I Will Miss Joe Sobran

When I first began working at The American Conservative just before the mid-term elections in 2006, my colleague, W. James Antle III, waved me over to his desk. Joe Sobran’s latest column was online.

The big issue, of course, is the war in Iraq, which my old friend Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard has called “the greatest act of benevolence one nation has ever performed for another.” I think I see his point. Not only have we given Iraq democracy; now that Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang, the Iraqis will have the satisfaction of watching their former ruler at the end of a rope, his feet kicking spasmodically for a few delicious seconds.

Even if the Democrats carry both houses of Congress, this is a spectacle we are unlikely to enjoy here in the Land of the Free. Instead, President Bush, like President Clinton before him, will probably be allowed to live out his term and then go into honorable retirement with as much White House furniture as he and his wife can carry off with them.

We laughed and rolled our eyes. At this point reading Sobran was like fetching whiskey bottles from a long-abandoned distillery. The prose was strong stuff. Some columns so sour they made you spit. Others so warm they elicited regretful tears. And then there were true vintage ones like the above which would have you laughing, feeling guilty and privileged at the same time.

And so I’m very sad to hear of Sobran’s passing. When pundits and pols invoke our Founding Documents as if they were sacred oracles, I cannot help but remember Sobran’s line “The Constitution poses no threat to our form of government.” He was probably the most talented writer at National Review during his 21-year stint there. He also made frequent appearances on the radio and penned a syndicated column. He wrote essays for the Human Life Review which were collected in 1983 under the title Single Issues – it remains the finest collection of writings about the politics of abortion. Continue reading I Will Miss Joe Sobran