Archive for November 10th, 2008

November 10, 2008

George Freaking Will, again

Another shot at the rubes and yahoos who, he says, are ruining the Republican Party:

Some of the Republicans’ afflictions are self-inflicted. Some conservatives who are gluttons for punishment are getting a head start on ensuring a 2012 drubbing by prescribing peculiar medication for a misdiagnosed illness. They are . . . unhinged by their anger about the loathing of Sarah Palin by similarly deranged liberals. These conservatives, confusing pugnacity with a political philosophy, are hot to anoint Palin, an emblem of rural and small-town sensibilities, as the party’s presumptive 2012 nominee.
These conservatives preen as especially respectful of regular — or as Palin says, “real” — Americans, whose tribune Palin purports to be. . . .
We have seen this movie before. Immediately after the 1972 election, some conservatives laid down the law — the 1976 Republican nominee must be Vice President Spiro Agnew.

The Air Force should load George Will and David Brooks into a C-130 and airdrop them, sans parachute, on a Taliban position in Afghanistan. They’re useless as intellectuals, but perhaps they’ll do some good as ordnance.

November 10, 2008

Attaboy, Douthat!

Defeat seems to have stirred one of my least-favorite Young Turks to finally aiming his Harvard-trained mind at liberals, proclaiming his “contempt” for Doug Kmeic. Certainly few voices in the ’08 debate were more contemptible than Kmeic’s, who allied himself with Soros-funded front groups and argued that pro-life Catholics should support Obama, who (a) ended up with 54% of Catholic votes and (b) is now poised to overturn the so-called “Mexico City rule” prohibiting U.S. funding of foreign abortion providers.

UPDATE: Douthat’s mocking of last week’s conservative leadership summit is neither funny nor insightful. And as to Douthat’s allusion to Gary Hart vs. Walter Mondale in ’84, Hart was George McGovern’s former campaign manager, and McGovernism was more the problem than the solution for Democrats in the ’80s. (As I well know, having been a Democrat who voted for Mondale in ’84.) Besides which, Hart took himself out of the race with his “Monkey Business” affair. And Hart’s erstwhile mistress, Donna Rice, married a Republican and became an anti-pornography activist. Which is to say: Try another analogy, Harvard boy.

November 10, 2008

Who is Barack Obama?

Greg Ransom has amassed some interesting background on the identity-formation of the chameleon-on-plaid who is now the president-elect.

Obama was abandoned by his father, who died an alcoholic failure in Kenya. Somewhere around here, I have a 10-year-old book exploring Bill Clinton’s personality through the prism of his stepfather’s alcoholism. It’s amazing how these early influences shape personality.

November 10, 2008

Blame the Bible-thumpers?

James Antle at The American Spectator:

Now blame for the Republican electoral debacle has been extended to all the rubes who are said to populate the religious right.
Even some right-leaning pundits are getting into the act. Beliefnet’s Steven Waldman warned before the election that “religious conservatives will have to grapple with their role in electing Obama” since they supposedly vetoed pro-abortion Joe Lieberman, whom Al Gore found to be a sure ticket to the White House, for vice president.
In his post-election column for the National Post, David Frum counseled Republicans to embrace “a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues,” a move that will “involve painful change” on such issues as abortion. There will be more college-educated social liberals whose values must not be threatened by Republicans, he argues, than Joe the Plumbers who are threatened by Democrats.
“Consider the nature of the Republican failure. That old rallying point, social conservatism, simply didn’t draw the masses in 2008,” Amity Shlaes concluded. “Truth be told, the pro-life line and appeals to piety often backfired.”

Read the whole thing, especially where Antle quotes Christopher Caldwell’s 1998 attack on the same holy-roller yokels — an attack to which I replied in Chronicles.

One of the great woes of the conservative movement in recent years is that it has attracted a set of intellectuals who are culturally and socially disconnected from the people whose votes elect Republican candidates. This is, to an extent, a result of what Herrnstein and Murray called “cognitive partitioning.”

Our intellectual class is now dominated by “meritocrats” who come from upper-middle-class backgrounds and who have been grinding it out since middle school trying to get into the elite schools that offer the fast track to success. Conservatism has sought out these brainiac types who bring with them a set of class prejudices that make them incapable of relating to State University business majors and self-sufficient tradesmen, the petit bourgeois backbone of the suburban Sunbelt GOP.

Conservative students on elite campuses seem to develop a siege mentality. On the one hand, they are forced to refine their arguments against liberalism. On the other hand, they tend to internalize the notion that conservatism is somehow less respectable than liberalism, so that there is a flinch reaction to accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. This creates within the conservative intelligentsia an obsession with respectability.

The quest for respectable Republicanism explains why so many conservative intellectuals kept boosting Rudy Giuliani during the 2006-07 runup to the GOP primaries. Giuliani is a New Yorker, a pro-choice, pro-gay-rights Catholic (oxymoron alert) — not an evangelical hick governor from Waco or Wasilla. What is odd about conservative intellectuals, especially the younger ones, is that if their class prejudices and standards of “respectability” had dominated the GOP in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan’s presidency would never have happened.

Reagan’s great feat was to take the fierce anti-communism of Joe McCarthy and Barry Goldwater (which had been disdained as outlandish by the intellectuals of their day) and weave it into a larger, broader critique of liberalism, delivered with a genial smile. Reagan learned from conservative failures of the past the importance of building a coalition through tactical alliances.

Today’s conservative intellectuals often praise Reagan and try to claim the mantle of Reaganism for their own pet projects, but they have a very un-Reaganeque tendency: Trying to build a movement via subtraction. David Frum delivered an infamous auto da fe against anti-war conservatives. Chris Caldwell wants to run the pro-lifers and gun owners out of the Big Tent. George Will thinks the GOP’s problem is too many hockey moms. And, yes, there are far too many Christian conservatives who use “libertarian” as a pejorative.

I believe that the Republican Party’s only hope for success against the Obama regime is to return to the “Spirit of ’94,” the limited-government reformist message with which Newt Gingrich rallied conservatives in 1994. I believe that conservative evangelicals need to consider the relationship between markets and morality. I believe that “libertarian populism” offers a winning antidote to the nonsense of “national greatness” and “compassionate conservatism” that have led the GOP astray. Pro-lifers need to show themselves dependable and useful allies in the fight to preserve economic liberty, and ought to soundly reject the temptation of Huckabeeism.

November 10, 2008

Fantasies on the Left

The Left has not paid enough attention to realize that Republicans no longer have any power in Washington:

Considering that the Republican party really has been purged of moderates now, I’d say that the GOP is going to be the much bigger roadblock to compromise than the left. They’re more radical than ever. The Republican party is now led by Rush Limbaugh. There’s nobody else. And when Obama reaches out his hand to Rush Limbaugh he’s going to get it whacked off with a chainsaw, at which point, these villagers (who haven’t even considered this political problem) are going to blame Obama for being unable to govern in a bipartisan fashion.
All over television this morning the gasbags seemed convinced that Obama had been elected to stop the left from ruining the country. And when it turns out to actually be his supposedly cooperative new partners in governance — the right — that stands in his way, they will blame him for being too far left. It’s a trap.

This is unmitigated paranoid fantasy. Republicans could not be a “roadblock to compromise” if they wanted to. For better or worse, come Jan. 20, Democrats will run Washington without any effective opposition. Republicans will hold 174 seats in the House and 40 seats in the Senate, with three Senate seats — Alaska, Minnesota and Georgia — still in dispute. The GOP can’t do anything in the House except complain, and the only influence they have in the Senate is a very shaky filibuster threat.

Pace the idiot bloggers, what has “gasbags” on TV worried is the possibility Obama’s administration will be so radical as to spark a political reaction a la 1994. There is no “roadblock to compromise” because there is no GOP opposition powerful enough to require compromise. Democrats are in charge now, and Obama’s media friends are worried he’ll revert to his Trinity Church “god damn America” roots and alienate some of the 43% of white voters he got on Election Day.