Daniel Patrick Moynihans, They Aren’t

If you haven’t already, please read Matthew Continetti’s thoughtful yet entertaining book review in the most recent issue of the Claremont Review of Books. If you don’t subscribe to the CRB, you’re missing out. Bigly.

Continetti takes a look at five recent books written by U.S. senators (or their ghostwriters, ahem) and notes their plusses and (mostly) minuses. Here is his take on a major “argument” found in Sen. Jeff Flake’s recent turgid tome:

Flake remains befuddled. He says the conservative movement and Republican Party embraced Donald Trump out of a desire to win at any cost. But there is a problem with his assertion: no one really expected Trump to win. Republicans backed Trump not because they expected him to defeat Hillary Clinton but because he voiced their wishes and fears over the howls of the mainstream media and the financial and political establishment. The logic of the Trump voter was that, if America had to go down into the pit of statism and political correctness, it might as well go down fighting. Calculations of victory had little to do with it.

And here is Continetti’s befuddlement over Sen. Mike Lee’s latest:

These profiles of the Iroquois chief Canasatego, Mercy Otis Warren, George Mason, and Luther Martin, among others, are certainly readable and contain fascinating details, and Lee’s judgments are lively, and his revisionism is unpredictable….What these brief essays add up to is something of a mystery. “The problems stemming from government overreach today,” he writes, “are largely due to the fundamental unresolved imbalances that exist between, on the one hand, the federal government and the states (and, therefore, the people who benefit from a system that favors local control in most areas of government); and, on the other hand, between the executive branch and the other two branches of government.”

But those problems derive from the very system the characters in Written Out of History opposed. Are we to assume that the Anti-Federalists were right, and the Constitution is an instrument of centralization and control? That would be quite a claim, especially from a United States senator and former clerk of the Supreme Court. Or does Lee just want us to learn more about the debates surrounding ratification? That is an admirable wish, but not entirely relevant to the exercise of his office. Maybe he’s bored, and has taken up the writing of history as a hobby.

As they say, rtwt.

About Tom Doniphon

Tom Doniphon is not, as you may imagine, an iconic character from John Ford's greatest western. He is, rather, a writer in the Midwest. The moniker, suffice to say, is a pseudonym.

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