Our forthcoming book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties. GOP conservatism is in intellectual decline.
In The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, a classic 1943 film that traces, in vaguely allegorical fashion, half a century’s evolution in England’s national character, the actress Deborah Kerr plays a series of roles that represent changing incarnations of the ideal British woman. Were a similar technicolor romance to portray America’s national character over the past seven decades, the right would be represented by a series of characters all named L. Brent Bozell.His grandfather, L. Brent Bozell, Jr. was WFB's brother-in-law, coauthoring his defense of McCarthy.
In our film’s dramatic climax, L. Brent Bozell IV (“Zeeker” to his friends) is shown in a red baseball cap and blue sweatshirt lettered “Hershey Christian Academy” (with which, that institution assures us, Zeeker is not affiliated) amid an angry crowd chanting “treason!” inside an abandoned Senate chamber. The National Review brand of movement conservatism, launched 76 years earlier under the joint stewardship of Zeeker’s namesake grandad and his great-uncle William F. Buckley, Jr. with the admonition to stand “athwart history, yelling Stop,” now dissolves into violent insurrection as an FBI agent charges Zeeker with disorderly conduct. Fade to black, roll credits.
Brent ghostwrote Barry Goldwater’s book, The Conscience of a Conservative, giving wide play to his Cold War pessimism when the book became a surprise bestseller in 1960. By now, Brent had blossomed into a full-fledged reactionary. He moved to Spain and became an apologist for Franco’s fascist regime. Then he moved back and lost a Maryland congressional primary race to the liberal Republican Charles Mathias. After that, he moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains and devoted most of the rest of his life to attacking Vatican II.
In L. Brent Bozell III (1955-present), we start to see what IQ experts delicately call “regression to the mean.” If Leo’s preoccupation was to build a successful business and Brent’s was to build an intellectual foundation for movement conservatism, Brent III’s was to build a series of organizations to perpetuate that movement.
Regarding Donald Trump, Brent III performed a Lindsey Graham–style backflip. During the 2016 primaries, Brent III denounced Trump as “the greatest charlatan of them all,” bravely enduring what Politico’s Tim Alberta called “a serious hit” to MRC’s fundraising (which, Alberta wrote, was already judged by allies as “an outdated operation”). To get well after Trump won, he discarded his brave stance and denounced the media’s “hatred” of Trump. By August 2020, Brent III was chugging the Kool-Aid, saying the left was plotting to “steal this election” and adding, “If they get away with that, what happens? Democracy is finished because they usher in totalitarianism.”
But Brent III drew the line at condoning the January 6 riot. After stating that he agreed with the mob that the election was stolen, he said, “You can never countenance police being attacked. You cannot countenance our national Capitol being breached like this. I think it is absolutely wrong.”
Then came Zeeker (1981-present).