Over at The New Republic yesterday, Isaac Chotiner writes, George Will, Tea Party Tory. The article walks a thin line that will make both George Will lovers and haters happy. It discusses Will’s “evolution” from Tory to libertarian. And it doesn’t pull any punches as when it notes the erroneousness of Will’s claim that the global temperature has not raisen in the last 15 years. Still, I find the article more or less a whitewash of Will.
George Will is generally my first example of how it is easy to be a conservative pundit. As long as you don’t drool, everything is fine. And it’s funny to me that people like Will and David Brooks complain about liberal elites and their pseudo-intellectualism, but that is a better description of them. Regardless, for the umpteenth time: if Will were a liberal, the best he would be doing is teaching at a small state college. He certainly wouldn’t be working at the Washington Post and on broadcast television.
But you do have to give one thing to Will: he knows where his bread is buttered. That is well on display in this recent turn to libertarianism. Of course, like all conservatives, I’m sure that Will always saw himself as a libertarian. The great thing about being a libertarian is that you don’t have to do anything about social injustices, but you get to feel good about yourself in that you would never partake. For example: you don’t think the government should do anything to facilitate equal rights for minorities, but you would never treat another person differently because of their skin color.
So why is George Will all gung-ho about libertarianism now? That couldn’t be more obvious: he sees the conservative movement going in that direction. He’s already seen conservatism in America go from Toryism to radicalism. If he is to stay relevant, he either has to go libertarian or fascistic. And we know that fascism isn’t really fitting for his personality. So libertarianism it is! Or at least, the kind of wishy-washy libertarianism that some in the Republican Party have embraced.
In the end, it is the same old conservatism. Libertarianism in the Republican Party is just a patina to give their “worship the rich and screw the poor” politics the look of a consistent ideology. For example, he’s tentatively in favor of cannabis legalization but not for the legalization of other drugs. Libertarians argue, “You have a right to do whatever you want to your own body!” Republican “libertarians” argue, “You have a right to do whatever you want to your own body, as long as we’ve decided that it is okay for you!” A communist would argue exactly the same thing.
So George Will V 2.0 is out and he’s all for libertarianism? That means nothing, other than that he is following trends in the conservative movement. And this is what he has always done. It’s all that popular conservative pundits ever do. It’s why they are popular. And when the pretend libertarianism of the Republican Party peters out, George Will V 3.0 will be there to appeal to the new trend in movement conservatism.
 This really is the ultimate example for libertarians. If you believe that people have an absolute right to their own bodies, then you believe anyone should be able to grow poppies in their backyards, extract the morphine, produce heroin, and use it. Anything else means that you want to tell other people how to live their lives. But as I’ve noted before: even most “real” libertarians are all about telling other people how to live. A great example of this is how libertarians (almost to a man) want to stop businesses have having union shops. Voluntary contracts are great, but only when libertarians agree with them. Ugh!