The American Conservative, 17 November 2008

In a used book store years ago, I bought some old issues, circa 1965, of National Review.  They weren’t all that interesting on their own merits.  What stuck in my mind about them was the sadness that ran through them.  Each article seemed to be a form of mourning for a kind of politics that was no longer possible, for a kind of country that no longer existed.

That’s very much the feeling I got from this issue of The American Conservative.  The cover features a checklist of G. W. Bush’s “Missions Accomplished”: “Start a war (or two); Shred Constitution; Crash economy” etc, etc.  Inside is a five article retrospective on the horrors of the Bush-Cheney administration (including articles by our old friends Alexander Cockburn and Allen Carlson.)  As Bush and company prepare to leave office, these articles take on a strangely distant sound.

Michael Brendan Daugherty looks at the results of California’s Proposition 8 and concludes that it is likely to be the last victory that he and his fellow opponents of same-sex marriage will be likely to celebrate.  Pointing out that Proposition 8 and similar measures have passed only because so many voters aged over 65 backed them, Daugherty claims that “Absent an incredible shift in attitudes, same sex marriage will soon command majority support.”

David Gordon gives a favorable review to James Kalb’s The Tyranny of Liberalism.  Apparently Kalb defines “liberalism” as “the rejection of moral authorities that transcend human purposes,” and from this definition lays great mischief at the feet of the liberal tradition.  I’ve read several interesting articles by Kalb, for example in the journal Telos, and have gone to his blog in hopes of finding more like those articles.  But I must say I’ve been disappointed.  His editors must add a lot of value to his work- the blog usually includes several overly abstract defenses of the Roman Catholic faith that Kalb has adopted, interspersed with current affairs commentary from what it might be charitable to call an anti-Zionist perspective.

I’m getting to be quite fond of their backpage columnist, Bill Kauffman.  This time around Kauffman remembers novelist John Gardner, who like him lived in Batavia, New York.  After describing the lengths to which he and his fellow Batavians have gone to keep the memory of Gardner and his works alive, Kauffman interjects, “You know what?  Gardner is not even among my hundred favorite American novelists.  But he is ours.  That is enough.”  When I was a teenager, I read Gardner’s The Art of Fiction.  I remember that it was pleasant to read, that’s all I do remember of it.

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1 Comment

  1. cymast

     /  November 25, 2008

    The main reason bigots like Daugherty fail is they are unwaveringly willfully ignorant. Laws against same-sex marriage are a threat to ALL marriages. Laws against same-sex couples adopting is a threat to ALL adoptive parents. Bigotry has nothing to do with how old, young, poor, rich, black, white, or other you are. To assume it has anything to do with any of that is bigotry in itself.

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