The Last Smart Conservative Was A Sophist

President Obama Passes the Buckley

By Daniel Riccuito

He always reminded me of some sort of snaggletoothed prehistoric predator. A Flintstones character that drank martinis with real rocks and ate his guests live on TV – but no, William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) walked among us. More importantly, he talked: suggesting that the United States nuke Vietnam with an insinuating purr, like a moped made of question marks; marshaling constipated faux-British mannerisms to oppose the Civil Rights movement; and using his voice – a physiotherapy tank of mid-Atlantic hauteur – to put Ronald Reagan in the White House.

Imagine, if you will, Bill Buckley’s twisted glee as President Obama improves, with each new drone strike, a spectacular record of international militarism. Pause for a moment to linger over Buckley’s ogling ghost as it soaks in his erstwhile debate-opponent, professed anarchist Noam Chomsky voting for genocide in Gaza. And perhaps you’ll understand my ongoing obsession with childhood frights. That once odious neoconservative agenda is today – well, common sense. Not just among Democrats but also on the so-called “dissident” left. We have Bernie Sanders running for the Presidency as a socialist who endorses war crimes – that is, Sanders and a whooping entourage that includes Cornel West, Chomsky and Michael Parenti.

Our entire political spectrum has pulled up stakes and begun a relentless march rightward. Is it any wonder Donald Trump is emerging as the popular champion of U.S. Fascism? Should we be shocked an even more cartoonish goon with no need for antique niceties has replaced Bill Buckley, adroit at cloaking the Big R in fancy talk, once upon a time?

Not while yesteryear’s anti-war activists embrace Sanders.

Voting for Bernie Sanders equates with the kind of complicity refused by leftists, those who became enemies of the state for opposing America’s illegal invasion of Vietnam. We’d need Tolstoy to properly analyze this ineluctable sea change, this shameful, willful loss of our once thriving counterculture. Meanwhile, the Bernie-bots accept ethnic cleansing as an unwritten rule of the fetid electoral process – they’re willing to bypass what Israeli scholar Ilan Pappé calls the “incremental genocide” of the Palestinian people, funded by U.S. tax-payers to the tune of $11M per day.

The “progressive” or “leftist” may be an extinct political creature, debased by saber-rattling Racism, an ethos of perpetual war, anti-Muslim hatred. Sadly, much of this shift has occurred under a black President bombing twice as many countries as George W. Bush. Our Nobel Peace Prize-winning Commander in Chief also egged on the Holy Land in 2014, selling Benjamin (Looney-Toons) Netanyahu weapons as he converted Gaza into powder.

The worst carnage since Nakba, in the 1940s...

Wait! I hear that effete trademark giggle.

“Tee hee.” Buckley wins again.

Published January 13th, 2016


Daniel Riccuito is an artist who runs The Chiseler, an online publication dedicated to obscurity—forgotten authors, lost languages, and neglected stars. Riccuito has written a book on Great Depression slang, The Depression Alphabet Primer, and contributed to Cineaste. He lives in New York City.