6/04/2008

"Conservatives" Kicked Off The GOP Island


"There was once a day when conservatism was driven by principles: smaller government, less-intrusive government, strong national defense, fiscal sobriety. But in the years since that day, the putative heirs to Reagan have trampled not just those principles, but also principle itself.

The ideology that wanted small government now presides over expanded government, the one that wanted less intrusion now seeks to regulate bedroom behavior, the one that demanded strong national defense has run the military into the ground, the one that championed fiscal sobriety turned a $236 billion budget surplus into a $400 billion deficit. And if thoughtful conservatives see the disconnect, if they have the intellectual integrity to find it shameful, the newsflash is, thoughtful conservatives no longer predominate their ideology.

No, that honor goes to unthoughtful conservatives, the loud, proudly ignorant voices of talk radio, books and television of which Kevin James is now the poster child. Matthews kept asking him to explain the sins of Neville Chamberlain and he kept crying, "appeasement! appeasement!" clinging to the words like a drowning man to a raft.

That's what people like him do. They are geniuses at rhetoric ("War on Christmas," anyone?) that rouses the rabble and lets them feel aggrieved, while simultaneously having the intellectual heft of cotton balls. But they can no more step beyond that rhetoric than Gilligan could step off his island. There is no there there."


Leonard J. Pitts, Jr.

8 comments:

Roadkill said...

Sunny,

Conservatives have not lost their principles; Republicans have.

The GOP’s loss of Congress in 2006was all about conservative disgust with, and abandonment of the Republican Party. And to the extent that Republicans are sucking air this election cycle, Pitts, a columnist whom I admire for his predominantly clear and unsentimental commentary, accurately explains the cause: Conservatism is no longer the prevailing ideology of Republicans. The fact is, the only ideology that currently drives Republicans is “whatever it takes to stay in office.”

Well, as one of those “thoughtful conservatives,” I surely do not want – and will not support - unprincipled and self-serving politicians of the right. In their quest to maintain their incumbencies, they have come to embrace the mushy and muddled-headed policies of the left, foolishly thinking that such a move will expand their appeal. Well, I have news for these guys: in their movement to the middle they are losing far more conservatives on the right than they are gaining liberals and independents in the middle.

Like the post-“68 Democrats who moved sharply to the left and got clobbered at the ballot box, today’s Republicans are similarly moving left and similarly getting creamed. Like the hapless GOP minorities of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, today’s Republicans have become nothing more than moderate Democrats (a.k.a. RINO’s), and are in for long-term minority status unless and until true conservatism re-emerges as the driving ideology of the GOP.

Sunny Badger said...

Roadkill:

I don't think it is safe for you to claim that the Republican Party is the home of conservatism. The GOP wavers around on the political spectrum like on a Quija board. It hoovers around looking for the zone of survival. Reagan ushered in something that appeared to embraced conservative ideology. He put the brakes on taxes but stomped on the gas pedal of spending. If that's conservativism, then the current President Bush is fitting the mold quick well. Alas, it is not and in came Old Man Bush who was more country club conservative than cowboy conservative of the Barry Goldwater vain. The GOP of Lincoln wasn't the GOP of Coolidge, Harding and Hoover which weren't the GOP of Eisenhower or Nixon or Ford. The focus wavers with the times and the need for the party to sirvival. That's what institutions do. Splitting the community with polarized ideologies on the left and right makes for heated debates and good paychecks for radio and TV pundits, but it doesn't triangulate the needs of getting things done in the community. That happens with a combination of leadership and pragmatism. I don't pretend to be the all knowing oracle of how to get things done. However, experience has taught me that people with differing beliefs and abilities and wealth portfolios and ambition levels can accomplish more and better things than a bunch of individuals pissing and moaning about divations from their ideological check list. I'm more atman than atom, when it comes to politics and the community.

Roadkill said...

Sunny,

The GOP is no more the “home” of conservatism than the Democratic Party is the “home” of racism (see my previous comments).

In 1865, the anti-slavery and anti-southern Republicans, then in the majority, were known as the “Radical Republicans;” the conservative, pro-slavery and pro-states rights party was known as Democrat. So I agree, it is not safe to say that the Republican party is the home of conservatism.

The point I was making is that modern conservatives – devoted to smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes, and strong national defense – are not going to support (or at least not whole-heartedly support) a Republican that does not stand for those principles. Liberals may support any candidate with a “D” after their name, but conservatives will only support candidates based on their record and their positions on the issues.

Sunny B. said...

RK:

I doing some recent studying and reading about FDR, I thought it was interesting that he made sure weak Democrats were run against strong progressives Republicans in the Midwestern states, since the progressive help push many of his programs.

You could be correct about the liberals voting for anybody with a D after their name. It's interesting to note that Tom DeLay was recently interviewed and calling Obama a Marxist. My guess is, he would call any candidate with a D after their name a Marxist. What would you save would be among the most derogatory names to call a Republican?

RINO won't do.

Roadkill said...

Sunny b.,

Tom Delay is a prime example of a Republican who lost his principles and lost his way. He wouldn’t know the difference between a Marxist and a Socialist and a liberal Democrat. But then, he also lost his Congressional seat. There is a connection in all of this.

I would not doubt that Roosevelt supported “progressive” (read liberal) Republicans against “weak” (read conservative) Democrats. He had many fine qualities, and he was surely an astute politician.

I think the most derogatory label for a Republican is “moderate,” because that means liberal. Similarly, the most derogatory name for a Democrat is “conservative,” because that means moderate. Its all skewed leftwards, and understandably so, since 90% of journalists are self-avowed liberals.

Sunny B. said...

Now Road Kill, at the time I graduated from journalism school, we were taught to be unbiased reporters.

This would mean that, if I was writing a story on global warming, I would have to get a quote from somebody pointing to the existence of global warming and a quote from someone denying global warming. Of course, in 1981, the story would have been on global cooling, as we were approaching the coming ice age.

Since it seems that to be a "conservative" today, one has to deny the existence of global warming, I wonder if in 1980, when Reagan was elected, conservatives were required to deny the coming ice age?

Were did you get you figure that "90% of hournalists are self-avowed liberals." I can tell you that those entering the journalism profession in the late 1970s, were spurred on by Woodward and Bernstein's "All The President's Men." I supposed they would be labelled liberal because they wanted to change the Nixonian status of the government and their parents.

Do you think Leonard Pitts is a liberal? To me he is one of the more clear-headed opionators appearing on the editorial pages today. But then again, I won't classify what he or Cal Thomas or George Wiil or Kathleen Parker, etc. do as "journalism." It's opinion writing that appears on the opinion page.

I don't get confused about liberalism and conservatism appearing on the editoral pages. I read them all and find I agree with some of what all say and never agree with everything any one says. But then again, I don't classify myself a liberal or a conservative. I'd be a hybred...a libicon.

Do you ever checkout the Columbia Journalism Review? It's on line and covers the field of journalism quite well.

Roadkill said...

Sunny b.,

Conservatives don’t deny the existence of global warming. Conservatives recognize that the earth’s climate changes over time, with warming cycles and cooling cycles. The point of contention for conservatives is the idea that this warming period – unlike all previous warming periods – is caused by humans and their activities, and that curtailing human activity will cause the earth to cool.

Take the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) for instance. From 800 to 1200 the earth was far warmer that it is today, to the point that southern Greenland was full of trees and grasslands and thousands of Norsemen and their families farmed and raised dairy cows and other animals for sustenance. Humans had nothing to do with that climate change.

Some centuries later the “Little Ice Age” beset the earth, and from 1650 to 1850 temperatures plummeted to the point that the Canals of Holland regularly froze up, as did New York harbor. Here again, humans had nothing to do with it.

But back to the main point: conservatives can see its warmer; what they question – with good cause, I might add – is this idea that people have caused it and that people can reverse it. That level of hubris is dangerous. It brings to mind the catastrophically costly efforts to change human consciousness and behavior in Communist Russia, China, and Southeast Asia.

I think you are adept enough at internet research to find support for my assertion that 90% of journalists vote liberal. They also contribute to Democrats and liberal causes at close to that percentage. All of which I don’t have a problem with, really, if they keep it out of their reporting and news analysis. But they don’t.

By the way, I think Woodward and Burnstein did great work. Nixon was complicit in some illegal activities and he manipulated government agencies to cover it up. He deserved to be held accountable, and no one was really doing anything to bring the facts to light except W&B.

As for Pitts, I do think he is a Liberal, but as I’ve said before I also think he is predominantly a clear and unsentimental thinker. It seems to me that he takes an honest look at both sides of the issues, and as such I find his columns both informative and intellectually interesting.

I’ve never looked at the CJR, but as I saw another reference to it recently, I will. Thanks.

Sunny B. said...

RK:

Lets just say that many of those identifying themselves as "conservative" like to tell me that global warming is a hoax. I counter by pointing out that western Wisconsin has been covered by glacier during at least three ice ages. Since the glaciers are gone, that must mean we've had global warming a few times before. I mentioned this during a lecture I attended given by a guy who had been train at Al Gore's School of Inconvenient Truth. The reaction from a couple of attendees was similar to what I would expect if you stood up in church and said that God didn't exist. "What? Don't you believe in global warming?" asked one woman.

Concerning liberal journalists, here's something from the PEW Research Center on the political views of journalists (http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=214):

"In terms of their overall ideological outlook, majorities of national (54%) and local journalists (61%) continue to describe themselves as moderates. The percentage identifying themselves as liberal has increased from 1995: 34% of national journalists describe themselves as liberals, compared with 22% nine years ago. The trend among local journalists has been similar ­ 23% say they are liberals, up from 14% in 1995. More striking is the relatively small minority of journalists who think of themselves as politically conservative (7% national, 12% local). As was the case a decade ago, the journalists as a group are much less conservative than the general public (33% conservative)."

I'm not convinced of the liberal slant in news reporting. How can you explain the easy treatment President Bush has gotten compared to the attacks against Bill Clinton when he was President? But then again, if I filter out the reporting of the Weekly Standard, the American Spector, the National Review and Mother Jones, the Progressive, the Populist Review and related conservative, liberal and progressive agenda-driven publications, I don't think there is an obvious news slant. But that is my view of things and you might see things differently. Especially, since the PEW finding show a majority of journalists claiming to be moderates. Coming from the conservative perspective, it would be more politically correct to say the a large majority of journalist are moderte or liberal.

On the investigative reporting style of W&B, I think we see less of that these days because of the changing profit picture in the media ownership structure. I'm not convinced that blogs will fill the void of serious investigative journalism...certainly not this blog. Likewise, it think that the majority of people always have strayed away from the "intellectually interesting" and gravitated towards the less demanding team sport approach that allows for platitudes, buzzwords and more time to spend watching American Idol.