunished as the House on Thursday passed a toothless resolution filled with general commendations about anti-Semitism without mentioning Omar by name.
Many of her colleagues and several Democratic presidential candidates rose to her defense. Sen. Bernie Sanders, himself Jewish, suggested Omar was being “targeted” by Congress and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) warned that any congressional condemnation of the Muslim lawmaker would put her at risk.
Meanwhile, as the Democratic Party devolves into madness, legitimate threats to the country are being ignored. Despite protestations that no illegal immigration crisis exists, news reports and testimony by Trump officials this week told a different tale about the disaster at our southern border.
One million illegals, nearly all from Central America, are expected to arrive at our doorstep this year, bringing drugs, disease, and despair. Public and charitable resources are overwhelmed. Children are exploited and women are terrorized while lethal drugs are smuggled in. “Make no mistake, this chain of human misery is getting worse,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told a House committee on Wednesday.
But the real danger, according to most House Democrats, is not criminals seeking refuge in our neighborhoods but law enforcement officials who risk their lives to protect our border. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been subjected to allegations of abuse, rape, and even torture while some powerful Democrats want the agency defunded and abolished.
And as Democrats worry about the safety of Honduran children, American infants are of no concern. Forty-four Democratic senators, including six presidential candidates, voted last month against the Born Alive Act which would have required medical professionals to treat babies who survived an abortion attempt. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who was endorsed by Bill Kristol and his wife, calmly explained how an infant post-delivery would be left to die if the mother so desired.
The criminal prosecution of political opponents, which began under the Obama administration three years ago and was justified by many in the NeverTrump crowd, will continue at great expense to taxpayers while breaching the constitutional protections of innocent Americans whose only offense was supporting a candidate and a president that the ruling class deemed unfit. House leaders are setting the stage for impeachment against the will of the American people, and want to take down the president’s family with him.
So, in a little over 60 days, the Democratic Party has revealed how truly dangerous it is and how much hostility it holds for almost all Americans. Their deep contempt for our traditions, our laws, and our beliefs has little or nothing to do with Donald Trump; it has been festering for decades, gaining traction in boardrooms and newsrooms and lecture halls while many of the NeverTrumpers, like Will, were insouciant.
Now we know, and all Americans finally see, what we are up against in 2020. To that extent, we owe George Will and his outliers a debt of gratitude. Their bitterness might have hastened a reckoning with the Left that only a Trumpified Republican Party is equipped to confront. Will and his fellow outcasts still are invited to continue cohabitating with the Left—we certainly don’t want them back.
But in a twisted way, we should be grateful for their betrayal to their party and really, to the country. Now we have a full picture of the enemy—and they are included among them.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Tom Seaver Will Always Be the Essential Met

By Michael Powell
March 7, 2019

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A few weeks back I drove across central Florida, that flatland of farms and cattle and sweet-smelling orange groves, in the company of a childhood friend, Peter Kurz, and we talked, as we have been prone to do over many years, about our lifelong obsession with the New York Mets.
We recalled our preadolescent battery at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, my imaginary Tom Seaver tossing fastballs to his imaginary Jerry Grote. We got everyone out of course, Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, Frank and Brooks Robinson, too, because that was just the way Tom Terrific rolled.
The 1969 Mets inhabited our consciousness, as happens when the hypnotic beauty of baseball sinks its hook in kids. Those Mets, those world champion guys, have been stepping into mortality’s shadow for years now, Tommie Agee and Donn Clendenon, Ed Charles and Tug McGraw, all gone, so we can not lay claim to shock that another star will now be moving off the stage.
Except that Seaver was the immortal, the forever young, so composed and so fiercely competitive and so analytical about his efforts. Now his family says that at age 74 he suffers from dementia and we will see no more of him in public life. He will tend to his vineyards in Napa as long as he can.

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That is not how I will remember him and maybe that’s the point of his withdrawal. He was a powerful, stocky pitcher from California and he dominated his mound like a tenor astride his stage. He would pull off his cap and run his hand through that thick shock of hair and then ready himself and rear and toss and rear and toss. No need to put a 20-second clock on him; out there on his mound he was pure business and if a batter fiddled around too much he just might sneak a hard fastball under the batter’s chin by way of a reminder to buckle down.

He perfected the drop-and-thrust delivery, dropping so far down as he threw that his measure of a good night was whether his right knee had dirt on it from dragging on the mound. No weight work and iron sleds for him; he ran and he worked out with light weights. And still that fastball crackled.
Magic could happen any night he pitched and so you tried to wheedle your parents into letting you stay up and watch with them on the black-and-white WOR Channel 9 broadcast, or you’d curl up in bed with a transistor radio and listen to Bob Murphy paint the picture for you, of Seaver tossing and tossing.

Data can be a sportswriting crutch although it’s also true that baseball without statistics is like the Bible without words. So in 1969 Seaver went 25-7 with a 2.21 earned run average. He also threw five complete-game shutouts.

I recently took a look at the prevailing, and too little questioned, orthodoxy that starting pitchers should not go more than six or seven innings into a game. By way of making a point, Seaver became my insane outlier. If hitters wanted to get to him, they were well-advised to swing early before Seaver tuned up his curve and that live snake of a fastball. His career E.R.A. in the first inning of a game was 3.75. In the last three innings, his lifetime E.R.A. was 2.75.
And forgive me my statistical drunkenness but peak-performance Tom tilted into absurdity. In 1969, he pitched in the ninth inning 17 times and surrendered not a single run.
Oh yes, in September and October of that year, he went 6-0 with an 0.83 E.R.A. All this courtesy of
Seaver like his peers Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal and Jim Palmer grooved on competition. That was never more true than in 1973, when the Mets became the most unlikely team in baseball history to reach the World Series, stumbling into the postseason with a motley record of 82-79. Many Mets had been injured that season, they fell into one ditch after another and yet somehow they dusted themselves off and made it to the Series against the vastly more powerful Oakland As.
That series went a taut seven games and Seaver facing off against Reggie Jackson was alone worth the price of admission. Reggie had led the American League in home runs and runs batted in that year, and Seaver was Seaver, 19-10 with a 2.08 E.R.A. and 250 strikeouts. Reggie strutted to the plate, wiggle-wagging his bat, ready for the struggle. Seaver looked in to Grote for the signs but there really was not much doubt what the call would be.
My mind’s eye recalls Seaver throwing more or less nothing but fastballs, mano a mano. He got Jackson and Jackson got him. Seaver was perhaps not at his best in that Series as he actually lost a game and had a 2.40 E.R.A. He also struck out 18 men in 15 innings.
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This fairy tale ended badly. Seaver wanted more money and the Mets’ board chairman, M. Donald Grant, who was imperious to the point of self-satire, bridled at the help acting up. Goaded by Dick Young, a reactionary columnist for The Daily News, Grant sent Seaver into exile in Cincinnati. If that city by the Ohio River was to be his Elba, he made do well enough, going 14-3 in his first year there.

None of it felt right though. He was the essential Met. He returned in the midst of the Mets’ Dark Ages, 1983, and the team lost 94 games. He was an old man in baseball terms, the vigor had left his fastball, but he still fashioned a reasonable season, with a 3.55 E.R.A. He gave up up just 201 hits in 231 innings.
He moved on, an itinerant starter, and won 16 games at age 40 for the White Sox. A year later he called it quits. He had a Hall of Fame career, one of the best in the history of the game, and his cumulative career earnings in 20 years totaled a hair under $6 million, or roughly what an average relief pitcher makes in today’s game.
Me, I remember trying to mimic that drop-and-thrust motion of his. And I recall riding the No. 7 train to Shea Stadium with my friend Peter. We bought $1.30 tickets and took our seats for a doubleheader: Jerry Koosman in the open, Tom Terrific in the nightcap.
If I could, I’d give him a standing O still.

The Tom Seaver memories to hold on to and break your heart

March 7, 2019

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CLEARWATER, Fla. — The rain was falling in sheets outside Citi Field, there was some lightning in the forecast, but the weather wasn’t about to dampen the mood of the man standing in the middle of the Mets’ Hall of Fame. This was an April night back in 2010, and Tom Seaver was staring at a video compilation of his career as a Met.
“Look at that young man throw a baseball,” he said, cackling, then commenting about the patch of dirt that, as always, appeared on his right knee whenever he was performing at his finest. “Get after it, kid. Get after it.”
Around the room were scores of mementos of the greatest of all Mets careers: his Hickok Belt as the outstanding athlete of 1969; replicas of the three Cy Young Awards he won in 1969, ’73 and ’75; a few team photos of the ’69 Mets and the ’73 Mets. Every time he saw something he stopped, and he shook his head.
When he saw a picture of Gil Hodges, tears formed and his voice choked. “There is the man who put this franchise on the face of this earth,” said the man who himself used to be called “The Franchise,” and who helped Hodges perform that wondrous work.
And then George Thomas Seaver of Fresno, Calif., and Flushing, N.Y., said something that, right now, only breaks your heart.
“Think about me,” he said. “I was blessed with some ability, and with a great right arm. And now, for the rest of my life, I’ll have some of the greatest collection of memories anyone who ever played this game has ever had.”
Yes, that’s a hard one to hear right now, because his family issued a press release on Thursday that said Seaver “has recently been diagnosed with dementia. Tom will continue to work in his beloved vineyard at his California home but has chosen to completely retire from public life.”
No other Met in history is responsible for more memories than Seaver, from his Imperfect Game against the Cubs in the fabled summer of ’69 through all the one-hitters and shutouts (to say nothing of the acre of games he lost 1-0 and 2-1). The day he was traded away in 1977, the franchise stopped breathing for six years.
The day he came back — Opening Day 1983, throwing six dominant innings against the Phillies at Shea — he was welcomed as exiled royalty might have been, the eternal King of Queens, and on that day he said, “This will always be home.” And every time he returned, it was home. Even when they built the new house across the parking lot.
“This is just another kick to the gut,” Art Shamsky said over the telephone Thursday afternoon. “Just another reminder that we’re all a little bit older than we used to be.”
It was in May 2017 that Shamsky and a few of his teammates from the ’69 Mets — Buddy Harrelson, Jerry Koosman, Ron Swoboda — took a trip to Seaver’s home in Calistoga, Calif., and it is that mini-reunion that serves as the spine of Shamsky’s forthcoming book, “After the Miracle.”
Seaver’s friends and old teammates already knew that in recent years Seaver’s short-term memory had been affected. When they landed in California, they reached out to Seaver’s wife, Nancy, to see if Seaver was having a good enough day to greet his old friends.
“He’s been looking forward to it,” she said.
When Seaver was young, he was the brash face and voice of a team that had never known success. On May 21, 1969, he threw a three-hit shutout in Atlanta, and before the press was let in, Seaver — all of 24 years old — warned his teammates the writers would want to celebrate the fact that, at 18-18, the Mets had just visited .500 for the first time ever that late in a season.
“That isn’t what they should be writing,” Seaver told them. “We’re a better team than that.”
For decades his teammates have told that story, and that day at Citi Field in April 2010 Seaver told it himself.
“Nobody could ever accuse me of never having brass — um, of not having courage,” he said. “Thankfully I had teammates that could back up my words.”
And those teammates had a superstar pitcher who won his last 10 decisions of that miracle season, who became the first Hall of Famer in team history, who had their backs every time he smudged his right knee on the pitcher’s mound at Shea. He remains an icon for Mets fans, who for years have rightly bugged and begged ownership to build a statue outside Citi Field to pay Seaver back for all the things he brought them over the years.
Mostly, for the memories.

A Classicist Makes the Case for Trump

Victor Davis Hanson sees in the president shades of Achilles and Ajax. And maybe that's just what the country needs.

March 7, 2019

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Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow in military history at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and professor emeritus of classics at California State University, Fresno. The author of more than two dozen well-received books on topics ranging from the ancient world to the modern, Hanson lives in Selma, California, on a working farm that has been in his family for five generations. It’s an experience that’s given him strong views on subjects like illegal immigration, which has touched his life directly.
He opens his latest volume, The Case for Trump, in the year 2015, when Democratic and Republican strategists believed the country was becoming less industrialized and more digital, that new demographics—encouraged by open-border immigration proponents—would produce waves of new voters, and that the number of red-state voters was shrinking significantly. That meant gearing successful political pitches to the new political realities—globalism, open borders, identity politics, and other “woke” concerns. Then Donald Trump came down the escalator in his eponymous building, gave “the strangest presidential candidate’s announcement speech in memory,” and made “ready for the beginning of a nonending war with the press and civil strife within his party. He postured like Caesar easily crossing the forbidden Rubicon and forcing an end to the old politics as usual.”
Trump would play, Hanson writes, “an ancient role of the crude, would-be savior who scares even those who would invite him in to solve intractable problems that their own elite leadership could not. Trump was not that much different from the off-putting tragic hero—from Homer’s Achilles and Sophocles’s Ajax to modern cinema’s Wild Bunch and Dirty Harry.” In this crisply written and forceful analysis, Hanson argues that Trump has met those intractable problems head-on, shaking an establishment running on empty to its core, and, during his first two years, establishing an unparalleled record of solid presidential accomplishment.
Hanson takes us through the campaign again, commenting on how effectively Trump beat his primary opponents—11 well-qualified Republicans—and then Hillary Clinton with her billion-dollar war chest and most of the pollsters, establishment, academy, and major media behind her. Trump threw her badly off stride—just as he did his fellow Republicans—with an unorthodox campaign and a “Homeric use of adjectival epithets.” In the process, he blew up the approved scripts for campaigning, speaking, and debating, earning enemies among opponents and the media that covered him.
Paradoxically, one of the reasons for Trump’s continued popularity is the nearly monolithic hostility of the media, even segments of the conservative media. Hanson, a frequent contributor to conservative publications, aligns himself with no clique or faction, although he seems mildly contemptuous of Never Trumpers. “In the conservative old days,” he writes, “a Republican president could call upon New York and Washington pundits and insiders—in the present generation names like David Brooks, David Frum, Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol, Bret Stephens, or George Will—for kitchen cabinet advice. But now they were among Trump’s fiercest critics.”
And in some cases, they have been among the most tasteless. When Melania Trump, recovering from kidney surgery, dropped briefly from sight, “Never-Trumper David Frum wondered whether Trump had struck his wife and sought to cover up the ensuing crime.” Frum wrote: “Suppose President Trump punched the First Lady in the White House (federal property = federal jurisdiction), then ordered the Secret Service to conceal the assault?”
Other Never Trumpers were less nasty, although the objective—discrediting Trump and hoping for his removal—remained steady. From the day Trump was elected, Hanson writes, “David Brooks reassured his depressed readers that Trump would likely either resign or be removed from office before his first year was over.” Nor has that hope faded. Recently we learned that top officials in the FBI had seriously discussed removing him from office—some might call it a coup.
“Never before in the history of the presidency,” Hanson writes, “had a commander in chief earned the antipathy of the vast majority of the media, much of the career establishments of both political parties, the majority of the holders of the nation’s accumulated personal wealth, and the permanent federal bureaucracy.” The deep state and media despised him “because they were often one and the same thing.”
During previous presidencies, with the notable exception of Richard Nixon’s, the media generally observed an unofficial gentlemen’s agreement, holding back stories about JFK’s sexual escapades, for example, and LBJ’s use of his office to increase his wealth. With Nixon, the gloves came off early after he failed to end the Vietnam war during his first term, even though his Democratic predecessors were fully responsible for it.
But thanks to an extraordinary speech on the responsibilities of the media written by Pat Buchanan and delivered by Vice President Spiro Agnew in Des Moines, the press pulled back for a time. Nixon ended the war, and with the overwhelming support of those working-class voters Hillary Clinton would later call “Deplorables,” won a landslide victory in 1972. Ronald Reagan would again demonstrate the electoral power of the Deplorables in 1980.
At the end of two years, this base of support for Trump remains solid. This is in part, Hanson notes, due to Trump’s recognition that “the America ‘era’ was not ending, but at that time enjoying the strongest GDP growth, job reports, energy production, business and consumer confidence, and foreign policy successes in fifteen years.” The latest figures show that this administration’s economic policies have resulted in the highest number of job openings ever recorded in the United States, with more women and minorities employed than ever before.
Moreover, Hanson adds, “It was hard to see how U.S relations with key allies or deterrent stances against enemies were not improved since the years of the Obama situation…no more naïve Russian reset. China was on notice that its trade cheating was no longer tolerable. The asymmetrical Iran deal was over. And the United States was slowly squeezing…a nuclear North Korea.”
How does it end? At the moment, the McGovernite field of Democrats offers little threat to Trump’s reelection in 2020. But reelection or no, perhaps Henry Kissinger, quoted by Hanson, best sums up what Donald Trump may come to represent: “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretense.”
John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author with Linda Bridges of Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Taking Off the ‘What Would William F. Buckley Do?’ Wristband

March 6, 2019

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I landed my first job in journalism when I was 20 years old. It was my second year as an undergraduate at the University of Sydney. I’d written an article for Quadrant about the unceremonious and unconscionable firing of my friend, mentor, and thesis supervisor Barry Spurr. (Incidentally, I learned from a recent Prufrock newsletter that Barry has been appointed Quadrant’s new literary editor.)
About a week after the article was published, the editor asked me to stop byQuadrant’s offices and offered me a job. He was taking a leave of absence and was on the lookout for an ambitious young wordslinger to help the new guy find his bearings.
As it happens, the new guy was John O’Sullivan, who succeeded William F. Buckley at National Review in 1988. He’s the finest writer and editor I’ve ever met, and as kind and cultured a man as ever lived. I could write a long essay lavishing praise on him, and I will someday.
John was also (to my mind) a kind of second-class relic. I’d been a devotee of WFB since middle school, and this new career in journalism gave me reason to indulge my obsession during business hours. Imagine my thrill when, at an after-work drinkie-do, John said I reminded him of a young Bill Buckley. Maybe it was the fourth gimlet doing its work on my tired brain, but I had to choke back tears.
Of course, I’m not the first young hacksickle to worship at the altar of WFB, and I won’t be the last—not while The Bulwark (The Fireship?) is still churning out copy, at least. Over at that last, best hope for the Conservative Movement™, Zachary Shapiro brings the Cult of Buckley to heights that the 20-year-old me would have found immediately convincing. “WWBBD: What Would Bill Buckley Do?” Shapiro asks, coining a phrase that was no doubt on many wristbands at this year’s CPAC.
Shapiro sketches a blueprint for anyone thinking about running against Trump in the GOP primary, which is based on Buckley’s abortive 1965 run for mayor of New York. It’s a good strategy, if only because it requires the challenger to acknowledge from the outset that he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of unseating the incumbent.
In fact, a young Michael Warren Davis would have admired Shapiro all the more for preserving the whiff of martyrdom that hung around the conservatism of the 1960s. I longed for the excitement and vitality of an embattled intellectual vanguard. It was like being Guevarista, except one got to go home at night to warm brandy and Grecian slippers.
Alas, my Buckleyism has dwindled in the years since I left Australia. In fact, I’ve spent much of that time trying to understand why I worshipped him in the first place.
After all, even his most devoted followers must admit that Buckley was a middling journalist. Most probably can’t recall a single article he wrote, let alone name their favorite. His lack of original thinking was buoyed by his infamously florid prose, which, like Coca-Cola, has no nutritional value and needs to be consumed along with great helpings of heartier, blander fare.
Rather like Charles Krauthammer, his best work had nothing to do with current affairs. Krauthammer’s great muse was chess; Buckley’s was peanut butter. My fiancée and I remember very distinctly the conversation we had about Buckley’s odes to peanut butter on our first date. They’re exquisite.
For that matter, his column on smoking—one of his last published pieces, which ran three months before his death from complications of the same—is the manliest treatment of that exquisite vice (one that I also struggle with) ever set to paper.
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So, too, his television show Firing Line. There he was, with his Brooks Brothers shirts (another shared vice) and trans-Atlantic accent (ditto), his flickering eyes and prehensile scalp. He’d spend an hour poking himself in the face with the butt end of a pencil, making windy, intelligent-sounding noises at famous people.
This was the beginning of the “gladiatorial” genre of current affairs television: popular and strong personalities engaged in gory combat that, at the end of the day, doesn’t really aspire to change hearts and minds. Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson are his true heirs in this respect.
It’s all a great deal of fun, but WFB’s own performances weren’t especially edifying. He was soundly thumped by Noam Chomsky on the Vietnam war, for instance. Again, he’s at his best on basically unserious topics, such as: “To what extent, precisely, is a well-adjusted American able to humor a Hare Krishna?”
Of course, had he chosen just one field, Buckley could have truly excelled. He might have been an excellent feature writer or a superb talk show host, if he’d only put his heart into it. Instead, Buckley is remembered as a political operative. And though he never led the GOP, he did run its politburo for some three decades. In that capacity, he’s remembered as the “father of American conservatism”—or, at any rate, its midwife.
We all know the story: WFB herded traditionalists, libertarians, nationalists, agrarians, Catholics, and an Austrian royalist under the masthead of his magazine, which he gave the inspired name of National Review. Frank Meyer fused them together in a new ideology, which was given the inspired name of fusionism. Buckley didn’t found the Conservative Movement™, but he owned the trademark.
Originally, National Review’s contributors were united only by their opposition to communism, progressivism, and everything to the left of William F. Buckley. Which is all fine. Then in the 1960s, the John Birch Society accused President Dwight D. Eisenhower of being a communist himself. Buckley declared the Birchers anathema, and National Review was now united by its opposition to everyone on WFB’s right as well.
That’s all fine, too, as far as I’m concerned. Buckley proved himself a capable gatekeeper for respectable right-of-center opinion. But then he bungled the infamous neoconservative-paleoconservative split of the late 1980s and early 1990s, siding with the come-lately neos against his longtime paleo allies.
Take, as a case study, the 1986 feud between Midge Decter and the late Joe Sobran. From their private correspondences, it’s clear Buckley doesn’t believe Decter. He can’t agree that Sobran’s weariness towards Israel is, in fact, a thinly veiled animus towards the Jewish people. Nevertheless, he obeys Decter and asks his protégé to step down as senior editor.
Sobran was evidently of the opinion that, if a man is going to be treated like a mad dog, he may as well act like one. Not only did he resign as editor, he disowned National Review altogether. And things got incrementally worse from there. The slow unraveling of this brilliant man has done much to justify Buckley’s disgraceful treatment of his old friend—and the excommunication of paleocons from the Conservative Movement™ more generally—ex post facto.
Buckley was ill at ease with his new bunkmates, however. In 2004, he said that neocons “simply overrate the reach of US power and influence.” In 2005, he called regime change and wars of democracy “terribly arduous.” Yet he refused to put himself at odds with the new Republican establishment.
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And so, while the magazine remained entangled with its neoconservative allies, he rallied behind the last remaining member of the original National Review coalition: the libertarians. Hence, he declared National Review’s support for recreational narcotics in 1996—almost two decades before The New York Times. This remains one of the magazine’s great boasts; it also, perhaps, marks the exact moment when the Conservative Movement™ threw in the towel on social issues.
When Buckley died in 2008 (requiescat in pace), American conservatism bore virtually no resemblance to its old 1955 self. Some change is good, but often the pendulum swings entirely to the opposite extreme. A magazine that once declared that “the South must prevail” against desegregation now calls for states to“mothball” statues of Confederate war heroes.
Other changes were, perhaps, less than desirable from the get-go. This High Tory could do without the increasing defeatism on social issues and the pivot towards radical free-market economics. I prefer diplomacy to war; even more than diplomacy. I prefer keeping my nose out of other countries’ business. And I don’t appreciate being called “unpatriotic” for doing so.
I liked the National Review of Russell Kirk, who recalled how his father “looked back to the old rural tranquility of brick farmhouses and horses and apple orchards and maple groves from which he was swept away by the tide of industrialism.” What arrives in my mailbox now is the National Review of Kevin Williamson, who says of “the white American underclass”: “Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible.”
What remains in the Conservative Movement™ of the old Buckley, before he made it big and lost his way? Nothing, alas, but the excommunications. National Review famously tried Sobraning then-candidate Trump in 2016. Trump responded by saying Buckley would be “ashamed” of National Review’s editors, which I don’t think is true, though maybe he ought to have been.
One wonders if Trump, like Sobran, was “radicalized” by the heavy-handedness of the National Review-led conservative elite. Regardless, it showed that Movement and Populist conservatives are both eager to claim Buckley’s mantle and will brook no rival pretenders. Pope, meet Anti-Pope.
No offense to WFB, but I think I’ll find a different role model—one who’s a little more consistent. What would Edmund Burke do?
Michael Warren Davis is associate editor of the Catholic Herald. Find him at