Wednesday, June 27, 2007

TNR reporting on the NR Cruise

Some of the big political magazines have cruises where various ideological dignitaries preach before the choir and then hand out a tin cup on behalf of the hosting magazine. The National Review has been doing this for years and the folks at the New Republic sent somebody along for the ride to report. Anyhow, it's cheap fun, but fun nonetheless. I loved this line on Bill Buckley from the article: "Buckley is an urbane old reactionary, drunk on doubts."

It's a clever phrase, "drunk on doubts" but it gestures at what conservatism has traditionally been about- doubt. Doubt about the superiority of that which is new when something existing has already proven its fitness. This is one of the things that is interesting, vexing, troubling about the modern conservative movement as it no longer appears to have the organizing principle that served it well for decades- that being- "To stand athwart history and yell stop". Now, increasingly conservatives have reconciled themselves with the general thrust of what President Bush has done- making history, transforming the middle east, yada yada.

The author's point is to poke fun at crazy conservatives but his passage on the personal tension between Norman Podhoretz and Bill Buckley represents a broader friction for the movement as a whole.

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