BY BECKY FENGER | DECEMBER 5, 2012
It was obvious this would not be the usual National Review Post-Election Cruise, as 600 or so of us loyal subscribers to William F. Buckley, Jr.'s magazine found out when we boarded Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam. None of us was in a party mood as we set sail for the Caribbean faced with a second term of President Barack Obama. Was it just coincidence or a symbol of what lies ahead that the seas were too rough for us to transfer to tenders in order to go ashore at our first stop at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas?
Since there were about thirty-five of the world's top political, economic, legal, security and military experts and staffers who comprised the various panel discussions spread out over a week at sea, it's nigh impossible to give my readers even an ultra-condensed version of all the topics covered, but I can hit on some of the highlights for me.
James L. Buckley, Bill's older brother, is still sharp at age 90. He is a retired U.S. Court of Appeals judge and U.S. Senator from New York. He served in the Reagan administration as Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance, and as president of Radio Free Europe. It was fun hearing about growing up with his precocious younger brother (who is sorely needed at the helm of the conservative movement again, I might add.)
I was most anxious to meet Daniel Hannan (r), the Conservative Member of European Parliament for South East England, who came to the U.S. a number of years ago and appeared in front of Congress where he warned our politicians what is in store for us if we keep going the way of the European Union. His book, The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America, should be read by every candidate for office here. He's young, full of energy and was so happy to not be the lone voice in the room for a change. This man needs to be cloned.
Considering the volatility of the world stage, military expert Bing West was a timely no-nonsense panelist. He served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs for Reagan. For street cred, he served in the Marine infantry in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and still puts himself on the front lines to film the war there. We viewed some of the action and saw firsthand the difficulties of fighting a war where the enemy is not in uniform.
If Israel bombs Iran, look for that to happen in March.
As a man of integrity, West's thoughts on the Benghazi fiasco were spat out like tacks. He wants to see one thing: the order that President Obama gave to "do everything to protect our people there." If he issued such an order, it exists on paper somewhere, but West doubts it will ever be found.
A brighter note came from John Fund, National Affairs Columnist for National Review Online and former columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Known also for the books he authored on voter fraud, he was asked how much of a part voter fraud played in this election. The good news is the amount was less and not more than in the past. He gives this explanation for results I found surprising. "It's like shining a light on cockroaches," he said. "When you do that, the roaches will scatter." The attention given by him and others to the subject of voter fraud this cycle suppressed it. The bad news is we must all stay vigilant and put out the effort to stay on top of it.
On a side note, I had to laugh when I saw all the wire services' stories claiming there is no voter fraud in the United States and that conservatives just want to suppress the minority vote. Nice try.
I close with this thought: In Jamaica, I got into an enclosure and swam free with four big sharks that could have chomped me in half in an instant. Never was I as apprehensive as I am looking at the next four years with Obama as the captain of my ship.