Erick Erickson’s Odd (and Telling) Confession
A revealing quote and some musing on Newt's consistency.
In a post bemoaning the state of the GOP field entitled My Confession, RedState’s Erick Erickson confesses the following:
I hope for a Perry rebound. He’s on his first wife still and has the most consistent record of conservative policies. And we hate the same people and institutions. We have the same general world view.
I must confess, to define one’s political positions and hoped-for candidates in terms of hating people and institutions strikes me as problematic, especially in the context of electoral politics and public policy debates. I have often considered RedState (and Erickson) as being representative of an angry and unhelpful manifestation of a part of the rightward political realm and this formulation reinforces such a notion.
Perhaps it was my mother’s admonitions to not use the word “hate” when I was young (usually in the context of sibling conflicts) or my general conception of hatred as a blinding emotional response, rather than a tool of evaluation, but I am not a fan of its application in politics, especially domestic politics.
In fairness, perhaps this was a poor choice of words on Erickson’s part (blogging is an enterprise that often leads to imprecise deployments of both words and grammar, to be sure). Still, I typically associate Erickson with either anger or extreme hyperbole, so I am inclined to think that this was less a sloppy word choice than it was an honest expression. It is a reflection of politics as a faith-based crusade rather than a deliberative process that will, in a democracy anyway, require compromise.
Beyond the hate business, I found the following of political interest:
The problem with Mitt Romney is the inconsistencies in his record. The problem with Newt Gingrich is the consistency of his record.
Now, the critique of Romney is pretty standard and requires no elaboration. The Gingrich assessment is a bit more problematic, it seems to me. On the one hand, yes, there is a list of positions that Gingrich has taken over the years that would give a hardcore conservative like Erickson heartburn (Conor Friedersdorf has a nice list of such here), but on the other, I find it amusing that Newt Gingrich would be painted as the model of consistency. This is the guy who almost ended his campaign (indeed, at the time I thought he had) for the nomination the week it began by being all over the place on the Ryan Plan, even going so far as to say “Any Ad Which Quotes What I Said On Sunday Is A Falsehood.” That week led Rich Lowry to pen a column for NRO entitled “Newt the Unreliable.”
At any rate, the notion that Newt represents a bedrock of consistency is amusing. (And, really, Erickson goes on to note that his main problem with Newt are his affairs and divorces).
Back to the main theme: I would suggest that the road to successful policy is not one paved with unleashing hate. How about reason instead?
Yes, as I often say, a man can dream.