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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Say it ain't so, Bill: Buckley and the Decline of the Right

Casey Khan's reference to NR's coverage of the attack on the USS Liberty reminds one that there was a time, long ago, when the mainstream right wasn't simply another dutiful shill for Israeli interests.

Moreover, it is not simply the priority that foreign interests receive at places like NR and the Weekly Standard; on the contrary, the mainstream right has made its peace with Big Government (especially with its warm embrace of Bush), ceased to resist the cultural dissolution entailed by massive Third World immigration, and now offers only feeble resistance in what is often termed the "values" debate.

Part of the retreat must be ascribed to the right's long romance with often bootless military adventuring, a singular drama composed of equal parts tragedy and farce, whose staging was made necessary by the peculiar demands of the Cold War. But part of the retreat is due to something simpler: the loss of nerve.

It may have been that the forces of history were against us, and that resistance to the Great Society, to say nothing of the New Deal, was ultimately futile. Yes, but much is to be said for a principled stand, futile or not. And in any case, there is something repugnant about earnestly seeking to make oneself palatable to the opposition, which Buckley seems to have done on more than one occasion. We should think the lesson fairly obvious, but it just goes to show that there is a price to be paid for traveling the Manhattan dinner circuit, and that even good men sometimes wear down with time.

One of Joe Sobran's recollections, which should be of particular interest to American Catholics eager to demonstrate their support for "our only reliable ally" in the Middle East, is here. The story about the church on the West Bank is positively shameful.

But Scott McConnell also has an interesting piece here. We remember reading NR at the time O'Sullivan was replaced, and being disappointed and confused at his demotion. Now we know why.