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For the term "First Things".


A traditional conservative*

*Refers to following in the steps of G. K. Chesterton:

“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.”

Orthodoxy, Chapter 4

And of William F. Buckley, Jr.:

“Modern formulations are necessary even in defense of very ancient truths. Not because of any alleged anachronism in the old ideas — the Beatitudes remain the essential statement of the Western code — but because the idiom of life is always changing, and we need to say things in such a way as to get inside the vibrations of modern life.” 1964 address to the Conservative Party of New York State

1964 address to the Conservative Party of New York State



Daniel Oliver has been part of the Conservative Movement since 1965, when he worked in William F. Buckley Jr.’s campaign for Mayor of New York City, and ran for the New York State Assembly from West Harlem.

In 1970, he was Director of Research for James L. Buckley’s successful campaign for the U.S. Senate from New York. In the mid-1970s Oliver both wrote for and served as executive editor of National Review. And for many years Oliver served on the board of directors of National Review, serving as chairman from 2001 until Buckley divested himself of the magazine’s stock in 2004, at which time Buckley named him to the board of National Review’s holding company, on which he served until 2013.

During the Reagan Administration, Oliver served as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (1986–1989). His service at the FTC followed two other senior assignments in the Reagan Administration: General Counsel of the Department of Education (1981–1983) and General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture (1983–1986).

Since leaving the government at the end of the Reagan years, Oliver has remained active in public policy, His appointments have included Distinguished Fellow at Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation and Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Oliver has served on the boards of numerous conservative organizations, including the Philadelphia Society (of which he is a past president), the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (of which he is a past chairman), the Federalist Society, and the Center for Family and Human Rights. Oliver is a member of the Mont Pèlerin Society. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Fordham Law School. In 1988 he received the degree of Doctor of Political Science honoris causa from Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala.

His writings have appeared in The Claremont Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, The Washington Times, First Things, The American Conservative, The Daily Caller, and The Federalist, among other publications.”

A collection of his columns and other writings, from 1999 to 2015, has been published recently under the title of Everyday Epiphanies.

Oliver lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Louise Oliver, the former ambassador to UNESCO. The have five children and thirteen grandchildren.

Memo to White House Concerning Supreme Court Vacancy

A satirical take on what the White House can do to encourage Republicans to self-destruct.

A memo was delivered to this column — obviously by mistake, given its contents. It had clearly been dropped, trampled on, recovered, and then delivered wrongly because the address was by then unclear, and parts of it were unintelligible: Washington weather has been paralyzingly awful (an inch of snow).

The memo was … interesting. The recipient’s name was undecipherable, but from the content, it is fair to conclude it was someone in the White House. The author’s first name was David; the last name was unintelligible (but may have begun with a “P”), as was the top of the memo which might have had an organization’s name on it. The subject matter was blurred but was presumably “Taking Advantage of Impending SCOTUS vacancy.” Some of the unintelligible parts of the memo have been filled in, but only where they were obvious.

DATE:                                  JANUARY 31, 2022

MEMORANDUM FOR:      [Unintelligible]

FROM:                                 DAVID [unintelligible]

SUBJECT:                           Taking Advantage of Impending SCOTUS Vacancy

The impending Supreme Court vacancy presents a fate-given opportunity for President Joe Biden to shore up his so-far disastrous presidency — but not in the way small minds are thinking.

The temptation the president will be subjected to, reinforced by the advisors the president has surrounded himself with (losers all), will be to focus on getting someone — actually, anyone — confirmed before the November elections.

That shows the shallowness of their thinking. Whoever they get confirmed will make little or no difference on the court: Donald Trump — may he burn in hell (too bad there isn’t one) — saw to that.

What counts are the November elections, and the Democrats are on track to suffer massive losses.

Even —and this is the important part (worth waking POTUS up from his afternoon nap to read) — even black Americans are deserting the party in droves. That is partly because of the administration’s brain-dead vaccination policy, which hurts lower-income groups. Does anyone in the WH realize that most black Americans are in the lower-income groups? Does anyone in the WH know any black people in lower-income groups?

So, to recap: the WH should keep its collective eye on the ball, which is the November elections.

The only question they should be focused on is: What can the WH do to encourage Republicans to self-destruct?

Answer: Make the opportunity to self-destruct irresistible for Republicans (rarely a difficult task).

The way to do that is to nominate black women (of course) but black women who are unqualified for the job, and then sit back and let the Republicans defeat them.

Of course, the president shouldn’t admit they are unqualified. (That has to be said because there is a more-than-trivial danger that the president in an, er, unguarded moment at an ice cream shop might give the game away.) He really has to be managed properly in this case (i.e., better than he has been), but then that would be true going into the November elections even if there weren’t a SCOTUS vacancy.

The nominees should be unqualified, but not ridiculously so. They should receive WH support, of course, but there should be just enough plausibility to the Republicans’ claims so that they will make them!

Think what happens. The Rs defeat black female nominee #1.

One week later the president nominates black female #2.

A very short time later — the Senate majority leader must be instructed to move faster than that body normally does — the Rs defeat black female nominee #2.

If the president can’t see how this plays out, someone must explain to him that we want this to happen five, maybe six times before November.

The point is to give the Rs ample opportunity to defeat black female nominees. What a record for Democrats to run on this fall!! Gadzooks! Maybe there is a god after all! Just kidding!

One danger is that the Republicans catch on. That’s not likely to happen. It is certainly not likely to happen before they’ve defeated three or four nominees.

That’s probably enough to poison the well of black voters for the Rs in November.

But what, small minds in the WH (is there any other kind?) may ask, happens if in fact no nominee gets confirmed and the Republicans take the Senate in November, ensuring that no nominee ever gets confirmed?

Not to worry. Keep your eye on the big ball.

Even if the Democrats lose SCOTUS for another generation, it shouldn’t matter: Democrats don’t really have to follow its dictates anyway. The entrenched bureaucracy (of course there’s a Deep State — what the hell do you think Democrats have been building for the last 70 years!) can make end runs around almost any SCOTUS decision. Maybe not all, but most of them.

What’s important is keeping the country moving in the proper direction: toward government control of most of the institutions in this country. Our European friends are way ahead of us in that regard. They really do seem to care about their people more than we do: governments in Europe are much more hands-on in managing their citizens’ lives. We have done much to catch up in recent years — ObamaCare was a giant step in that direction — but there is still much to be done.

We are paying too much attention to the courts. Our most notable success in the past, as any fool can see, has been in the academy. We have scored touchdown after touchdown there.

But now we need action in Congress to get three essential things accomplished (is there anyone in the WH who can count to three?): Enacting the so-called “Freedom to Vote Act” (great title — mine!), admitting D.C. and Puerto Rico to the Union, and increasing the size of the Supreme Court.

Allowing the struggle to fill one seat on the Court today to get in the way of those imperatives is folly.

Alas, folly has been the hallmark of this [the rest of the memo is undecipherable].


February 8, 2022
The American Spectator