GLEN COVE, NY — National Review recently turned its back on its origins by publishing a cover story praising President Eisenhower as a conservative. Eisenhower was exactly the kind of enemy of conservatism that National Review was founded to fight.
The first issue of National Review was dated November 19, 1955 and went to press the day Eisenhower came home from the hospital after his heart attack. Its masthead contained the names of real conservatives who would not be tolerated at today's National Review, such as L. Brent Bozell, Medford Evans, Russell Kirk, Eugene Lyons, Frank S. Meyer, and Freda Utley.
[President] Eisenhower was exactly the kind of enemy of conservatism that National Review was founded to fight.
The issue was naturally graceful to Eisenhower as a recovering heart attack patient. After all, in those days, a heart attack was often considered to be permanently disabling. In its lead editorial, however, it said that in that issue and future issues it would be critical, sometimes sharply so, of Eisenhower's policies with which it disagreed.
The issue also contained an article by L. Brent Bozell, in which he pointed out that liberal Republicans could not start campaigning for President until they knew whether their leader Eisenhower would run for a second term. This article went on to say that Nixon was the only one the liberal Republicans were worried about. The article suggested a coalition of Senators Knowland, McCarthy, Dirksen, Bricker, and Bridges as an alternative to the Eisenhower Liberals.
Just two weeks short of National Review's first anniversary, Eisenhower showed the true extent of his depravity when he allowed the Soviets to overrun Hungary and kill thousands of people. Eisenhower did not extract a single concession in favor of the freedom of the Hungarian people.
Simultaneously, Eisenhower destroyed the career of the intelligent British Conservative Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, and he forced Christian Britain and France to turn the Suez Canal over to the socialist Moslem dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In retrospect, none of this should have surprised us. After all, in 1945, Eisenhower sent 2 million anticommunist refugees back across the Iron Curtain, often to certain death.
Eisenhower ... allowed the Soviets to overrun Hungary and kill thousands of people. Eisenhower did not extract a single concession in favor of the freedom of the Hungarian people.
When Richard Nixon became President in 1969, National Review began to compromise. In the March 1969 issue of Triumph, L. Brent Bozell, no longer with National Review, charged that the "conservative movement" had abandoned antistatism, nationalism, anticommunism, and constitutionalism. Bozell did not mention National Review, but National Review obviously felt stung by the charge. It unleashed a petulant and intemperate attack on Triumph.
Eventually two movements arose, neo-conservatism and big government conservatism. These movements were not antistatist, anticommunist, nationalist, or constitutionalist. They simply tried to harness the energies of American conservatism for their purposes — sometimes conservative, sometimes clearly not conservative.
Few places were more influenced by the neo-conservatives and the big government conservatives than National Review. National Review no longer seeks to restore state sovereignty, repeal the New Deal, bring back public piety, or free Cuba or mainland China. Far from it. It now embraces the very thing it was founded to fight — liberal Eisenhower Republicanism. One of National Review's finest moments was the 1964 Republican Convention. Now it wants to toss out that moment with the trash.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2013
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
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Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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