December 11, 2023

Christmas is coming.

What better time to turn to thinking about a Christmas list of books you can give to family, friends – or yourself?

I decided to get ahead of the Christmas book schedule with — what else — The American Spectator’s own R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., and his recently released memoirs: How Do We Get Out of Here?: Half a Century of Laughter and Mayhem at The American Spectator―From Bobby Kennedy to Donald J. Trump.

So let me start with where you, dear American Spectator reader, surely expect me to go. The book is terrific.

But why?

Over there at Amazon, the descriptive of the book begins this way:

When R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. was a conservative college student in 1968, he watched as Senator Robert Kennedy gave a rousing campaign speech. When Senator Kennedy asked him, “How do we get out of here?” Tyrrell—the only other person onstage—not only escorted the candidate to his car but boldly pressed a “Reagan for President” button into the legendary Democrat’s hand.

And right there, in a snapshot, was the future of Bob Tyrrell’s decidedly momentous life.

By the time he had this encounter with Bobby Kennedy, Bob had already founded and was, he writes, “a very green editor of a new off-campus conservative magazine, The Alternative, which I edit to this day under the name The American Spectator.”

He would go on to establish a decidedly serious career as a major voice in the evolution of the American — and world — conservative movement, with The American Spectator becoming a central location for the latest in conservative thought by focusing on the rise of both conservative politicians and conservative policy ideas. (READ MORE: ‘I’ve Had a Wonderful Time’: Tyrrell’s Latest Book Isn’t a Sob Story)

Presidents of the United States would cross his path. He met all of the Republicans, from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, in particular befriending Reagan and Trump. Of Democrat Jimmy Carter he amusingly recounts “the delightful Carter years when I was given my first chance to bedevil a president and never missed an opportunity to do so.”

He adds:

Years later, President Carter’s aide, Robert Pastor, assured me during a junket to Mexico City for President Miguel de la Madrid’s inauguration: “Carter hated you.” Wow, my first presidential endorsement!

The Reagan years brought Bob’s first close relationship with a president. He writes:

Then the years with Ronald Reagan in the White House, schmoozing with him, dining in the State Dining Room, and inviting him to my home for dinner, he and a security detail composed of hundreds plus his own bartender. He drank Screwdrivers — two! Then came the first Bush years: luncheon in the Rose Garden where I counseled him not to raise taxes. Bush was a gent, even if he ignored my counsel and that of Chief of Staff John Sununu and an advisor, Charlie Black.

Perhaps most telling is his recounting this:

After President George H.W. Bush came the rollicking Clinton years, a descent from the Greatest Generation to the Phoniest Generation, that is to say, the coat-and-tie radicals of the 1960’s generation. Bill never had me to dinner, though we shared a dining room once at the Jockey Club in Washington where we chatted until I noticed that he was becoming agitated; his wife, too, was becoming agitated. I suggested he go over and sit down, and he did! The president of the United States sat down at my command! We never renewed the conversation. Yet, I never stopped pursuing him and his lovely wife, Bruno, through the 1990’s though the next two decades, even through the #MeToo hysteria, when he was lying low.

Later down the road — and I had the great good fortune to be present — Bob invited aspiring presidential candidate Donald Trump to The American Spectator’s 2013 gala “and picked him to win the presidency about the time he first came down the escalator at Trump Tower.”

And, of course, Bob was right.

While he was meeting and spending time with these presidents — and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in the crowd, too — American and world history swirled around him.

Bob Tyrrell, as The American Spectator exemplifies, is, aside being a fun accomplice himself, a decidedly thoughtful guy. Across the decades he has consistently, in books and elsewhere, in addition to and aside from The American Spectator, provided thoughtful analysis of the challenges facing America, the world, and the conservative movement.

He wrote in another bestseller in 2010, After the Hangover: The Conservatives’ Road to Recovery, warning of what he called the Kultursmog, as the Obama era was in full swing. Bob described the Kultursmog in his always perceptive way: It was a pollutant that “contaminates such vast areas of American culture with Liberal prejudices and bugaboos.” He added:

The media, the universities, the arts, government bureaucracy — all these nondemocratic locales are the smokestack industries of Kultursmog, and since the Reagan administration, the smog has grown ever more poisonous to the free flow of ideas. For some three decades the country’s sophisticated culture has been a politicized culture, polluted with the politics of angry Liberalism. Some call it political correctness, but it is more than that. It is a smog, hazardous to intellect. The existence of the Kultursmog explains two things about contemporary politics: (1) Liberalism’s unchallenged radicalism and (2) the marginalization of conservatives from American culture, particularly conservative intellectuals who might be expected to participate in it.

Ironically, for a political point of view that boasts of its “diversity” Liberalism is a domain reserved for the like-minded.


And the answer to all of this, in not inconsiderable part, was the advent of both The American Spectator and the world of conservative media. Whether it was the arrival of his friend Rush Limbaugh on radio or the creation of Fox News or, now, Newsmax (where, full disclosure, I am a contributor), not to mention any number of conservative print or internet sites, Bob and his role in creating The American Spectator created and exemplified the need for a conservative media.

Paving the way all the way back in 1967–1968 for the conservative media to come.

A conservative of note once confided to me that he didn’t like reading about himself. My response was that autobiographies are important for the future. And Bob Tyrrell’s new book — How Do We Get Out of Here?: Half a Century of Laughter and Mayhem at The American Spectator―From Bobby Kennedy to Donald J. Trump — is exactly what is needed for the future.

It not only tells the amazing tale of his own life and interactions with presidents and other prominent leaders, personalities, and history-making events of the day. It sets out a roadmap for future generations of Americans, one drawn with exactly an eye to his experiences in life dealing with the realities of American life — and the ongoing American dream that inspired the founders of this country.

In short?

Christmas is coming.

And, for sure, How Do We Get Out of Here?: Half a Century of Laughter and Mayhem at The American Spectator―From Bobby Kennedy to Donald J. Trump should be at the top of your Christmas list.

Order your copy of How Do We Get Out of Here? here today!