Archive for October 15th, 2008

October 15, 2008

Dreher on the Crusader State

He makes very good points:

[T]he thing that people now call the neo-con foreign policy is actually American foreign policy, and it goes back generations. And this idea, the shining city on a hill, as you know, goes back to the very founding. And I think it is a real American temptation to see America as a sort of secularized Israel, speaking in a biblical sense, and that we are that special nation set apart from all other nations to fulfill God’s providence. And that is a very, very common theme you hear in political discussions among Evangelicals on the right. But I think if anything, the last eight years and our experience in Iraq should have taught us Americans not to be so full of hubris, and that the idea that we know better than the rest of the world is just madness and folly. Unfortunately, it’s a bipartisan folly.

The interviewer repeatedly misspells David Rieff’s name, but I think Dreher is making reference to Rieff’s essay in World Affairs, which is critical of the policy implications of “American exceptionalism.”

Conservatives, having opposed so long the Left’s “American the Evil” ideology, have in many cases succumbed to a counter-fallacy, deifying “democracy” and “human rights” in such a way as to justify almost any policy in an ends-justify-the-means rationale.

A perfect example is how some conservatives celebrate women’s suffrage in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not even sure women’s suffrage is such a good idea in America; I’m certainly not such an enthusiastic suffragette as to believe that “women’s rights” should be imposed worldwide at the point of a bayonet. (Singapore is not a democracy. Should we invade them, too?)

American foreign policy should have exactly one object: The advancement and protection of America’s national interests. It can be argued that the spread of democracy and free markets is in our national interest, but we simply don’t have enough troops to do this by force.

The whole point of John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” metaphor was that the Massachusetts Bay colony would be an example to the world, for good or ill. Winthrop certainly wasn’t envisioning America as a Crusader State, imposing egalitarian universalism on an unwilling world.

BTW, considering how Massachusetts has turned out, I’d say that Winthrop — a devout Puritan — would be thoroughly disappointed at the result of his endeavor.

October 15, 2008

Heckuva ‘swathe’ there, Ross

Ross Douthat describes “a large and diverse swathe of the right-of-center intelligentsia,” and elsewhere, he writes that “center-right scriveners who work for institutions more liberal than they (or merely exist in a climate more liberal than they) have both personal and professional incentives to criticize their own side as often as they do the other one, and to advance arguments and strike attitudes that drive more committed partisans up the wall.”

Until rather recently, the think-tank “intelligentsia” of which Douthat speaks has concerned itself mostly with policy, as opposed to politics. Conjuring up data-filled arguments about taxes, health care, etc. — that’s policy. Figuring out ways to win elections or to gain public support for policies — that’s politics.

The problem with the conservative intelligentsia is that their elite backgrounds, which prepare them so well for policy debates, separate them from the ordinary voters whose sympathies must be enlisted in political debates.

The think tanks of Washington (and the offices of political journals) are crammed full of people who don’t personally know any voters in Ohio or Florida or Colorado. Almost all the Republican intelligentsia are blue-staters. And their close friends are like them: Graduates of elite universities and residents of the urban Northeast. They are thus ill-equipped to understand what makes swing voters swing.

Writing about politics is easier than writing about policy. But understanding politics — why is McCain losing? — requires an insight into the lives and minds of ordinary people that they can’t teach you at Harvard, and that you’re never going to learn in dicussions with policy wonks.

Policy wonks are necessary to the conservative project, but it has been a major mistake of the conservative movement over the past 15 years to blur the distinction between policy and politics, so that on the one hand, Karl Rove was dictating policy to the Bush administration and, on the other hand, you have people who’ve never set foot in Ohio providing analysis and commentary about election campaigns.

October 15, 2008

Quote of the day

A reader e-mails Ross Douthat:

Anyway, I agree that if conservative punditry was all Hugh Hewitt we’d be sunk.

We’re sunk anyway. Next question?

October 15, 2008

Amazing vote fraud in Ohio

Michelle Malkin has the story of a group of out-of-state “activists” who went to Ohio for a voter-registration project and registered themselves.

Motor-voter and “early voting” have destroyed the integrity of the American election system. The whole idea is to make voting so easy as to require no effort at all. But if someone is so slothful and uninvolved that they can’t be bothered to go to the courthouse and register, then go down to the polling place on Election Day, what sort of informed decision do we expect that person to make?

Mass voter-registration projects tend to inflate the registration rolls, thus creating “phantom” votes (i.e., names on the roles of people who won’t actually show up on Election Day) that can be manipulated in fraudulent elections. This is the Chicago Way.

October 15, 2008

Naivete

Kathryn Jean Lopez:

Is it me or is the media setting it up so that if McCain wins, it will be immediately declared racism? We know this, but I don’t sense enough outrage?
We’re better than this nonsense. Can’t we have a fair-and-square election, based on debating actual issues and worldviews? I’m sorry to be Pollyannish. But we’re three weeks out and time is of the essence.

Two quick points:

  • A. McCain will lose, and
  • B. The mere fact that it might be close is sufficient cause for the MSM to make accusations of racism. They’ve been saying so since at least August.

This election is, to the MSM, a referendum on race, and you’ll see an avalanche of op-ed articles after Nov. 5 about “what it means.” If Republicans wanted a debate about “actual issues,” perhaps they should have nominated a conservative.

October 15, 2008

For Maverick before he was against him

Christopher Buckley — Bill Buckley’s son –recently endorsed Obama. But back in February, he was slamming conservatives who refused to get in line behind John McCain:

It may strike some conservatives today as odd, if not absurd, to see John McCain being subjected to an auto-da-fé conducted by such Torquemadas of the right as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity. The other day, he even endured jeers at a conservative gathering in Washington, by otherwise well-behaved exemplars of conservatism. Indeed, turn on the TV at any hour of the day and you’ll find Mr. McCain being excoriated in harsher terms than he endured from his jailers at the Hanoi Hilton — variously denounced as a) not conservative, b) really, really not conservative, or even c) so not-conservative as to make you wonder if he isn’t just the latest re-issue of the Manchurian Candidate.
In response, let me offer a thoughtful, considered, carefully worded comment: Would you all please just…shut…up? (I’d insert an intensifier, but this is a family newspaper.)

Why was Buckley so enthusiastically pro-McCain in February? Open borders:

It’s also true — odd — that Mr. McCain is popular among Hispanic voters, who are themselves paradigms of cultural conservatism and without whose support any “conservative” candidate for president may be doomed to failure. . . . Is the “conservative” position on immigration that the only solution is a wall and midnight roundups by Border Patrol agents at Wal-Mart?

Virtually everything in those two sentence is wrong. John McCain is not popular among Hispanic voters, who are not paradigms of cultural conservatism (e.g., Hispanics have higher rates of abortion and out-of-wedlock births). The notion that Republicans can win the votes of Hispanic citizens by pandering on illegal immigration is not supported by data. Notice, however, that the word “illegal” is not part of Buckley’s terminology.

I was never a John McCain supporter (I’m voting for Bob Barr), but I have been consistently anti-Obama. Friends don’t let friends vote Democrat. Buckley was only for McCain when the McCain campaign was sticking its thumbs in the eyes of Rush, Coulter, et al.

October 15, 2008

Palin on Limbaugh

A rare live interview with Rush:

Rush, I’ve got nothing to lose in this, and I think America has everything to gain by understanding the differences, the contrasts here between Obama and McCain. So, you know, I’m going out there and I’m just simply speaking. So be it that I’m a simple talker, but I’m just going out there and letting people know the differences and how absolutely paramount it is that voters are paying attention and that voters are understanding candidates’ records, their associations, their plans for the future; instead of being kind of wrapped up into all this rhetoric of Obama’s and buying into it and not holding him accountable for the things that he’s done, the things that he’s said, his associates, and where he wants to take America.

God bless her.

October 15, 2008

Obama beating McCain in ad wars

I mentioned Saturday that the Obama campaign’s massive advertising was overwhelming the McCain campaign in kry swing states. Now the Politico:

As of close of business last week, Obama had spent approximately $195 million on primary and general election ads compared with $99 million by the Arizona Republican and the Republican National Committee, according to the Competitive Media Analysis Group. And the gap is widening in the final weeks. . . .
The spending figures are significant because they demonstrate how Obama’s
fundraising advantage has helped him drown out his opponent and maintain a
longer — and more positive — presence in the living rooms of voters in critical swing states. “Obama is spending $3.5 million a day on television ads,” said Evan Tracey, CMAG’s chief operating officer. “If he does that through Election Day, it will be more than McCain got from the government for his entire general election campaign.”

This is what all the complaints about “media bias” miss. In the major swing states, Obama’s generally running twice as many TV ads as McCain. Even on Fox News, Obama’s running more ads. So no matter what they’re reporting on the news, the Obama message is getting out there.

October 15, 2008

Annenberg’s Afrocentrism

How could the Chicago Annenberg Challenge spend tens of millions of dollars without producing any improvement? Maybe it was what they were teaching:

Not only did Barack Obama savor Wright’s sermons, Obama gave legitimacy — and a whole lot of money — to education programs built around the same extremist anti-American ideology preached by Reverend Wright. . . .
In the winter of 1996, the Coalition for Improved Education in [Chicago’s] South Shore (CIESS) announced that it had received a $200,000 grant from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. . . .
This network, named the “South Shore African Village Collaborative” was thoroughly “Afrocentric” in orientation. CIESS’s job was to use a combination of teacher-training, curriculum advice, and community involvement to improve academic performance in the schools it worked with. CIESS would continue to receive large Annenberg grants throughout the 1990s.

Read the whole thing.

October 15, 2008

Ace endorses Obama

That’s what he says, right after noticing that former conservatives Christopher Buckley and Kathleen Parker became darlings of the liberal intelligentsia just as soon as they endorsed Obama.

Ace is trying to hawk a “screenplay” (which is in fact a skit based on a third-season episode of Battlestar Galactica, but his friends have to humor him).