Friday, May 16, 2003

Buckley on Bennett

Bill Bennett's public life is over, according to William F. Buckley, Jr.

The issue of compulsive gambling aside, Buckley notices (as he is wont to do) something larger in the reaction to Bennett. Buckley sees that Bennett's detractors are not simply angry because of hypocrisy; Buckley senses a protest against virtue simply or, as he puts it, against "the very credentials of virtue."

Buckley, however, exempts libertarians from this criticism and points to "philosophic libertinism" as the culprit. But I wonder whether Buckley isn't being too generous to libertarians and whether libertarians recognize the necessity of behavioral limits for republican government. Modern commercial republics are not ancient Sparta or republican Rome, but at their best they maintain an element of self-government that requires self-restraint.


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