George Will has thrown down his pacifier and stomped off in a huff, breaking with the Republican Party and officially becoming un-enrolled. Of course, Will lives in Washington DC so being a Republican was pointless in the extreme. The GOP rarely fields local candidates in the District and they don’t get to vote in national elections, except for President. The last Republican to hold office in DC was Mathew Emory in 1870. His office was abolished the following year. Being a Republican in Washington DC is an entirely symbolic act.
It’s also in keeping with Will’s long-time role as a conservative on television. The bow-tie, the wig, the round spectacles and the elaborate speaking style were all in furtherance of his job as a domesticated conservative, who would not scare the horses. All of it was a pose, a gesture, carefully choreographed so he could set the right tone for conservatives at home, by endorsing the terms of the debate as set forth by the Left. He was the candy coating for the liberal nut inside every ABC chat show.
Like so many of the Official Right, Will earned his spot in the mainstream media by attacking his own side. In his case, he was a rabid Nixon hater. That made him useful to the Left and got him a job in the Washington Post Writer’s Group and eventually a TV gig. He was also no fan of Reagan, but once it became clear that Reagan was going to be successful, Will shifted gears and became a Reaganite. Unlike Charles Krapphammer, Will saw which way the wind was blowing before the ’84 election.
Of course, as is the case with everyone in the clown car that is #nevertrump, Will’s hatred of Trump is more about money than ideology. Will’s old lady is Mari Maseng, who has worked for Republican politicians like Bob Dole and Rick Perry. She was also an adviser to Scott Walker. When not on the payroll, her company provides consulting services to Republican candidates. She also works for a GOP political action committee. As we see throughout “conservative” media, Republican politics has been a lucrative racket for the Will family.
That said, I doubt anyone under 50 bothers to read George Will’s column or listens to his commentary, but he is worth studying. Will is the quintessential Yankee Conservative. I sometimes call it Buckley Conservatism, or if I’m in a foul mood, the Wuss Right. Southern populists like Sam Francis called it Northern Conservatism. Yankee Conservative is probably more accurate as it is essentially a reaction to the Neo-Puritanism we call liberalism today. It’s not an accident that National Review is located in New York instead of Richmond.
Yankee Conservatives are not particularly interested in conserving anything. Their main issue is that the other team is in such a hurry that they often look undignified as they sprint off toward utopia. The Yankee Conservative places the greatest value on his dignity by putting up a choreographed resistance only to acquiesce to whatever it is the Progressives have in mind. It’s why the Left has gone from triumph to triumph, despite popular support for the “conservative” candidates. They know the guys standing athwart history yelling “stop” don’t really mean it.
It’s why guys like Will are so fond of attacking their fellow conservatives. The point of their ideology is not to remain rooted in the present or hearken to the past. It is to be gently pulled behind the Left like a skier behind a boat. Anyone seen as a drag on this process is cut loose by any means necessary. That’s why guys like Will are so fond of using the weapons of the Left against people like Trump. It cuts them loose and does so in a way that pleases their friends on the Left, letting them know they are the right sort, just a little reluctant.
It’s a bit ironic that at the end of Will’s career, he finds himself back where he started. Nixon, for all his faults, which were many, was a Dirt People candidate. In 1968 you voted for Tricky Dick because he was willing to punch the hippies and their Ivy League commie enablers. Guys like George Will and the other members of Team Buckley hated Nixon for it. Just like we see with Trump, the Buckleyites claimed their principles prevented them from embracing Nixon, but it was never principles, it was class. Nixon was not their sort.
Now Will is back where he started, except this time there’s really nowhere for him to go with it. The rise of alternative media makes having a perch on liberal media outlets pretty much useless. Now that he is at Fox, he has to compete with perky bimbos that say all the same things he says. Then you have alternative media voices that are more nimble with new media so they are able to bury the staggering geezers of Conservative Inc. Will makes a dramatic exit from the GOP and it is mocked on-line by the alt-right.
Like the rest of the Yankee Right, Will is fading into irrelevance.