Michael Gaynor
Take care, Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart are right on key issues, but not Bill Buckleys
By Michael Gaynor
February 21, 2010

Beck and Breitbart should heed William F. Buckley, Jr.'s wisdom and try to emulate him.

"Before there was Ronald Reagan there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry, there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind." George Will, as quoted in William F. Buckley's obituary in The New York Times (28 February 2008)

Ronald Reagan to Buckley, in an address at the National Review's 30th anniversary (1985) as quoted in "William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82" in The New York Times (27 February 2008): "You didn't just part the Red Sea — you rolled it back, dried it up and left exposed, for all the world to see, the naked desert that is statism. And then, as if that weren't enough, you gave the world something different, something in its weariness it desperately needed, the sound of laughter and the sight of the rich, green uplands of freedom."

New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long, as quoted in "NY Conservatives Remember Buckley" in New York Daily News (28 February 2008): "There are no other Bill Buckleys now on the scene."

Glenn Beck is right about the danger of progressivism — losing freedom is bad, whether it is the result of revolution or evolution, and progressives reject sound principles on which America was founded — and wrong about the ACORN 8. See Anita MonCrief's "For CPAC and Beck, The Truth About the ACORN 8" (http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/02/19/for-cpac-and-beck-the-truth-about-the-acorn-8/).

Andrew Breitbart is right about the liberal media establishment promoting the progressive agenda and disregarding, even covering up, the truth, and wrong about the notion that radical Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals should be a playbook for conservatives and "investigative journalists" being unbound by criminal law.

Christopher Buckley is right that the Sharon Statement (www.yaf.com/statement/) was better written than the Mount Vernon Statement (www.themountvernonstatement.com/) and it would "have been simpler, and more honest, to issue a J'Accuse Obama!," wrong when he described CPAC 2010 as "Conservative Woodstock," and clearly concerned with what he called "the current conservative crackup." See "Quit Redefining Conservatism" (www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-02-19/quit-redefining-conservatism/full/).

In criticizing the Mount Vernon Statement, Buckley is on solid ground. The Mount Vernon Statement of principles suggests a willingness to combat President Obama's attempt to "fundamentally transform" America solely on policy differences. That is a serious mistake, since the secretive Obama should not be given a stipulation that he is a man of great personal integrity with whom conservatives merely have policy differences.

Christopher Buckley is understandably upset that his erudite late father William F. Buckley, Jr.'s conservative movement is currently looking for leadership to the likes of Beck and Breitbart, neither of whom is a William F. Buckley, Jr.


Wikipedia: Beck is a high school graduate (1982) and "a recovering alcoholic and drug addict... diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" who "was admitted to Yale University through a special program for non-traditional students....took one theology class, 'Early Christology,' and then dropped out," and abandoned Roman Catholicism for Mormonism (1999).



"Andrew J. Breitbart (...born February 1, 1969) is an American publisher, commentator for the Washington Times, author, and an occasional guest commentator on various news programs. He may be best-known for serving as an editor for the Drudge Report website. He was a researcher for Arianna Huffington, and was employed by her as 'the primary developer' of her website, The Huffington Post. He currently runs his own news aggregation site, Breitbart.com, and four other sites: breitbart.tv, Big Hollywood, Big Government, and Big Journalism."

"Breitbart...procured employment at local fast-food restaurant All-American Burger at age 15, by lying about his age. Later, he worked as a pizza deliveryperson and car washer. He graduated from Tulane University in 1991. He was a "C" student in school and college.

"He says he 'grew up in Brentwood a secular liberal Jew' who celebrated his bar mitzvah and 'has the tape to prove it,' but had 'an interesting epiphany' during the Clarence Thomas hearings. He now describes himself as 'a Reagan conservative' who has 'sympathies towards the libertarian side of issues...."

William F. Buckley, Jr.


"William Frank Buckley, Jr. (November 24, 1925 — February 27, 2008) was an American conservative author and commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episodes of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing style was famed for its erudition, wit, and use of uncommon words.

"George H. Nash, a historian of the modern American conservative movement, believed that Buckley was 'arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century.' 'For an entire generation he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure.' Buckley's primary change to politics was the fusion of traditional American political conservatism with laissez-faire economic theory and anti-communism, laying the groundwork for the modern American conservatism of U.S. presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan.

"Buckley wrote first God and Man at Yale (1951) [and]...over fifty further books on writing, speaking, history, politics and sailing.... Buckley referred to himself as either a libertarian or conservative.... He was a practicing Roman Catholic, regularly attending the traditional Latin Mass in Connecticut."

Ward Sloane in "Good night, Mr. Buckley" at CBS News (27 February 2008): " Buckley was conservative before conservative was cool. He was brilliant, Ivy League, handsome and very, very, VERY articulate. And he was, well, so very self confident. All of his talent and style combined to rebirth the moribund conservative movement in this country. From his founding of the National Review to the day he stepped down from moderating his signature talk show, 'Firing Line.' It is fair to say that Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich all owe their place in American history to the man who once famously wrote that he didn't know anyone smarter than himself. ...he was a serious-minded person who made reasoned and rational arguments for his cause...."

William F. Buckley, Jr. refused to forsake fundamental values for the sake of political expediency, because a noble end does not just any means.

Evan Thomas, Newsweek (March 10, 2008) (www.newsweek.com/id/117854/page/2): "Buckley senior also did some judicious weeding. In his old age, he told his son, 'I spent my entire life separating the right wing from the kooks.' Though it cost him contributors and readers, he banned conspiratorial members of the John Birch Society from the pages of National Review along with the anti-Semites who had stained the far right.

"Bill was responsible for rejecting the John Birch Society and the other kooks who passed off anti-Semitism or some such as conservatism. ... Without Bill — if he had decided to become an academic or a businessman or something else — without him, there probably would be no respectable conservative movement in this country." Hugh Kenner, as quoted in "William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82" in The New York Times (27 February 2008)

Jeff Jacoby, in "The architect of modern conservatism" in The Boston Globe (27 February 2008): "Had there been no Buckley, there would likely have been no Reagan administration, no Morning in America, no 'Tear down this wall,' and no Cold War triumph for liberty and the West. It may sometimes be confusing, what with all the intramural squabbling among libertarian conservatives, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, and the like, to know exactly what 'conservatism' stands for these days. But Buckley more than anyone made clear that there are things it would not stand for."

Conrad Black in "Conrad Black on William F. Buckley Jr." in National Post (27 February 2008): "William F. Buckley Jr. was one of the great personalities of the United States of the last 50 years. He was the same in private as in public: urbane, humorous and always cordial....His humanity and gentlemanliness and unfailing courtesy, as well as his wit and erudition, enabled him to take positions that affronted the liberal conventional wisdom without attracting the venomous antagonism of its leaders. His close friends included such contrary spirits as John Kenneth Galbraith, Mario Cuomo and some of the Kennedys and Rockefellers."

Beck and Breitbart should heed William F. Buckley, Jr.'s wisdom and try to emulate him.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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