ANOTHER GREAT GENERATION – AT 9:16 A.M. ET: Bill Kristol has a fine piece in the Weekly Standard, on the occasion of the death of Robert Bork, celebrating Bork's generation of conservatives. We've been lucky to have had men and women of supreme intellect and gutsiness. They made the Reagan revolution possible, and contributed mightily to world peace through their championing of "peace through strength."
“There were giants in the earth in those days.” The death on December 19 of Robert Bork—superb legal scholar, preeminent constitutional thinker, principled public servant—calls to mind the other giants of American conservatism who have left us in the last decade: Bill Buckley and Irving Kristol, Milton Friedman and James Q. Wilson, Richard John Neuhaus and Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. They were the greatest conservative generation. They rode into the valley of liberal orthodoxies and emerged sometimes triumphant, always unbowed. When can their glory fade? They left our nation stronger and better for their efforts.
The materials for the future support and defense of conservatism will have to be forged by a generation that remembers not the Founders. In a way, this can be an advantage. Young men and women today, interested in the perpetuation of our political and civic liberty, will understand they can’t coast on the Founders’ efforts. They’ll also be less intimidated by the Founders’ example. They will be open to fresh thinking “hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason.” Such fresh thinking has never been more necessary.
But as they think anew, they’ll also look back to Bob Bork and his compatriots. Their work is the point of departure, a source of invaluable lessons, both substantive and strategic. Yet the generation that now ascends to center stage shouldn’t be intimidated by their daunting example.
The best revenge for Edward Kennedy’s slander about “Robert Bork’s America” would be to help advance the cause of what is truly Bob Bork’s America—a nation of constitutional liberty and self-government. Bob Bork would have enjoyed the well-deserved encomiums he is receiving. He’d be even more pleased by the young men and women coming forth to say how inspired they have been by his example.
COMMENT: Of course, one part of Bork's legacy is found in our vocabulary, in the political term "to be Borked." It means to be smeared to the point where one's confirmation to high office – in Bork's case, his nomination to the Supreme Court – becomes impossible.
The Borking of Bork came at the hands of Edward Kennedy and one Joe Biden, who now holds an obscure office. Bork was rejected for the Court, and stayed on a federal appeals court for a while, ultimately leaving for other endeavors.
December 21, 2012