I have a simple question: were all of Power Line's trio of Dartmouth alums students of Jeffrey Hart in college? Was he their mentor in conservatism at the time? Their blog has mentioned him several times in the past glowingly, and Scott Johnson has identified himself as a disciple of the professor "emeritus and extraordinaire." They speak warmly of him here and recommend an essay of his. Here they imply that they were former students. Scott Johnson here recalls how "everything I think I know about literature I learned as a grateful student of Professor Hart." There's a poignant reminiscence here, and an endorsement of a new book by Jeffrey Hart. Scott Johnson wrote the following about his former mentor here:
Professor Hart disabused me of my addled adolescent liberalism and smugness over the four years I was his student as an undergraduate. I remain his grateful student ... Professor Hart joined the editorial board of National Review in 1969. In the course of his long association with the magazine he met up with virtually all of the magazine's great characters. In the current issue of the New Criterion, Professor Hart brings his gifts for portraiture to bear on an autobiographical reflection on the founding father of National Review and the modern conservative movement: "Buckley at the beginning." This brilliant essay is difficult to excerpt. Please read the whole thing.
Of another essay by Professor Hart, Johnson wrote: "There won't be a better essay published this year."
And yet, strangely, the most brilliant essay of this year by Jeffrey Hart is ignored by the trio of his former students. Here it is. It's a brutal excoriation of the toxic brew of authoritarianism and Christianism that Hart's former students now try to pass off as "conservatism." Money quote:
If [Bushism] amounts to a worldview, it’s certainly not that of Burke. Indeed, Bush would probably be more at home among the revolutionary French, provided his taxes remained low, than among Burke’s Rockingham Whigs. (Burke would of course deny Bush admission to the Whigs in the first place, as Bush would be seen as an ideological comrade of the philosophes —if a singularly unreflective one.) It’s no surprise that longtime conservatives such as Francis Fukuyama, George F. Will, and William F. Buckley have all distanced themselves from Bush’s brand of adventurism.
The United States has seen political swings and produced its share of extremists, but its political character, whether liberals or conservatives have been in charge, has always remained fundamentally Burkean. The Constitution itself is a Burkean document, one that slows down decisions to allow for “deliberate sense” and checks and balances. President Bush has nearly upended that tradition, abandoning traditional realism in favor of a warped and incoherent brand of idealism. (No wonder Bush supporter Fred Barnes has praised him as a radical.) At this dangerous point in history, we must depend on the decisions of an astonishingly feckless chief executive: an empty vessel filled with equal parts Rove and Rousseau.
Equal parts Rove and Rousseau. With a sprinkling of Carl Schmitt. Add torture for flavor. And you have what conservatism has now become.
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