A Talk or Two at CPAC

At the end of this week I’ll be at the annual CPAC conference, where I’ll be participating in two events. On Friday, March 2, I’ll be giving a talk at 4 pm on “The State of Campus Conservatism.” Then at 11 am on Saturday, March 3, I’ll be on the “Failure of Fusionism” panel with Reason‘s Nick Gillespie, the American Conservative Union’s Don Devine, and Elephant in the Room author Ryan Sager.

These will be new talks, although they springboard off of some of my recent American Conservative articles (here and here). If you’re in the D.C. area, drop by. Students can register for CPAC for $25.

C-SPAN or C-SPAN 2 usually covers CPAC, so I imagine the fusionism panel will show up on TV at some point.  Probably not the campus conservatism talk, though.


Pro Libertate

I should have noted the launch of William Grigg’s new e-zine, Pro Libertate, a week or two back. Better late than never — check it out. James Bovard and Laurence Vance contribute, as well as Will Grigg himself.

Giuliani Time?

Jim Antle looks how much momentum Giuluiani has picked up against his notionally pro-life Republican opponents John McCain (who actually does have an anti-abortion record) and Mitt Romney (the man of a thousand faces and policy positions). “Giuliani soars despite offering social conservatives few concessions. Perhaps the moral of the story,” Jim concludes, “is this: If you can’t respect life, at least try to respect pro-lifers’ intelligence.”

Jim’s column makes many good points, but I don’t think Giuliani respects most pro-lifers’ intelligence. It seems to me that Giuliani’s success so far illustrates how the conservative movement really works: it doesn’t try to champion principles, it merely anoints candidates who are personally acceptable to the movement’s leaders and excommunicates candidates — like McCain — who are not. Even then, the movement wants to be careful not to lose all access to the halls of power, so if need be, it can warm up to McCain. But Romney has absolutely groveled before the movement’s panjandrums, so he’s their first pick from the top tier, and Giuliani hasn’t gone out of his way to offend them, so he’s the second choice, and increasingly the first choice because he looks like the most viable candidate. McCain is more “conservative” than Giuliani or Romney by any measure, but he hasn’t been deferential to the capos — far from it. Or, to look at it another way, abortion doesn’t affect your average K-street lobbyist and his opinion-monger friends much either way (Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to note that the only blue-collar people who ever came to lobby him were the pro-lifers: they couldn’t afford real lobbyists), but McCain’s campaign-finance shenanigans are another story altogether. That they can’t tolerate.

As far as political principles go, Giuliani is very possibly to the left of Hillary Clinton. He’s been a bigger advocate of gun control — and not just an advocate; remember Giuliani’s suit against gun manufacturers? — and he’s at least pro-abortion as she is; as mayor of New York, he was happy to preside over taxpyer-funded abortions. But, of course, he has more recently said that he would appoint judges like Scalia and Alito to the Supreme Court if he were president, which is meant to hoodwink pro-lifers. So much for respecting their intelligence. He’s been engaging in similar triangulations on guns, too, I should note, but in my experience gunnies are much more ready to desert the GOP or otherwise play hardball if they don’t get what they want.

The utter absence of instutitonal conservative support for the actally conservative candidates in the race — Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Ron Paul — is also telling. They’re no-hopers, but there was a time when conservatives were willing to support non-viable candidates who actually stood for what conservatives claimed to believe in against viable candidates who did not. Admittedly, the circumstances surrounding the candidacies of guys like Rep. John M. Ashbrook (who ran in ’72 against Nixon) aren’t exactly parallel to conditions today. Even so, the bigger change has been not in the political environment but in the movement, which has become institutionalized and complacent. David Kirkpatrick’s recent piece in the NY Times suggests that some of the religious right are contemplating the likes of Huckabee and Brownback, but neither one of them is going to do anything for small-government conservatives.

My own cards are on the table: I’m for Ron Paul, and when he gets eliminated (or if he doesn’t get into the race at all), I’m going to choose one of the kooky third parties to support.


He more than deserves the Oscar, but it’s a sign of just how dull the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is that he finally gets it for “The Departed” rather than “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” or “The Aviator,” are all of which were much better.  I like long films, but even I thought that “The Departed” could have stood to gain from being about 20 minutes shorter.

Was 2006 as dismal a year at the movies as I think it was?  Things picked up a bit toward the end of the year with “The Departed” and “The Good Shepherd,” but over all there wasn’t much I wanted to plunk down $10 for.

Articles Here and There

The blog has been suffering from neglect, in part because I’ve been even busier than usual with writing assignments.  Three of them should see print within the next couple of weeks.  In the forthcoming American Conservative — which should start showing up in shops and subscribers’ mailboxes late  next week — I have an obit piece on Ralph de Toledano and a review of Brian Doherty’s history of the libertarian movement, Radicals for Capitalism.

Then in the April Chronicles, I have a triple-review of Ramesh Ponnuru’s The Party of Death, Cristina Page’s How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America, and William H. Colby’s Unplugged: Reclaiming Our Right to Die in America.  I should mention that I overshot my word-count for the Chronicles piece, so the printed version is somewhat condensed, out of necessity.  (I should have known better than to start out with a 500-word digression on Hellenistic history and Christian vs. pagan ethics.)  It’ll still be provocative, though.

Sale of the Century

Ok, I work for ISI Books now, as a senior editor, so this might be shameless self-promotion.  But I recall that one of the first entries I posted on this blog a year ago was news of a great sale at Oxford University Press, and I think my readers will appreciate hearing about the ISI sale going on right now — 60 percent off all books. I can practically guarantee that if you enjoy my blog you’ll find something we publish that you’ll want, whether it’s American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, or the Library of Modern Thinkers books on Ludwig von Mises and Robert Nisbet, or Romano Guardini’s The End of the Modern World, a book I cannot recommend highly enough. Plus Bill Kauffman, Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, and a whole lot more than I can list in one blog post.  (By way of example, the encyclopedia is about $14 in softcover, the Mises and Nisbet biographies $6 apiece.  Those are better than used prices.)

Am I Ill? I’m Starting to Like Dick Armey

Actually, Armey was always better than the average GOP congressman — faint praise, I know, but still… Here’s a terrific interview with Armey from the McClatchy Newspapers (via Antiwar.com). An excerpt:

Q: Is George W. Bush a failed president?

A: I’ve said over the years that every president either ends up a pleasant surprise or a bitter disappointment. And we haven’t had a pleasant surprise since Ronald Reagan. I don’t see how anybody can look at the Bush presidency and say this was a success in public policy terms.

Q: Your views on the Iraq war?

A: I’m not sure that it was the right thing to do. You might say removing Saddam from power was a right thing to do. Maybe it was, but was that necessarily then our responsibility to do that? And was it our responsibility to do that by invading a country that had in no way declared any war on us?

Q: You voted for the resolution to go to war.

A: I did, and I’m not happy about it. The resolution was a resolution that authorized the president to take that action if he deemed it necessary. Had I been more true to myself and the principles I believed in at the time, I would have openly opposed the whole adventure vocally and aggressively. I had a tough time reconciling doing that against the duties of majority leader in the House. I would have served myself and my party and my country better, though, had I done so.

Ralph de Toledano, RIP

I’ve just heard that Ralph de Toledano has died. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I did speak with him on the phone on several occasions, exchanged correspondence with him, and was honored to publish his work at The American Conservative. In his late 80s, he continued to write more elegantly and cogently than journalists a third of his age. Several of his books are well worth track down; I especially recommend his memoir Lament for a Generation.

Addendum: There’s a great profile of Ralph by his friend and co-author Hugh Newton up at the Human Events blog. And here is the NY Times obit.

Taki’s New Webzine

I’ve been falling down on the job when it comes to keeping the blog up-to-date.  That’s owing in part to some bureaucratic hassles with buying a car — and owing in part, too, to sheer laziness.

More content will be coming soon.  In the meantime, here’s a link to American Conservative co-founder Taki’s new webzine.