In an April 1 online appeal for campaign contributions, Chris McDaniel took several shots at recently appointed U.S. Sen. Cindy-Hyde Smith for the sin of once being a Democrat. Perhaps we should not forget President Ronald Reagan was a fellow sinner and a registered member of the Democrat Party until 1962, just two years before Barry Goldwater was the Republican candidate for president. As Reagan was an advocate of FDR’s New Deal, I suspect Reagan was more to the left than Cindy Hype-Smith while she was a Democrat in the state senate. Reagan supported Goldwater in 1964 and during that campaign Reagan became the leading national spokesman for conservatives. Just two years later former Democrat Reagan had the audacity to run for governor of California as a Republican and defeated liberal incumbent Democrat Pat Brown, Sr. by almost a million votes. And let’s not forget Ronald Reagan was also a union leader in the early days of his political career. McDaniel’s appeal for campaign contributions continued to hammer Hyde-Smith as being “across the aisle” in the legislature with the “liberal left–actively fighting against us.” It is so nice McDaniel can represent himself as the only true and pure conservative in Mississippi politics. McDaniel is so holier than thou he probably thinks Reagan, Goldwater and William F. Buckley, Jr. were not true conservatives and were just “establishment” Republicans who could not match his own conservative purity. Nothing changes my view of McDaniel. If elected next November, he will be ineffective in the U.S. Senate and even worse, will prove to be an embarrassment to Mississippi.
William F. Buckley, Jr. died eight years ago. The celebrity columnist, author, founder of National Review magazine, and host of the long running TV talk show “Firing Line”, has rightly been called the “undisputed godfather of modern conservatism.” I don’t think it’s any kind of stretch to say there was no more influential leader of conservatism in America than Buckley. It is also not a stretch to suggest there would not have been a governor or President Reagan without Reagan’s good friend, William F. Buckley. Reagan himself said Buckley was “perhaps the most influential journalist and intellectual in our era.” The author of more than 60 books, including some non-fiction, it is a pleasant surprise that eight years after his passing we can enjoy another Buckley book. “A Torch Kept Lit – Great Lives of the Twentieth Century” is edited by journalist James Rosen, a Buckley protégé and frequent contributor to National Review. This delightful book is Rosen’s collection of more than 50 of the best obituaries and eulogies written by Buckley. Buckley’s writing about the deceased, in both his syndicated column and in National Review, covered a very wide range of individuals. The list includes presidents such as Eisenhower and Johnson, his own family members, other public figures such as Churchill, Barry Goldwater, and Martin Luther King, Jr., writers and entertainers like Truman Capote, Johnny Carson, Elvis, and Norman Mailer and others like Nelson Rockefeller and Eleanor Roosevelt. “A Torch Kept Lit” is a totally delightful and entertaining read.
Buckley on Lyndon Johnson
One of my favorites: Buckley said when Johnson felt the urge to act like a statesman, “he lies down until he gets over it.” Buckley described LBJ as “a man of his most recent word.”
My instructions from Clarke Reed: “Don’t bug him, boy”
I had one personal encounter with Buckley. During the 1970s, I had left my home in Ocean Springs and was living and working in Jackson on a statewide campaign. At the time,
Editor’s Note: This column was first published on June 30, 1988 as part of Wayne Weidie’s syndicated column series, “The Political Scene,” which ran through 43 newspapers in the state of Mississippi and spanned from 1970 to 1990. Political Scene columns will be periodically republished on The Weidie Report.
The latest poll on the U.S. Senate race gives very similar numbers to a poll taken during April. What may puzzle some people is that the Mason-Dixon Opinion and Research Poll released last week was assessed in an Associated Press story as a “whopping” lead for Republican Trent Lott. Lott’s margin in the Mason-Dixon poll was 11 points. The April poll of Mississippi State University political science professor Stephen Shaffer had Lott leading by 10 points over Democrat Wayne Dowdy. Yet the news release from MSU giving Shaffer’s results termed the 10 point margin a “narrow lead” for Lott.
At this stage of the campaign the two polls only confirm what everyone knows. The race will be very close.