Patrick Ruffini is a young up & coming conservative who longs for the return of “William F. Buckley conservatism” and regrets what he calls the “Joe Plumberization of the GOP.”
Well, first off, class warfare within the Republican Party dates back to at least the 1950s. Read the instant classic Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade for the gory details.
But let’s look at Ruffini’s specific complaints, which are echoed daily at The David Frum Website Nobody Reads and so forth.
Since Ruffini is the one trying to resurrect a cult of personality around one man, we have to concern ourself with this particular individual. So:
The GOP does not need another William F. Buckley.
That is, it doesn’t need as its guiding light a man of inherited wealth who never held down a real job.
Nor does it need a man who was actually lauded upon his death by other so-called conservatives (and, tellingly, many liberals) for befriending men whose views and actions he allegedly found repugnant (or should have), while treating fellow conservatives shabbily.
It certainly doesn’t need a man prone to communist style purges of persons with whom he disagreed, often on matters of “distinctions without a difference” — and who very often turned out to be correct.
One would think that a man who called himself a friend of Whittaker Chambers would be more sensitive to the notion that the messenger may not always live up to our own carefully cultivated aesthetics or be “one of us.”
People toss about the phrase “Buckley purged the movement of the Birchers” the way others mindlessly repeat truisms like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” — without realizing that, in both instances, they are simply repeating a marketing slogan as received wisdom.
A fine prose style is an indicator of absolutely nothing regarding its owner.
Neither are charm, wit and class, which are traits any semi-successful con man or long haul serial killer can and must cultivate.
I’m reminded of the lines in a Diane Schoemperlen short story; the young female narrator falls in love with a man mostly because he looks so adorable when he sleeps. She says that it wasn’t until many years later that she realized this was, in fact, a fairly common phenomenon and not a sign of good character.
Frankly, Buckley often seemed, well, stoned to me (we alcoholics are notorious for counting how many drinks the other fellow‘s had…), and not just because he supported the decriminalization of pot, which is a cause only actual (boring) pot smokers embrace, to the point of turning it into what I call “the abortion of libertarians.”
All that to say: looks like I was correct about the stoned part. And stoners can’t be trusted.
Also: Burke is mostly a curious anachronism, but generations of would-be righties have felt compelled to try to read him and that other unreadable “genius,” Russell Kirk, on Buckley’s say so. Yuck.
Alas, Patrick Ruffini is another one of those ambitious careerist “conservative” party hacks with which we Canadians are all too familiar, but who do far more damage in the U.S. since they can get access to actual cash.
I’m glad but not at all surprised to see that Robert Stacy McCain more of less agrees with me.
As long as there is such a thing as “class” (in the “hard hat” sense, not the Buckley one…) these disputes will continue within conservatism. The advantage we of the lower classes have is that we are not afraid to call it what it is, whereas Ruffini, Frum & Co. are forced to invent elaborate new theories to “explain” why their personal tastes represent “true” conservatism.
The likes of me, however, are happy to cut through the crap and sum it up in one sentence:
“You’re snobs and you’re boring. Shut up.”
Through the use of CFDs or spread trading you can profit from climbing or falling price movements.
I find it ironic that you castigate Buckley for “communist-style purges,” and then tell ppl with whom u disagree to shut up.
Well, I suppose “ironic” is one word for it since “ironic” hasn’t actually meant anything for about 15 years, except that, as I tweeted back (in 140 characters, that is):
William F. Buckley’s magazine was/is THE biggest/only conservative media outlet in the nation.
When Buckley “read” the Birchers out of the movement, he literally silenced them.
His blacklist was even more effective, in fact, than the imaginary one of song & story that the Left insists was undertaken by Hollywood and McCarthy.
I, on the other hand, am a blogger, who neither publishes nor pays anyone but myself.
I do not have the power of ideological life or death over a single, solitary soul — certainly not Patrick Ruffini, David Frum and others who enjoy privileges in terms of audience, money and access to power I can only dream of.
So, er, I love you Andy, and I thank you for your service but, uh, there’s, uh, a reason I think pot is bad for you…
UPDATE: Jeremy Lott, via Facebook:
a) Buckley paid his own way. NR was made possible by his subsidy and his subsidy was largely earned through his books, columns, speeches, etc. The Buckley “family fortune” was not great and it was split 10 ways. b) The Birchers really were crazy — their modern equivalent is not the emotional but often right Glenn Beck but birthers. c) Never rely on Marcus Epstein for anything. It’s a serious, serious mistake.
My response, also on Facebook:
Jeremy, you are a professional freelance writer. Do you really believe you could support a grand magazine through the royalities thereof?
A family fortune split 10 ways is still a fortune. A man who sails and has a home in Gstaad — hell, who lives in NYC and entertains the upper crust — is wealthy by the standards of 99.9% of the world’s population, and 95% of America’s.
Yes, I share your concerns about Epstein. He is only one of the people quoted. Others like Brimelow and Harris worked for Buckley for years, unlike you and I.
The Birchers said one crazy thing (“Eisenhower was a communist”) for every ten things they got right: about states’ rights and the Soviet Union.
The purge that isn’t as often discussed is the second one, in which NR writers were told to stop writing against immigration, legal and illegal.
Why? Well, a) I guess conservative elites need their Mexican gardeners, too
b) other cultures are oh so cute and colorful and just think of all the great restaurants like that quaint little cafe we slum in once in a while, right luvie?
c) Buckley and co wanted, almost pathologically, to be _liked and respected_ — by est. liberals. And est. liberals love them some foreigners with their cheap labor and adorable handicrafts, too!
What was the ONE thing everybody said when Buckley died? The FIRST thing? Not he got Reagan elected. Not he helped bring down the Berlin Wall….
But that “he had a gift for friendship.” Yet we have altogether too much of this sort of “friendship”.
You are part of the Washington Think Tank world. Your perspective is bound to be what it is.