… The constraints of newsprint no doubt limit Will's ability to go into detail. But I hope he does, because his sudden jab at [Whittaker] Chambers makes little sense. Chambers may have been sentimental and melancholic and pessimistic, his prose may have been tinged with purple, but he was if anything a moderating force on Buckley. Throughout their correspondence, collected in Odyssey of a Friend (1968), Chambers urged Buckley to accept the political reality of the New Deal, to be wary of Joe McCarthy, and to drop his criticisms of Eisenhower and Nixon. He resisted joining National Review because he viewed it as too ideological. He abjured the label conservative and preferred to be described as a "man of the right." He appeared on the NR masthead for just two years, leaving in 1959 because of editorial differences. (Chambers died in 1961.) His conservatism, such as it was, was adaptive. "That is what conservatives must decide," he wrote, "how much to give in order to survive at all; how much to give in order not to give up basic principles."George Will is much overrated, especially by himself.
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