The Corner

Against Growth!

In today’s Impromptus, I have some comments on Chief Justice Roberts, including a gibe. (Columnists must gibe.) A reader writes, “I fear he has grown in office, and will keep growing.” Yes, that is a fear. For political newcomers, we’ll need a brief history lesson.

During the 1980s, Tip O’Neill and other liberals said, “We were hoping that Reagan would grow in office, but he hasn’t grown at all.” What they meant was, he had not shed his small-government principles and his hawkish views. He had not accepted the post-LBJ state, and détente. He had not learned to love Big Brother. He was still clinging to guns and religion, so to speak. He was as provincial, blinkered, and right-wing as ever.

Truth is, some conservatives lamented that he had indeed “grown” in office. He had gone out of his way to accommodate liberals and moderates, and to accommodate the Kremlin. He was raising taxes, spending like crazy, welcoming wetbacks, pursuing arms control. One common cry from the right was, “None of this would be happening if Ronald Reagan were alive.”

Anyway, that was a long time ago. He is now our Saint Ronald. We have moved on to calling Mitt Romney a marshmallow. No conservative ever said a bad word about Reagan (and all Frenchmen joined the Resistance).

But I was talking about language, wasn’t I? Since the 1980s, “to grow,” in the conservative lexicon, has meant to become more liberal and less conservative, conforming to the consensus, and winning the approval of the Establishment. Which brings us back to John Roberts . . .

In the current NR, I have an essay that quotes an Associated Press headline, appearing on July 1: “More nuanced view of Roberts after health care law.” Yup. And, you know? Once a guy has heard the approval of the cool kids in school, it’s hard for him to go back to being an outsider. An upsetter of the apple cart. A square.

Mrs. Roberts surely hoped her boy would grow — but we righties are saying, “Please, no.”

Most Popular

Elections

Democrats Are Dumping Moderates

The activist base of the Democratic party is lurching left fast enough that everyone should pay attention. Activists matter because their turnout in low-turnout primaries and caucuses almost propelled leftist Bernie Sanders to victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Last month, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated New ... Read More
Culture

Questions for Al Franken

1)Al, as you were posting on social media a list of proposed questions for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, did it occur to you that your opinion on the matter is no more relevant than Harvey Weinstein’s? 2) Al, is it appropriate for a disgraced former U.S. senator to use the Twitter cognomen “U.S. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Strzok by a Farce

An investigation is one of two things: a search for the truth, or a farce. The House is conducting a farce. That fact was on full display during ten hours of testimony by Peter Strzok, the logorrheic lawman who steered the FBI’s Clinton-emails and Trump–Russia probes. The principal question before the ... Read More
Film & TV

Stalin at the Movies

Toward the end of The Death of Stalin, two Communist Party bosses size up Joseph Stalin’s immediate successor, Georgy Malenkov. “Can we trust him?” one asks. “Can you ever really trust a weak man?” his comrade answers. Good question. Last week brought the news that the head of Shambhala ... Read More