(CNSNews.com) – Conservative leader L. Brent Bozell III, a nephew of the late William F. Buckley Jr., criticized a commentary in the New York Times that claimed his uncle, if alive today, would seek to purge “fringe” Tea Party folks and other “moon-bat” conservatives from the GOP. Bozell said Buckley instead would argue that “moderates” such as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Karl Rove should be “driven from our ranks.”
In the Dec. 3 commentary, writer David Welch, a former research director for the Republican National Committee, equated the Tea Party and conservative talk radio with the John Birch Society, the latter which Buckley did expel from the conservative movement in the 1960s. Welch said conservatives and Republicans today needed a “Buckley-esque gatekeeper” to weed out “extreme, untested candidates” and “bring adult supervision to the party.”
In his Dec. 4 letter to the New York Times, Bozell said, “It is amazing to see how many liberal Republicans and Democrats who didn’t know and/or care for William F. Buckley Jr. while he was alive so easily now conjure his spirit as validation of their beliefs. The latest is David Welch (‘Where Have You Gone, Bill Buckley?’ December 3, 2012).”
“He states that Bill Buckley would have linked the Tea Party to the John Birch Society, expelled it from polite company, and in its place would invite great conservative leaders like Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Chris Christie and Karl Rove to take the helm of our conservative movement,” said Bozell, “because they are ‘ideally suited to drive extremists from the party.’”
He continued, “Let me suggest to you what my uncle would have said instead, while laughing at Mr. Welch’s proposal: ‘Given that the Tea Party is definitely not the John Birch Society, we therefore do not need moderates like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie and operatives like Karl Rove running the conservative movement. They are ideally suited to be driven from our ranks.’”
Bozell is chairman of ForAmerica, a grassroots conservative group committed to traditional American principles. He is also president of the Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com.
Back in the early 1960s, Buckley, then editor-in-chief of National Review magazine, denounced the John Birch Society and described its leadership as being “far removed from common sense.” Buckley’s action was effective in marginalizing the John Birch Society. He had also expressed strong criticism of Ayn Rand and Objectivism, putting some space between Randians and conservatives.
In his NYT commentary, David Welch said, “It is a shame that William F. Buckley Jr. passed away in 2008. The conservative movement could use him — or someone like him — right now. … Replacing Buckley -- an erudite and prolific force of nature -- with one individual is next to impossible. But we don’t need to. We can face the extremists with credible, respected leaders who have offered conservative policies that led to Republican victories.”
“Dare I say it, or should I just whisper the word? We need ‘the Establishment,’” wrote Welch. “We need officials like former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, operatives like Karl Rove and Republican Party institutions.”
“Mr. Christie and Mr. Bush are ideally suited to drive extremists from the party,” said Welch.
Christie “should be celebrated by sane people everywhere,” Welch said, adding that Christie and Jeb Bush “best represent realistic, levelheaded conservatism.” If Karl Rove utilized his consulting business with “old-guard Republicans” to promote “sensible candidates,” and run campaign “ads against extreme members of the [Republican] party, they could do much to bring some sense back to the Republican landscape.”
“Our modern-day Buckley’s denouncement of once fringe Tea Party candidates should be forthright,” said Welch. “Whether it’s Bush, Christie or a party institution, there must be one clear message: no unserious candidate need apply.”