The Corner

Derbyshire at Hillsdale

Derb mentioned his visit this week to Hillsdale College, which started on Monday night and ended this afternoon. He stayed busy, giving public lectures on conservative pessimism as well as a mathematics topic that went over my head but appeared to impress the smart people. He also visited three classrooms, including my sportswriting class, in which he discussed his NASCAR cover story from 2003, when he went to Alabama for a week and reported on Talladega. He even enjoyed great weather. One of my colleagues here, a professor of Latin, taught class outdoors yesterday. That must be some kind of record: March 7 in Michigan.

The campus paper, The Collegian, has an interview with our favorite gloomy arithmetical journalist:

I wrote a book called “We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism.” More than anything, it was a reaction against the George W. Bush years. Conservatism had been led astray by optimism and conservatives need to return to a more pessimistic outlook — to avoid those kinds of errors in future — so we don’t get into the kind of vast new social programs that George W. Bush gave. Not to overlook, of course, these wonderfully optimistic wars, where we’re going to remake the Middle East in our own image. So my mood at the time was a reaction against what I saw as George W. Bush’s — I wouldn’t go as far as Bob Bartley, and say “betrayal” of conservatism — but wandering astray from the true path of Conservatism.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


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