Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

From Spiro Agnew to Donald Trump

George F. Will and William A. Rusher
And the time when George F. Will and William A. Rusher locked horns

Major turning points do not always appear as such when they occur. So may be the case with a little-remembered dispute within the ranks of National Review, between its publisher William A. Rusher and the budding journalist George F. Will, more than a half century ago. In retrospect, their tiff appears to have presaged the transformation of the post–World War II conservative movement away from its commitment to small government, free trade, faith in institutional checks on power, and strong U.S. leadership in the world to a more or less disparate agenda subsumed under the motto “America First.”

The path that

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This article appears as “When Rams Locked Horns” in the December 17, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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Alvin S. Felzenberg — Mr. Felzenberg is the author of A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. and The Leaders We Deserved: Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game.

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