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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The State of Conservative Thought in the US

The Wikipedia entry for the conservative magazine National Review tells us, "It is usually considered the center of intellectual activity for the American Conservative movement in the twentieth century." Sure, that was probably written by some PR firm that monitors and manages the entry for the magazine, but it's still true enough. Founded in 1955 by conservative icon William F. Buckley, jr., NR rests on the coffeetables of rich guys and Republican ops nationwide. It did represent the mainstream of conservative thought in the 20th century and it probably still does today.

Nothing shows how far their mainstream has drifted from our own so well as NR's blog The Corner. Where National Review was once a place where serious people could turn for serious foreign policy analysis, they now get stuff like this, from former prosecutor, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and one-time attorney for Rudy Giuliani, Andrew C. McCarthy, where we learn that Obama's cool with Iran being totalitarian and nuclear, because the president's a commie:

Andy McCarthyCall me thick, but I continue to be baffled by a lot of the commentary, cited by Rich and others, which gives as the rationale for President Obama's diffidence his purported determination to preserve the opportunity to negotiate with the mullahs on their nuclear program. Obama is resigned to Iran getting nukes (perhaps even having them already) and has no intention of doing anything meaningful about it.

The fact is that, as a man of the hard Left, Obama is more comfortable with a totalitarian Islamic regime than he would be with a free Iranian society. In this he is no different from his allies like the Congressional Black Caucus and Bill Ayers, who have shown themselves perfectly comfortable with Castro and Chàvez. Indeed, he is the product of a hard-Left tradition that apologized for Stalin and was more comfortable with the Soviets than the anti-Communists (and that, in Soros parlance, saw George Bush as a bigger terrorist than bin Laden).

"Thick" isn't the word I'd reach for here, Andy. More like "lunatic." We're informed that happy-clappy, love-everybody liberals aren't so incompatible with ultra-conservative religious thugs as we might think. "In fact, they have much more in common than not, especially when it comes to suppression of freedom, intrusiveness in all aspects of life, notions of 'social justice,' and their economic program," he tells us. Things like Islamic regimes' hatred of gays, xenophobia about non-Muslims, the oppression of women, and institutional religious fundamentalism are mere piffles, he assures us. The left and Islamic extremists are two peas in the same pod.

I suppose at this point it would be helpful to point out that McCarthy has everything bass-ackward. The authoritarian right in Iran has a much more obvious parallel in America in our own authoritarian right. We've got people who hate gays, practice religious intolerance, oppose women's rights, and want to schools to become centers for religious instruction. They're called "Republicans."

This wasn't always true. In fact, it wasn't even universally true when Bush had a GOP majority in both houses of the legislature. There was the moderating influence of senators and representatives from purple states and swing districts. But once the GOP began to crash and burn, those purple states went blue and those districts swung left. After two straight electoral disasters for the party, Republicans are largely the party of the reddest districts and the farthest right states. That moderating influence is mostly gone now and those who are left are being chased out of the Republican's "big tent."

What all this means is that the Republicans left are, for the most part, the most partisan, the most strident, and the most crazy. When you've got people writing at National Review Online how it's the most obvious thing in the world that Obama wants totalitarianism, the right has gone completely around the bend. When "serious" foreign policy analysis is so staggeringly unrealistic it sounds like some caller to Rush Limbaugh's three-hour daily BS session, things are really bad for the party. Glenn Beck couldn't have written something more insane.

I suppose that the main question with McCarthy's post is whether he actually believes it. Where Andy's completely comfortable with pretending to be able to read President Obama's mind, I have no interest in reading McCarthy's. Frankly, I don't want to know what's really in there because, either way, it's ugly. If he really believes this nutbaggery, then he's practically certifiable and so paranoid that it's a wonder he can function, let alone make guest appearances on talking head shows. On the other hand, if he doesn't believe this, then he's taking an international crisis that may have consequences that last a generation or more and using it as a propaganda bludgeon to get people to hate the president.

Like I said, either way it's ugly.

But the broader question is where a party can go once it's hit such a rocky bottom that this crap passes for rational analysis. If you can get something this wingnutty and delirious onto the online version of the journal of conservative thought, then conservative thought itself is in a very bad place. Not only is it either right wing fantasy or propaganda, but it's so extreme and so stupid that no one outside the party will ever take it seriously. If this is the level of conservative thought these days, it'd be a generous compliment to say they're capable of thinking.

Let's be gracious and assume that Andrew C. McCarthy isn't crazier than a cork anchor. Let's assume he's just a shameless propagandist. Maybe it might be a good idea for GOP propagandists to put half the effort into getting people to like Republicans as they do in getting people to hate Obama. This is their black-and-white, either-or thinking cropping up again. There aren't only two possible positions and it's completely illogical to assume that if people hate Barack Obama, they'll love Republicans. It's not like a switch you throw and the polarity of public opinion reverses.

If Republicans are interested in helping Republicans, they'll start coming up with an idea or two. I know it's fun and easy to stand on the sidelines and heckle the players on the field, but you aren't going to win by being some sort of anti-cheerleading squad.

You've got to actually play.


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1 comment:

M said...

"If Republicans are interested in helping Republicans, they'll start coming up with an idea or two."

We know what their ideas are.

Just listen to George Will, Bill Kristol, David Brooks, Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, you name em', their ideology is based on hero worship and the factinion that Ronald Reagan was the greatest President since....

Nixon? Ha ha ha! The paranoid hating hater of democracy?

Eisenhower? Not really. A Republican Conservative today wouldn't dare warn their fellow Americans of the influence and dangers of the Military Industrial Complex like the General did as he left office.

They are the Military Industrial Complex. (TheyRule.Net)

Lincoln? The Confederate flag is more of a republican thing today, as it was then, for today's party of Confederate Civil War Reenactors.

Theodore Roosevelt? Not so fast. Conservatives actually have very little in common with the president who sounded more like a Kennedy when it came to social and domestic issues. Although he was a predator as man in nature as everyone knows, he spoke of dignity and safety nets for all Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us, with a focus on government for the people through his championing of an American standard of living to compliment the preservation happiness and health of the American family. There are no traces of "every rich man and polluter for himself" in Teddy Roosevelt.

Coolige? Hoover...?

Today's conservative movement is the same as it's been for the last 40 years-- a patchwork of think tanks and cabals, like the Federalist Society, American Enterprise Institute/Heritage Foundation, the Milton Friedmanites, Ayn Rand Objectivists, and even Rush Limbaugh.

They're liars and lobbyists for fascism and slave labor at worst, and "the ends justify the means" at best.

Either way, they're all radicals, even if they speak more quietly than the loudmouths, because their only purpose is to drown the American government, especially FDR and the Warren Court, in a bathtub.

It's an obsession and it's cuckoo.