Bill died before the burlesque that is Barack Hussein Obama really got going. As I recall, he wrote about Obama only once, early in 2008, just a few weeks before he died. Linda Bridges, Bill’s long-time assistant, and I include the column in our recent anthology of Bill’s political and polemical writings,Athwart History: Half a Century of Polemics, Animadversions, and Illuminations: A William F. Buckley Jr Omnibus. There was little Bill didn’t know about the folly of government intervention, and his connoisseur’s nose for socialist encroachment masquerading as community-based altruism instantly revealed Obama as the redistributionist that he has turned out to be. Thus Bill described as “mischievous” candidate Obama’s suggestion that increased government intervention in our lives would increase the chance that “every American child” would benefit from the riches produced by the mighty engine of American capitalism. It was, Bill observed, a mendacious suggestion, a false promise that would “foster frustration and stimulate disillusion.
“Fostering frustration and stimulating disillusion”: that’s a pretty accurate summary of Obama’s net effect on the body politic of this great county. The title “Athwart History,” as many readers will doubtless already know, comes from the famous publisher’s statement introducing the inaugural issue ofNational Review, on November 19, 1955. “National Review is out of place,” that bulletin declared, “in the sense that the United Nations and the League of Women Voters and the New York Times and Henry Steele Commager are inplace. It is out of place because, in its maturity, literate America rejected conservatism in favor of radical social experimentation.”
This brash new magazine had arrived with its brash young editor to cast a cold, skeptical, and inquisitive light upon that presumption. The magazine “stands athwart history,” Bill announced, “yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”
Bill wrote that nearly sixty years ago. But how relevant it seems to the realities we face now, today, circa 2011. “Radical social experimentation”; “the inroads that relativism has made on the American soul”; “the intransigence of the Liberals, who run this country.” Those are a few of Bill’s concerns in that statement. If those yelling Stop! in 1955 were “out of place,” how much more out of place now, in 2011, when what Bill called “the relationship of the state to the individual” in the United States is poised to undergo its most thoroughgoing transformation in history?