Clark Judge, who was an especially highly regarded speechwriter to President Reagan and is now managing director of the White House Writers Group, attended the recent National Review Institute summit on the future of conservatism, and he offers some observations on the issues and individuals on display there. Here’s what he noticed on immigration:
Notes from a debate (yes, a formal debate with podiums and a moderator) on immigration: Mark Krikorian (anti) was pitted against Hugh Hewitt (pro). . . . What most struck me were the words not spoken or, more correctly, screamed.
Several years ago, at the opening-night dinner of the CPAC conference, George Will delivered remarks on immigration very much in sync with Hugh’s this past Saturday, and several in the audience shouted protests. It was rude and a touch ugly. Will didn’t flinch and, for what it’s worth, came out of it with an extra measure of my respect.
This year, Hugh put the case even more forcefully, and there wasn’t a word of resistance. Now, true, the format was a debate, not a stand-alone speech. But I chatted with Hugh afterwards and walked with him to the reception following. As you might imagine, lots of attendees wanted to speak with him. At least until I left to talk with other friends, not one uttered a syllable of dissent.
I am not saying that harmony on immigration has broken out in the conservative community. I am saying that the tone has changed significantly. Conservatism does not sound as hotly divided as it was when Will spoke.
The rest of his column is also worth reading.