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Barnes and... A Conversation with Sam Tanenhaus

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Sam Tanenhaus, the New York Times Book Review editor, will discuss his new book, "The Death of Conservatism," which argues that today's conservative party has lost its way and needs to rediscover its roots. Drawing on 20 years of research on modern conservatism, Tanenhaus offers a panoramic view of today's politics as well as new interpretations of figures from Dwight Eisenhower and Joseph McCarthy to Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush and reexamines thinkers from Whittaker Chambers and James Burnham, William F. Bucklen and Garry Wills.

TRANSCRIPT

HELLO AGAIN, EVERYONE. THANKS VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US. WE ARE COMING TO YOU FROM THE LIBRARY OF THE CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CENTER WITH LECTURING IS SAM TANENHAUS. AND SAM, YOU ARE THE EDITOR OF -- OR RATHER THE AUTHOR OF "DEATH OF CONSERVATISM" A BOOK THAT'S CREATING QUITE A BUZZ.

WELL, YOU WRITE AN ARGUMENT BOOK AND YOU HAVE TO EXPECT PEOPLE TO ARGUE BACK.

THEY WOULD ARGUE RIGHT NOW, MANY WOULD, THAT GIVEN THE EVENTS OF THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS, THAT THE DEATH -- THE PRONUNCIATION OR THE PROCLAMATION THAT CONSERVATIVE IS DEAD THAT IT'S PREMATURE.

OR HIGHLY EXAGGERATED. ACTUALLY WHAT I ARGUE IN THE BOOK, STEVE, IS WHAT WE ARE SEEING NOW IS NOT REALLY CONSERVATISM, NOT ACCORDING TO THE CLASSICAL HISTORICAL DEFINITION. ITS REALLY A FORM OF RADICALISM, WHAT I CALL REVAMPISM. IT'S A MOVEMENT, RATHER THAN A PHILOSOPHY IN OUR TIME THAT SEEKS TO FIND A WAY TO GOVERN THE COUNTRY. CONSERVATISM, WHEN IT WAS CREATED MORE THAN TWO CENTURIES AGO BY EDMOND BURKE, STATESMAN AND PHILOSOPHY WAS TO DEAL WITH UPHEAVALS IN SOCIETY THAT WOULD PRESERVE GOVERNMENT, AND THE GREAT INSTITUTIONS IN SOCIETY. WHAT WE SEE NOW IS A KIND OF RADICALISM ON THE RIGHT THAT SEEMS OPPOSED TO GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSED TO MANY OF THE INSTITUTIONS IN OUR SOCIETY. SO TO MY MIND, THE PROPHECY THAT I OFFER IN THE BOOK IS COMING ALL TOO TRUE AND IT CONCERNS ME.

WELL, HOW CONCERNED SHOULD WE BE, REALLY? I MEAN, IF THIS IS A RESPONSE, IF IT'S A REACTION, RATHER THAN ITS OWN MOVEMENT? WHAT'S THE PERIL?

WELL, THE PERIL IS SOMETHING THAT WE ARE SEEING NOW. TO GIVE A SMALL EXAMPLE THAT IS IMPORTANT IN A SYMBOLIC WAY AND IT'S THE REASON THAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT. WHEN A CONGRESSMAN FROM SOUTH CAROLINA G DISHONORS REALLY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA COMES AND SPEAKS AND DENOUNCES HIM IN THIS VERY AGGRESSIVE WAY AND VIOLATES THE RULES OF HIS OWN CHAMBER. THIS IS WHY THERE WAS A DISAPPROVAL MEASURE PUT THROUGH. HE'S ACTUALLY SHOWING A KIND OF DISDAIN FOR HOW OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM HAS HISTORICALLY WORKED. I DON'T MEAN TO OVERSTATE IT. WE ARE NOT IN DANGER OF SEEING CONGRESS OR THE PRESIDENCY WEAKENED BY ALL OF THIS.

WOULD BURKE NECESSARILY DISAPPROVE OF AN OUTBURST IN THE COMMONS, FOR EXAMPLE?

WELL, HE MIGHT NOT BECAUSE THE CORRESPONDS HAS A HISTORY OF OUTBURSTS, AND THEY HAVE, OF COURSE, A DIFFERENT POLITICAL SYSTEM. THEIR PRIME MINISTER IS NOT THE HEAD OF STATE, THE WAY OUR PRESIDENT IS. BUT BEYOND THAT, STEVE, WHAT'S GOING ON IS A SENSE ON THE RIGHT THAT GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY ARE AT WAR WITH THE GREAT AMERICAN VALUES. WITH WE LOOK AT THE TAX MARCHERS IN WASHINGTON SO RECENTLY AND MANY OF THEM SAID, QUITE APART FROM THEIR DISAGREEMENTS AND IN SOME CASES REALLY INSULTS DIRECTED TOWARDS THE PRESIDENT THAT CAN BE DISTURBING, SOME OF THEM SAID IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT BARACK OBAMA. WE HATE CONGRESS TOO. WE HATE REPUBLICANS, AS WELL AS DEMOCRATS. WHAT THEY ARE REALLY SAYING IS THEY DON'T THINK THE POLITICAL PROCESS ITSELF CAN LEAD TO THE SOLUTIONS THAT THEY WANT TO SEE IN OUR COUNTRY, IN SOMETHING LIKE HEALTHCARE OR THE GREAT ECONOMIC EMERGENCY WE STILL SEEM TO BE IN, THAT THEY HAVE LOST FAITH IN THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT TO SOLVE SOME OF THE REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS. WELL, CONSERVATIVISM, HISTORICALLY HAS SEEN THAT GOVERNMENT REALLY SHOULD RESPOND TO THE CRISIS OF THE TIME. THAT'S WHY TWO OF THE PRESIDENTS I DESCRIBE IN MY BOOK AS BEING CLASSICALLY CONSERVATIVE WERE A REPUBLICAN, DWIGHT EISENHOWER, AND A DEMOCRAT, GET READY, BILL CLINTON BECAUSE EACH ADJUSTED HIS WORLD VIEW AND HIS POLICIES TO THE TEMPER OF THE NATION AT THE TIME HE HELD OFFICE. SO PRESIDENT CLINTON, FOR INSTANCE, WAS ELECTED MORE OR LESS AS A KIND OF LIBERAL DEMOCRAT, A JFK, LBJ, KENNEDY AND JOHNSON, NEW FRONTIER, GREAT SOCIETY, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT. WELL, WHAT DID HE FIND? HE FOUND THAT THE COUNTRY REALLY HAD ACCEPTED MUCH OF THE REPUBLICAN IDEOLOGY OF THE THREE PRECEDING PRESIDENCIES, RONALD REAGAN'S TWO PRESIDENCIES AND GEORGE H.W. BUSH'S, WHICH REALLY VALUED AND PRIZED THE UP LEASHED FORCES OF THE MARKET. SO WHAT DID CLINTON DO? HE SAID, MAYBE THIS IS WHERE THE COUNTRY WANTS TO GO AND PRESIDED OVER EIGHT YEARS OF PROSPERITY. HERE'S A FACT. IT'S QUITE AMAZING THAT ISN'T MENTIONED MUCH, EVERY SINGLE YEAR BILL CLINTON WAS PRESIDENT, UNEMPLOYMENT DECREASED. EIGHT CONSECUTIVE CAREERS. I'M NOT AWARE OF A PRECEDENT FOR THAT. WE ARE CERTAINLY NOT SEEING IT TODAY AND IT'S BECAUSE HE PRAGMATICALLY ADJUSTED HIS COURSE TO THE REALITIES ON THE GROUND, AND THAT'S WHAT CONSERVATIVES ARE SUPPOSED TO DO, NOT COME IN WITH A LAUNDRY LIST OF IDEAL LOGICAL ITEMS AND FIGHT TO THE LAST MAN ON EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. THAT IS NOT CONSERVATIVE. IT'S ALMOST MORE A KIND OF RADICAL REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO POLITICS.

AND YET, SAM, NOTHING WOULD SEEM ANIMATE THE RIGHT MORE THAN PRAGMATISM, RICHARD NIXON DROVE THE HARD RIGHT ON HIS PARTY NUTS.

YES, BECAUSE CONSERVATIVES IN THIS COUNTRY AND MY BOOK IS A NAGTIVE THAT TELLS THE HISTORY OF THE RISE --

IT IRRITATES LIBERALS AS WELL.

IT DOES VERY MUCH. EACH SIDE HAS A DIFFERENT EPITAPH FOR ME. IT'S REALLY ABOUT THE ORIGINS, THE RISE, THE TRIUMPHS, THE SUCCESSES AND THEN THE DECLINE OF CONSERVATISM. AND WHAT ANIMATED THAT MOVEMENT AT ITS BEST WAS REALLY AN INTERIOR DIALOGUE, A DEBATE. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CONSERVATIVE? HOW REALISTIC AND PRAGMATIC SHOULD YOU BE? HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU STICK TO THESE VERY HARD CORE PRINCIPLES, SMALLER GOVERNMENT, MAXIMUM LIBERTARIAN FREEDOM FOR EACH CITIZEN? AND WHAT HAPPENED IS AT TIMES WHEN VERY STRONG DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS CAME IN AND INITIATED MAJOR CHANGES, AS FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT DID TO MEET THE EMERGENCY OF THE NEW DEAL, ONE WING OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WOULD STAND IN OPPOSITION TO HIM. BUT WHAT WE FORGET IS THAT THE MAJOR LEGISLATION PASSED DURING THE NEW DEAL WAS BIPARTISAN, BECAUSE IN THOSE DAYS, THERE WAS A LARGE CONSTITUENCY OF NORTHERN, NORTHEASTERN REPUBLICANS WHO POLITICALLY WERE NOT VERY DIFFERENT FROM MODERATE DEMOCRATS. THAT'S WHY FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT ACTUALLY CONSIDERED REALIGNING THE PARTIES. HE WANTED TO HAVE A KIND OF NORTH, NORTHEASTERN PARTY AND A SOUTHERN PARTY. TO SOME EXTENT, THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE NOW, BECAUSE THE SOLID SOUTH, AS IT USED TO BE CALLED, WHICH WAS THEN DEMOCRATIC, BECAME REPUBLICAN. THAT'S ONE REASON YOU SEE THE KIND OF GRIDLOCK WE HAVE NOW.

YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT -- YOU MENTION -- YOU QUOTE MOYNIHAN, I THINK AT SOME POINT IN THE BOOK AND SAY, SPARE ME FROM IDEALOUGES. WHERE DOES PRINCIPLE BECOME IDEOLOGY? HAVE WE CONFUSED THE TWO, LEFT AND RIGHT.

I THINK WE HAVE. PRINCIPLE BECOMES IDEOLOGY WHEN IT BECOMES THE MECHANISM THROUGH WHICH YOU MEASURE AND JUDGE EVERYTHING. THAT IS TO SAY, WHEN YOU COME IN WITH A CHECK LIST AND YOU KEEP SCORE. POLITICS IS SCORE KEEPING, THEN IT'S IDEOLOGICAL. LET ME GIVE YOU A GREAT EXAMPLE THAT INVOLVES DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN AND THE FIGURE THAT I THINK IS THE GREATEST CONSERVATIVE, WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY. AMERICA WAS IN A CHAOTIC CONDITION. THERE WAS GREAT OPPOSITION TO A WAR IN VIETNAM THAT LED TO MILITANT CY ON THE NEW LEFT. SOME OF THEM EMBRACED VIOLENCE. THERE WAS TREMENDOUS SOCIAL DISRUPTION AT HOME BECAUSE THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT HAD LEFT THE SOUTH, WHERE THE ISSUE HAD BEEN THE JIM CROW SEGREGATION AND MIGRATED TO THE NORTH WHERE THE ISSUES WERE MORE COMPLICATED. THEY HAD MORE TO DO WITH EMPLOYMENT, WITH HOUSING, WITH EDUCATION. HADIT HAD TO DO WITH HOW THE FABRIC OF NORTHERN SOCIETY WAS ADJUSTING AMONGST THE ETHNIC GROUPS AND DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN WAS ONE OF THE SCHOLARS OF ETHNICITY, AND HAD BEEN THE ARCHITECT OF THE GREAT SOCIETY PROGRAMS UNDER LYNDON B. JOHNSON, AND HE LOOKED AROUND IN 1967, WHEN SOME OF THE GREAT CITIES IN AMERICA WERE GOING UP IN NAMES, DETROIT, NEWARK, EARLIER IT HAD BEEN LOS ANGELES, WASHINGTON IN 1965.

WASHINGTON.

WELL, THEN AFTER THE ASSASSINATION OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, THERE WERE TWO GREAT LEADERS ASSASSINATED IN A SINGLE ELECTION YEAR IN 1968, ROBERT KENNEDY, MARTIN LUTHER KING, FOLLOWED BY RIOTS. THE COUNTRY SEEMED TO BE COMING APART. AT THAT TIME, PRESIDENT JOHNSON WHO WAS STILL LOSING SUPPORT BUT STILL HAD A VERY GOOD CHANCE, IT SEEMED, OF GETTING REELECTED. THERE WAS NO VERY STRONG REPUBLICAN JUST YET WHO COULD CHALLENGE HIM. WELL, HE WAS CHALLENGED FROM WITHIN HIS OWN PART BY SENATOR EUGENE McCARTHY WHO WAS AN ANTIWAR ACTIVIST IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, CHALLENGED JOHNSON IN A PRIMARY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE AND DIDN'T DEFEAT HIM BUT ALMOST DID. HE DID WELL ENOUGH THAT JOHNSON DECIDED NOT TO SEEK REELECTION. THIS IS A MOMENT WHERE REPUBLICANS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING THE WAR DANCE. THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT IS GOING DOWN. THE REPUBLICANS ARE ALMOST GUARANTEED A VICTORY. BUT THE GREAT WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY DIDN'T SAY THAT. HE FOLLOWED THE RETURNS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, THE PRIMARY RETURNS, HEARD JOHNSON'S SPEECH, SAYING I SHALL NOT SPEAK REELECTION AND SAID THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG IN AMERICA. CAR LOADS OF STUDENT KALAMAZOOSR LOADS OF STUDENTS CAN DRIVE ACROSS THE BORDERS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE AND TAKE DOWN A SITTING PRESIDENT. THAT'S NOT THE WAY OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM IS SUPPOSED TO WORK. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE AN ORDERLY SOCIETY THAT VALUES THE POLITICAL PROCESS IN ALL ITS WAYS, AND ALL THE COMPLEX MACHINERY OF ELECTIONS AND BUCKLEY, THE LEADER OF THE INTELLECTUAL CONSERVATIVES BECAME A DEFENDER OF A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT. THAT'S THE KIND OF FLEXIBILITY WE DON'T SEE NOW. AT THAT SAME TIME, DANIEL MOYNIHAN, PATRICK MOYNIHAN WHO GOT VERY NERVOUS ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THAT WERE NOT WORKING AND THE VIOLENCE IN THE STREETS SAID NOW IS THE TIME FOR RESPONSIBLE REPUBLICANS AND RESPONSIBLE DEMOCRATS TO COME TOGETHER AND CREATE WHAT HE CALLED A POLITICS OF STABILITY WHICH CAME DIRECTLY OUT OF THE WRITINGS OF EDMOND BURKE. AND BILL BUCKLEY SAID, HE WROTE IN A COLUMN, "ANYTHING WE CONSERVATIVE CAN DO TO HELP, JUST HOLLER." WHO IS SAYING THAT NOW?

WELL, THAT WAS MY. WHERE IS -- DOES, A, DOES CONSERVATIVE NEED A BUCKLEY IN YOUR OPINION AND WHERE IS HE OR SHE? DO YOU SEE ONE?

WELL, WE'D LIKE TO HAVE A BUCKLEY, A BUCKLEY IS JEP RUSS,- GENEROUS, ONE OF A KIND. WE WON'T SEE ANYONE LIKE HIM AGAIN. BARACK OBAMA HAS THE TEMPERAMENT OF A CONSERVATIVE. I DON'T THINK HIS POLITICS ARE CONSERVATIVE, BUT I THINK HE HAS SOME OF THE ATTRIBUTES WE LOOK FOR IN CONSERVATIVE LEADERS. ONE IS HE'S A GREAT LISTENER. ANYONE WHO DID NOT HEAR THE AUDIO BOOK OF "DREAM FROM MY FATHER." HE DOES ALL THE VOICES. HE DOES THE KANSAS GRANDFATHER, AND THE PHONE CALL FROM THE KENYAN. HE'S A GREAT LISTENER AND ON THE GREAT SPEECH IN PHILADELPHIA, HE DID A GREAT RACE SPEECH. EVEN THOUGH BARACK OBAMA IS A MAN OF THE LEFT, WE MIGHT SAY, HE HAS ABSORBED THE ARGUMENTS AND VOCABULARY, THE LANGUAGE, THE CADENCES OF CONSERVATISM. THAT'S HOW HE REACH A HIGHER POLITICAL DEBATE AND DISCUSSION, WHEN EACH SIDE LISTENS TO THE OTHER. NOW, WHAT I POINT OUT IN THE BOOK IS THERE ARE A NUMBER OF EXCEPTIONAL CONSERVATIVE THINKERS AND WRITERS, BUT WE DON'T THINK OF THEM AS CONSERVATCONSERVATIVES BECAUSE T THE MOVEMENT. THEY FELT THERE WAS NO PLACE, THE GREAT "NEWSWEEK" EDITOR AND FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT BEGAN AS A MOVEMENT CONSERVATIVE. FRANCIS FUKIAMA WHO WROTE THE CLASSIC "THE END OF HISTORY." HE WAS THE GREAT NEO CONSERVATIVE FOREIGN POLICY THINKER. ANDREW SULLIVAN WHOSE BLOG EVERYONE READS WAS A DEFENDER OF GEORGE BUSH IN HIS EARLY MONTHS, WHO HAS NOW BECOME ONE OF THE BIGGEST CRITICS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. THESE ARE FIRST-RATE THINKERS AND WRITERS WHO SHOULD BE LEADING THE WAY FOR CONSERVATIVISM, BUT INSTEAD, FELT EVICTED FROM MODERN CONSERVATIVISM, SO THOSE VOICES HAVE BEEN LOST. SOME WAY CONSERVATIVES NEED TO FIND A NEW VOCABULARY. YOU KNOW, I TALK A LOT ABOUT WORDS BUT WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY IN ONE OF HIS GREATEST COMMENTS, DEFENDING RONALD REAGAN WHEN HE WAS GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, PROMISED -- HAVING PROMISED TO SLASH THE STATE BUDGET AND INSTEAD INCREASED IT MORE THAN ANY GOVERNOR IN HISTORY BEING BUCKLEY SAID, WHAT HE -- HISTORY, BUCK L BUCKLEY SAID, WS HE SUPPOSED TO DO? PAD LOCK THE WHOLE THING? IF WHAT YOU SAY ANNUNCIATES A CLEAR PHILOSOPHY, THAT DOESN'T HOLD YOU IN EVERY ACTION TO AN IDEOLOGICAL LITMUS TEST AND THAT'S WHEN PRINCIPLE CEASES TO BE FLEXIBLE AND ADJUSTABLE AND BECOMES A KIND OF HARD IDEOLOGY THAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AND YOU CAN'T GOVERN THAT WAY.

YOU DRAW A DISTINCTION, SAM, BETWEEN CONSERVATIVE, AND MOVEMENT CONSERVATIVISM.

YES.

YOU DECLARE MOVEMENT CONSERVATIVISM DEAD.

AS A VITAL FORCE THAT'S CONTRIBUTING TO OUR POLITICS. I ALSO SAY IN THE BOOK, WE ARE HEARING A LOT OF LOUD VOICES. WE ARE HEARING THEM ON CABLE TELEVISION, ON TALK RADIO AND HEARING THEM FROM MARCHERS IN THE STREETS. IT'S NOT THAT THOSE VOICES HAVE GROWN V SILENT. WHAT THEY HAVE BECOME IS MUTE WHEN THE GREAT ISSUES OF THE DAY ARE PRESENTED. IF YOU LOOK AT THE "NEW YORK TIMES," YOU WILL SEE AN OP ED PIECE WRITTEN BY A DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM ORGAN, RON WYDEN, PROPOSING A DIFFERENT HEALTHCARE POLICY. THAT'S NOT -- IT'S COMING FROM A DEMOCRAT. ALL THE DEBATES ARE COMING FROM WITHIN ONE PARTY BECAUSE THE REPUBLICANS INSTEAD HAVE TAKEN -- DRAWN A LINE IN THE SAND AN IDEAL LOGICAL LINE IN THE SAND THAT SAYS THIS IS A GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER AND WE OPPOSE IT. RATHER THAN SAYING, OF COURSE WE HAVE A MAJOR PROBLEM. WE HAVE A RUN AWAY SPENDING PROGRAM THAT'S DRAINING OUR NATIONAL TREASURY. IT'S DRAINING OUR POCKETBOOKS AS CITIZENS. HOW DO WE FIX IT? WHAT IS THE BEST SOLUTION? WE WILL HELP THE PRESIDENT FIND A SOLUTION? WHEN LYNDON JOHNSON WAS THE MAJORITY LEADER IN THE SENATE, UNDER A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT IN THE MID1950s, HE AND SAM LABORN WHO WERE THE LEADERS IN THE HOUSE, SAID, WE WILL HELP PRESIDENT EISENHOWER GOVERN. OUR JOB IS TO HELP HIM GOVERN, NOT TO OBSTRUCT. IT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO GO ALONG WITH EVERY SINGLE POLICY YOU DISA DISAGREE WITH, BUT YOUE TO BEGIN FROM AN ORIGINAL POINT OF CONSENSUS. WE AGREE THERE'S A PROBLEM. WE AGREE THERE'S PROBABLY A SOLUTION WE ALL CAN LIVE WITH. LET'S FIND IT TOGETHER. THAT'S WHAT HAS DISAPPEARED.

HOW TO GET IT BACK?

GREAT, IMPORTANT QUESTION. I -- THE SMALL PIECE I HAVE TRIED TO DO IN MY BOOK IS TO URGE ALL OF US, CONSERVATIVES AND LIBERALS TO LOOK BACK AT CONSERVATIVE HISTORY AND SEE HOW IT WAS DONE. SEE HOW A PRESIDENT LIKE RICHARD NIXON TOOK OVER VERY LIBERAL IDEAS AND FOUND A WAY TO RECAST THEM IN A CONSERVATIVE MODEL. HE -- REMEMBER TED KENNEDY SAID ONE OF HIS GREAT REGRETS IS THAT HE HAD NOT MET NIXON HALFWAY ON HEALTHCARE, THAT NIXON WAS ACTUALLY OFFERING HIM A PROGRAM THAT'S BETTER THAN WHAT -- THAN WHAT BARACK OBAMA WANTS TO DO! AND THEY -- TED KENNEDY COULDN'T SEE IT. HE WAS TRAPPED IN HIS IDEOLOGY. THIS IS NOT STRICTLY A CONSERVATIVE PROBLEM. WHAT NIXON DOES WAS TO SAY THERE ARE SOME VERY SMART LIBERAL IDEAS THERE BUT I WILL NOT TRY TO ENACT THEM, UNLESS I CAN FIND A CONSERVATIVE METHOD. SO, FOR INSTANCE, HE AND DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN TOGETHER CREATED SOMETHING THEY CALL THE FAMILY ASSISTANCE PLAN, WHICH WAS GOING TO RADICALLY OVERHAUL WELFARE DISPERSEMENTS IN AMERICA, BY DOING TWO THINGS. FIRST OF ALL, GIVING CASH DIRECTLY TO THE POOR. SO THAT THERE WOULD NOT BE A BUREAUCRACY THAT GOT IN THE WAY AND ALSO LETTING THE STATES AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES DISPERSE THAT MONEY. SO IT WOULD BE DECENTRALIZED AND THE PROGRAM DIED, PARTLY BECAUSE NIXON COULD NOT BUILD THE POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR IT, ALSO BECAUSE VIETNAM JUST ERASED ALL OF HIS DOMESTIC POLICIES. BUT THERE WAS A MOMENT WHEN A CONSERVATIVE ACTED AS A CONSERVATIVE AND ALSO TRIED TO MAKE PEACE WITH THE LIBERALS. WHAT WE NEED NOW IS FOR CONSERVATIVES TO LOOK BACK OVER THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THEIR OWN GREAT PRESIDENCIES. RONALD REAGAN DID THIS AS WELL. REMEMBER, HERE'S A GUY WHO EARLY IN HIS CAREER OPPOSED SOCIAL SECURITY, OPPOSED MEDICARE, BUT WHEN HE RAN FOR PRESIDENT IN 1980, ASSURED THE VOTERS HE WOULD NOT TOUCH EITHER ONE OF THEM. IS THAT CYNICAL POLITICS? MAYBE A LITTLE BIT. BUT POLITICS IS ABOUT COMPROMISE AND GIVING GROUND. WE NEED CONSERVATIVES TO LOOK AT THEIR OWN PAST AND TRADITIONS AND RECOVER THE BEST OF IT, AND SAY WE ARE NOT GOING TO DECLARE WAR. WE ARE NOT GOING TO FIGHT A CULTURE WAR AGAINST THE DEMOCRATS AND THE LIBERALS. AMERICANS WILL NOT PROFIT FROM THAT WAR. INSTEAD, WE WILL LOOK FOR THE PLACES WHERE GOVERNANCE ITSELF CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND TRY TO COOPERATE OR FIND OUR OWN POLICIES THAT ARE BETTER. PUT SOMETHING BETTER ON THE TABLE. CONSERVATIVES USED TO BELIEVE IN GOVERNMENT AND IN GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACIES, BUT NO LONGER. THEY DECLARED THEM THE ENEMY, WHEN, IN FACT, IT'S GOVERNMENT THAT CAN PUT A BREAK ON THE EXCESSES OF A PRESIDENT EVEN. DWIGHT EISENHOWER LIKED THE BUREAUCRACIES IN WASHINGTON BECAUSE THEY SLOWED EVERYTHING DOWN. AND OUR CONSERVATIVES --

STABILITY.

STABILITY. THEY THINK THAT BUREAUCRATS ARE DRIVING OUR POLITICS. THE POLITICS AND THE POLICIES REALLY COME FROM THE PEOPLE. SO WE NEED CONSERVATIVES TO STOP BEING MOUTHS AND BECOME EARS AGAIN AND LISTEN TO WHERE MOST OF US ARE. SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE, IF IT WAS THAT MANY OR 75,000, WE DON'T EVEN KNOW THE NUMBER, WERE MARCHING IN WASHINGTON ARE ONE TINY SEGMENT OF THIS COUNTRY. MOST OF THE COUNTRY IS STILL IN THE MIDDLE, LOOKING FOR GUIDANCE, ALSO WAITING TO BE HEARD. NOW IS THE TIME FOR CONSERVATIVES TO COME FORWARD AND SAY WE ARE LISTENING.

A GLARING DISCONNECT, I THINK, WAS YOUR TERM BETWEEN WHAT -- WHAT WE VIEW AS -- OR WHAT IS WIDELY VIEWED AS CONSERVATIVISM TODAY WAX IS VIEWED AS THE FACE OF CONSERVATIVISM TODAY, I THINK YOU ARGUE IN YOUR BOOK REPRESENTS A GLARING DISCONNECT BETWEEN POLITICAL REALITY, A CULTURAL, SOCIAL REALITY AND THERE'S THIS DISCONNECT.

I THINK SO.

IS THAT AS PROFOUND IN CONGRESS OR IS THAT A REACTION AMONG THE REPUBLICAN POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT?

I THINK IT'S BOTH.

TO CABLE TV, TO THE HARSH VOICES ON THE RIGHT? THEY SEEM QUITE DISORIENTED.

I THINK THAT'S RIGHT. WHAT WE HAVE SEEN, BECAUSE OF THE DIS APPEARANCE OF THESE VERY POWERFULLY ARTICULATE, THOUGHTFUL, CONSERVATIVE INTELLECTUALS A VOID HAS BEEN FILLED. AND IT'S BEEN FILLED ON THE AIRWAVES AND THE RADIO WAVES. TELEVISION, RADIO, ALSO IN CONGRESS. REMEMBER, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY BEFORE IT WAS OVERHAULED REALLY BY THE BARRY GOLDWATER MOVEMENT IN 1964 WAS FAIRLY DIVERSE IDEOLOGICALLY. THAT PARTY NOW MARCHES IN LOCK STEP. REMEMBER, NOT A SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS VOTED FOR THE STIMULUS PACKAGE. PROBABLY NOT A SINGLE ONE WILL VOTE FOR HEALTHCARE. AND SO REPUBLICANS IS KIND OF LEFT THE FIELD. THEY HAVE VACATED THE FIELD AND SAID WE WANT NO PART OF THIS. THE INTELLECTUALS SHOULD BE HOLDING THEM IN LINE BUT THEY ARE NOT. THE INTELLECTUALS AT THE MAGAZINE PUBLICATIONS LIKE "NATIONAL REVIEW" WHICH BILL BUCKLEY FOUNDED IN 1955, AND "THE WEEKLY STANDARD" THESE PUBLICATIONS HAVE BECOME MORE IDEOLOGICALLY ALIGNED WITH THE EXTREME WING OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, AND SEEM TO TAKE ITS ORDER -- THEIR ORDERS FROM IT, RATHER THAN TO TRY TO THINK OF A NEW GOVERNING PHILOSOPHY THAT THEY COULD THEN SHARE WITH ELECTED LEADERS.

BUCKLEY SEEPED TO KEEP "NATIONAL REVIEW" TO ME, ABOUT A QUARTER OR A HALF INCH ABOVE THE FRAY, AND A BIT OF A REMOVE, IF ONLY A BIT, AND THE CONSERVATIVE JOURNALS TODAY, IT STRIKES ME ANYWAY, HAVE JOINED IN A WAY THAT NATIONAL REVIEW, THE OLD NATIONAL REVIEW DID NOT. I MEAN, THEY HAVE ADOPTED -- THEY HAVE ADOPTED CANDIDATES, PERSONALITIES, AND ORTHODOXY OR ETIOLOGY IN A WAY THAT I THINK THEY DIDN'T BEFORE.

I THINK THAT'S RIGHT. IF WE LOOK AT WHAT I THINK WERE NOT ONLY THE THREE BEST CONSERVATIVE JOURNALS BUT IN SOME WAY THE THREE BEST JOURNALS OF ANY KIND PUBLISHED IN AMERICA, AND WHAT I THINK WAS ACTUALLY THE PEAK PERIOD OF CONSERVATIVISM AS A PHILOSOPHY IN AMERICA, THE YEAR IS 1965 TO 1975. "NATIONAL REVIEW" WAS FOUNDED IN NEW YORK. IT WAS NOT A BELTWAY PUBLICATION. IT STILL HAS ITS EDITORIAL OFFICES IN NEW YORK, BUT IT'S VERY MUCH A BELTWAY PUBLICATION NOW. IT'S ALL ABOUT FIGHTING THE BATTLE OZS ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS. AND ANOTHER ONE HAS A NONIDEAL LOGICAL QUARTERLY THAT SIMPLY WOULD ASSESS THE GREAT SOCIETY AS IT WENT FORWARD. IT WAS ALSO A NEW YORK PUBLICATION. LATER IT MOVED TO WASHINGTON AND THEN IT DISBANDED. AND THE THIRD GREAT PUBLICATION, COMMENTARY MAGAZINE FOUNDED IN 1945, WAS ALSO A NEW YORK PUBLICATION. NOW, THIS IS NOT TO MAKE THE CASE FOR NEW YORK. IT'S TO MAKE THE CASE FOR ACTUALLY THE BROADER INTELLECTUAL CULTURE, THOSE EDITORS, LIKE WILLIAM BUCKLEY AND NORMAN POTHARTS AND IRVING CRYSTAL BELONGED TO. EVERY DAY THEY WERE TALKING WITH LIBERALS. BILL BUCKLEY'S BEST FRIENDS INCLUDED PEOPLE LIKE JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AND MURRAY KEMPTON, TWO OF THE LEADING LIBERAL VOICES OF THE DAY. THAT'S WOULD HE HAD HIS CONVERSATIONS WITH. THAT'S HOW WE HAD A CIVIL SOCIETY AND ALSO BECAUSE THEY WERE OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON. THEY WERE NOT INVOLVED WITH THE WASHINGTON POWER GAME THE WAY THEY ARE NOW, WOULD GETS INVITED TO THE WH WHITE HOUSE, O GETS THE EAR OF THE PRESIDENT. IT WASN'T SO MUCH ABOUT THAT. IT WAS ABOUT ARTICULATING A BROADER, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY IN THE VOCABULARY AND LANGUAGE OF LITERARY PEOPLE AND SO IT COULD SEEM A LITTLE OTHER WORLDLY OR A LITTLE REMOTE. OR AS YOU SAY, STEVE, IT COULD SEEM A LITTLE BIT ABOVE THE FRAY. IT COULD GIVE SOMETHING TO EVERYONE. THE SAME WITH WILLIAM BUCKLEY'S GREAT PROGRAM "FIRING LINE" HIS DEBATE SHOW WHICH IN SOME WAYS WAS THE ORIGINATOR OF THE CABLE SHOWS WE SEE NOW. BUT WHEN BILL BUCKLEY DEBATED SOMEONE, HE LET AS MUCH PERSON DO THE TALKING, IF NOT MORE THAN HE DID AND HE LISTENED VERY INTENTLY. YOU CAN GO ON YOUTUBE AND SEE SOME OF THESE DISCUSSIONS AND THEY CAN ALMOST BE FUNNILY. BILL BUCKLEY HAS -- FUNNY. BILL BUCKLEY HAS A CONVERSATION WITH NORM CHOMSKI. IT'S LIKE A MONTY PYTHON.

QUAINT BY TODAY'S STANDARDS.

QUAINT BY TODAY'S STANDARDS, BUT THOSE ARE AMERICA'S TRADITIONAL STANDARDS AND THEY ARE THE ONES WE NEED TO RECOVER. THAT GOVERNED OR POLITICS FOR A VERY LONG TIME. IT'S NOT AS IF I'M ASKING PEOPLE TO DEPART RADICALLY FROM OUR OWN TRADITIONS, QUITE THE OPPOSITE. WITH HE NEED TO EMBRACE THOSE TRADITIONS -- WE NEED TO EMBRACE THOSE TRADITIONS BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT ENRICHED OUR SOCIETY.

SAM TANENHAUS, THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

DELIGHTED TO BE WITH YOU.

SEE YOU NEXT TIME.

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