Thirty-And Still Counting

By Tyrrell, R. Emmett, Jr. | The American Spectator, December 1997 | Go to article overview

Thirty-And Still Counting


Tyrrell, R. Emmett, Jr., The American Spectator


Thirty volumes of this magazine have fallen into my wake. High seas may rise ahead, but behind me in those thirty volumes are sealed all the intellectual disputes and literary fashions of a growing conservative movement. Any historian researching the origins of late Twentieth Century politics will have to mine those volumes. Through the years The American Spectator-originally called The Alternative-has also served another useful purpose. It has continued to badger an expiring liberalism through every stage of its macabre degeneration-cruel sport, that, but vastly amusing! From the Johnson administration to the Clinton disadministration our pursuit has been resolute. These thirty volumes exhibit two historic trends: conservatism's (and The American Spectator's) growth towards strength and maturity and liberalism's amazing descent into decadence and the land of fla fla.

Most of the popular themes of the past thirty years can also be found in these thirty volumes. Begun off campus at Indiana University in 1967 by my jovial band of conservative students, the magazine then was roaring and hissing about student protest and the youth rebellion. The theme endured into the 1970's when the last rebellious youths were returning from detox, adapting to adulthood, or accepting holy orders from some skinny swami wearing a dirty turban and sunning his scrawny bones atop the hood of one of his corporate-owned Rolls Royces. By the mid197o's The American Spectator had become absorbed with the public policy debates of the period. Through the writing of such foreign policy sages as Peter Rodman and Carl Gershman we set the record straight on the Vietnam war and how best to proceed with the Cold War. In 198o, conservative policies-both domestic and foreign-having been pretty much settled by the debates of the 197o's, The American Spectator commenced to whoop it up for the incoming Reagan administration. Admittedly, our whoops had suffered a temporary cough and sputter. The incoming president had enlist ed the services of some forty of our writers along with such advisers as Bill Casey, my pro-bono lawyer.

By the late198o's the magazine was moving into investigative journalism, exposing the hollow antics of such a pompous Bushite as James Baker as he labored to transcend the embarrassing good sense of Reaganism. The real Glory Days of our investigative journalism, however, lay ahead with the election of the most eminently investigable president since Warren Gamaliel Harding, Bill Clinton, a kind of Velcro strip for scandal. For a magazine founded by conservative students of the 196o's generation, the 1990's presidency of this student government whiz kid has proved to be one of history's ironies. Through all the carefully contrived balderdash that the Clintons have manufactured about themselves, it was apparent to us, their amused peers, that they were what was called, in the decade of student protest, Coat and Tie Radicals-a more universal term is hypocrite. Back then my conservative friends had guffawed at the Coat and Tie Radicals' moralistic cant, though it was then corrupting politics and the university. Now their moralistic cant having corrupted them, we took a more sober interest in them and set ourselves to the task of exposing their malfeasance and deriding their gruesome manners. Such opportunities cannot be ducked.

Under the headline "Impeach" Mark Helprin recently notified readers of the Wall Street Journal that that Coat and Tie Radical from yesteryear, Bill Clinton, has matured into possibly "the most corrupt, fraudulent, and dishonest president we ever have known." Agreed, and please note that he populated his administration with like minds from the 196o's who shared his, I believe they call it, moral compass. They were the prodigies of their unique generation, and they now are contributing to what David PryceJones in the keystone piece of this, our Thirtieth Anniversary Issue, foresees as a threat equally as dangerous to democracy in the future as Fascism and Communism were to democracy in the past. …

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