Ed Driscoll

In His Own Image

William F. Buckley passed away last week, and since I was on my cruise to Mexico, I didn’t have a chance to blog about the death of the man who invented modern conservatism, and for whose Website I briefly contributed articles in the summer and fall of 2001 before taking up residence in the then-nascent Blogosphere. For an extended video look at the man, it’s tough to beat the above profile by Scott Baker and Liz Stephans of Breitbart.TV.

One of Buckley’s most important decisions, as I wrote a few years ago, was “casting out the John Birchers and their anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories.” That’s the subject of this exceptional article by Jonathan Tobin:

The long-term implications of Buckley’s stands were enormous. By remaking the conservative movement in his own image, in which the emphasis was on anti-communism and a libertarian skepticism of government power, he ensured that it, and the Republican Party, which it came to dominate, would be a place where Jew-haters were unwelcome.

That enabled liberal Jews, such as Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, to feel comfortable making common cause with the right on a host of issues as he began his own journey away from the left. Though expectations that the Jews would ditch liberalism en masse were always unrealistic, the birth of an intellectually viable brand of Jewish conservative thought in this country wouldn’t have happened had not Buckley first cleaned out the GOP stables.

In terms of practical politics, Buckley’s rout of the anti-Semites made it possible for the sort of bipartisan consensus in favor of support for Israel that we now take for granted. He replaced the Buchanan-like world of American conservatism that existed before National Review with something that was not only more successful, but purged of Jew-hatred. If Israel Lobby authors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt want to find the real father of the enormous support for Israel in our political system today, they can look no further than the irrepressible Buckley, whose life was a testament to the power of ideas.

His was a political faith that most Jews never embraced, but as we survey a political spectrum in which our enemies are confined to the margins, we should all remember the unique achievements of this American original. May his memory be for a blessing for all who love liberty.

(Via Charles Johnson.)