Thursday, March 13, 2008

Muckroom Follies 3.13.08 Historical Accuracy?

Over at the Muckroom, one William Rusher offers another paean to William F. Buckiley, Jr., and the mid-20th century rise of "conservatism."

That's OK. One expects, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that such would appear upon the occasion of the passing of Buckley and that such will continue for some time. After all, given the current public regard for the conservative movement as exemplified by the Bush administration, they're going to resurrect whatever shining moments they can for as long as they need.

One wonders, though, why they don't include President Lyndon Johnson as a major player in the rise of conservatism. After all, Mr. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, according to some, gave the conservatives the opportunity to capitalize on the festering social unrest of the day: America was a segregated country when LBJ came to power. It wasn't when he left. From his very first hours in office, he would move to combat it on a broad front. But he also knew not an inch would be won cheaply. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is to many of us a watershed in American history. It was one of the most exhilarating triumphs of the Johnson years. Yet, late on the night of signing the bill, I found the President in a melancholy mood. I asked what was troubling him. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come," he said. Even as his own popularity soared in that heady year, the President saw the gathering storm of a backlash.

Senator Goldwater's "Southern Strategy" enabled the Republican party to gain a foothold in the South, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Buckley's intellectual foundation making aside, the conservatives of 2008 would not have been so successful without the progressive vision and determination to do the right thing of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Don't, though, expect too many conservative water carriers to acknowledge LBJ's contribution. They're ashamed of what it made them do.

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