IN 1955, William F. Buckley Jr. famously declared that the purpose of conservatism was "to stand athwart history, yelling 'Stop,' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it."
That astoundingly witty remark was a rueful acknowledgement of the uphill challenge facing the nascent American right, half a century ago — trying to halt the forward movement of a self-confident liberal left that was utterly certain it could make the world a better place through government action and forced social change.
Who could have imagined, reading Buckley's words in 1955, that 50 years later the liberal left would have adopted Buckley's screaming "Stop" as its mantra? Only there's nothing whimsically philosophical about the Democratic "Stop," as there was in Buckley's case. Rather, there's something primal about it, something desperate, something heartbroken and enraged.
Judges appointed by a twice-elected president who received the greatest number of votes in American history? STOP!
Find new sources of domestic oil to combat our dependence on Middle East petroleum? STOP!
A nominee for U.N. ambassador who has been confirmed four times previously by the Senate and whose views clearly dovetail with the president who nominated him? STOP!
And on and on it goes. How else to explain the wild enthusiasm, indeed the almost romantic praise, expressed by Democrats and their cheerleaders in the media for the Senate filibuster — a legislative maneuver created by a quirk in Senate rules that was most famously used to block civil-rights laws in the 1940s and 1950s?
There is something altogether childish about the continuous chorus of "No! No! No!" emanating from the minority party. Barbara Boxer and Teddy Kennedy have the whiny, petulant, foot-stomping of the spoiled brat down perfectly.
Sort of like a neverending temper tantrum.