Best of Enemies

Nearly 50 years ago William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal squared off in a series of debates that cemented the divide between conservatives and progressives, a divide that continues today. There is a very interesting documentary on Netflix called Best of Enemies that covers those 10 very contentious debates and the political environment of the time. Here is an excerpt of one of those debates:

Ironically, many of the issues covered in these debates are many of the same issues the left continues to fight over to this day – equality, the police state, and American Imperialism abroad. One would think that the intellectual might of the left would have resolved these pressing issues by now had they have been of paramount concern, but much like today, I believe these are issues the left needs to promulgate throughout the generations in order to create the societal divide their electoral victories depend on.

In one debate Buckley had a brilliant line on equality that invoked dismay and outrage from the progressive Vidal. Buckley stated that “freedom breeds inequality”, a simple truth about human nature that the left cannot comprehend, or simply does not want to admit. In fact there is much about human nature that the left does not want to admit, and unfortunately spends an inordinate amount of legislative time trying to deny. The ACA is a good example. What could possibly lead one to believe that a perfectly healthy 20 year old would purchase health insurance with high deductibles in order to off set the health care expenses of their less healthy and older citizens? Granted it would be noble of them but it defies their financial self-interests and the reality is that they are not complying, and Buckley defined this ideological disconnect dynamic very well in the video above.

In re: to the police state, is this not reminiscent of the black lives matter movement? Are the accusations leveled at the police then, the same accusations we hear today? And re: American imperialism, Vidal laid down the progressive foundation of moral equivalency that continues today by equating American military interactions with that of the Soviets, a paradigm the left uses at every opportunity to this day. Gore Vidal is unquestionably the father of today’s progressive movement, while Buckley is unquestionably the standard bearer for today’s conservative movement. Many of these debates are found on YouTube and the documentary on Netflix is a must see. I found these debates to be extremely interesting and look forward to reading others opinions.

14 thoughts on “Best of Enemies

  1. Retired Spook December 13, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    Buckley stated that “freedom breeds inequality”, a simple truth about human nature that the left cannot comprehend, or simply does not want to admit.

    Conversely, equality, or the modern equivalent, social and economic justice, is the enemy of liberty. The Left’s one-size-fits-all solutions are simply not compatible with our Constitutional Republic or a country as diverse as America.

    • Amazona December 13, 2015 / 1:38 pm

      We also need to remember that imposed “equality” equals mediocrity. Without thinking it though, a Lib probably assumes that if we are all equal we will all have really nice houses and cars and be able to vacation in Belize, but the reality is we would all have average, mediocre houses and cars, and share a standard of living that is not only not that great but from which we have no hope of escaping.

      “Leveling the playing field” economically might mean raising some people up, but in fact it means dragging a lot more people down.

      “The Left’s one-size-fits-all solutions are simply not compatible with our Constitutional Republic or a country as diverse as America.”

      I suggest that they are not compatible with any country, as we saw when they were imposed on the USSR, on China and Cambodia. It is the nature of many people to strive for excellence, for improvement, for advancement, for success, and it is human nature to want to be rewarded for success. Stripping away a built-in reward system for success is harmful to the human spirit, and results in misery and resentment.

      • Cluster December 13, 2015 / 1:40 pm

        “If you have a business, you didn’t build that. Others did” – Barak Hussein Obama

  2. Retired Spook December 15, 2015 / 10:21 am

    So were Buckley and Vidal friends? I’ve found that I can’t be friends with someone whose vision for the world is one I would lay down my life to prevent. I’ve found that I can’t be friends with someone who believes in a system that will make my descendants less free and less prosperous. Who needs friends like that?

    • Amazona December 15, 2015 / 11:21 am

      Spook, I think differences were more intellectual and less polarized than they are today. Having said that, I also find that it is hard to be friends with people as you describe, but my reaction is more a loss of respect, because when they talk they just sound so—stupid.

      Think about it—what are their arguments? AGW? The War On Women? The 1% ? Star Wars being racist? “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”? Opposing Obama policies just because he is black? Every single “argument” I hear from the Left these days is simply ignorant. That in and of itself is OK—ignorance is just the absence of knowledge, and can be corrected by learning. But when someone absolutely refuses to consider any alternate to a belief because of the affiliation of his belief or that of the contradicting evidence, I can’t respect him, or at least respect his intellect. When that happens I see someone who has chosen to abandon rational thought in favor of support for a political movement I know he doesn’t even understand.

      • Amazona December 15, 2015 / 11:44 am

        Just this morning I was reading a list of beloved Lefty memes that are simply not true. As the list was only five items long it didn’t even begin to touch on the fantasies that drive most Leftists, but it was a start.

        From the arcticle”

        One in five college-age women have been raped.

        How do you create a “rape epidemic” that isn’t actually happening? Easy. You don’t ask women if they’ve been raped; you just expand the definition of rape so much that you define merely unpleasant events or worse yet, even consensual acts as rape.

        The one-in-five figure is based on the Campus Sexual Assault Study, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and conducted from 2005 to 2007. Two prominent criminologists, Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox and Mount Holyoke College’s Richard Moran, have noted its weaknesses:

        …Fox and Moran also point out that the study used an overly broad definition of sexual assault. Respondents were counted as sexual assault victims if they had been subject to “attempted forced kissing” or engaged in intimate encounters while intoxicated.

        How many college-age women are raped according to the FBI? The actual rate is“6.1 per 1,000 students, or 0.61 percent (instead of 1-in-5, the real number is0.03-in-5).” Rape is a serious issue and dramatically misrepresenting the number of women being raped is despicable.

        Ninety seven percent of scientists agree that global warming is manmade and dangerous.

        How do you prove 97% of people agree with you? Find a tiny subset of a group that thinks just like you do and claim that it speaks for a much larger group of people. Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer did an excellent piece explaining how this works at the WSJ.

        Another widely cited source for the consensus view is a 2009 article in “Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union” by Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, a student at the University of Illinois, and her master’s thesis adviser Peter Doran.

        …The “97 percent” figure in the Zimmerman/Doran survey represents the views of only 79 respondents who listed climate science as an area of expertise and said they published more than half of their recent peer-reviewed papers on climate change. Seventy-nine scientists—of the 3,146 who responded to the survey—does not a consensus make.

        …In 2013, John Cook, an Australia-based blogger, and some of his friends reviewed abstracts of peer-reviewed papers published from 1991 to 2011. Mr. Cook reported that 97% of those who stated a position explicitly or implicitly suggest that human activity is responsible for some warming. His findings were published in Environmental Research Letters.

        Mr. Cook’s work was quickly debunked. In Science and Education in August 2013, for example, David R. Legates (a professor of geography at the University of Delaware and former director of its Center for Climatic Research) and three coauthors reviewed the same papers as did Mr. Cook and found “only 41 papers—0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1 percent—had been found to endorse” the claim that human activity is causing most of the current warming.

        …Rigorous international surveys conducted by German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch—most recently published in Environmental Science & Policy in 2010—have found that most climate scientists disagree with the consensus on key issues such as the reliability of climate data and computer models. They do not believe that climate processes such as cloud formation and precipitation are sufficiently understood to predict future climate change.

      • Amazona December 15, 2015 / 11:50 am

        Many on the Left believe that Michael Brown was a “gentle giant” targeted by a racist white policeman because of his color, who put his hands in the air and said “don’t shoot” and was shot int the back while fleeing said bigot.

        Many on the Left believe that any investigation of the antics of Hillary Clinton are mere “partisanship” and there is no proof she ever did anything wrong. Ever.

        Many on the Left believe that Scooter Libby “outed” a valiant and patriotic “secret agent” of the CIA for political reasons, putting her life at risk and destroying a covert operation.

        And so on

        These are not opinions, such as the old debate about who would win, pirates or ninjas. These are things that the Left takes as absolute fact, and upon which they base most if not all if their political decisions, in spite of the abundance of proof that these “facts” are simply not true.

  3. Amazona December 15, 2015 / 11:52 am

    Cluster, BTW this is an excellent thread post, and I have made a note to check out the debate segments on You Tube and the documentary on Netflix.

    • Amazona December 15, 2015 / 12:28 pm

      I did watch the link you provided and was fascinated. I yearn for a new William F. Buckley. I was, as I have said, an Unexamined Liberal when Buckley was on TV, so I missed out on him then, and by the time I started to examine my positions he was off center stage. If the 1968 WFB could be here in 2015 I would lead a WFB fan club—the man is mesmerizing because of his vast knowldege. Cruz has the intellect and the knowledge, and the potential to don the Buckley mantle, and I would love to see him take on the Vidals of our day, as I think he would dissect them as competently as Buckley dealt with Vidal.

      Today, however, the “journalist” who set up the debate would not be able to refrain from butting in and taking sides, and promoting one side over the other. That was another thing that jumped out at me.

      Vidal had emotions and a very slanted perception of what had been going on in Chicago, and based on what I have learned then and since then he was wrong. I was fascinated to see the same Lefty tactics that annoy me today being used by Vidal.

      He said the crowd was peaceful and just wanted to make its point, Buckley talked about the constant profanity and Vidal dismissed it by saying no one heard it but Buckley, smirk sneer. When Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-fascist” and wore a broad smug smirk at the comment, and Buckley said he had served this country in the infantry, Vidal was chomping at the bit till he could work in, although in a spot in the discussion that had nothing to do with the comment about serving in the infantry, that Buckley “..never saw a shot fired in anger…”

      Is there any more typical Lefty snarl than that? Name calling followed by the sneer that military service doesn’t count if you have not seen “…a shot fired in anger…”? (That has been modified to not counting if your plane got shot down in action, while people WERE shooting at you, part of the Left’s attack on McCain, or even worse, if you got captured because you only respect people who did not get captured, according to Trump.)

      Vidal sniped at Buckley throughout the whole discussion, making personal attacks and comments, while Buckley stuck to facts and gave some history lessons. It was brilliant. Thank you for introducing this link and the subject of Vidal v Buckley.

    • Amazona December 15, 2015 / 2:21 pm

      More on tired old Lefty tactics being dragged out in (kinda) new clothes:

      ‘Many environmentalists are watermelons. Green on the outside, inside they are as red as any communist ever was. It is not a coincidence that the environmental movement picked up strength after the Soviet Union collapsed. The propagandists for communism against capitalism had to go somewhere. They went to the environmental movement.

      With demands for state subsidy, an agenda hostile to western powers, and a deep antipathy toward free markets and capitalism, the two groups merged. Like Stalinists before them, environmental elite wish to purge society of capitalists, anyone who challenges them, and free market ideas. Like communists before them, they wrap themselves in a moral banner for war — against rising sea levels, against drought, against all sorts of things no right thinking person could be against.

      And like the communists of old, the environmentalists also love their five year plans.
      The five year plan was an old staple of the Soviet Union. A central planning committee would plan the economy in five year increments toward the glorious utopia of equality. When five year goals were not met, the plans were revised or the outcomes lied about.

      Now too, the watermelons of the United Nations Climate Change group, are modeling the Soviets. The new climate accord agreed to in Paris demands five year reports on what countries have done to fix climate change. Developing countries want major cash payments from developed countries, which will not happen, but along the way everyone will report back in glorious detail every five years what they have done to fight global warming.

      It is your typical international idea, which they will refer to as “international law.”

      It is non-binding, which is why the U.S. will not have to ratify the deal.

      It calls for no binding commitments of any kind on any nation.

      But it allows leaders to morally preen and feel like they accomplished something. Again, that something is non-binding, but will occur every five years with great fanfare as still nothing happens. But it was enough to make a crowd of journalists cheer, which is all this is really about — making people feel like they are gods capable of changing nature itself.”

      We have talked a lot about how Lefties love to claim the Higher Moral Ground by simply Being FOR things they consider virtuous, without ever having to DO anything. This is a perfect example of that. Spend untold billions of dollars to have a “summit” (check out the size, and cost, of the Obama entourage—I wonder if more than 500 “essential” people would have signed up as “essential” for a trip to, for example, Kenya instead of glamorous Paris) where nothing happens but a lot of posturing followed by a lot of “signing on” to agreements that are meaningless, other than as symbols of virtue.

      And, of course, as examples of creeping infiltration of communist ideals and agendas, this time masked as oh-so-deep concern FOR THE PLANET. You really have to say those three words with a lot of emphasis, and a slight choking up at the same time is helpful

      • M. Noonan December 15, 2015 / 8:07 pm

        We live in the Age of Stupid – someone posted on Twitter when they announced the climate deal some video of ardent Progs…and they got up and cheered as if something momentous had happened! And, of course, to them it was – because all the sources of info they use will play it up as something good and important. And, of course, darkly report about those who disagree…we’re trying to kill the planet!

    • Cluster December 15, 2015 / 9:44 pm

      I am glad you liked it. Watch the documentary if you can, it’s fascinating. And Spook to answer your question, Vidal and Buckley absolutely, unequivocally despised each other and you learn that in the documentary. One other thing struck with these two, particularly Buckley, was their command of the language and high intellect. That’s rare.

  4. Amazona December 15, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    …a terrific quotation from George Orwell, from a letter he wrote in May 1944:

    “The intellectuals are more totalitarian in outlook than the common people. … Most of them are perfectly ready for dictatorial methods, secret police, systematic falsification of history etc. so long as they feel that it is on ‘our’ side.”

    • M. Noonan December 15, 2015 / 8:11 pm

      They’ve always been like that – Robespierre was asked when they would allow free elections…his reply was along the lines of, “why would we do that? Wouldn’t that be the recall of the Monarchy?”. He was, at least, honest about it – he knew full well that all his ideology was despised by most of the French (it was the 18th century progs and their bought mob which overthrew the monarchy…not the French people, as a whole – as late as elections in the 1870’s, the French were voting by majority for a monarchy…trouble was by the 1870’s there were three Dynastic claimants for the throne and the Monarchists couldn’t agree on which one…so, the French got a Republic by default). The left will only plea for freedom and human rights when they are unable to exercise power, because they don’t want power to be used against themselves…but once they’ve got any sort of power, their first moves are always to limit the exercise of freedom by people who disagree.

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