Magazine article The American Conservative

Right from the Beginning

Magazine article The American Conservative

Right from the Beginning

Article excerpt

How quickly time flies, and how much more quickly they forget? It was ten years ago that I flew to Washington to see Pat Buchanan with a proposal in mind. Scott McConnell was with me, and the deal we presented to Pat was a new magazine whose sole purpose would be to recapture traditional conservatism from the hijackers of the movement, namely the neo-cons, back then, as now, riding high and Iago-like whispering in W's ears about an end to evil.

Pat immediately agreed. "But where's the money coming from?" I swallowed hard, and pointed at my chest. "That's great," said Pat, "when do we start?" It was as simple as that. Pat runs a dry house, which was a bit of a letdown, but I did get rather drunk that evening in Cafe Milano. They say that owning a yacht is like sitting under a shower tearing up $100 bills. Financing a political magazine is less fun. It's like sitting in a drab D.C. hotel room throwing $1,000 bills into a flickering fire. But I didn't mind. This was six years before the you-know-what hit the fan, and the neocons were going over the top, conflating Israel's interests with America's, demanding that Uncle Sam go to war against Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, and cheer-leading for American "benevolent global hegemony."

The neocons back then--as now--had something very good going for them: namely, the ability of the American people to forget rather easily. In 2002 their rallying cry was the same one they had been preaching for de cades, that wars are caused by appeasers, and that it was tough guys like W who do the unpopular thing and stand up to dictators. The media were like groupies allowed inside a rock star's hotel suite. Ready to obey and strip.

Time dulls memory and makes it hard to evoke the war fever of those days, weeks, and months leading up to the greatest disaster ever for Uncle Sam's foreign policy. The ground had been prepared by the usual suspects, the Podhoretzes, Kristols, Feiths, Perles, and Wolfowitzes of this world. Those of us who opposed the war were seen not only as unpatriotic, in a climate reminiscent of the Moscow purges, but also as anti-Semites, America Firsters, racist scum. Attending the funeral of a common friend with William F. Buckley, I noticed Norman Podhoretz about to have a seizure when Bill and I sat next to him. …

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