Grace Will Lead Me Home?
Looking toward the future — conservative and otherwise.
Lopez: I tend to think there will be a serious revisiting of our founding principles — both 1776 and 1955 (the year National Review was founded) — after this election, whatever happens. Agree or disagree?
Noonan: You may remember we first spoke of this last spring, in Rome? The first wave will be . . . well, it will be as ugly as the past month. Uglier, as those with some responsibility for the past seven years turn their finger not on themselves but on others. (I happen to think careerism has become an unseen force in much of the fighting. Conservatism didn’t used to be a career, it was a sailing against the wind, a pushing back against the age that is pushing you, and it was often lonely, individual, painful. It has been for me.) The second wave will be more important, a real surveying and rethinking. A going back to the texts, Burke to Kirk, but also a deeper attempt to apply conservative principles and insights to reality as it is on the ground. For it must be applied to the reality as it is on the ground, to the facts, or it will not be conservative. Burke respected reality so much his enemies said he worshiped a thing just because it was. So yes, there will be seminars and symposia, and activists will have epiphanies on the Amtrak Acela while delayed at Wilmington. But here’s the most important wave. What I have been reminding people in speeches lately is America is not made in Washington. America is made in America. So this is step three, and will happen concurrently and for a long time with step two: look to the states and the counties. Briefly: I don’t believe in political saviors — I don’t think life is as a rule that dramatic, clear cut, resolved, or necessarily heroic. But what is happening in the states, and who is leading in and rising in the states, is going to yield up the leaders of the future. The great story of the next few years, and maybe longer than a few, will be what is happening there, and what is happening in the American culture. The McCain-Palin moment will pass; America will continue. Conservatives have to stop looking to Washington, it cannot solve our lives. And it’s not a very conservative impulse, to always be looking at and to the federal establishment.
Lopez: When people have been reading you for years, they sometimes think they know you too well. And feel betrayed when you don’t say what they might. And think they can read your unspoken motives. Just to clear the air here, when you sit down at your computer to write a column, what are you thinking? What is your goal? Who are you seeking to please? [...]
Peggy has a lot of interesting things to say, about McCain, Palin, Reagan, about criticizing Bush; about conservatism as defined by her, and about who she writes for. And if she is prophetic, then her comment at the beginning of the interview, about the old lady in the wheelchair and the stairs... yikes.