August 3, 2010

THE WHOLE “WHY AREN’T TODAY’S CONSERVATIVES LIKE WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY” KERFUFFLE doesn’t interest me very much, but here’s one observation: Buckley was charming because he had to be. He got a lot of attention because it was a time when liberalism was at its zenith, and so was its control of the media. Liberals were secure enough to let guys like Buckley on, but only guys like Buckley, whose I’m-a-member-of-the-club aristocratic credentials made him seem safe. And only so long as he was sufficiently nonthreatening.

Times are different now, and the Buckley approach, exquisitely adapted to the 1950s and 1960s, wouldn’t work today. Miss it if you want, but it’s like missing Elvis. And a Buckley impersonator wouldn’t be Buckley any more than an Elvis impersonator is Elvis . . . .

UPDATE: Reader Stephanie Lynch emails: “This is similar to the question I ponder every Sunday night: ‘Why aren’t today’s men like Don Draper?”’

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