The Conservative Sensibility

[Amazon Link]

This is George F. Will's career-capping magnum opus, aka "brain dump." As near as I can tell, it's everything he has to say about government, politics, and philosophy. Even excluding the bibliography and index, still clocking in at just slightly under 600 pages.

Fortunately, the big idea is right up front, and clearly stated: if you're wondering what 21st century American conservatives are supposed to be conserving, GFW says: easy: it's the vision of the Founding Fathers, as expressed in the Declaration and Constitution. It's the notion that government does not provide you with rights, but is meant to secure the natural rights you have, by dint of you being an adult human being. Including, but not limited to, the big three: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I'm in total agreement with GFW here.

But there's more. Much more. GFW explores every nook and cranny of political thought: the proper role and function of the courts, for example. He's in favor of an "engaged" judiciary, one that (see above) is dedicated to curbing the rights-eroding follies of the other two branches. (He's a little down on my preferred theory of Constitutional interpretation, "original public meaning." I still slightly disagree there, but no longer think it's the slam dunk I used to.)

Also: foreign policy, education, religion, science. Everything except baseball. Each chapter is a pinball ride through history, philosophy, literature, … ; each topic could have been a book in itself. Unfortunately, I only had the book for 14-day loan period; it probably deserves closer study.

Bad guys: Woodrow Wilson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Fun fact: this is a new book, copyright 2019. Guess who's entirely missing from the book?

Donald J. Trump, that's who. Conspicuous by his absence. I have my theories about why, but unless someone asks GFW, they are only guesses.

As I've mentioned before, I don't do "reviews" here. It's basically just "I read this, I liked (or didn't like) it, here's what it's about, here's some things I noticed."

I feel a little guilty about that in GFW's case. If you want to read a real review, check out Richard M. Reinsch II at Law & Liberty: Progress of a Conservative.


Last Modified 2019-10-17 3:05 PM EST