Sunday, January 25, 2009

Windbag Watch

James Wolcott calls attention to a screed in The American Conservative by Bill's baby brother, Reid Buckley. At first glance, it looks like a fun read, of the sort that would tempt me to send up a signal flare for the Red State Trike Force, warning them of this latest apostate who Must Be Purged. There are nuggets like this:

But scanning the editorial pages of the WSJ or papers from the several erudite conservative and libertarian fonts, I often feel that I can play the old game: I can foretell from the first couple of sentences where that editorial or op-ed or conservative think-tank essay is going—what tried and true and trite right-wing lessons can be gleaned from it. Reading the National Review and American Spectator issues on the electoral defeat this past fall impresses one with how so many good, well-meaning, and intelligent commentators are able to miss the point.

What have conservatives to hurl at these urgent historic challenges other than the same bromides? For 40 years, smug, snide right-wingers have made merry mocking Greenpeace fanatics and ecological doomsayers without learning a blessed thing about the precariousness of the ecology and the effect of human action (not to speak of avarice) on it, as when we promiscuously exfoliate the rain forests or condemn yet one more green acre on the southeastern shore of New Jersey to the desolation of heedless urban development. We conservatives are so self-satisfied that we have incapacitated ourselves from peering beneath the antics of idiots and the wild exaggerations of scruffy environmentalist kooks to the gathering of real dangers that their hysterical rhetoric obscures.

But within the hysteria and exaggeration of political activists, mostly of the Left, …  there is often a kernel of legitimate concern, be it economical, sociological, aesthetic, or environmental. We conservatives have shut our ears.

Are we not perhaps talking too much to ourselves? Are we not writing too much for the applause of our fellows? Is any of us—with few exceptions—saying anything that we have not heard before, and are we not—all of us—submitting intellectually to conservative political correctness and the inertia of the modern super state?

I wonder—I am nagged by the doubt—has the disheartening failure of the conservative movement on the domestic front … been anywhere sufficiently acknowledged or analyzed by our great conservative institutions of scholarly learning?

Brrrrrringggg! That's a warning bell.

"Great conservative institutions of scholarly learning?"

Honkie, please.

Oh, wait. What's his day job again?

I see.

Once alerted, you pick a little more carefully through the pomposity (and really, just how many bucking Buckleys are there, anyway?), and in the end, it is to snicker. For all of his ranting against stale thinking, sloganeering, clinging to ideology, and lack of new ideas, here are his prescriptions and values:

Embrace small government. Be a deficit hawk. Social Security is teh suck. The sexual revolution ruined our country.

"Athwart history!" "Hayek!" "WOLVERINES!!!1!" [Okay, I threw that last one in.]

We should get prayer back into schools. God save teh fetus. Murrika is a Christian nation and we should amend the Constitution to reflect that. [Srsly.]

George Will says a lot of smart things. I like Charles Krauthammer, too. And that Bell Curve guy. And Brent Bozell. [And never mind that I'm not telling you that he's my brother-in-law.] Ronald Reagan is like Jesus, only better.

And last but not least:

"I am a temperamental maverick"

Mmmm, just smell the freshness.

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