Archive for ‘conservatives’

June 11, 2009

‘ReserCons’: Reservation Conservatives

Longtime blog buddy Craig Henry at Lead and Gold uses the term “resercon” for “reservation conservative.” This is evidently a play on the term “reservation Indian,” denoting the harmless, domesticated breed (e.g., David Brooks) as opposed to us buck-wild conservatives who are prone to guzzling constitutional firewater and taking some liberal scalps.

Back in March, when David Frum attacked Rush Limbaugh, Henry quoted Daniel Flynn:

When liberals adopt you as their token conservative, kiss your credibility among conservatives goodbye and say hello to writing gigs at the Atlantic, appearances on Keith Olbermann’s program, and lectures at the Kennedy School of Government.

And Henry added:

Liberals love those kind of “conservatives.” It lets them define both the liberal and conservative position on an issue.

This is exactly right. Such is the dominance of liberals in the MSM, they can exercise influence over who is, and is not, a “respectable” spokesman for conservatism. Thus, liberals are able to control the terms of debate to their advantage.

Referencing Michelle Malkin’s criticism of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, yesterday Henry applied the “reservation conservative” concept to the man who was once every liberal’s favorite RINO:

California’s budget mess casts an interesting light on the debate over the GOP. Ah-nuld was the epitome of the resercon ideal: a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Yet, once in office, he was not eager to battle for smaller government, less spending, or less regulation.
That seems to be true of many FC/SL Republicans. They are happy to bash the Religious Right or NRA; they bask in the MSM praise for their courage. In the end they never fight that hard for conservative economic ideas.

You should read the rest. Henry is dead on target in observing that Republican officials who claim to be fiscal conservatives but liberal (or “libertarian”) on social issues usually end up supporting a big-government agenda in economic terms. This was definitely true of Bush 41, and although Bush 43 cut taxes, his “compassionate” agenda included No Child Left Behind and Medicare prescription drugs, both of which were anathema to limited-government conservatives.

Republican strategists who are trying to figure out how the GOP can recover its mojo need to think hard about this problem. The GOP’s brand is damaged by these “reservation conservative” types — whether elected officials like Schwarzenegger or pundits like David Brooks — who function as Republican echoes for liberal criticism of the core conservative message.

Some of my friends mistake my frequent criticism of “centrists” like Brooks et al. as a call to “purge the RINOs.” I don’t go in for that urge-to-purge stuff, and understand that ideological purity tests are a losing approach to pragmatic coalition politics.

The problem, rather, is when “centrists” (a word whose meaning is sufficiently nebulous as to require the scare-quotes) criticize conservatives in terms that undermine morale on the Right by suggesting that conservatism is not a viable alternative to liberalism.

This was what made Brooks’ “National Greatness” so odious. Brooks took dead aim at the essence of Reaganism — a limited-government domestic agenda, hostility to bureaucratic centralization, Grover Norquist’s “Leave Us Alone Coalition” — and suggested that it was both unpopular and unworkable. What Americans wanted, Brooks argued, was a federal government devoted to grand projects of inspirational uplift. To which I would reply, in the famous words of Rahm Emanuel . . .

Conservatives must regain confidence in the basics of Reaganism, and recover the belief that the core principles of our nation’s founding — individual liberty, individual responsibility and organic local government free from the stifling bureaucratic interventions of centralized authority — are legitimate and honorable, appealing to all Americans of all conditions.

This matter of confidence — conservative morale — is what the Not One Red Cent project is about. Grassroots conservatives don’t need self-anointed “leaders” in Washington to pick candidates in GOP primaries. And the “reservation conservatives” don’t speak for us.

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June 2, 2009

Cheap shot at Sotomayor’s opposition

Leading conservatives have signed a letter (text in PDF format) asking Republican Senators to filibuster Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Greg Sargent today takes a shot at this coalition:

The organizer of the pressure campaign — which has angered Senate GOP leaders — is identified as one Manuel Miranda, whom the paper only describes as a “former adviser on judicial issues to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.”
There’s a bit more to Manuel Miranda than that, however. Miranda, as longtime Congressional insiders will recall, was the GOP Senate staffer who was nailed in 2004 for hacking into the computers of Senate Dems and downloading thousands of documents relating to the strategies of Dem Senators on judicial nominations. . . .

Read the rest, but this is an idiotic and irrelevant attack. What happened was that there was a glitch in the congressional computer software, allowing Republican staffers to access an area of the system that Democratic staffers thought was private.

Nobody “hacked” anything. Miranda was merely the staffer who discovered the files showing that Democrats were blocking the judicial nomination of Miguel Estrada because he was Latino, highly qualified, and Dems feared the impact if Estrada eventually were nominated to the Supreme Court.

If Manuel Miranda were a Democrat, he’d be celebrated as a “whistleblower,” instead of being smeared as a “hacker.” As it is, Miranda’s involvement in the anti-Sotomayor effort is being used in a ridiculous guilt-by-association smear. Look at a partial list of the other signatories on this letter to Senate Republicans:

Richard Viguerie, ConservativeHQ.com
David Keene, American Conservative Union
Gary Bauer, American Values
Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
Larry Pratt, Gun Owners of America
Dr. Virginia Armstrong, Eagle Forum’s Court Watch
Colin Hanna, Let Freedom Ring
Mark R. Levin. President, Landmark Legal Foundation
Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family
Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America
Rev. Miguel Rivera, National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders
Dr. Carl Herbster, AdvanceUSA
Donald E. Wildmon, American Family Association
Niger Innis, Congress of Racial Equality
Willes K. Lee, Hawaii Republican Party. Immediate Past Chairman
Ron Robinson, Young America’s Foundation
Michael P. Farris, Esq., Home School Legal Defense Association
Peter Flaherty, National Legal and Policy Center
Kelly Shackelford. Liberty Legal Institute
Dana Cody, Life Legal Defense Foundation.
Susan Carleson, American Civil Rights Union
Phillip Jauregui, Judicial Action Group,
Ilya Shapiro, Esq., Cato Institute
Dean John C. Eastman, Dean, Chapman University School of Law
Dean Mathew D. Staver, Liberty Univ. School of Law (Founder, Liberty Counsel)
Prof. Teresa S. Collett. University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minnesota
Prof. Ronald D. Rotunda, Chapman University School of Law
Michelle Gress, J.D., The Westchester Institute for Ethics
L. Brent Bozell III, Media Research Center
Thomas A. Glessner, JD, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates
Denise Singleton, American Federation of Senior Citizens
Jim Martin, 60 Plus Association
Rev. Rick Scarborough, Vision America
Rev. Louis Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition
Andrea Lafferty, Traditional Values Coalition
Keith Wiebe, American Association of Christian Schools
Debbie Joslin, Alaska Eagle Forum, Republican National Committeewoman, Alaska
Bruce Ash, Republican National Committeeman, Arizona
Steve Scheffler, Iowa Christian Alliance, Republican National Committeeman, Iowa
W. Ross Little, Jr., Republican National Committeeman, Louisiana
Curly Haugland, Republican National Committeeman, North Dakota
Cathie Adams, Texas Eagle Forum, Republican National Committeewoman, Texas
Kathy Terry, Republican National Committeewoman, Virginia
David Ridenour, The National Center for Public Policy Research
Amy Ridenour, Americans for the Preservation of Liberty
Jeffrey Mazzella, Center for Individual Freedom
William H. Shaker. Rule of Law Committee
William J. Murray, Religious Freedom Coalition
J. C. Willke, MD, International Right to Life Federation
Bradley Mattes, Life Issues Institute
Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, Human Life International
Dr. Patricia McEwen, Life Coalition International
Austin Ruse, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
Jennifer Kimball, Culture of Life Foundation
Eric Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League
John Jansen, Generations for Life
Mark L. Melcher – The Political Forum
Deal W. Hudson. Catholic Advocate
Brian Burch, Fidelis and CatholicVote.org
John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com
Tom Shields, Coalition for Marriage and Family
Chuck Muth, Citizen Outreach
William Greene, Ph.D., RightMarch.com
Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud
Mychal Massie, Project 21
Linda Harvey, Mission America
David Crowe, Restore America
Sandy Rios, Culture Campaign
Robert Peters, Morality in Media
Dave Bydalek, Family First
Richard Ford, Heritage Alliance
Peter LaBarbera, Americans for Truth
Tim Echols, Teenpact Leadership
Joseph Ureneck, The Fatherhood Coalition, Massachusetts
Daniel J. Cassidy, Editor, Sunlit Uplands, South Carolina
Steve Milloy, JunkScience.com
Don Feder, Feder Associates, Massachussetts
Janet M. LaRue, Esq., Jan LaRue Consulting, Texas
Martha Zoller, “The Martha Zoller Show”, Georgia News Network
Janet Parshall, Nationally Syndicated Talk show Host

If you know anything about the infrastructure of the Right, you see that this represents a very broad coalition, from libertarians like Cato’s Ilya Shapiro to a veritable Who’s Who of Christian conservative activists. No doubt, there are many others who would have signed — and I could name some that come to mind — if they weren’t worried about getting their educational non-profits entangled in this controversy.

So the fact that Manuel Miranda was the guy the organizer — helping draft the letter and soliciting signatories — is pretty doggone irrelevant, given this array of heavy hitters who signed up.

May 4, 2009

Ruh-roh: Malkin vs. Grover Norquist?

Oh, man, if this doesn’t make me forget my little go-round with Cassandra, nothing ever will. In targeting the gutless tax-and-spend California Republicans, Michelle Malkin calls out Grover Norquist:

Grass-roots activists have watched state GOP chairman Ron Nehring drive the party into the ground — and spend their money doing it. Nehring is a protege of open-borders, credibility-undermining Grover Norquist. It was under Nehring’s watch that the California GOP hired Norquist’s friend, Michael Kamburowski, to serve as the California Republican Party’s chief operating officer in charge of the multimillion-dollar budget of the nation’s largest state Republican Party — despite being here illegally with no work visa or valid work permit.
The episode became the butt of late-night jokes, but neither Nehring nor Norquist suffered any consequences.

Two giants of the Right, in open conflict. Stay tuned.

Show of hands: Who wants to watch Malkin and Norquist do an hour-long debate on Hannity?

UPDATE: In the comments below, Dark Horse doesn’t like my suggestion of a shout-show talking-heads debate on Hannity, wants a full live debate, and accepts my alternative suggestion of Andrew Napolitano to moderate.

Meanwhile, I’m looking at Malkin’s listing of the lavish expenses that California GOP boss Nehring ran up, prompting her to remark:

If he had something to show for it all, maybe it would be worth it. But what has he done? Flushed party dues down the toilet and the state GOP’s credibility and electoral prospects along with it:

Which reminded me of something I wrote in a very long piece yesterday:

Never mind whether Consultant Y actually delivers winning campaign strategies. He’s a longtime Republican who’s got all the right friends, says all the right things, and wears the right “Reaganesque” suits, so he keeps getting hired and keeps losing elections. . . .
If people don’t want to be in the “Big Tent” nowadays, maybe it’s because they can’t stand the stench of heaped-up bullshit.

If Malkin’s aim is to do something about this smelly problem, she’ll have a lot of support.

UPDATE II: Ed Driscoll on the “Golden State Mobius Loop.” You might also want to check out my post from February, “California: Zimbabwe U.S.A.” Republicans would do better if they were willing to lose elections by standing full-strength against the parasitical public-employee unions, instead of trying the Schwarzenegger compromise approach. It’s like trying to compromise with a shark — there’s no future in it for anyone except the shark.

April 1, 2009

Team Spirit, Leadership and Success

“You can accomplish much if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
Ronald Reagan

In a series of rants over the past few weeks, I have tried to fire up my fellow conservatives, to give them “faith for the fight.” In the words of one of my heroes, Gen. George S. Patton, an army fights as a team, and team spirit — esprit de corps — is essential to success in any group endeavor.

Whether it is war or politics, business or sports, accomplishing great things requires teamwork, which begins with the committed belief that victory for the team is more important than who carries the ball into the end zone. Once the victory is gained, even the second-string left tackle will be able to boast that he was part of the championship team.

Many years ago when I worked in Georgia, it was my privilege to interview World War II veterans who had served under Patton, and though those men had led successful civilian lives for half a century, there was a special pride when they said, “I was with Patton.” You’ll see the same sort of pride if you ever have the pleasure of meeting someone who worked with Reagan (and I’ve interviewed a few of those, too).

Nothing is more necessary to leadership than the leader’s concern for the morale of his followers, yet morale often suffers because many people who lack leadership capacity are also deficient in followership capacity. They’re always griping and grumbling about something, spouting negative criticism that tends to demoralize their comrades. The duty of the leader in such a situation is to rebuke the complainer and to tell him, if he doesn’t mend his ways, he’ll be kicked off the team. If a man is hurting the team, he needs to be told so bluntly.

The Coach and Joe Willie

Bear Bryant was arguably the greatest coach in college football history. (I say “arguably,” just to avoid bitter flame wars with deluded fans of other teams that are inferior to the Crimson Tide. Certainly, I would never question that Bryant was the greatest coach ever.) Coach Bryant called Joe Willie Namath the finest athlete he ever coached, but when Namath violated curfew, Bear benched him.

Despite protests in Tuscaloosa, where some Tide fans burnt Coach Bryant in effigy, he stuck by his decision, because a fundamental principle was involved: No one player was more important than the team, not even Joe Namath. And if you ever meet one of Bear’s former players, you’ll see that special gleam of pride in his eye when he tells you, “I played for Coach Bryant.” (Joe Namath himself has been known to get choked up a little when he talks about the coach.)

There has never been a great leader who was not the subject of complaints. Failure is easy, but success is hard. The leader must make hard decisions that provoke disagreement, that favor one team member over another, and that require some poor anonymous bastard to work his ass off, without credit, to help the team win. C’est la guerre.

Patton’s troops griped that their general’s nickname — “Old Blood ‘n’ Guts” — was the product of their blood and his guts, and they had a point. Yet somebody has to be the commanding general, and any victorious general owes his success to the sacrifices of his troops. And they are his troops. The reciprocal loyalty and common identification between a great general and his troops is like the relationship between Christ and the Christian. The loyal soldier takes pride in his service, he praises the name of his beloved commander, and when the commander says “go,” he goes.

Lessons From Nineteen
You ought to meet Pastor Sam Childers, “The Machine Gun Preacher,” if you want to know what I mean by real leadership. Like General Patton or President Reagan or Coach Bryant, Sam inspires intense loyalty. You’re either going to love him or hate him, and he doesn’t care either way, because Sam is serving God.

Let me tell you a little story: When I got over to Uganda in February 2008, I was about half-crazy from a bad reaction to the anti-malarial drugs that every traveler to Africa has to take.

OK, wait a minute, I take that back. Because I’m half-crazy all the time anyway, I was at least 75 percent crazy when I got off the British Airways jet at Entebbe International Airport south of Kampala. Plus, I’d had a bad experience during a long layover at Heathrow Airport in London (the Labour totalitarians had recently banned smoking in the airport), I was about to die from nicotine deprivation, and the airline lost my luggage, including a container of missionary supplies that Sam needed for his orphanage in Sudan.

Off on the wrong foot, and things just got worse from there, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Uganda is beautiful and fascinating, the weather in February is lovely, and since this was my first trip outside of the United States, I wanted to see and learn as much as I could. My escort for these excursions was one of Sam’s soldiers, a guy called Nineteen.

Whatever his African name is, it sounds like the English word “Nineteen,” and so that’s what he’s called. He is a devout Christian who served in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army during South Sudan’s long war against Khartoum, and he is utterly loyal to Pastor Sam. To see these two together when they’re relaxed and cheerful is like watching an older brother with his younger brother. Sam’s always doing little jokes with Nineteen, who knows the Pastor’s ways and puts up with the kidding because he knows Sam to be a mighty warrior for God.

Book-Shopping in Kampala
So, anyway, Sam had been telling me all about Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is to modern Uganda what DeGaulle was to post-WWII France or what Adenauer was to postwar West Germany. Museveni has often been criticized, but he took Uganda out from under the backward socialist anarchy of its post-colonial phase and turned it into one of the more prosperous, free and stable nations on a continent where prosperity, freedom and stability can never be taken for granted. Uganda easily could have gone the way or Rwanda or Somalia or Zimbabwe, if not for Museveni’s wise and determined leadership, and he will deserve honor in his nation’s history.

Having heard Sam’s praise for Museveni, I was very curious to learn more, so one day, I told Nineteen I wanted to get some books about the president and Ugandan history. Off we went into downtown Kampala. My thought was that we were going to bookstore, but for some reason that was never made clear, Nineteen took me to the street market in a section of Kampala known as Coaltown, where mine was the only white face on the crowded street.

Nineteen took me to a place where a sidewalk vendor had secondhand books spread out on a tarp and spoke to the vendor, who produced an old paperback. Not what I expected, but I paid the man, took the book and we left. Only later did I discover that for a few cents, I’d gotten a rarity: A volume of the writings of Museveni’s National Resistance Movement, published in the NRM’s underground newspaper during the war to overthrow the socialists, and collected into one volume published shortly after the NRM’s victory that put Museveni in power. (I can’t recall the title of the topof my head; I’ve searched through my bookshelves, and it seems my wife has packed the book away.)

Of course, at the time, our trip into Kampala was tremendously frustrating to me. In America, if you want a book, you go to a nice air-conditioned Borders, take your time browsing the bookshelves, maybe have a cup of coffee, chat with the clerks — a leisurely and enjoyable experience. Yet here I was hustled through the crowded streets, led to a rundown sort of flea-market operation, and given exactly one choice, take it or leave it, not knowing when I’d again have the chance to come to town. Frustrating, like I said, but Nineteen was a man under authority.

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Matthew 8:8-10 (KJV)

Nineteen was not authorized to discuss with me whatever instructions he’d been given by Pastor Sam, and a crazy mzungu (“white man”) like me had no authority with Nineteen. Rather, Nineteen was under orders to make sure I returned safely from this expedition. There had been riots in Kampala the first three days I was in Uganda, and the streets were patrolled by police and soldiers with AK-47s, and being an American journalist in that kind of situation . . . Well, an American press credential is not carte blanche over there.

Whatever Nineteen did, he did so as a dutiful soldier, in accordance with his instructions from his commander, Pastor Sam, and if I didn’t get exactly the book I wanted, this was far less important than the fact that Ninenteen got me back from Kampala in one piece. (And speaking of books, you really ought to buy Sam’s book, Another Man’s War: The True Story of One Man’s Battle to Save Children in the Sudan. I promise you’ll get a blessing from it.)

Nineteen is a team player, and my discontent with our book-buying expedition was a trivial annoyance to him, compared to the seriousness of his mission, and his desire to do to his utmost what Pastor Sam had instructed him to do. Nineteen is a humble and taciturn person, not given to bragging or trying to tell you what he knows. He does his job and is content to let his work speak for itself. His trust in Pastor Sam is as unshakeable as his faith in God, and when Sam put me under Nineteen’s care, my safety became like a religious obligation to him. I was his cross to bear, so to speak.

Now, when I began writing this, my heart was troubled at learning of staff troubles surrounding Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. When I learned that her scheduled June speaking engagement at a Republican congressional campaign event had been canceled, I instinctively recognized that there was a problem of divided authority among her staff, a gut hunch immediately confirmed by research. (Rule 3!)

This divided authority among her staff is a harmful blemish on the Governor’s reputation as a leader, and she ought to take immediate action to end the division. She must either have a loyal, faithful, efficient and united team of staffers to do her business, or else her own leadership capabilities will be for naught.

Reagan and Team Victory
The saying “personnel is policy” became a byword in the Reagan administration, and if you’ve got the wrong personnel on your team, you’re doomed. More than once, Ronald Reagan had to act decisively to try to unify his team and sometimes he didn’t get it right. Sometimes the wrong man got promoted and the wrong man got fired, and Reagan would have to go back and fix the personnel mistake he’d made. But he trusted his old friends — his wife Nancy, Ed Meese, Judge Bill Clark and a few other close associates who’d stuck with him through thick and thin — and despite his own jokes about being lazy, he was both diligent and shrewd in evaluating his staff.

Few men in history will be recognized as Reagan’s equals, and fewer still his superiors, but the fact is that he gets credit for what was really a team victory. Reagan’s achievements were actually accomplished by a vast army of fellow conservatives, most of whose names are scarcely even mentioned in the footnotes of the history books about Reagan.

For instance, just think about the men whose contributions not only funded Reagan’s campaigns but also funded the many non-profit groups that have helped advance the cause that Reagan led. Ron Robinson’s recent book, Funding Fathers: The Unsung Heroes of the Conservative Movement is an excellent account of what was accomplished, and how it was accomplished, by these philanthropists whose names you’ve never even heard of before. (Also, don’t miss A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s Presidential Campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement, written by J. William Middendorf, who was Goldwater’s campaign treasurer.)

Now, I know what you regular readers are saying to yourselves. This is the part where I tell you, “Hit the tip jar, you ungrateful bastards.” Very smart readers around here and, based on personal observativion, the tip-jar hitters among you are not only smart but extraordinarily good-looking. (What praise can I withhold from you, The Few, The Proud, The Grateful Bastards?) Yet you remain nameless, and some of you have not yet even gotten an e-mail thank-you, an oversight entirely due to my habitual disorganization. Be sure, however, that I view your contributions as the answers to the prayers of a blogger whose wife is just now beginning to believe that maybe this blogging-as-a-career thing isn’t as crazy as it looks.

However, it is not (merely) to solicit your contributions that I make mention of the little-known conservative benefactors who funded, and who still fund, the cause Reagan believed in. Rather, I wish to call to your attention the spirit of cheerful teamwork that motivated their philanthropy.

These men were givers, not takers. They were generous because they were grateful. Their success they understood to be a blessing and, wishing others to benefit from their own blessings, they were generous in helping fund efforts to defend and strengthen the American way of life that had allowed them to enjoy their success.

Gratitude and generosity — this is the spirit of teamwork. Anybody who’s ever played football could tell you how grateful they were the first time they learned that they would be “first team,” in the starting lineup. It’s like your first Instalanche or your first front-page byline or your first . . . . Well, they say “you never forget the first time,” but it does tend to slip your mind after a while.

You take it for granted. You cease to be grateful for the blessing that once you cherished as the answer to earnest prayer. My wife is one of those blessings, a Proverbs 31 woman so wonderful that no man could truly be said to deserve her. To what shall my neglectfulness be likened? Well, think about all those Republicans who griped and grumbled their way through Reagan era, not realizing at the time that they were blessed for a few short years to be led by a man who — as we now look back — was one of the greatest leaders in human history.

Or how about this: A friend of mine had a great job, one that many people would love to have, but after a while, he and his boss didn’t get along so well. The boss was demanding and sometimes seemed capricious. My friend felt like he was being treated unfairly and he wasn’t doing the job he’d signed on to do. So after much soul-searching and prayer, he got another job that a lot of people would love to have. Guess what? His new boss was 10 times as demanding and capricious as the old boss. (I can’t tell you the names of my friend’s bosses, but trust me, you’d recognize them.)

Or how about this: When I worked at The Washington Times for Wes Pruden, there were people in the newsroom who hated the Old Man’s guts. There was a term, “Prudenizing,” which was used to describe what happened when Mr. Pruden personally edited a story. Well, then Mr. Pruden retired (which was when I decided to leave the paper) and I’m sometimes surprised to hear rumors of how many people in the newsroom nowadays find themselves pining for the Good Old Days when Wes was in charge.

That S.O.B. in the Mirror
“You never know what you got ’til it’s gone,” they say, and a basic cause of failure in human endeavor is this ungrateful, selfish spirit that causes us to complain about what we don’t have, when we should instead be grateful for all we do have.

We look around for someone to blame for what they’ve done wrong, or what they haven’t done right, and we want to pin the blame for our unhappiness and our lack of success on that other son of a bitch. We love to blame that other son of bitch, when it’s really that son of bitch in the mirror who is to blame.

What have I done wrong? What have I failed to do? Am I really so perfect that I am blameless even for my own failure?

If you are really honest about yourself, if you have the courage to face your shortcomings and admit your failures, you will never blame others for your own lack of success or happiness. And the ironic thing is, you’ll be a much happier and more successful person that way. Ingratitude and selfishness are not attitudes conducive to success, and still less conducive to happiness.

Nobody likes a selfish ingrate. You probably know people who are like that. “Kharmic black holes,” I call them, who at first glance seem favored by fortune. They go through life taking, taking, taking, seldom saying “thank you,” never doing anything from motives of sincere generosity.

If you’re looking at them superficially, people like that seem justified in their apparent belief that they are entitled to succeed by pushing other people around. And if you don’t have any firm moral commitments, you might succumb to the temptation to emulate their ways. Yet let’s heed the wise words of Frequent Commenter Solomon:

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Proverbs 14:12 (KJV)

How those words ring true as we ponder the sad fate of the conservative movement in this dark hour. Personnel is policy, and somehow the Human Resources Department of the movement failed to screen out the unprincipled people who joined up for the wrong reasons or who turned down the wrong road, people who were selfish and whose ingratitude for their opportunities led them to abuse the positions of trust they’d been given. We need not name names.

Yet who is really to blame? Jack Abramoff? Newt Gingrich? Tom DeLay? George Bush? Karl Rove? John McCain? Or is it that son of bitch in the mirror?

On Election Night, I filed an American Spectator column from the headquarters of the National Taxpayer Union with the title, “You Did Not Lose,” in which I tried to remind conservatives that John McCain had never been their champion, that in fact he’d only gotten 47 percent of the Republican primary vote. Crazy Cousin John’s defeat was not, and ought not to be, a cause for conservatives to become demoralized and lose faith in their cause.

Yet, in some sense, you did lose. Whatever you did for the conservative cause, you didn’t do enough, or otherwise, the movement would have been strong enough (and smart enough) to stop Crazy Cousin John from getting the GOP nomination. And even with that untrustworthy RINO at the top of the ticket, Obama might have been stopped had the conservative movement been strong enough to persuade Maverick against his disastrous blunder in jumping onto the Bush bailout bandwagon.

You failed. I failed. We failed. However much we did, we did not do enough. We weren’t smart enough or hard-working enough or well-organized enough. We failed to unite and work as a team, because we allowed ourselves to become divided, listening to “leaders” who did not deserve to be followed. So what can we do now? Let me call your attention to the words of Frequent Commenter Ben Franklin:

Experience is a hard school, but a fool will learn in no other.

Fools though we may be, we at least have the hard-won wisdom of our disastrous experience. Learn the lesson, and resolve to move forward as a team. Don’t complain and grumble, just work as hard as you can.

Today is April 1 — April Fool’s Day, appropriately enough — and we are now just two weeks away from the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party. If every friend of liberty will unite now, and resolve to do all they can do to make that event a success, it might just be a turning point on the road to a great victory. Like Patton’s veterans, you may one day proudly tell your children or grandchildren that you served in the Tea Party Army that fought and won this great battle for freedom.

WOLVERINES!

March 27, 2009

More reporting conservatives don’t do

Tonight at George Washington University, David Horowitz made news:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is a “100% chance that there will be . . . an attack on U.S. soil,” conservative author David Horowitz said Thursday.
Horowitz made the prediction while speaking to a George Washington University student group, after being asked about the possibility of U.S.-Iranian conflict. In the event of such a terror attack against the American homeland, Horowitz predicted, there will be widespread public outrage against U.S. liberals. . . .

Having spent more than two decades in the news business, I was outraged in January when Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard said conservative bloggers don’t do reporting. I’d love to do more, but the stuck-up know-it-alls at the Weekly Standard never asked, and they don’t ever link me off their blog, so . . . OK, /rage.

But then Matthew Yglesias jumped in with his “nyah nyahs,” prompting Malkin to demonstrate, au contraire, that conservative bloggers do report. And I know doggone well that they could do a lot more reporting, if anyone with any influence in the conservative movement had a freaking clue about the news business. But they don’t, and so I’m out here shaking the tip jar at 11 at night, while some other people on fat salaries are at home in bed.

F— them.

Dan Collins has further thoughts on the subject. I’m too tired and angry to write about it now.

UPDATE: Linked by Pundit & Pundette.

March 1, 2009

WTF? ‘Red-headed stepchildren’?

“This year’s CPAC was the largest on record. It was encouraging to see the large herds of students moving throughout the hotel. Unfortunately, the constant theme those students heard during this year’s CPAC was that the proper role of the conservative movement is as cheerleader for the GOP. . . .
“What should have been one of the most important events of this year’s CPAC, the appearance by Dutch parliamentarian and anti-jihad activist Geert Wilders, was relegated to the opposite side of the hotel, divorced from all of the other conference proceedings. . . .
“I have no doubt that if Bristol Palin had suddenly come available to address CPAC on the virtues of teen pregnancy, David Keene and the American Conservative Union would no doubt have moved heaven and earth to make room in the schedule for her. But they could not accommodate a man who lives under constant death threats by a long list of Islamic terrorist organizations.”
Patrick Poole, PajamasMedia

(H/T: Dan Collins at PW) The decision-making processes of CPAC are opaque to those not directly involved. Some of my dearest friends are involved in the process, or have been in the past. What has been said of sausages and legislation applies equally to the business of establishing the annual CPAC schedule. Friendships forbid me to elaborate, but if any outsider is naively idealistic, let me merely say that “coalition unity” is at times an ugly and brutal line of work. This is true even in a good year, when conservatives are riding the floodtide of victory, flush with cash and influence; you may let your imagination wander as to how it is in the ebb.

CPAC Director Lisa DePasquale, her boss Mr. Keene, their hard-working staff and a nameless legion of volunteer activists are deserving of the highest commendation for organizing the largest conference in the 35-plus years of this annual gathering. Whatever legitimate disgruntlement, disappointment or dissatisfaction there may be, (a) it is far less than the positive accomplishments of the conference, and (b) it would be better addressed to the conference organizers than to the general public.

Ronald Reagan once said that you can accomplish almost anything, so long as you don’t care who gets the credit. And my art-history professor used to share with us an ancient Persian proverb: The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on.

February 28, 2009

Tea Parties, Defeatism and Wolverines

Discussing Rick Moran’s criticisms of the Tea Party protests, Dan Riehl writes:

I remember when Rick pronounced the Iraq War lost and a humiliation for America. So this sort of thing from him doesn’t really surprise me. . . .The naysayers are always the least remembered voices when something succeeds or even when it fails. There’s good reason for that. America just doesn’t take kindly to losers, even if they turn out to have been on the right side of events.

Very harsh. I hesitate to judge Rick as harshly as I would judge David Brooks or George Will if they wrote the same thing — and perhaps I’m wrong to be more tolerant of bloggers than of Old Media pundits.

Friday, I had lunch with Tim Mooney of Save Our Secret Ballot and, in the course of discussing everyone’s favorite CPAC ’09 topic — what’s wrong with the GOP? — discussed the problem of the polluted information stream.

Among the ill effects of liberal bias in the media is that much political “news” amounts to thinly disguised DNC talking-points. The conservative must learn to think critically about news and politics, to filter out that which is misleading, or else he will internalize the funhouse-mirror distortions of reality that define the liberal weltanschauung.

This, I said to Mr. Mooney, is one of the major problems of the Republican Party, that so many of its supporters have unwittingly accepted liberal beliefs as political truths. Therefore, when those who present themselves as conservatives parrot the liberal line, the damage they do is far worse than if the same statements were made by Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. Why? Because this “conservative” echo tends to act as a hardening catalyst for the conventional wisdom.

I have never forgiven David Brooks for “National Greatness.” Brooks’s argument, that “anti-government” conservatism is both wrong as policy and doomed as politics, had a demoralizing effect on the Republican Party. The elegance of Brooks’s writing — whatever your opinion of the man, the elegance of his prose style is beyond dispute — was the spoonful of sugar to make that poisonous medicine go down. That was 12 years ago, and if the GOP now appears disastrously ill, Brooks and his erstwhile publishers at the Weekly Standard are heavily implicated in this perhaps fatal disease.

Rick Moran is not David Brooks. Moran’s influence is sufficiently limited that he can be wrong without inflicting much damage. But in such a desperate political crisis as conservatives now face, they can ill afford to let off-key voices lead the chorus. Moran and others are free to quarrel with the “Tea Party” tactics of opposing Obamanomics, but small-d democratic considerations will relegate them to the role of dogs barking at the passing caravan.

“The opposition party must oppose,” as Jennifer Rubin said. Since the Democratic majority is proposing a liberal economic monstrosity of epic scale, opposition ought to be easy. And just because it is so easy, conservatives should resist the temptation to be lazy or sloppy in tactics.

Constructive criticism of tactics is one thing; pronouncing the opposition as doomed from the outset is something else. Stephen Green is a good blog buddy (whom last I saw at 2 a.m. in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham), but when I heard Stephen arguing in essence that the GOP couldn’t possibly make a dent in Democratic hegemony before 2014 — hey, I called bullshit.

Friends don’t let friends peddle defeatist bullshit. You cannot organize opposition unless you first believe that opposition can be effective and meaningful. Telling conservatives that there is no point deploying an ambush on the road to serfdom? That’s defeatist bullshit. If Ho Chi Minh had thought that way, the French would still rule Indochina.

Conservatives are now a guerrilla resistance. Harassing the enemy — staging raids and ambushes that prevent him from enjoying his conquest at leisure — is basic to guerrilla resistance. If we are doomed to destruction, as least let it be said that we died fighting. But those who never fight, never win.

In a word: “Wolverines!”

UPDATE: Linked by Dan Riehl, who colorfully accuses me of being too nice to Rick.

PREVIOUSLY:
2/25: Thoughts on strategy
2/23: Rick Moran takes counsel of his fears
12/21: But seriously, folks

February 23, 2009

Rick Moran takes counsel of his fears

From Rick Moran’s much talked-about post:

I have read some speculation in the last few days that it may be possible for the GOP to make big gains in the House and Senate in 2010 if they “tap in” to the rage being felt by ordinary taxpayers against the savior based economy being created by Obama and the Democrats.
As a tactic, it would probably be a winner. But is there another way to achieve the same result without exacerbating the already deep divisions in American society? . . .
The inevitable populist backlash is predictable. The problem is that mass movements based on populist rage have generally led to untoward and unanticipated consequences. . . .
Tapping in to the rage of taxpayers by exploiting their fears then, would almost certainly result in unanticipated problems for the GOP. But beyond that, is this the way the Republicans wish to return to power? The Rovian strategy of using wedge issues to cleave the electorate over gay marriage, abortion, and other social issues got Republicans elected but also sowed the seeds of their own destruction.

Rick Moran is a nice guy, and you know what Leo Durocher had to say about that. But in addition to his “let’s don’t be divisive” problem of niceness, Rick’s analysis is profoundly flawed in other ways.

Who is it that says “Rovian tactics” hurt the GOP? Uh . . . liberals, that’s who. A basic problem with conservative punditry is that too often it admits the premises of liberal arguments and yet expects to reach different conclusions. This is a fatal rhetorical trap. If one accepts the premise that the objects of government are to achieve liberal goals — “world peace,” “social justice,” “economic equality,” etc. — then trying to find “conservative” answers to those problems is a snipe hunt. So it is with the will-o’-th’-wisp pursuit of “bipartisan civility,” a euphemism employed by Democrats to mean, “Republicans lose and shut up.”

Ask yourself this: “What really hurt the GOP in the post-2004 era?”

  • The disastrous sequel to “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. More than 3,000 GIs were killed in quelling a terrorist resistance that Bush either (a) never anticipated, or (b) neglected to warn Americans about before the invasion. Through sheer power of repetition, liberals sold the “Bush lied, people died” argument to America. And one need not be a commie peacenik to believe that the entire rationale of the Iraq invasion was misbegotten.
  • The botched Social Security reform effort. Simply put, Republicans pissed off the geezers and gained nothing for it. Bush should have had Tom DeLay ram through an actual bill in the House, so that the specific facts of the proposal could be debated in the Senate. Instead, Bush tried to get the Senate to act first. Wrong move. Nothing conservative ever starts with Republican senators.
  • Amnesty for illegal aliens. Anybody who doesn’t understand how poisonous this idiotic idea is with “Reagan Democrats” needs to listen to more talk radio. In early 2006, when the first amnesty was being debated in the Senate, I happened to be doing the talk-radio circuit to promote Donkey Cons. And although the book was not about immigration, the radio hosts would inevitably ask me my opinion on the issue, because audience interest was through the roof. And talk-radio callers were about 99-to-1 against amnesty. I don’t care what the polls say; all the intensity on this issue is anti-amnesty. Open-border Republicans are destroying the party’s support among working-class voters by pushing amnesty.
  • The economy, stupid. In retrospect, we see that the housing bubble peaked in 2006, and that economic angst was actually being felt much earlier. The Fed started pumping money into the economy in 2001, repeatedly lowering the prime rate, and the only reason we didn’t notice the inevitable inflationary effect of that policy was that the CPI didn’t count as inflation (a) the zoom in home prices during the bubble, or (b) the rise in stock prices. There was a “hidden inflation,” concealed as rising asset value, and when everybody was complaining that college tuition was rising “faster than inflation,” somebody should have thought to ask, “Hey, why isn’t college tuition — a basic expense for many middle-class households — calculated into the CPI?”

None of these issue-specific failures of the Bush administration were the result of “Rovian tactics.” So far as Rove was part of the problem, it was mainly that the big Republican wins in 2002 and 2004 convinced some people that Rove had a magic mojo that could win elections no matter what. In a word: Hubris. Or to add a few more descriptors: Arrogance and recto-cranial inversion.

If I were commissioned to write a book called Everything The Republican Party Did Wrong 2005-2008, that would be a very large book. However, since this is just a freaking blog, I’ll limit myself to three quick additional observations about GOP errors:

  • The Fox Trap — Media-wise, the GOP made the mistake of putting all its eggs in one basket. I enjoy Fox News, but it has created a syndrome where Republicans watch Fox all the time and delude themselves into thinking, “Hey, our message is getting out! We’re winning!” Fact: The evening news broadcasts of ABC, NBC and CBS reach a combined audience of about 22 million; the top rated Fox News show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” reaches 4 million viewers. So if the three broadcast networks are viciously biased against Republicans — and they are — then that anti-GOP message is reaching more than 5 times as many TV viewers as Fox.
  • Making Bush the face of “conservatism” — As former Reagan administration official Bruce Bartlett documented in his book Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, our 43rd president was most definitely not a conservative. His original signature issue, No Child Left Behind, was the antithesis of a conservative education policy, and Medicare Part D — well, where to begin? Bush’s unpopularity created “brand damage” for the GOP, but what he did to the public understanding of what it means to be a “conservative” was far, far worse.
  • John McCain — How he ever got the Republican presidential nomination is one of the great mysteries of modern politics, especially considering that he got only 47% of the GOP primary vote, even though his top rival, Mitt Romney, quit the race after Super Tuesday. The chief lesson of the 2008 presidential campaign could be summed up in five words: No More Old Bald Guys.

So I’ll have none of Rick Moran’s concern-troll worries that there is some sort of disastrous potential in “exploiting” taxpayer outrage over the Obama/Reid/Pelsoi economic agenda. The real disasters — the Bush administration and the McCain campaign — are in the rearview mirror now and, as to the neo-Keynesian nonsense of “stimulus,” it’s never a bad time for Republicans to speak economic truth: It Won’t Work.

Rick Moran sings from a familiar hymnal:

The party needs new ideas, new solutions that can be presented to the people as evidence that they have gotten beyond the past and are ready to lead the country to a bright future.

No. Wrong. What the GOP needs is not “new ideas,” but rather some very old ideas, like limited government, fiscal responsibility, and economic common sense. Republicans need to be reading some Mises and Hayek — and some Thomas Sowell — and stop being so afraid of their own shadows.

Excuse me for recycling something I wrote in December, but in a series of American Spectator columns before and after the election, I laid out six key points about the road to Republican recovery:

  1. Don’t blame yourself — Candidates win or lose elections. Good candidates win, bad candidates lose, and John McCain was a bad candidate.
  2. Don’t overthink it — Intellectuals like to depict politics as something so complex that only they can understand it, with “big picture” themes and demographic trends that don’t really translate into useful strategies. Ignore that crap.
  3. Libertarian populism — Widespread opposition to the Wall Street bailout demonstrates that free-market ideas can be presented in a populist context that draws broad support.
  4. The morality of markets — Don’t buy into the myth that libertarians and religious conservatives are natural enemies. There needs to be a concerted effort to persuade religious conservatives to understand why limited government and free markets are consonant with Christian belief.
  5. Future ex-Democrats — Many who voted for Obama will be disappointed at his failure to fulfill the Hope and bring about the Change he’s promised. Turning that disillusionment into opposition is the basic project the Republican Party must focus on.
  6. The Obama agenda won’t work — Republicans need to re-learn the skills of opposition that have been weakened by disuse during the Bush era. Being a conservative means, among other things, believing that liberalism is wrong. Obama is a liberal, Nancy Pelosi is a liberal, Harry Reid is a liberal. Therefore, every measure that Obama, Pelosi and Reid propose is wrong, and conservatives need to say so.

John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.” The salient fact now is that the Democratic Party’s economic plan cannot lead to economic recovery. We’re on our way to a 6,000 Dow, we’ll see double-digit unemployment by 2010, and nothing proposed by the Democrats can possibly fix it.

In the “Revolt of the Kulaks,” we see a hopeful sign that American taxpayers understand these stubborn economic facts. The task of conservatives is to supply the brains and courage to turn that fundamental understanding into an irresistible political floodtide. If an ex-Democrat can be forgiven for quoting that frontier populist Andrew Jackson: “Never take counsel of your fears.”

UPDATE: “Indeed. Why would anyone get fired up about voting for a supposed alternative to liberalism that does little if anything to resist…liberalism?” Wherefore Phyllis Schlafly titled her immortal classic, A Choice, Not an Echo.

UPDATE II: Jules Crittenden has a roundup of thoughts on what’s wrong with the GOP and how to fix it.

UPDATE III:Playing nice is not a strategy (at least not a winning strategy).”

February 13, 2009

The luxury of ‘liberaltarianism’

Ross Douthat weighs in with a commentary on “liberaltarianism,” the proposed fusion of liberalism and libertarianism that started getting kicked around a bit on the blogosphere a couple of years ago. (Cf., “Obamatarians,” a more recent expression of the same impulse.)

The problem with this concept was never really on the part of liberals, except insofar as they either (a) misunderstood libertarianism, or (b) simply lied about their openness to libertarian ideas. Confusion and deceit among liberals is a given. But the liberals always knew what they wanted from such a transaction: Elect more Democrats.

What did the libertarians want from the transaction? It is here that the ridiculous folly of the enterprise is found. Most of the Will Wilkinson types are intellectuals who are embarrassed by what Hunter S. Thompson called the “Rotarian” instincts of the Republican Party. That flag-waving God-mom-and-apple-pie stuff just doesn’t light a fire under the American intellectual class, which is not now, nor has it ever been, enamored of religion, patriotism and “family values.”

As a political impulse, the sort of libertarianism that scoffs at creationism and traditional marriage wields limited influence, because it appeals chiefly to a dissenting sect of the intelligentsia. It’s a sort of free-market heresy of progressivism, with no significant popular following nor any real prospect of gaining one, because most Ordinary Americans who strongly believe in economic freedom are deeply traditionalist. And most anti-traditionalists — the feminists, the gay militants, the “world peace” utopians — are deeply committed to the statist economic vision of the Democratic Party.

There is no natural political constituency for the sort of libertarianism that considers marijuana legalization and the flat tax as equally estimable objectives. When it comes to the basic electoral calculus of 5o-percent-plus-one, this theoretical equation has never been shown to add up in terms of real-world coalition politics. (Maybe the stoners just forget to vote?)

During the “long boom” unleashed by the Reagan revolution, it was possible for libertarian intellectuals to believe that the arguments for economic freedom were now so blindingly vindicated that even their progressive peers must admit the obvious truth. All libertarians needed to do, they fancied, was to shed the unfashionable baggage of the GOP coalition — the Falwells and Buchanans and Dobsons and other such lowbrows — and the progressives would eagerly sign up for this new project: Free-market gay marriage! Free-market abortion! Free-market environmentalism! Free-market transhuman biotechnology!

If that idea ever made sense, it only made sense in a context of Republican political dominance. When the Democrats were putting up losers like Mike Dukakis and John Kerry, when Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay were crushing progressive dreams like so many ants underfoot, free-market intellectuals could attempt to inveigle their progressive friends: “Don’t worry about those hayseed holy rollers, saber-rattling jingos and suburban Rotarians. They make a lot of noise, but they don’t really call the shots. Look at your 401K balance. The market works.”

Well, we passed the sell-by date of that argument somewhere between “Mission Accomplished” and “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” And all the libertarian intellectuals who’ve been sucking on the Koch tit over the past 25 years find that their progressive friends are as unpersuaded about the virtues of economic freedom as they ever were. Lending libertarian support to progressive causes — the driving impetus of the gay-rights movement is egalitarian, not libertarian — has strengthened progressivism, while doing nothing meaningful to advance the free-market cause.

With their Democratic friends now holding supreme power in Washington, progressives now openly celebrate Keynesian pump-priming and redistributionist economic schemes in a way they never would have done when Tom DeLay held the whip. Chuck Schumer can laugh that the American people don’t care what’s in the stimulus, and no one can effectively refute him.

At the apex of Republican power and at the zenith of the “long boom” ignited by Reaganomics, the “liberaltarian” impulse was a luxury that foundation-subsidized intellectuals could afford to indulge. The era of respectable intellectual luxury is now over, and serious people must now ponder the rude realities of coalition politics.

UPDATE: “Like the Higgs Boson, the liberaltarian is a phenomenon that hasn’t yet been directly observed but that everybody hopes to find someday.”

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! (Guess this means I’ll hit the 1-million hits mark a bit early, huh?)
UPDATE III: A slight diversion, to take aim at the false dilemma (either tax cuts OR Keynesian spending) argument as put forward by Newsweek‘s Daniel Gross:

Adherents of the tax-cuts-only strategy are suspicious of free-spending Democrats, old-fashioned Keynesians, and big government. They believe — no, they know –that tax cuts are more efficient than government spending, since people and businesses make better and quicker decisions about spending than government does. . . . The current, somewhat extraordinary circumstances, and the nation’s changing economic geography, should make us wonder how effective tax cuts will be in stimulating new spending and investment.

Now, I addressed this either/or fallacy Monday, with reference to Megan McArdle’s suggestion that marginal rates are now low enough that major Laffer-curve effects are not to be expected from further tax cuts. (Argue amongst yourselves.) What kills me is that Gross is allowed to make an expressly political argument under the guise of an economic expertise that he does not, in fact, possess:

Mr. Gross graduated from Cornell University in 1989, with degrees in government and history, and holds an A.M. in American history from Harvard University (1991). He worked as a reporter at The New Republic and Bloomberg News, and has contributed hundreds of features, news articles, book reviews and opinion pieces to over 60 magazines and newspapers. Areas of expertise include: economic and tax policy, the links between business and politics, the rise of the investor class, the culture of Wall Street, and business history. (Emphasis added.)

The man is a journalist, not an economist, and his echoing of Obama administration talking points ought not be disguised as economic analysis. Nothing wrong with being a journalist, you understand, it’s just that Newsweek is doing a bait-and-switch by presenting Gross as an economic “expert.” But if Paul Krugman can win a Nobel Prize, I suppose we’re all experts now . . .

UPDATE IV: Linked by The American Catholic.

Mark Thompson says I’m “somewhat hyperbolic.” Dude, you’re just now noticing this tendency?

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February 7, 2009

Young Turks and gay marriage

Since last October, at least, I have been using the phrase “Young Turks” to describe the restless young intellectuals of the conservative movement. Most of these young men — not to slight the ladies, but nearly all of these writers seem to be male — who would be tomorrow’s Weavers and Buckleys and Kirks are not strictly political writers. That is to say, they didn’t spend 2007-08 obsessively handicapping the presidential election, but they are “political” and conservative in the sense that they have made clear their general commitments to the Right.

Now, if you talk to these bright young fellows — and I find excuses to talk to them as often as possible — one of the things you learn is how many of them are either (a) in favor of gay marriage as a matter of social justice, or (b) defeatist in conceding that the legal recognition of gay marriage is a political inevitability, even though they personally oppose it.

Is it really so? Permit a geezer his doubts. I remember being 15 years old when our teachers at Douglas County High School arranged a teleconference between our classroom and our state’s senior senator, Herman Talmadge. And I remember that all of us long-haired hoodlum types — this was 1974 — were eager to ask Sen. Talmadge about legalizing marijuana, so that he had to fend off two or three questions on the subject. (“Uh . . . hey, man, like . . . what about weed?”)

Thirty-five years ago, it seemed to us teenage weedheads that we were on the cutting edge of social change, but the Jeff Spicoli Nation never came to fruition, did it? Nowadays, America is perhaps more socially tolerant toward the herb — I confess to having been an adolescent doper without fear that I’ll be hounded out of polite society for the revelation — but the stuff is still illegal. (And thank God for that, as who would want to deprive the stoners of the undeniable frisson of their outlaw status?)

Yet the Young Turks generally view the gay-marriage debate as following in the historic path of Social Progress, an irresistible floodtide, so that such opposition as there is must speak in tones carefully measured, lest offense be given to the eventual winners of the debate.

Measured tones have never been my style. My defiance of the irresistable floodtide has been couched in reference to Roy Moore’s concurrence in Ex Parte H.H., and I have defended my position by asserting that men and women are not equal in the sense of being fungible. (Men and women are different; therefore, a union of differences implies a natural complementarity inherently missing from same-sex relationships. Viva le difference!)

While it may have seemed that, in making such a bold assertion, I was merely engaged in my favorite sport of baiting Conor Friedersdorf (guilty, your honor), there is nevertheless a real and politically relevant argument involved, and I would be interested in stirring it up again, if only to gin up some weekend traffic. So, what say you? J.P. Freire? Ross Douthat? Helen Rittelmeyer? Perhaps some old geezers like Andrew Sullivan and Rod Dreher would also like to weigh in, as well. Linkbacks are guaranteed under the Full Metal Jacket Reach-Around Rule, and anyone else who wants to weigh in is welcome to leave a comment.

ADDENDUM: Comments are moderated, so if you want to call me a “faggot” — hey, start your own blog.

UPDATE: Helen Rittlemeyer:

Being publicly pro-SSM is the quickest way for a young journalist to signal that he’s one of the right-wingers it’s okay to like. Haven’t they heard that it’s better to be feared than loved? Or, to put it less glibly, the real respectability of a solid argument is preferable to the worthless respectability one gets by being on the Harmless Right.

Note to Helen: Please install SiteMeter and Technorati at your blog, so as to keep track of your traffic and help others know when you’re linking them. (Gee, you’d think a girl genius could figure these things out for herself!)