William F. Buckley Jr. and Michael Kinsley

The Natural Urges of the Right
An email conversation about the news of the day.
March 29 2001 6:28 PM

William F. Buckley Jr. and Michael Kinsley

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Michael, a conspiracy is a joint enterprise to commit an illegal act. Hillary calls us--types it--a conspiracy, and you swang with that, even to the point of giving birth (VRWC) to an acronym. Permit a non-lawyer to make that rather critical point that to jump on Clinton for the Monica business was not to engage in an illegal enterprise; but intuitively you knew this, as when you rolled into your description of non-conspiratorial right-wing activity. What you are saying is that there is networking by American conservatives, which I suppose is true--National Review is read by everyone. And it is also true that conservatives now have think tanks. For years pre-Slate, the think tanks were otherwise oriented, as in the Ford Foundation (still left), Brookings, Rockefeller, etc.

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But whither, dear Michael? When you asked your associates to declare whom they were voting for last November, all except one or two affirmative-action types of course said: Gore. Maureen Cosgrove even challenged the very idea of compassionate conservatism as oxymoronic.

From the perspective of Slate, everything out there is a VRWC, especially when the time came to assert ourselves in Florida! I'd hope, in a longer exchange, to argue that conservatives tend to be moved by natural instincts, as, e.g., to think "Mr. Kinsley," instead of "Mike," when unfamiliar with him. And--of course--in the matter of government enterprise, to feel in our stomachs the skepticism you nice people tend not to have over such primordial concerns as taxation (l00 percent tax equals slavery), but over the right to exhibit Deep Throat in the local movie house.

What's fine about Slate is the raw intelligence, the stylistic finesse, and an underlying humor which sometimes, as when you told Gore to cut it out on class warfare talk, levitates the whole thing, and that's good, and I hope you are having a fine time; but never ever ask me, Did I enjoy the extra writing assignment? No, but I was glad to explain my inclination to call you Michael.

Ever,

XB

William F. Buckley Jr. is editor at large ofNational Review. His forthcoming novel is calledElvis in the Morning. Michael Kinsley is editor of Slate.

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