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tv   If Not Us Who  CSPAN  May 22, 2016 8:00am-9:01am EDT

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american artifact, wrote to the white house rewind, lectures in history and more and the span.org -- www.c-span.org /history. this is recorded at the harris -- heritage foundation and washington d.c. and is about an hour. [applause]
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dr. edwards: thank you, john. good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. there were two bills at "national review," and in the conservative movement. bill buckley, a radiant, shooting star, who lit up the usher, a bill r never-wavering northstar, by which conservatives learned to chart their political course. many have written about william f. buckley, jr., that irresistible renaissance man, fiskon't want until david has given us an in-depth portrait of the other bill, william a. rusher, who among other salutary and contributions, played a pivotal role in the life of a national draft goldwater committee.
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and that was critical because if there had been no draft goldwater committee there would , have been no presidential candidate barry goldwater in 1964. and, if there had been no candidate goldwater in 1964, there would have been no president-elect, ronald reagan, in a 1980. it was goldwater, you see, what -- who approved reagan's famous time for choosing, the tv address that made him a political star overnight, and led to his running of governor for california, and eventually president of these united , states. david recounts how bill rusher shored up the goldwater committee when money ran short and the spirit sacked. sagged.its skillfully guided young americans for freedom in his early, chaotic days. he enforced some order and discipline against the blithe
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spirits who ran "national review." expanded the conservative movement. he had the tv program "the advocates." and he championed ronald reagan when other conservatives were somewhat skeptical about the actor-turned-politician. bill rusher loved american politics, rare wines, traveling to distant lands, and "national review." he said, often the most exasperating people in the world are often the most beloved. and he is no exception. has captured all of this and more in this splendid, overdue biography of the other bill bill rusher. , dr. frisk will be teaching at the alexander center in new york.
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ladies and gentlemen, please join me in getting a warm heritage welcome to dr. david frisk. [applause] dr. frisk: thank you, dr. edwards for that wonderful introduction for me, and one .robably, dr. rusher hear all right? i suspect there is a very wide range in this room of familiarity and relative unfamiliarity with bill rusher, who was a publisher of "national review," for 31 years, almost from the beginning. and he can also be said to have had a half-century long career in american politics.
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with something of a privileged, ringside, or front row seat. he never ran for public office, never held public office, never really founded anything on his own, as a number of conservative leaders did. identified, and never controlled his own institution. he was, as i put it in my introduction, "if not us, who? william rusher, national review, and the conservative movement," which was published last april, he was at the edge of the limelight. a lot of people knew very well who he was, a lot of people know -- people knew a lot less about him. but, as people became more aware of william rusher, there was a general agreement among the whole, fractious segment of
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spectrum of american conservatives, and we can see how fractious it can be, such as in the recent election. there was wide agreement among libertarians, purists, pragmatists, that bill rusher really knew what he was doing. one of his great achievements was to give movement conservatives from the early 1960's up until the 1990's, by which time he had semi-retired more confidence than i think , they otherwise would have had. that there really was a conservative movement, and that it really was moving, if imperfectly. we have seen in recent years, a lot of doubts about whether the conservative movement still exists anymore.
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some people even doubt whether it deserves to even exist anymore, whether it has destroyed itself. but there have been people all along who have said things like that. one of the things rusher stood for most prominently and enduringly was, the belief that we conservatives all have to pull together and be together and keep being together. the most obvious cliche that comes to mind, and others have put it more memorably, is to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. not miss the forest for the trees. these are not the most innovating or exciting messages, but it is very important to have a few people at or near the top of the conservative movement's leadership who believe in and preach these things, and who
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asked people and their fellow activists and conservative intellectuals to remain focused on the need to win a majority of the american people, and to govern. "national review," a very intellectual magazine throughout its existence, and even more so in its early years in the 1950's and 1960's. very much needed bill buckley, managing editor priscilla buckley, and every other major person there, acknowledged that they very much needed a man just like bill rusher to serve as a political eyes and ears, a political counselor, a link
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between "national review"-type people the practical people, and , the politicians. by politicians, he also meant people like f. clinton white, who drafted the goldwater campaign. rusher was something of a politician, a practitioner of actual politics. rusher placed a tremendous value on these people. and he was always trying, with some success, to get the more philosophical conservatives. a classic example of being, buckley himself, to appreciate that sort of career, that sort of individual, that sort of effort.
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a lot of what you will find in the book, and i am sure some of you have read it, is a good deal of back and forth between publisher rusher, and in-house political counselor rusher, who had the full privileges, by the way of speaking out on any , issue, officially or unofficially. by officially, i mean in the meetings they held, which could be long and interesting. he had full privilege of speaking out on any issue, editorial issue anything , involving national political positions, the magazines tone, what is less important. he played an editorial role, although he did not have an official at times, they got one. tired of listening to him. but, remember, and a time -- if you read about rusher or want to formulate a question about him, remember, this is another world, technologically.
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and remained so until he retired in 1988. his successor's publisher said it was still operating in the , 1950's, with carbon paper and secretaries who were treated as secretaries. i guess that is a polite term for sexist. the more important term is isthe more important point carbon paper. he would not have been a fan of social media himself, were he alive and active today, but he would have appreciated it. to get back to the point, it is an important one. this was an era where people communicated on paper. and they communicated at length on paper. there was a tremendous resource for my research at the library of congress where his papers are. there is sufficient interest in
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the rusher papers among scholars who are interested in the development of the conservative movement, who i think more often than not, are liberals. in the rusher papers, that were moved several years ago from the satellite location out in suburban maryland to the actual james madison building on the other side of the hill, that is how much interest there has been in the rusher papers. although, mine is the only book about him, and as far as i know, will be the only book about him. these people communicated to each other on paper, and that is a lot of what my book is based on. plus, interviews with dozens of people, plus extensive interviews with rusher and significant interviews with mr. buckley. they were very candid with each other, rusher and buckley in particular. in their differing judgments about what positions "national review" should take or focus on,
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he mentioned the importance of the goldwater campaign for the future of the conservative movement. i don't think there is time or need to stress that to this audience any further than it already has been. it was a very seminal event. rusher was in the thick of it. more than anyone, rusher persuaded goldwater to at least remain open to the possibility of a candidacy in early 1963, when he did not want to. he kept the goldwater campaign going, when an associate was ready to give up, for a variety of reasons, including financial. one of the great lessons of rusher's career, is that he did not believe in giving up, ever. there was always another bus coming along in 10 or 15 minutes. the sun would come up the next morning.
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and there was always something to do. what if the people who knew -- one of the people who knew rusher well as a young, conservative activist in the 1960's, rusher than being in his late 30's or about 40, but it seemed to him in his interactions with young americans for freedom, that rusher had an extra 10 hours a day. someone else said he seemed to be the most organized man in the movement. now, it was a little easier for rusher to play that kind of very energetic, very focused role. always on, all the time. always giving it his best, always looking good, always speaking well, always dressing well.
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and if not always right, always persuasive, always someone you wanted to listen to. it is easy or to develop that reputation, perhaps, if you don't have a family. he never married, never had children. somebody suggested to me very early in my research that rusher was really married to the movement. i think there is a good deal of truth to that. there is only a limited number of people who have that kind of life and who can play that kind of role. but the point is that rusher did it. he was a graduate of harvard law school, graduated in 1948. work at a major wall street law firm, an oldte law and major firm. but he was really bored by corporate law practice. he describes it in his first
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book, published in 1968, not an autobiography, but there is an autobiographical chapter that is quite interesting. he says, well, there were all these silent victories and mute d defeats and quiet conversations in these boardrooms, and he wanted more action than that. he loved politics so much that in some way, shape, or form, he had to do it full-time. so, he walks away from his wall street law firm in early 1956. comes to washington. liz just a few blocks south of somewhere near the russell building in a little apartment. and he joins a very important anti-communist investigator named robert morris. importance and anti-communist investigations of the 1950's were apparently so significant that whittaker chambers said to buckley in a
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letter around that time, that morris really accomplished most of what joe mccarthy is credited with, in terms of useful and constructive anti-communist activities. he was the number two lawyer on the committee. mccarthy was still alive and new mccarthy and believed he had byn very unfairly railroaded the liberal establishment. very much along the lines of what stan evans later argued in his 2007 book "blacklisted by history." before he was part of "national review" was part of a cadre of very hard and professional anti-communists.
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and that was what really got him into the conservative movement. that is what caused him to transition from generic republicanism, which included what i describe as a "just win, baby," attitude. and there is something to be said for that. an attitude of being willing to lose even a presidential election, if it was a constructive sort of loss that one could take pride in, ala goldwater 1964. that had planted seeds for the future. originally think that way. it was just, win baby. there were similarities, in the 1948 campaign, there are
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similarities to the 2012 campaign on our side and the other side. rusher sees that. in 1952, he knows that eisenhower is not point to be a great championship -- a great champion of conservative causes, and knew he would not be that aggressive and anti-communist, but he wanted to win. well, to keep this reasonably concise, but to finish the thought, because it is important, rusher believed that moderate republican administration under dwight eisenhower was president for , eight years, just was not ideological enough, anti-communist enough at home or abroad, rusher still believe there was a significant communist threat within the united states. more and more documentation of that has come out in the last 20 years after the opening of the ex-soviet archives. buckley was a couple years
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younger than rusher. all of you knew probably that he wrote a book in 1951 after he graduated from yale. rusher was a graduate of princeton, pre-war, and during the war. ale isy says yield -- y insufficiently respectful of religion, despite its heritage, against elite academe in america. also, they do not present the free prize inside of socialism. there are quasi-socialist. quasi-socialist. i think the greater affinity with buckley can be seen in buckley and his brother-in-law's 1954 book, "mccarthy and his enemies." they said he was a little rough,
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made errors in judgment but he , is been treated unfairly. that is exactly where rusher is in 1954 through 1956, in the years where he turns from generic young republican republicanism to hard movement conservativism. it already existed, but was disorganized. the polite term might be entrepreneurial, individualistic. chambers had another way of describing it, people popping out like rabbits, not knowing where they were going. we might see a little of this today now and then. rusher is absolutely thrilled to
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is going to be a conservative, weekly magazine. at the time it was weekly. when he hears about "national review" being in the works in 1955, he becomes a charter subscriber before it comes out. he meets buckley a couple weeks after the magazine starts. he spends a year and a half in washington on a subcommittee where he remains in touch with buckley and that circle. he joins the magazine in mid-1957. he wasn't interested in the business side of the magazine, which was his technical and real responsibility, keeping it afloat, finding more subscribers advertising. ,all that kind of stuff. they needed someone like that. and he was pretty good at that. although there is evidence that after several years, he kind of neglected it because he was so into the political side.
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but, as i said, he comes into "national review" with a kind of writ from editor buckley that he will have full, free speech rights, free rights of argumentation and advocacy in the internal doubler -- in the internal deliberations of the magazine. and that is the good part of the book. although i would not say that is the majority, a good part of it, and it is interesting. rusher advising buckley and the other senior editors. how it should deal with the john birch society at the time, how it should deal with troubles with the young americans for freedom, a very conservative organization. dr. edwards, i believe, was the first editor, or one of the early editors of his paper in the 1960's.
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he started very young and has known rusher for that long. rusher would advise the "national review" people, and buckley, who was the owner, what was going on out there among conservatives. what the problems were in conservative politics. challenges, what good things were happening what , ought to be supported. buckley, is interested in developing and then maintaining a high reputation for "national review." a reputation as a thoughtful magazine. at one point, he writes to colleagues and says no, it was an editorial in 1960. he says to readers, but would have said equally to his colleagues, our job is not to
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make practical politics it is to , think and write and occasionally, to mediate. that is, to offer to play something of a broker's role of -- role among conflicted conservatives in whatever they , are conflicted about. buckley sees the need for that, rusher is ideally suited to help guide "national review" in that role. there were two factions at "national review." i don't mean to overstate the conflict there. there was a tremendous amount of respect they all had for each other. but their fundamental agreement was on its importance. they all believed they had important duties. but they disagreed about the
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right approach, tone, and focus for the magazine. the two factions -- it is a perfectly good word if you can get the idea of backstabbing or underhanded approaches out of your heads, it was not like that, as far as i can tell. but there were real arguments. real arguments. some of which were committed to paper. priscilla buckley, bill buckley's older sister, passed away a year ago, unfortunately. the den mother of the conservative movement. "national review" was an incubator for young conservatives. three generous to them. , and james, ays
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brilliant, ex-trotskyist, the three of them really believed in the importance of "national review's" intellectual reputation. that this waseved a magazine that should be on the desks of policymakers, academics, senators, really important people whether they , were conservatives or not. they believed in something of an elite strategy. it was not so much as to make conservatism powerful as to make it acceptable and to get non-conservatives the more
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important the better, to listen to the conservative viewpoint, whether it be on foreign policy limitedcommunism, government, constitutionalism are what today is called social conservativism, more likely then, it would recall traditional conservativism. there has always been social conservativism. rusher had a very important row -- rusher had a very important ally a man named frank meyer. , meyer remains sufficiently respected and known among at least the older generation of conservatives, but there is a frank meyer society here in washington, a group of leaders who keep his memory alive. they will be meeting on monday night, and i will be speaking to them. meyer has been described by
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rusher as the intellectual ingenuity the conservative moment. he, too, was in ex-communist, as burnham was. a passionate, activists. -- a passionate, conservative activist. rusher even told me that meyer had once been a militant communist, and a militant republican. " they are not all that different, it except for what they believe." rusher had a tremendous attraction to and respect for frankly political obsession. , meyer was both intellectually obsessed, he had a house literally full of books, it is hard to imagine or describe it. books were absolutely everywhere. so extremely intellectual, but also extremely political. as david keene, the longtime
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chairman of the american conservative union put it to me, conservatives in the 1960's, you go to the midwest, and perhaps two weeks later you get busted , out of bed by the phone ringing at 2:00 in the morning, asking why he did not do this? why haven't you done this? why haven't you dope the the other thing? i think that kind of -- that particular style of leadership probably wouldn't be too welcome today. people thought it would be too much. the fact is there were people like that back then who thought the cause was so important that they could at least meyer could -- he would have no qualms about calling up someone at 2:00 in the morning. he was nocturnal anyway. rusher loved that kind of thing.
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he was more organized than that. but he loved that spirit. and he and meyer were allies in belief that "national review" should be as political as possible. let me say a word theand i will take your questions -- and p then i will take your questions, about rusher's last two decades at "national review." the intense discussions, arguments, within "national alluded to i have were primarily in the 1960's as the conservative movement was still jelling. rusher's focus is on -- is initially on the possibility of actually
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replacing the republican party .ith a new conservative party i found a letter in which he said it a friend -- my problem with -- it was about 1975. my problem with the republican party isn't that it's not conservative enough. it's that it isn't big enough. again, he wanted to win and the republicans after watergate were in just terrible shape. i won't recite the details, but they were -- a lot of them probably felt they were back where they were in the 1930's, not only moipt party but a small minority party. rusher wants to take this opportunity to start a new conservative party, not rigidly conservative but consciously conservative, one in which the liberal wing of the republican
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party would not be present and therefore would not have the kind of veto power that he thought they had. he believed the key to this was, one, not necessarily the most important thing but an important thing, was to moderate economic conservatism a little bit and be little more populist, recognize the needs of the political guy. he always had some of that in him, but also to welcome social conservatism, the sort of populist issues. and not only southerners, but what then were known as conservative democrat, people who later became reagan democrats. rusher was one of the first to note the size and importance of that voting bloc. he was one of the first, i am sure one of the most effective advocates of bringing it into the republican party, and he advised reagan to do this.
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he knew both reagan and the first president bush pretty well, had known reagan since the mid-1960's. he advised reagan and then president bush some years later to do this. he was successful in that although i don't think reagan really needed to be -- i am not sure that reagan really needed to be told that, but certainly it's encouraging to hear it from someone he respected as much as he respected rusher. rusher also wanted reagan to be the head of this new conservative party, well, to make a long story short, reagan refuses probably prudently. most political scientists -- i have had training in political science -- will tell you that fa third party is going to be big on a national level he cannot start small. he's got to start big, probably with a superstar like reagan. so once reagan refused in mid
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1975 to join this third party project rusher got going and wrote a book about, it was probably curtains for that particular idea. but rusher had succeeded in getting conservatives to think more about the need to expand the republican party and for the republican party to be more coherent, not so ideologically coherent that it was willing to forfeit elections. i think rusher was past that phase of his political development or perspective by then. so he recognized that if reagan wasn't going to head it, it was probably not going to get too far, but he stuck with it. the full details are in the book, chapter 13, but he came to see in the late 1970's that it
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really was possible for a guy like reagan to win the republican nomination and once reagan did, ever since rage won the republican nomination and had in rusher's view a totally successful presidency, rusher remained to the end of his days an absolute republican party loyalist. rightly or wrongly, that's another interesting lesson. a man who at one time had been a third party advocate comes back to a more conventional political view although he was a strong conservative. in closing, i just want to say two words about rusher's significance as a symbol among conservatives. he was a very elegant man. he was not particularly tall. he wasn't athletic, things that buckley was, but he was wonderfully articulate. he always spoke in perfectly formed sentences, both in public
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and private conversation. he was always well dressed. he loved fine wine and opera, he traveled all over the world, knew the great hotels of the world. so this is a little unusual for a semipopulist conservative and for a guy as ideological as he was. perhaps leading conservatives today could use more people like that. it was hard for a manhattan liberal to say, oh, rusher -- conservatives are hicks and this and that. you couldn't say that about buckley, and you couldn't say it about rusher. so rush he reinforced that sense that, well, "national review," they're pretty smart, sophisticated people, they're fun to have around if you can stand their viewpoint. rush he was an example of that kind of conservative. younger conservatives tended to admire that. he tried to bring them along in that kind of style.
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as dr. edwards referred to, rusher was a major conservative debater for quite a while, most prominently on a pbs show. he was the conservative advocate, it was a debate show. he did extremely well and a lot of people would watch that and say, well, we can do that, too. we can be as good as he is. i have not really had time to go much into his mentoring role with young conservatives, but he loved to advise them. he liked hearing about what they were doing. if they were doing something, it was very important to do things. rusher didn't like people who just sat around and talked or didn't really have a lot of patience for sitting around and talking. generations of now senior conservatives will tell you that they knew rusher either personally or by reputation, that he gave them great advice,
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that he had time for them. rusher always remained very proud of that. he retired to san francisco. he loved the climate. of ked the sophistication san francisco. he had fallen in love with it in the 1950's. so he loved there for about the last 0 years of his life, and i will leave you with this quote hich also gives a sense of rusher's attitude. in my last interview with him, he said to me, san francisco has a dreadful reputation among conservatives, and new yorkers are always raising the subject with me, mostly new yorkers. he said i just dismiss it. i am not the least bit interested in what the majority of people in san francisco think. i like the food. i like the weather.
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i like the ambience. it's where i want to live and if they want to live there, too, the liberals, good luck. i will be eager for your questions. >> if you will just raise your hand, we do have a gentleman with the mike rephone and if you will please give your name and ask your question, hopefully a question and not a statement. please, first question, down ere. >> you mentioned how rusher wanted to take a more populist tone at some point. >> could you speak up? >> a more poop ewe list tone in the conservative movement at some point. do you see that as a potential
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lesson to be be applied today from his life? i am not well, say what trying to rusher would say today, but it's clear that he always believed from the 1970's on certainly, always believed and never lost his belief that populist and social conservatism and those voters were absolutely essential o conservative suss success, that they -- success, that their ssues had not been dealt with, had not really been dealt with by the republican party, had not been sufficiently respected. so he wanted those votes just as
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he wanted southern votes in the early 1960's and advocated that. but he also believed that social conservatism and any populist issues had to be expressed in a thoughtful way. a good example you can find in a ootnote in one of the late chapters is a column he wrote about abortion in 1981. it was called something like the problem and strength of right to life. he sees a balance there. basically what he says is i am one of you. i agree with you on this issue, but we must realize how smug and even offensive or something like that we sometimes appear to others who don't share our viewpoint. so we have to be moderate in our presentation of it. i am confident in saying that rusher would absolutely disagree with those who now say in the
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wake of romney's loss that we ould jettison social conservatism. there are a lot of people who disagree with you, you have to speak to them effectively. >> hi, i am mark. as i understand it and i think i got this from a biography, there is also an identifylet dispute when "national review" got started with priscilla buckley and james burnham saying the goal of the conservative movement would be to fight communism and not really caring about the welfare state and people like frank meyer saying no, you've got to shrink -- fighting communism is a good thing, but we need to shrink
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government first and that rusher among other things acted as a mediator between those two factions. mr. frisk: i am sorry. i didn't get the last part of the sentence. >> to mediate between two factions. i got the sense that priscilla buckley and burnham were sort of distant ancestors of neoconservatives and meyer, of course, being a fusionist, would have disagreement. i think it was primarily about what conservatives should do about the welfare state and i am wondering what rusher's role was in those identifylet debates. mr. frisk: very good question. i would amend something you said
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, which is i don't believe there was much conflict within ational review" about what position to take on the welfare state. but there was some. it was not rusher's primary concern. is primary concern in terms of ideology was that "national review" must be ideological, that the exact positions it took would very often be secondary, but that insofar as it had certain beliefs on these issues, any issues, it should be really serious about holding other conservatives and especially public officeholders to account in showing leadership on them, and in supporting candidates who were most likely to really be
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lid on those issues, whereas burnham, he would in fact say, did in fact say -- the example i medicare in is 1965. it was inevitable, the elderly population, things going on in our society made it inevitable, there was rising mass pressure for it. congress had to accommodate that , to make this new thing work as well as possible. does that sound familiar? it's good that there was a voice there saying that. buckley was more free market, though. he was more interested in economics than rusher was. so i don't think there was a big dispute about the welfare state. to the extent there was burnham would be the advocate of accommodating it, but still he is conservative, even an economic conservative. rusher was not as libertarian as
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frank meyer, but in general the two of them lined up. i am sorry? >> what about priscilla buckley? mr. frisk: i simply don't know about that. what is perfectly clear is she and burnham were very close in a professional sense. their personalities just meshed together really well. they were both very calm people. they both believed in a very high literary quality for the magazine, and ng keeping things that just didn't measure up intellectually out of the magazine. sher was a little more accommodating to the hard right in that respect. i am unaware, though, that there
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was any real conflict between priscilla buckley, who was the managing editor for about the same period, 30 years or so, late 1950's to mid 1980's. everyone liked her. everyone respected her, so she wasn't really involved in personal conflicts. there was a terrible personal conflict between burnham and meyer, ideological conflict as well. but neither of them ever quit, which is to their credit. two more maybe? or i can do more. >> two more questions, please. mr. frisk: i want to make sure i give a couple more clever quotes from rusher to share with you his vibrant personality and his cleverness. go ahead.
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>> you must have had conversations with mr. rusher about reagan's second term and earlier you said he considered the reagan presidency an unmitigated success. were there any reservations about the second term developments, i.e. iran-contra and president rage's alleged declining intellectual cape -- reagan's alleged declining intellectual cape thes. i apologize. would you mind restating the question for me? loud. >> the question was regarding -- if he had any reservations about reagan's second term in terms of his mental capacity declining or the iran-contra issues.
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mr. frisk: ok, reagan's second term including iran-contra. rusher was one of reagan's most consistent defenders among ideological and leading movement conservatives. during the reagan administration. as richard brookherks iser who was a writer for "national review" and good friend of rusher said to me when reagan was elected, rusher decided he would defend him on every single thing. his reasoning was in terms of presidents, this is the best guy we are going to get. it will never be better and it will never be as good. so you have to back this guy up on everything. he had some concerns about
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reagan's first chief of staff, james baker, who had come from the other wing of the party, of course. he questioned whether someone like that could really put his heart into a reaganite program. a couple of years after that, rusher was very upset about some -- i guess you'd call them technical p.r. mistakes on the part of communications people in the white house, and so-and-so ought to be fired, didn't happen. his main concern in giving advice to reagan, which he didn't do a lot of, but his main concern seemed to be let's make sure we are effectively communicating with the american people and getting around the liberal media which is a bug of rusher's and rightly so. on iran-contra, what i say in the book is he followed it with
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a kind of dutiful interest. i don't think he was -- had a great emotional investment in it. he was a syndicated columnist, wrote a number of columns about it, taking the president's side and it came down to this. he thought maybe reagan had been guilty of errors of judgment there, but he said it seems to have come down to an overly solicitous attitude or overly passionate attitude toward getting the hostages back. but that's a crime of the heart. if ronald reagan has to have a weakness, i am kind of glad it's that one. he also was damned if he was going to let or enable the democrats and the media, who he saw as the same thing, to get a epublican president. >> i am going to take another
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what would rush he think about question but i want to ask what you thought rusher might have to say about where "national review" -- it's still a very highly regarded publication, but positionedcreasingly in a slightly less combative .lace i would be interested to think what you think rusher would have to say about that. mr. frisk: to begin with, rusher , ed almost any active reasonably responsible, vigorous, fearless conservatism. he therefore appreciated talk radio, appreciated the more
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controversial aspects of fox news. he watched fox news. he specifically admired rush limb ba even 20 years ago, before before rush limbaugh was as much of a household name as he is now. i asked him about "national review," which for some time -- . is is about 2005 or so for some time, it had been more news oriented and current events oriented than it once was. yeah, there were people who didn't really like that. rush he -- rusher said he was fine with that, although he also told me -- i don't believe this as really a confidence -- that when buckley himself retired from the actual editorship of
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the magazine. well, it was in stages, but he told them -- and i don't know if it was personally to buckley or what, that it was very important that "national review" be not just another conservative magazine, that it was very important for it to retain its identity and its brand. and so it's clear from that -- and he specifically mentioned its catholic pinge. rusher was not a catholic but he very much admired that and respected that as part of "national review's" message and sensibility. he wanted that to continue. so he had no real beefs with "national review" in its later years, although he did think there were some younger people there who probably should know more history and more of the right wing side of history, but he had kind of a relaxed attitude toward that.
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he didn't have utopian expectations about how much people would know or how ideological they would be. in his older years, he was very much a team player. i think that comes out clearly in the book. anyone else? >> an example of rusher wit. mr. frisk: some of you know the name of ted soren sen who was the -- one of the great word smiths for the kennedy presidency. he -- i don't know if he ran for senator from new york but he 1970.to get it going in rusher in 1970 is really in his prime, about 47 years old at that point. he has been a staple on talk
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radio in new york for about the last 10 years, and he really knows what he is doing and he loves to debate liberals on the air. there is a man who is still alive and i believe still does a radio show in new york, internet radio know, who was then a very prominent host who greatly admired rusher. he had the two of them on. sorensen accuses "national review" of racism and extremism and kind of associates that with nixon and with george wallace and lumps it all together, not a very intellectually impressive performance. rusher just goes after him and keeps going after him and finally says, based on your performance tonight, you may think you are qualified to run for senate from new york but based on your hysterical performance tonight, you wouldn't be elected dog catcher.
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sorensen says it seems to me, mr. rushinger, you are being rather hysterical now. mr. rusher says yeah, but i am not running for the senate. he knew when to give a little but make the guy look even worse. earlier on the farber show, somebody -- south africa was already an issue for many liberals. rusher had not yet been there, but somebody said -- his liberal opponent says have you been to south africa? rusher says no, i haven't been to south africa, but you must have been to south africa or you wouldn't be making such heavy weather of it. now what did you learn in south africa that you think is so important for us to know? so he turns a weakness into a strength. again, don't give an inch. turn it around. it's not the politics of
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personal destruction but it's a politics of personal one up manship. there was a role for wit and drama in politics. a final rusher quote i will pick off the top of my head. buckley loved to ski. he at one point visited the soviet union and had a "national review" group that got together, most of them went in i think it was the winter of 1975. rusher refused. he said no because they don't have the right to grant permission. i am not going to ask communist permission for anything even to visit their country. i will wait until they are thrown out. he told me i once said to buckley that i would no more go to the soviet union on vacation than i would had hitler permitted it had skied in the
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austrian alps during world war ii. he said, buckley took some exception to that, and it is a rather specialized point of view. it may handicap me a bit it may have handicapped me a bit. but i stuck with it. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you are watching american history tv on c-span 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> next santa clara university professor nancy unger discusses women rights activist belle la follette who was politically active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. nancy unger is the author of "belle la follette," which tells the story of this journalist, suffragist, and pacifist. who campaigned along

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