Will's Testament: The Dean of Conservative Columnists Turns to Robert Taft

By Antle, W. James,, III | The American Conservative, February 2010 | Go to article overview

Will's Testament: The Dean of Conservative Columnists Turns to Robert Taft


Antle, W. James,, III, The American Conservative


AS BARACK OBAMA weighed his decision whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan, former Vice President Dick Cheney grew impatient. "The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger," Cheney said. "It's time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity." Most conservative commentators cheered Cheney's broadside, but George F. Will was not amused.

"A bit of dithering might have been in order before we went into Iraq in pursuit of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction," Will said on ABC's "This Week." "For a representative of the Bush administration to accuse someone of taking too much time is missing the point. We have much more to fear in this town from hasty than from slow government action." Thus the dean of Washington conservative columnists refused the helping of red meat being served up by the Spiro Agnew of our time, siding instead with a liberal Democratic president.

One might be tempted to conclude that Will has merely become the latest media figure to be starstruck by Obama, his onetime dining companion. The president has been known to send a thrill up grown men's legs before. Except that when Obama decided he would dispatch 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan after all, Will was just as scathing: "George W. Bush waged preventive war in Iraq regarding (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction. Obama is waging preventive war in Afghanistan to prevent it from again becoming 'a staging platform for terrorists,' which Somalia, Yemen or other sovereignty near-vacuums also could become."

Will argued in his syndicated column that to sustain such a commitment, "U.S. forces might have to be engaged in Afghanistan for decades before its government can prevent that by itself." "The president's party will not support his new policy, his budget will not accommodate it, our overstretched and worn down military will be hard-pressed to execute it, and Americans' patience will not be commensurate with Afghanistan's limitless demands for it," he concluded. "This will not end well."

The emergence of George Will as a skeptic of the hyperinterventionist foreign policy favored by many on the Right--the sorts Will describes as the "most magnificently misnamed neoconservatives" who "are the most radical people in this town"--has been one of the most surprising developments in the Washington debate. He seldom deviated from the neoliberal-to-neoconservative consensus on foreign affairs in the past, and his newfound restraint has come at an interesting time.

The deaths of William F. Buckley Jr. and Robert Novak have left Will the most respected conservative columnist in the country. Only Cal Thomas appears in more newspapers; only Will's fellow Washington Post scribe Charles Krauthammer is comparably influential among conservative elites. Will is unique in that he is both widely read by rank-and-file Republicans and also widely listened to by GOP powerbrokers. But the passing of Buckley and Novak has also left Will almost alone among the top conservative columnists as a critic of foreign adventurism--Novak had opposed post-Cold War interventionism from the start, Buckley had begun to turn against it late in life.

As Will has become more outspoken in assessing the distance between conservative foreign-policy rhetoric and reality, his critics on the Right have tried harder to ostracize him as a pseudoconservative elitist along the lines of New York Times columnist David Brooks. After Will's first column urging U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol hit back in the Washington Post: "Let's be honest. Will is not calling on the United States to accept a moderate degree of success in Afghanistan, and simply to stop short of some overly ambitious goal. Will is urging retreat, and accepting defeat."

"What is fascinating is how Will writes as if Sept. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Will's Testament: The Dean of Conservative Columnists Turns to Robert Taft
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.