The Corner

WFB in NYT

Our revered leader, on what ails conservatism:

ASSESSING the election, William F. Buckley Jr., who founded the National Review magazine and helped define the movement, said he was not optimistic about the immediate future. “The conservative movement is in a sense inanimate, compared to 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.

As for the spending habits of the Republican Congress, “there is a kind of ideological slovenliness which affects the morale,” Mr. Buckley said. “It is as if the American Civil Liberties Union were every couple of days to favor proscribing a particular book or a particular performance or something, causing people to look at the A.C.L.U. and wonder if it had a credible mission.”

He was not sure what might revive the movement, especially since the current combination of low taxes, high government spending and moderate inflation tends to create a sense of economic prosperity — at least in the short term.

“It will perhaps take something like a depreciation of the dollar, something electric,” he said. If countries “stop subsidizing our debt it will be terrible shock to a lot of people, and then I think conservative reservoirs of thought would be consulted.”

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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