Sunday, March 4, 2012

BUCKLEY AND BREITBART: RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS IN ARMS

William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008) 
Founder of National Review and host of Firing Line
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Founder of Breitbart.com, BigHollywood.com, BigGovernment.com, BigJournalism.com, and BigPeace.com

One was Catholic; the other was Jewish. One was reared in New York City, Connecticut, Paris and London; the other in Brentwood. One was the sixth of ten children; the other was adopted and had one adopted sibling. One was the son of an oil baron; the other the son of a restaurateur. One graduated from Yale; the other from Tulane. One wore Brooks Brothers; the other wore denim. One appreciated classical music; the other British alternative rock. One’s speech pattern was mellifluous and betrayed his aristocratic acculturation; the other spoke in the parlance of the outraged everyperson. One had the mien of a pensive professor; the other had the visage of a restless grad student. One pilloried his opponents on his television show; the other unleashed unpleasant truths on his websites. One founded a pioneering magazine to propagate his epistles; the other employed innovative new media journalism to unmask a biased media. One’s mission was to “stand athwart history and yell stop”; the other vowed to “stand up to bullies”. One was named William F. Buckley, Jr.; the other was named Andrew Breitbart.

The contrasts between Buckley and Breitbart appear unequivocal, but in actuality the two men were two sides of the same conservative coin. The superficial differences in their backgrounds, dispositions, and manner of discourse are subservient to the parallels of their comparable missions. Separated by cultural generations, Buckley was a product of pre-World War Two’s “greatest generation” that largely welcomed FDR’s New Deal entitlement society in the wake of the Great Depression. Brietbart was born in the post-1960s Generation X era, which was characterized, perhaps unfairly, as a group of disenfranchised slackers. However each man bucked his respective generation’s list toward progressive liberalism. They instead embraced conservatism as their political and cultural philosophies. They devoted their lives to upholding conservative values and principles, and they each did it with relentless daring, aplomb and innovation.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. referred to William F. Buckley as “the scourge of liberalism”. Reared a conservative from an early age, Buckley was a brilliant debater, a prolific writer, and in 1955 founded National Review which many consider to be the first commercially successful magazine dedicated to advancing conservative principles. He leveraged National Review to galvanize the conservative movement by coalescing the leading conservative and libertarian thinkers of his era to contribute to the magazine’s content. He also hosted the PBS show Firing Line from 1966 to 1999 taking on all liberal comers to debate the issues of the day, and he inspired and motivated the conservative youth movement as the principle organizer of the Young Americans for Freedom.

His writing, TV work and organizing efforts were the ingredients of the Buckley conservative movement, but it would not have had such sweeping success if not for the secret sauce; his unbridled charisma. Based on accounts of those who knew him Buckley had a rapier wit and an alluring charm. Coupling those qualities with an acute mind for insight Buckley was a natural leader, the pied piper of conservatism, who challenged all conservatives to “… stand athwart history and yell Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so…”

Andrew Breitbart was an epiphanized conservative. Growing up liberal in uber-liberal West Los Angeles, he had a revelation in college while watching the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill Supreme Court nominee hearings. He was outraged over the hypocritical behavior of woman’s groups, leftist organizations and the mainstream media condemning Clarence Thomas for, what Breitbart believed to be, unfounded sexual harassment charges, while Chappaquiddick scandal-ridden Sen. Ted Kennedy sat on the Senate Judiciary committee reviewing Thomas’ nomination and was never denounced by the very same groups demonizing Clarence Thomas. After that experience Breitbart is quoted as saying, "I went in expecting to root against Clarence Thomas, I came out doubting the Democratic Party and liberalism."

From that point it was “game on” for Andrew Breitbart. His mission was to uncover the truth about the left’s agendas that for generations were concealed by an unabashedly biased mainstream media. Breitbart became part of the 1990s “new media” journalism movement, an anti-mainstream approach to journalism that utilized unsolicited news sources, blogging, the Internet, and audio and video technology to supplement or augment stories. He honed his skills working first for Matt Drudge’s groundbreaking Drudge Report and subsequently helped Arianna Huffington (before she lost her way and was a Republican) launch The Huffington Post.

Having refined his new media skills at Drudge and Huffington Breitbart launched his own consortium of news aggregation sites each with the name “Big” in the title. They were instrumental in breaking major stories that exposed the left’s illicit, if not criminal, activities. Breitbart’s reporting was single-handedly responsible for the demise of the corrupt and taxpayer funded ACORN community activist organization, a former employer and key supporter of President Barack Obama. After Breitbart published videos of a sting operation conducted against ACORN by two young conservative activists ACORN was defunded by Congress, it’s private donations dried up and, thanks to Breitbart’s reporting, so did ACORN.

The left unquestionably feared Buckley and Breitbart. They each were unyielding in their search and destroy missions to expose the left’s dangerous and hidden agendas. But they approached their targets from different directions using dissimilar ammo. Buckley commanded the conservative’s ground attack piercing holes in the left’s feckless and flawed policies through his writings and superb debate skills, while always preaching the conservative values and traditions that are the underpinnings of America’s success. Breitbart was the general for the conservative’s air attack dropping written and video truth bombs on the left, uncovering their insidious agendas that are under the protection of the mainstream media.

No one will ever mistake Buckley and Breitbart for being separated at birth. But their resemblance is undeniable when accounting for the leadership and passion they exhibited in their missions to preserve and protect America’s rich conservative heritage against the left’s anti-American progressive, collectivist ideologies. Their molds broke when they left us, but their legacies are eternal, their drive and commitment serve as role models for generations to come and their services to the public were invaluable.

The commonality that linked these two men was their courage and conviction towards their mutual cause, and for that noble reason they will forever be viewed as righteous brothers in arms.

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