The Conservative Crack-Upnby R. Emmett Tyrrell, ]r.nNew York: Simon & Schuster;n319 pp., $23.00n••nOn page 62 of this book, the authornrecalls with irritation having oncenbeen accused by Murray Kempton ofndishonoring the “legacy” of His Master’snVoice, H. L. Mencken, by “conformism.”nHow, Tyrrell demanded incredulously,nwas it possible for him to be the conformistnin a debate in which all thenother participants and an audience ofn”upper-crust” Manhattanites were inn”superlative dudgeon over my every expressednthought?” Perhaps the answer tonhis question is that Mencken deliberatelynavoided meeting most of the politiciansnof his own day in order that henmight not like them, while EminettnTyrrell has sedulously cultivated those ofnhis time in order that they might likenhim.nAlthough Tyrrell deplores the creaturenPeter Brimelow has dubbed “The StupidnConservative,” he himself is the epitomenof The Career Conservative, a subspeciesnof the breed when it is not actuallynone and the same thing, “hi thenrough-and-tumble times of the movement’snearly days,” he writes, “no StupidnConservative could survive. But by thentime of the Reagan-Bush ascendancy,nrhetoric came easy. One could be a par-nChilton Williamson, ]r. is senior editornfor books at Chronicles.n28/CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnStupid Conservativesnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.n”A Conservative is only a Tory who is ashamed of himself.”n—J. Hookham Frerenrot and pass for a conservative. Brightnfellows were still around, but they werenbeing overwhelmed by the Stupid Conservativesnand it was usually the StupidnConservative whom the Kultursmognwould cite on those rare occasions whennciting a conservative was useful.” (Is thisnthe explanation for the blurb Ijy NormannMailer that appears on the dust jacket ofnThe Conservative Crack-Up?)nhi reality, the Stupid or Career Conservativenis not usually as stupid as hensounds. Like the member of a streetngang in Los Angeles, he tirelessly patrolsnhis turf—that immense elongated slumnstretching southward along the EasternnSeaboard from Boston to Washington,nD. C.—making all the appropriate tribalnsounds and mugging, beating, andnrobbing imprudent intedopers or simplynpeople who have the temerity to establishneye contact with him. hi commonnwith the Crips or the Bloods, the StupidnConservative has street smarts and ankeen animal shrewdness sufficient tonraise him to high positions at the foundations,nthe Department of Education,nand even the White House. As with allngangsters and careerists, the Stupid Conservativenvalues power, money, and prestige,nto which he is happy to sacrificentruth, honor, and personal integrity.nLike them, finally, he has inordinatenvanity, and he will readily expend an arsenalnof ICBMs in the defense not onlynof his political and bureaucratic turf, butnof his tender ego.nAs observers of the so-called conservativenmovement for the past quarter-nnncentury know, Mr. Tyrrell’s vanity is asntremendous as his literary abilities arennegligible. The Conservative Crack-Upnadds hitherto unsuspected dimensionsnto the concept of the self-made man; fornits gall, vulgarity, and sheer effrontery, itnmust be compared with Norman Podhoretz’snMaking It—a comparison itsnauthor would no doubt find flattering.nIn his book, Tyrrell manages to patronizenand exploit everyone from RonaldnReagan, William Buckley, Irving Kristol,nand Malcolm Muggeridge to his ownnex-wife. My first reaction to The ConservativenCrack-Up was to wonder hownsuch an inveterate ego-stroker and influence-peddlerncould have broughtnhimself to squander the social and politicalncapital so carefully accumulatednover twenty-five years. But reading further,nI understood. R. Emmett Tyrrell,nJr. is filled with a smoldering resentmentnat not finding himself the acknowledgednconservative leader for the 1990’s thatnBuckley was for the 50’s and 60’s, ancrushing disappointment for which thenpresent volume is his sweet revenge.n(For confirmation of this judgment seenpage 239, where the author upbraids annolder generation of American conservativesnfor their unwillingness “to confernauthority on a new generation of fortyyear-oldnleaders. . . .”)nWhat Tyrrell solemnly refers to asn”my art” is to the work of his modelnHenry Mencken what Florence FosternJenkins’ “singing” was to the art of MarianCallas. The Conservative Crack-Up isnnot a book; it is an exercise in imitationn