July 23, 2006


Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative: In Exclusive Interview, Buckley Criticizes President For Interventionist Policies (Thalia Assuras, July 22, 2006, CBS News)

Buckley finds himself parting ways with President Bush, whom he praises as a decisive leader but admonishes for having strayed from true conservative principles in his foreign policy.

In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure.

For the Darwinian conservative it can't be good policy to save brown peoples, thus the return to isolationism even if it makes their anti-Communism incoherent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 23, 2006 9:35 AM

"For the Darwinian conservative it can't be good policy to save brown peoples, thus the return to isolationism even if it makes their anti-Communism incoherent." But that is not incoherent at all if you believe their call for isolationism now is against saving brown people. Most who lived under communism were white who were saved. Communism in "yellow" China and Vietnam, in "brown" Cuba is still thriving.

Posted by: ic at July 23, 2006 11:02 AM

Excellent point--I stand corrected.

Posted by: oj at July 23, 2006 11:30 AM

WFB has been making comments like this for the better part of a year. Whether CBS just didn't hear them before (CBS not hear an anti-Iraq war comment from a conservative?) or whether this report on Buckley's feelings is part of a tag-team effort with his protoge, George Will (who has been down on Iraq for at least six months or so), to jump start the effort to get their point of view heard is only for them and their e-mail hosting site to know.

Posted by: John at July 23, 2006 12:19 PM

With the possible exception of his mayoral run in 1965 CBS managed to ignore William F Buckley for 50 years. Now he's worthy of a long interview since he's following their line on Iraq, though it took them months to notice.

Posted by: George at July 23, 2006 1:27 PM

Conservatism of course depends upon what one wants to conserve. Telling that Buckley, Will, Buchanan et al want to preserve an intolerable and immoral order in the Middle East.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 23, 2006 2:11 PM

"For the Darwinian conservative it can't be good policy to save brown peoples..makes their anti-communism incoherent"

No, your statement is incoherent. Nothing in the linked article implied "Darwinian" or racial based criticism of Bush's policy. Buckley is merely stating that the ends achieved which are thus far are nothing significant, except removal of Saddam, do not justify the costs.

Are you now supporting military action against Iran in order to overthow their government? If so then I will at least say you are consistent. If you are not, I will NOT accuse you of racial chauvinism like you do to Buckley.

Posted by: h-man at July 23, 2006 2:21 PM

I'm gonna come clean. I have never been into Buckley. As a kid I thought he was creepy on that tv show and as an adult I don't like (can hardly read) his political writings because he's way too much the "stylist". Not to mention that I am uniformly unimpressed with his analysis. He's one of those guys who write stuff that you inevitably think "why didn't he just say what he meant?" after you've finished it.

Except for the anti-communism, he and I are interested in very different things.

Posted by: Pepys at July 23, 2006 2:40 PM


There have been almost no costs.

The Iranians won their own democracy without our help, while Buckley and his ilk tried thwarting them.

I am a racial chauvinist.

Posted by: oj at July 23, 2006 3:28 PM

Its ok H-man; around these parts, it is logically permitted (when referring to someone who professes hostility to certain classes of people) to call them racist.

Posted by: Dude at July 23, 2006 6:32 PM


That's what racism is.

Posted by: oj at July 23, 2006 6:46 PM

Buckley was born in Nogales, AZ; or at least spent his earliest years there; I think he learned Spanish collaterally with English; my point being the dude does brown OK; he's an elitist, but not a racist

racism is not "hostility to certain classes of people"; I'm hostile to pedophiles, but that doesn't make me a racist; Buckley seems hostile to homosexuals, idiots and foreign do-goodery, that doesn't make him a racist

Buckley is wrong about Iraq: Al Campanis that does not equal.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 23, 2006 8:55 PM

And calling him a Darwinian conservative is bizarre, as he's an orthodox Catholic and has supported teaching alternative theories to evolution.

He thinks the operation in Iraq is unwise because we're trying to implant democracy when the necessary institutions and societal habits haven't developed to buttress it. I disagree with that but it's a defensible conservative viewpoint.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 23, 2006 9:48 PM

Which is to say, I disagree that the preconditions for Iraqi democracy are absent.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 23, 2006 9:50 PM


You're too young to remember how steadfastly anti-civil rights he was in the 50s & 60s. Blacks apparently weren't ready for democracy either. The whole anti-immigrant thing at National Review is similarly racialist.

Note that he -- and Pat Buchanan and company -- didn't care about any of those factors where the war against the Communists was concerned?

A certain portion of the Right believes public policy should be based on racial hierarchy. It's not morally defensible, but is part of conservatism and is politically popular.

Posted by: oj at July 23, 2006 10:05 PM

"A certain portion of the Right believes public policy should be based on racial hierarchy. It's not morally defensible, but is part of conservatism and is politically popular."

The poor arguments made against it allow them to present themselves as the pragmatic solution-- too often that is realistic. Inevitably, some sort of Third Way is always required to solve these problems, or move in the right direction.

Buckley has expressed that he was wrong in the 50's and 60's, but he has never put forward what the correct way is.

Posted by: mf at July 23, 2006 10:37 PM


Well, it's true I'm too young to have gone through that stuff myself but I've read some of Buckley's writings from that period and I know what his stances were. I don't see what this has to do with racism, though, as Buckley's argument is cultural, and even you would have to admit that much of the Muslim world unfortunately seems to lag behind the rest of us in various ways (which isn't to say they can't catch up). Culture ultimately matters much more than race.

I think generally you're too quick to jump the "racism" gun on these issues. People may take a tough line on, say, immigration for all sorts of reasons that aren't strictly racial: concern about runaway spending, worries about assimilation problems, etc. (The last one is usually based on difficulties immigrants have learning English, which I think is inconsequential since even if they unfortunately don't learn it, their kids will.) I have a family member who is significantly more hardline on immigration than I am and yet I don't recall ever hearing her make any kind of anti-Hispanic comment. Calling anybody who thinks democracy may not take hold in Iraq a "racist" is equivalent to all the left-wingers who call Bush a "fascist": Gets folks riled up but doesn't accomplish anything or even advance the ball.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 23, 2006 11:10 PM

National Review doesn't have any problem employing illegal immigrants if they're white (see Derbyshire, John). Give 'em credit for chutzpah. It's almost like they're saying: "Sure, we're racist. Deal with it."

So the Arabs-ain't-worth-squat stuff from Derbyshire and Buckley and others at the site isn't exactly astounding. I'm just surprised it took a while to show up.

Posted by: Casey Abell at July 24, 2006 2:10 PM

Matt Murphy, whoever you are, three cheers for you.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 24, 2006 4:54 PM


At the point where you're engaging in contortions to explain why folks always come down on the side that opposes other races it's time to recognize that it's just about race.

Posted by: oj at July 24, 2006 10:33 PM


I'm unsure what "contortions" I've committed, but -- putting aside obvious cases where the opinion trend is all in one direction -- it's reckless to assume every stance with which one disagrees is based on racism, as you've stated is the case with immigration. That's a lefty tactic. (I know David Cohen calls you a lefty, but who ever heard of a pro-Bush lefty who dislikes France and soccer?)

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 26, 2006 2:07 AM