The Corner

U.S.

Charlie Lancaster, RIP

State legislators often receive too little attention, but one being buried today in Louisiana merits gratitude from conservatives nationwide. Charlie Lancaster, a state representative for 32 years until finally term-limited from office, was an exuberant legislator, a dedicated free marketer, a painstaking Republican party-builder, an unforgettable character, and a political brawler with an uncommonly tender heart.

Lancaster was a state champion high hurdler and football star in high school and a college track athlete before attending Loyola Law School. While there, he took a part-time job in 1967 in the law firm of John Hainkel, who was just starting a legendary career that would make him state House speaker as a Democrat and state Senate president as a Republican, and Ben C. Toledano, later a Republican candidate for New Orleans mayor and U.S. Senate and sometime author of National Review cover stories. Lancaster caught the political bug from those two men who became his friends for life, and four years later, running against the Jefferson Parish Democratic machine, he won election as one of only five Republicans in a 144-person legislature.

There, Lancaster tirelessly promoted free enterprise, limits on government, and systemic reforms, while founding the Republican Legislative Caucus as a policy clearinghouse. He also did thankless service for years on the Republican State Central Committee, helping the party’s internal rule-making body create the conditions for Republican electoral growth. He had sharp elbows legislatively, but was famously convivial at each day’s end, building friendships with conservative Democrats and credited with playing a direct role in talking 17 of them into switching to Republican in the early 1980s. One of them, Quentin Dastugue, told the Times-Picayune that Lancaster “would appeal to your basic philosophical instincts. When Ronald Reagan was president and Edwin Edwards was in his third term, he’d say, ‘Whom do you want to be associated with?'”

There was no subterfuge in Charlie Lancaster, and remarkably little ego. To see him rejoice when his good friend and contemporary Bob Livingston became U.S. House speaker-designate (alas, an ill-fated mission) was a thing to behold, with a ruddy-faced Lancaster waxing eloquent not about what Livingston could do for him, but about how thrilled Lancaster was for his buddy on a personal level and how good a job Lancaster thought Livingston would do for the country.

“Charlie was a jovial pioneer in politics showing the rest of us that Democrats would vote for Republicans,” Livingston told me this morning. “He began a statewide transformation, always having fun in the process!”

In retirement, Lancaster mellowed considerably, but his smile was always a mile wide when talking about his favorite protégé, Steve Scalise, now U.S. House majority whip. Lancaster had supported Scalise in his very first legislative primary, and it was Scalise who first announced Lancaster’s death via a tweet calling him “a dear friend, and one of my true mentors. He is one of the giants who built the Republican Party in Louisiana, and had a brilliant political mind.”

Charles Doerr Lancaster, Jr. died in his sleep on August 17 after a sweetly fun-filled day. He had cleared his last hurdle. R.I.P.

Most Popular

U.S.

Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More
Books

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More
Education

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More
U.S.

The ‘Squad’ Gives a Gift to Donald Trump

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift -- comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most ... Read More
PC Culture

A Herd Has No Mind

sup { vertical-align: super; font-size: smaller; } Funny thing about my new book: I had begun shopping around the proposal for writing it long before my brief period of employment with that other magazine and the subsequent witless chimp-brained media freakout and Caffeine-Free Diet Maoist struggle ... Read More