By now, it seems most everyone has heard about an inane assignment that boggles the mind. Earlier this month a professor at FAU, Florida Atlantic University (the Davie campus, near Ft. Lauderdale), had his students participate in a bizarre exercise.
"At CPAC, the Future Looks Libertarian," read a dispatch on Time magazine's website. "CPAC: Rand Paul's Big Moment," proclaimed The Week magazine. Meanwhile, the New York Times headlined its story about the annual conservative political action conference "GOP divisions fester at conservative retreat."
It's hard for a lot of people, particularly on the right, to recognize that the conservative movement's problems are mostly problems of success. The Republican Party's problems are much more recognizable as the problems of failure, including the failure to recognize the limits of that movement's success.
William F. Buckley once noted that he was 19 when the Cold War began at the Yalta conference. The year the Berlin Wall came down, he became a senior citizen. In other words, he explained, anti-Communism was a defining feature of conservatism his entire adult life. Domestically, meanwhile, the right was largely a "leave me alone coalition": Religious and traditional conservatives, overtaxed businessmen, Western libertarians, and others fed up with government social engineering and economic folly.
He was a minor figure in the freak show and dictionary of dysfunction that was American culture during the downhill years of the last century. And the more minor a figure, the better. Yet on his death at 86, another proof that the good die young, he still fascinated. You could no more stop watching him than you could maggots in a pile of rotting garbage. Call it the fascination of the repellent.
BEACHES AREN'T MY THING, and reading on beaches even less so. I've never understood how anyone can enjoy a book in the midst of all that sand, glare, and greasy suntan lotion. For reading ambiance, I'll take an easy chair in an air-conditioned room , and leave the damp swimsuits and gritty beach towels to those who appreciate them.