by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Will saved me from two unfortunate habits: overwriting and the Democratic party.
I model that remark after my favorite of Will’s many witticisms: “Football combines the two worst things about America: It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” Will is rightly praised for his erudition. The Conservative Sensibility, the summa he has just published, is a tour de force. He is the dean of conservatism. But I don’t want to praise him for that, or not only for that.
Remember Garry Trudeau? He was for years one of the most famed political humorists in America, via his comic strip Doonesbury, which is still running but has not been mentioned by anyone I know since Johnny Carson went off the air. Doonesbury used to contain a running gag about “George Will’s quote boy,” as if in those pre-Google days Will had some master of quotation trawling around to find the perfect aperçu for any occasion. Will didn’t have a quote boy because he didn’t need one. He was his own quote boy. He was America’s quote boy. The importance of this has been overlooked. Will is America’s preeminent creator, finder, and promulgator of the crystalline and the lapidary. Often one finds him lumped together with his departed friend and mentor, WFB, but the styles of the two men differ sharply. Buckley would frequently and hilariously luxuriate in literary peacockery, which is why the adjective “sesquipedalian” attached to him like a burr to Velcro.
Will’s writing style is more like Cary Grant’s suits: all dazzling simplicity. He is sober yet delightful, restrained yet vivid. In a word he is smart.