From a reader:
Hi Jonah, Your reader made an interesting accusation that you are re-casting the movement in your image and away from how conservative leaders before you led. But doesn’t it seem more accurate that Buchanan is the one who has been re-casting himself over the past 20 years or so? That’s the sense that I get from efforts like founding TAC and the constant emphasizing of the positions that he holds that set him apart from the broader conservative movement. I guess what I see, and what frustrates me, from the paleos is their constant obsessing on the differences they have with other conservatives. To take Rod Dreher’s blog as an example, I think like 3 conservative commentators in various places said they didn’t like Wall-E’s environmental message and the guy hasn’t been able to stop harping on how it proves the un-crunchiness of conservatism and how out of touch we all are. He does this anytime he can get a stick to beat against other conservatives, and even though I agree with him in a lot of his critiques about church and culture the rest of it gets pretty exasperating. I understand that traditionalists consider themselves to be the red-headed step-children of the conservative movement, but they seem now to almost delight in the role and it all gets to be a bit much. What I admire about the Corner is the way the contributors all co-exist because of core values in common. People’s different beliefs and opinions on various issues emerge and get discussed but they aren’t the defining attributes. Buchanan, Dreher, and others have made the areas in which they differ the most important and the defining areas, to an extent that some paleos have lost their minds and started supporting Obama. The fact is, Buchanan is the one who chose to make his isolationism and demographic-politics the central part of who he is as a conservative leader (not to mention his absurd WWII revisionism) and therefore he deserves to be met on those grounds and roundly criticized. Long may you continue to do so.
Me: Thanks for the kind words. As for Rod & Co. I don’t begrudge them making their arguments. I love conservatism’s internal debates. And, for the record, I loved Wall-E. Indeed, I even think the environmental message was a mixed bag, with good aspects and bad. As for Buchanan, I think you’re entirely right. His differences with Buckleyite conservatism are, today at least, greater than his agreements.