Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where Are The William F. Buckleys of The Republican Party?

It was a game-changing moment in American politics. William F. Buckley, Jr., en route to founding modern American conservatism, banished the freakshows -- the disciples of the Ayn Rand, the John Birchers and the George Wallace bigots and anti-semites. He did so for the sake of ideological purity. Until then, 20th century American conservatism was a patchwork of incommensurable political philosophies. Buckley shaped a coherent ideology with an overarching philosophical themeout out of those disparate sources. It is not inconceivable that the Presidency of Ronald Reagan -- the apex of the American conservative movement -- might never have happened if Buckley had not labored in the Augean stables removing the manure.

And what about now? David Frum, on health care, seems to be of the Buckley manner. Reasonable, not wing-nutty; one cannot imagine Frum doing the Glenn Beck shtick. And Frum has taken on some of the more frisky demagogues -- Mark Levin, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh -- on the right. Andrew Sullivan, similarly, as well as Joe Scarborough and Chris Buckley are tolerant, temperamentally even, and probably the future of their party.

But where is the William F. Buckley, Jr. of this generation? Who is willing to banish these figures: the Town Hall hollerers, the Lyndon Larouchies, the tea baggers and, of course, the AM Radio savages feeding off the negative manifestations of their listeners. Who will deliver the decisive blow, expelling these miscreants to the fringes of American political discourse?

Would that the President could. But he cannot, alas. As a Democrat -- and, more to the point as an African-American -- he was never, and cannot ever be, one of them. Even as President of the United States, Barack Obama is not one of them. Their "organization," to be brutally honest, is white, angry, paranoid, older and violent in direct proportion to their increasing lack of cultural relevance. He will be, to them, always -- the secret Muslim born in Kenya. They need to be driven out of civilized society.

Now, who is man -- or woman -- enough in the Republican party to lead the charge?

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