Posted by Rojas @ 1:50 am on February 28th 2008

The man the liberty movement needs.

Ilya Somin at Volokh conspiracy, eulogizing William F. Buckley:

First, he distanced intellectual conservatism from the conspiracy-mongering and anti-Semitism which had been an important element of the pre-Buckley American right. For example, Buckley played a crucial role in banishing the conspiracy-oriented John Birch Society from the mainstream conservative movement.

Second, Buckley tried very hard to create a genial and friendly image from conservatism as opposed to one that projected anger, intolerance, and rage. This posture was a natural extension of Buckley’s friendly personality. But, more importantly, he understood that it would be impossible for conservatives to be taken seriously in the liberal-dominated intellectual world without it.

Ron Paul has often been analogized to Goldwater. It’s worth remembering that Goldwater attracted a huge batch of Yahoos, and that he got his butt kicked electorally.

The Goldwater election did not INEVITABLY lead to Reagan. The yahoo purge and stylistic reframing that followed the 1964 election was essential to eventual success.

Who will be our movement’s William F. Buckley?


  1. To some extent, shouldn’t that be “success”? I’m not terribly eager to elect a social conservative who will dramatically increase the budget deficit, though I was, admittedly, pretty young during the Reagan years, so perhaps I don’t have the best perspective.

    Comment by Redland Jack — 2/28/2008 @ 2:37 am

  2. Whoever purges the neocons from the party.

    Comment by daveg — 2/28/2008 @ 3:40 am

  3. The yahoo purge and stylistic reframing that followed the 1964 election was essential to eventual success.

    Which should not be confused with the purge of 1996, shortly before the height of Republican power, which was painstakingly acheied by the “old guard”.

    This second purge, achieved on the back of great Republican achievements like the Monica Lewinsky scandal, was the begining of the decline of the conservative movement, both in its public support and its policy success.

    I remember reading the WSJ back in the 1980s when inflation fighting was urged almost every day on the opinion pages. Now, not to much about that, but lots of discussion on the Iraq war.

    Yeah, let’s get rid of the kooks, definately.

    Comment by daveg — 2/28/2008 @ 3:51 am

  4. Tucker Carlson

    Comment by weltschmerz — 2/28/2008 @ 4:57 am

  5. Is the best analogy for Ron Paul’s primary loss 1964 after Goldwater lost the election, or 1976 after Reagan lost to Ford in the Republican primary?

    There were, no doubt, similar calls to purge those Reagan “kooks” from the movement in 1976. Reagan had some very controversial views back then when everyone was a “Keynesian”

    And keep in mind, we do have several alternative liberty movements (Cato, Reason, etc), none of which have achieved even a fraction of the success of the Ron Paul/Lew Rockwell version. Given that, any attempt to make the current movement look more like those alternative movements should be viewed skeptically.

    Meanwhile, gold, oil, wheat and the Euro reach new highs.

    Comment by daveg — 2/28/2008 @ 6:22 am

  6. “the liberal-dominated intellectual world”

    I want you all to think long and hard about that sentence.

    Comment by fred — 2/28/2008 @ 8:17 am

  7. Who will be our movementís William F. Buckley?

    Reluctantly, I accept.

    Comment by Adam — 2/28/2008 @ 9:00 am

  8. Does that mean you are going to die now?

    Comment by James — 2/28/2008 @ 11:51 am

  9. I don’t know about Reagan. He talked great, but his legacy in the Republican party is terrible. His best lasting contribution to Republican party is supply-side economics, and even then they’re framing the problem incorrectly.

    Supply-sider would be nice if they would only focus on the fact that the people have more money to spend and invest whether they be rich or poor. Then maybe then we could get the tax rates back to 1913 levels. You know 1% to maybe a maximum of 7%. The supply sider instead focus on government revenue. It’s as if the government became a big coercive corporation trying to figure out how to maximum profit for its ruling elite and well-connected businesses.

    Ending the cold war by spending the Soviets into the ground would have been nice if we actually got a peace dividend. Meanwhile balanced budgets went out the window. Fighting inflation and big government programs were dropped off the platform. Reagan stopped mentioning the Gold Standard as a flawed but better alternative to the FRN system. Meanwhile Social Security and Medicare insolvency wasn’t addressed at all by the larger more regressive payroll tax that Reagan agreed to.

    I think that the establishment has always hated the Reagan and Goldwater types. Even when Reagan or Goldwater types win, the establishment ends up insidiously corrupting and distorting their platforms.

    Comment by TanGeng — 2/28/2008 @ 2:01 pm

  10. I am not the hugest Reagan fan myself (although I don’t care about him de-emphasising the Gold Standard, because if we’re going to have arbitrary floating valuations of currencies (and we are, obviously) I’d rather have one that allows for more growth). I’m not sure that his intentions were corrupted by the establishment, though; I think that he was a through-and-through politician and he made compromises in pursuit of what he thought was important (and in some of that, like supply-side economics, he was just mistaken).

    Spending the Soviets into the ground was around before Reagan, I would say (the Space Race is an excellent example of it, although it’s also an excellent example of reframing a competition to favour oneself because the Soviets clearly won the ‘space race’; the US won the ‘man on the moon race’).

    It seems to me that Reagan’s biggest achievement was not being Carter. That’s obviously a low bar but one that, nevertheless, the current President appears to have failed to clear.

    Comment by Adam — 2/28/2008 @ 2:38 pm

  11. Well, I don’t really favor a Gold Standard either, but the Gold Standard was part of Reagan’s platform that he later de-emphasized. I think it was largely thanks to Paul Volker and the 20% Fed. Funds rate that killed the inflation bug and made inflation a non-issue for much of the 80’s. The problem was of course many people couldn’t afford houses.

    A computerized automatic constantly expanding money supply a la Milton Friedman proposals would be best. Then the Fed Reserve would just be a source of money and wouldn’t be in on this price fixing scheme where they set target short term interest rates. It would also be much more predictable and remove the need to have to guess what the Fed will do next. Besides, the Fed sets targets at 25 basis point intervals with freedom to fluctuate around the target. The free market could set the rate at any fraction of a basis point and would fluctuate to accommodate the market.

    Spending the USSR was the meme of the Cold War. There were talks of windows, arms races, space races, and war over small far away countries, NATO vs Warsaw Pact, and all the strategically placed military bases on foreign soil to support such a strategy. When the Cold War ended, there was an idea of a peace dividend that never did materialize. We had Gulf War in 1990 and never did look back.

    Well said. Reagan was no Carter.

    Comment by TanGeng — 2/28/2008 @ 4:05 pm

  12. I agree with you on the ‘peace dividend’; there were cuts in the military budget in real terms, I believe, but it was hardly paying for the Cold War expenses.

    I would also like to see some of the guessing about Fed actions reduced, although it seems to me that there’ll always be something to speculate over based on Fed actions (the collection of the data, etc) so maybe we’d just be pushing the news of the changes to come back into the reports.

    Samuelson recently made the same point you do here, about Volker (he says that Reagan’s biggest economic contribution was giving Volker the cover he needed to do what he did). The interesting problem that Bernanke has (that I mentioned recently) is that maybe he’s shot his bolt. Interest rates are low but mortgage rates aren’t following because lenders fear that the low interest rates will help push inflation, thus devalueing their business requiring them to raise interest rates. That wouldn’t be a disaster if not for the fact that the housing market has already taken the economy to the edge of a precipice; how much more housing-related harm, such as that caused by the tightening mortgage market, the economy can take is a moot point.

    Comment by Adam — 2/28/2008 @ 5:09 pm

  13. Where we did get a ‘peace dividend’–disbanding USIA and cutting back USAID, amongst other things, is now serving to bite us in the ass.

    Comment by Leotie — 3/1/2008 @ 8:21 pm

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