In Memoriam: Robert L. Bartley

Robert L. Bartley, who

died December 10
at the tragically early age of 66,
was one of the greatest journalists in American history.
His discreet 1972-2002 direction of the Wall Street
Journal`s
Editorial Page, which is in effect a
Little
Magazine
piggy-backing on what for years was the
country`s only national daily newspaper, will be studied
as long the trade of opinion-molding matters—and as long
as Ronald Reagan`s twin triumphs,

winning
the

Cold War
and ending the world`s inflationary slide
to

socialism
, continue to resonate.

Bartley and the Wall Street
Journal
Editorial Page played a real role in those
triumphs. Unfortunately, he also played an equally
decisive role in the subsequent tragedy: the

degeneration
of the American conservative movement
into

careerist Republican boosterism
, curiously combined
with a

fanatical
and

dishonest
commitment to

mass immigration.

Why did this happen? Certainly
there was a sociological aspect. Bartley was the last in
a long tradition of

Midwestern
executives at the Wall Street Journal.
He presided, apparently quite happily, over its
capture by the same urban, East-coast-oriented,
elite-educated types
who run the rest of

U.S. Big Media
. Under these circumstances, the
Editorial Page`s increasing

“neoconservatism”
was the closest thing
available to its former, no doubt unfashionable,
heartland conservatism.

But also the failure may also have
been Bartley`s. I`ve told

before
the circumstances—discreditable, I believe,
to him—in which Bartley came to observe to me that "I
think the nation-state is finished.”
It`s
unfortunate that Bartley never engaged in public debate
on this vital, post-Cold War issue. I suspect that he
never really thought it through. For a journalist,
however, this shy and apparently gentle man was
surprisingly uncomfortable with argument.

Bartley played a key role in my
own career, asking me to come down from

Canada
to be a summer “guest” on the
Editorial Page in 1978. At one time, I saw him regularly
in the small world of New York conservative journalism.
Yet at the end we had drifted so far apart that I
realized only very recently that he, like

my own family
, was threatened by the terrible curse
of

cancer
. I made a mental note to write him a letter
of commiseration. I bitterly regret that I did not.

Our condolences to his family, both
personal and—despite our grave
disagreements—intellectual.

Peter
Brimelow is Editor of


VDARE.COM

and author of


Alien Nation: Common Sense
About America`s Immigration Disaster

(1995), which the
Wall Street Journal reviewer


described
as the "natterings of a neo-nativist."
Click


here
to read
Bartley`s reaction to Brimelow`s 1992
National
Review "Time To Rethink Immigration?"


cover story
 and Brimelow`s response.