Obituarizing Wes Pruden

By R. Emmett Tyrrell

July 25, 2019 5 min read

WASHINGTON — We live in an era that must be very confusing for people who do not immerse themselves fully in politics. For that matter, we live in an era that is very confusing to people who do immerse themselves in politics.

Supposedly, the contending forces are two, the liberals and the conservatives.

The conservatives are portrayed as being very ideological, narrow-minded and primitive. The liberals are reasonable, broad-minded and sophisticated. What is more, the conservatives are racist, misogynistic, homophobic and xenophobic, and they do not bathe regularly. From this point on, defining liberals becomes tricky because the liberals are not — truth be known — liberal. No wonder people are confused.

Those who call themselves liberals today are mostly members of the left or self-styled progressives. They have turned their backs on all the liberal values that made liberals admirable in the past — perhaps wrong-headed but generally admirable. No true liberals would show such disregard for personal liberty as so-called liberals demonstrate today. No true liberal would find it so difficult to enter into conversation with conservatives about a whole range of matters. It is the mark of a modern-day leftist that there is no area into which they will not infuse politics, their politics. Every aspect of our culture is polluted by their politics.

The other day a conservative giant passed away, Wes Pruden. He was a major force in conservative media. For 16 years he was the editor-in-chief of the Washington Times. After that he became editor-in-chief emeritus and twice-a-week columnist. All over America, people longed for his twice-weekly serving of good sense and good humor. He died at his home, doubtless contemplating his next column. He was 83 going on 39.

Wes was a friend of mine, and I can report that in some 30 years of friendship he never betrayed to me an ignoble thought. He was an honorable man. Within two days of his death, this is the way the Washington Post portrayed him in its hopelessly biased obituary: "A punchy, defiantly abrasive columnist." The obituarist descended to pass on every malign thought he could dredge up about Wes. My guess is Wes would be proud. Wes expected no better from the Post. Without Jeff Bezos' generosity, the Post would be out of business.

The Post went on to quote invidiously from such leftist sources as the Nation, the now-discredited Southern Poverty Law Center and David Brock, the conservative quisling who testified that "There were endless controversies and resignations over what became known as 'Prudenizing' news copy — slanting it in a conservative direction." Yes, I recall one of those "Prudenizing" moments. It involved me. Wes always refused to allow me to use an exclamation mark at the end of one of my fortissimo sentences. Apparently, the Post could not find any conservative to say a nice thing about Wes. As I say, every aspect of culture is polluted by the leftists' politics. They never know when to call time out, and they insist that it is we conservatives who are partisans.

I was not familiar with the name of the leftist who wrote the obituary for Wes in the failing Washington Post, and I try to keep up with such matters. I looked high and low, mostly low, but I came up with nothing. I reviewed recent Pulitzer Prize winners for literature and found nothing. The man's name is not all that unusual. It is Harrison Smith. Finally, I found it.

Using Google, up popped the name Harrison Smith. He is an "American football safety for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League." Google goes on to say, "He was drafted in the first round, 29th overall of the 2012 NFL Draft." Exactly when he joined the staff of the Washington Post Google does not say, and it supplies no examples of his literary work. Yet no other Harrison Smith is listed by Google, so this must be the culprit.

Well, it is reassuring to read that Smith found a career after football. So many of these NFL stars end badly. They often become fall to the opioid epidemic afflicting our country, or they have run-ins with the police. I have even heard that there are NFL veterans numbered among the homeless. Of course, Smith is just getting started as an obituarist. He might someday become an editorialist for the Post or land a gig on the celebrated "Style" page. In his picture on Google, he displayed a very sunny smile.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author, most recently, of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: RobVanDerMeijden at Pixabay

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