Conservatives Blew It

P.J. O’Rourke lets his fellow conservatives have it with both barrels in a long essay worth reading in full.  Some excerpts:

Let us bend over and kiss our ass goodbye. Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone–gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that’s headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy.

An entire generation has been born, grown up, and had families of its own since Ronald Reagan was elected. And where is the world we promised these children of the Conservative Age? Where is this land of freedom and responsibility, knowledge, opportunity, accomplishment, honor, truth, trust, and one boring hour each week spent in itchy clothes at church, synagogue, or mosque? It lies in ruins at our feet, as well it might, since we ourselves kicked the shining city upon a hill into dust and rubble. The progeny of the Reagan Revolution will live instead in the universe that revolves around Hyde Park.

[…]

The financial crisis that is hoisting us on our own petard is only the latest (if the last) of the petard hoistings that have issued from the hindquarters of our movement. We’ve had nearly three decades to educate the electorate about freedom, responsibility, and the evils of collectivism, and we responded by creating a big-city-public-school-system of a learning environment.

[…]

Would that blame could be put on our strategies instead of ourselves. We have lived up to no principle of conservatism.

Government is bigger than ever. We have fattened the stalled ox and hatred therewith rather than dined on herbs where love (and the voter) is. Instead of flattening the Department of Education with a wrecking ball we let it stand as a pulpit for Bill Bennett. When–to switch metaphors yet again–such a white elephant is not discarded someone will eventually try to ride in the howdah on its back. One of our supposed own did. No Child Left Behind? What if they deserve to be left behind? What if they deserve a smack on the behind? A nationwide program to test whether kids are what? Stupid? You’ve got kids. Kids are stupid.

We railed at welfare and counted it a great victory when Bill Clinton confused a few poor people by making the rules more complicated. But the “French-bread lines” for the rich, the “terrapin soup kitchens,” continue their charity without stint.

[…]

Yes, we got a few tax breaks during the regimes of Reagan and W. But the government is still taking a third of our salary. Is the government doing a third of our job? Is the government doing a third of our dishes? Our laundry? Our vacuuming? When we go to Hooters is the government tending bar making sure that one out of three margaritas is on the house?

Much, much more at the link, including a longish attack on the GOP’s foreign policy going back to Reagan’s sending troops to Lebanon.  And, naturally, he takes a shot or two at the Left along the way.

via Andrew Sullivan

FILED UNDER: Politics 101, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    One of the best things about being a conservative in the 80’s was reading O’Rourke. My favorite line, if I can remember it, was “We’ve always had all the money, and all the power, … and now we’ve got all the fun!”

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    Conservatives didn’t blow it, “conservative” politicians blew it.

    O’Rourke’s litany of misdeeds is mostly those of elected officials who proved to be less principled than the people who elected them. We trusted them to deliver the basics like fiscal conservatism and they instead delivered favors to lobbyists and benefits to themselves. I can’t help but think when O’Rourke blames conservatives themselves he just includes those within a 250 mile radius of Washington.

    He should also be wary of mixing foreign policy and middle east policy. I see nothing wrong with conservative policies with China, Russia, Europe, or just about anywhere else, except the middle east. The problem there is a culture of death, death with honor, death if you lose honor, death if you offend honor, and just a general preoccupation with death and killing. The middle eastern countries are sick and we are just figuring out we may not be able to cure them.

    Conservatives need new blood rather than seniority on the appropriations committee. Principled candidates must be given preference to lead us and prove why conservatism is the more logical choice. The backsliding sinners who preach to the party must go. Priorities must be clearly defined. Short term, measurable goals must be set and met. Only then will we see a reemergence of conservative values in government.

  3. Barry says:

    “Conservatives didn’t blow it, “conservative” politicians blew it.:

    Ah, like socialism and communism – they didn’t fail either; instead, they *were* failed.

    “…except the middle east. The problem there is a culture of death, death with honor, death if you lose honor, death if you offend honor, and just a general preoccupation with death and killing.”

    Snort. *We* are the people racking up the kills, all the while wondering what’s the matter with them, that they don’t love us.

    “Conservatives need new blood rather than seniority on the appropriations committee. Principled candidates must be given preference to lead us and prove why conservatism is the more logical choice. The backsliding sinners who preach to the party must go. Priorities must be clearly defined. Short term, measurable goals must be set and met. Only then will we see a reemergence of conservative values in government.”

    In other words, if what never happened happened, you’d do great. As O’Rourke said, you have had a quarter century of dominance (28 years with 20 having a GOP president), and you blew it.

    And really, most of you didn’t mind too much, until you blew it electorally. The real right-winger criticisms of Bush started in November, 2006, when it became clear that Bush was no longer a winner.

  4. odograph says:

    Conservatives didn’t blow it, “conservative” politicians blew it.

    Yeah! Once you leave out the Congress, and the President, and the appointees … wait a minute!

  5. odograph says:

    The real right-winger criticisms of Bush started in November, 2006, when it became clear that Bush was no longer a winner.

    I think my conservative criticisms of Bush start here in the OTB logs just a bit earlier than that.

    I felt more and more forced out though, until I no longer self-identify as conservative, and now self-identify as independent.

  6. Drew says:

    Steve Plunk for Congress.

  7. Floyd says:

    What’s with all the sack cloth and ashes?
    If we move 2% of the electorate,it’ll be all wine and roses!

    The scary part is the newly legalized voter fraud in 31 states![and worse in Oregon]
    We may never see another legitimate election.

  8. sam says:

    @ Steve

    O’Rourke’s litany of misdeeds is mostly those of elected officials who proved to be less principled than the people who elected them.

    And continued to elect them and continued to elect them. Was it de Tocqueville who said in a democracy, people get the government they deserve? Well, you got the Republican party you deserve, I’m afraid.

  9. It was Mencken who said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    Why have we forgoten who said these?

    “ The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”

    “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

    “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

  11. Mithras says:

    Your philosophy is what blew it. Reagan said government doesn’t work, and you all got into power and tried to prove him right. Guess what? People want government that is effective and conservatives have demonstrated nothing but incompetence and corruption. The memory of how Reaganite deregulation threw us into the worst economic crisis in a century will bury the “small government/lower taxes” thing. Forever.

    What else you got?

  12. Moonbat Boy says:

    No doubt handouts are the answer.

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    Your philosophy is what blew it. Reagan said government doesn’t work, and you all got into power and tried to prove him right. Guess what? People want government that is effective and conservatives have demonstrated nothing but incompetence and corruption. The memory of how Reaganite deregulation threw us into the worst economic crisis in a century will bury the “small government/lower taxes” thing. Forever

    lol, you got your 4 year shot donkeylover so ST-U already with your ignorant — propaganda, we have all heard it a million times, go now and see how your communism works,GET!!!

  14. PrestoPundit says:

    Via Andrew Sullivan?

    This has been on the web for days, bouncing from blog to blog.

    And you first ran into it at Andrew Sullivan’s viscous rumor site?

    That’s pathetic.

  15. Eric says:

    lol, you got your 4 year shot donkeylover so ST-U already with your ignorant — propaganda, we have all heard it a million times, go now and see how your communism works,GET!!!

    G.A., I think it’s time for your Zoloft. We wouldn’t want you to miss your dose–you only become angry, ill-mannered, and generally boorish when you do. Oh, nuts, too late…

  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    G.A., I think it’s time for your Zoloft. We wouldn’t want you to miss your dose–you only become angry, ill-mannered, and generally boorish when you do. Oh, nuts, too late…

    lol, sorry but I’m a recovering addict, my Doctor won’t give me any drugs:(

    and I understand what you think you think about this—>

    lol, you got your 4 year shot donkeylover so ST-U already with your ignorant — propaganda, we have all heard it a million times, go now and see how your communism works,GET!!!

    but what is this to you—>

    Your philosophy is what blew it. Reagan said government doesn’t work, and you all got into power and tried to prove him right. Guess what? People want government that is effective and conservatives have demonstrated nothing but incompetence and corruption. The memory of how Reaganite deregulation threw us into the worst economic crisis in a century will bury the “small government/lower taxes” thing. Forever.

    What else you got?

    beautiful poetry
    ????

  17. Mithras says:

    sorry but I’m a recovering addict, my Doctor won’t give me any drugs:(

    Epic fail.

  18. Barry says:

    “Conservatives didn’t blow it, “conservative” politicians blew it.”

    Posted by odograph:
    “Yeah! Once you leave out the Congress, and the President, and the appointees … wait a minute!”

    And the right-wing talk radio, Faux news, the columnists, the religious right and bloggers…
    and also the vast majority of Republicans, who were O.K. until 2006, when the GOP lost an election, and corruption, arrogance, cronyism and incompetance no longer looked like a path to permanent Republican dominance.

    The only real complaint that Republicans have with the GOP is that it lost elections. Hand them election victories, and they’d be pretty much good with everything else.

  19. Derrick says:

    The only real complaint that Republicans have with the GOP is that it lost elections. Hand them election victories, and they’d be pretty much good with everything else.

    Someone was making the point the other day that most of GW’s major spending initiative’s were in his 1st term and we barely heard a peep from conservatives. Face it the only principle that matters to most “conservatives” is that winning is everything.