Striding to the podium with a mysterious, camouflage utility bag slung over his shoulder, Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, took possession of the Potomac Ballroom stage on Friday and those within earshot of his reverberating voice. Mr. Robertson, without the expected trappings of political convention, exudes gravitas. His manner of speaking is unaffected and confident, embellished only with the ornament of truth. He’s a fitting recipient of Andrew Breitbart’s Defender of the First Amendment Award.
From his well used bag, Mr. Robertson pulled a heavy tome, worn with so much use that its’ integrity is only preserved by the generous application of silver duct tape. He doesn’t have to name the book he holds in his hand, like him it possesses an intrinsic authority. It is a book that is part of the very warp and woof of American society and is the cornerstone of our American experience. Even atheists know a Bible when they see one. It’s generally the only book that people read and study until the cover and bindings are worn to ribbons from habitual use. And, in spontaneous recognition, cheers erupted from the packed ballroom. Moments later the applause abated and the Duck Commander began his remarks.
“For you potential candidates..to keep you out of trouble, to keep the scandals down, let me give you a word of advice (he holds aloft his rugged, old Bible)..make sure you carry your Bible with you and your woman.”
What followed was an unvarnished exposition of what ails us most, and included excerpts from George Washington and John Adams, whose words of faith and piety are undimmed by the passage of more than two centuries and are as equally convicting and challenging as they were when originally spoken and written by the fathers of our republic. But, that battered old Bible was all the eloquence that Phil Robertson needed.
Liberals swoon with the vapors at Robertson’s comments on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It’s as plain as the nose on anyone’s face that the sexual “revolution” of the 60’s, led by the licentious left, led to an explosion in promiscuousness. As difficult as it is for a liberal to understand, abstinence actually works better at preventing the spread of STDs than do condoms. But, because liberalism is nothing more than a political justification for one’s perversion du jour, it is far too much to expect a liberal to grasp how logic disproves their argument by urge. Some conservatives may pull up their petticoats and mince delicately around “social issues,” but Phil Robertson’s “got guts, and guts is enough.” —Sgt. Hartman, Full Metal Jacket. The Grand Old Party (GOP) just so happens to suffer from a profound lack of the Duck Commander’s brand of guts. Here’s a hint: you don’t have to look far to discover what Americans respect and admire, they’ll tell you loud and clear with their wallets. To date, the movie American Sniper is the most profitable movie of its genre—ever. And, that movie is about guts. The GOP sputters and stalls as it persists in the “snipe hunt” for the ephemeral moderate, when all the while the GOP base languishes for want of someone with guts.
As conservatives, we need more of duct tape and less of starched shirts, cuff links, and tailored suits. We are better served by those who labor in the truth, pondering God’s mysteries page, by page, by page until the bindings fail. These are the marks of an active mind, of a quickened soul, and of an abiding passion for truth—the fertile soil of liberty. A Bible, bruised by use is indicative of an appreciation for that which is classical, ideas tested by long usage and in the crucible of human experience. The founders of our republic held the same veneration for settled truth and convention, and were loathe to set aside what had proved to be beneficial to the pursuit of happiness for any light reason or passing fashion. Change is not necessarily, nor is it usually, a good thing concerning fundamental principles. That’s why the founders made it rather difficult to amend the Constitution, fearing that the republic might fall under the sway of the unscrupulous, power-drunk, or charismatic.
Personality is not character and perfectly creased pant legs speak more about a man’s vanity than it does about his capability or patriotism. What is central to conservatism are ideas, not celebrity. Duct tape isn't couture, but it is eminently useful and capable. Silly men like Joe Scarborough may hover in the shadows of the Potomac Ball Room with his barely solvent MSNBC sorority sisters and snigger at Phil Robertson’s old Bible, but Scarborough’s laughable faux conservatism isn’t fooling anyone; he’s a fellow traveler with the liberalism that has wrought endemic poverty domestically and has set the world ablaze with the scourge of ISIS. Foolish dandies may choose to titter but, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psalms 2:4) What irony, that men who are barely capable of pulling together an audience of a few tens of thousands chortle at a man who commands the attention of tens of millions.
Phil Robertson was the highlight of the Conservative Political Action Conference 2015 (CPAC). He is a testament to the efficaciousness of free enterprise and of the faith that undergirds the successes of our magnificent republic. He reminds us that conservatism is also about relationships built between ourselves and about the state of our relationship with our Creator. The Duck Commander’s old Bible also reminds us that the gems of wisdom are hard won and that they elude the superficial and the vapid; the liberal always nervously mocks what he does not know and is incapable of understanding. Though CPAC is chock full of personality, it is still most significantly about building relationships that redound to the benefit of the republic and not only to ourselves. Hopefully, we will learn something from the example of Phil’s oft used and treasured Bible and invest ourselves in its study as we seek to promote the truth of conservative principles first revealed in the Scriptures, deduced from the laws of nature, and finally given political form by our founding fathers.