Money, Bombs, and Jesus

A discussion in the comments thread of my "Time Running Out For GOP?" post led me to a post from four-plus years ago by frequent commenter and erstwhile blogger* Michael Reynolds titled "Money, Bombs and Jesus."

A discussion in the comments thread of my “Time Running Out For GOP?” post led me to a post from four-plus years ago by frequent commenter and erstwhile blogger* Michael Reynolds titled “Money, Bombs and Jesus.” Given its age and the defunctness of the blog*, I’m going to excerpt generously:

Since the time of Saint Ronald of Reagan, the GOP has been a three-winged bird.

First, and foremost, there was the Money! wing of the party. Their political philosophy was quite sophisticated and subtle, but to give you the short version it was, Money: More!

Actually, that’s the long version, too.

Next came the faction of the party primarily concerned with foreign policy. Originally the foreign policy in question was anti-communism. Then the wall fell and for a few years this wing of the GOP could be found curled up in a corner, shivering and nursing a Stoli. Then, thank God, Islamic terrorism reared its nasty head and gave the former cold warriors a new lease on life.

This is the Bombs! faction of the GOP. They do a lot of heavy thinking, write lots of white papers, and practice their chin-jutting pilates moves. Their core belief is, Bombs: Good.

Finally, there were the hillbillies. Sorry, I mean the evangelicals. By which I mean stupid people. No, wait, that was unkind. I shouldn’t have said stupid people. I should have explained that we’re talking about people who think a mating pair of T. Rex’s climbed on some old Hebrew’s boat alongside sheep, cows and goats. And later disembarked. And that the sheep, cows and goats who had bunked with the lovely Tyrannosaurus couple likewise disembarked. So, stupid people.

In any event, the Money! wing of the GOP and the Bombs! wing of the GOP knew they couldn’t win national elections so they forged an alliance with the Jesus! wing, on the understanding that Money! and Bombs! would pretend to give a shit about whatever nutbar fixation the Jesus! wing had up its ass that cycle. And then Money! and Bombs! would have a cruel laugh at the expense of the Jesus! wing, and get on about the important business of lining their pockets and blowing shit up.

Well. It worked great until George W. Bush. Mr. Bush was the living embodiment of the Money! Bombs! Jesus! trinity. He loved the money, he loved the bombs, he loved the baby Jesus, all three with equal sincerity. And, lo! Under his leadership the people came together as one to answer the question of our age: “Is this jackass the worst president of modern times, or only the second worst?” He flew like a three-winged bird.

To quote Sir Paul McCartney from when he was just plain old Paul McCartney, What’s wrong with that, I’d like to know?

But, alas, the hillbillies evangelicals quit playing along. Not so much in 2008, as it turned out, as they dutifully let John McCain have the nomination. Or, Mike Huckabee scared the Money and Bombs factions of the party enough that they rallied behind McCain. Regardless, between the implosion of Rudy Giuliani and the sheer lacklusterosity of Fred Thompson, it was all but over by this time in 2008. This cycle, alas, Rick Santorum–who makes Huckabee look like someone who might on occasion dance and perhaps have a sip of beer now and again–looks to be hanging around for quite some time.

I still have hopes that the other factions of the party will prevail and Romney will win. (And fantasies of, if that fails, Santorum taking an ass-whipping so severe in November as to create a realignment within the party.) But the evangelicals have certainly hijacked (or, in fairness, reclaimed) the label “conservative.” And perhaps the party that has treated them as useful idiots for three decades.

_______
*Apparently, he’s making millions writing for people who buy his books rather than pennies writing in his own space and selling advertising. The bastard.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Campaign 2012, Humor, Quick Takes, Religion, 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. Ben Wolf says:

    So this means Michael Reynolds is the one who’s been in control of the Republican Party?

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    I still have hopes that the other factions of the party will prevail and Romney will win.

    Your problem JJ is that a) you think there is some substantive difference between these irrational opinions and those that continually pander to them to them in order to win and b) that once elected the panderer wouldn’t be in massive hock to them. We’ll ignore the dishonesty involved since you obviously think this unimportant.

  3. @Ben Wolf:

    It would explain a lot.

  4. @Brummagem Joe:

    Your comment reminds me of Republicans in the 80s who believed the Democratic Party would shrink into nothingness just because the GOP had won a few Presidential elections. They were wrong too.

  5. But, alas, the hillbillies evangelicals quit playing along. Not so much in 2008, as it turned out, as they dutifully let John McCain have the nomination

    Never forget that they hung Sarah Palin around his neck, and put Levi Johnson on his stage.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ENUF OF THIS SLANDER OF ALL HILLBILLIES EVERYWHERE!!! I QUOTE FROM THE BOOK OF HILLBILLY:

    An Ozark hillbilly is an individual who has learned the real luxury of doing without the entangling complication of things which the dependent and over-pressured city-dweller is required to consider as necessities. The hillbilly foregoes the hard grandeur of high buildings and canyon streets in exchange for wooded hills and verdant valleys. In place of creeping traffic he accepts the rippling flow of the wandering stream. He does not hear the snarl of exhaust, the raucous baying of horns, and the sharp, strident babble of many tense voices.

    For him instead is the measured beat of the katydid, the lonesome, far-off complaining of the whippoorwill, perhaps even the sound of a falling acorn in the infinite peace of the quiet woods. The hillbilly is often not familiar with new models, soirées, and office politics. But he does have the time and surroundings conducive to sober reflection and honest thought, the opportunity to get closer to his God. No, in Southern Missouri the appellation “hillbilly” is not generally an insult or indignity; it is an expression of envy.

    And what is more, we have the right to go fishing without our wives.

    Take THAT you right coast elites!!!

    PS: I used to have a link to the actual court case, but my wife pulled the plug on my computer a few days ago and turned it blue.

  7. (If that was not a hillbilly moment, I don’t know what was.)

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    And on the rights of fishing, The Book of Hillbilly says,

    We will agree with respondent in his definition of Stone County[, Missouri] freedoms that a husband has a right to go fishing. And we will go further and say that this right extends to fishing without the constant and ever-present impediment of female presence and participation, if such be against the will of the husband. It is a wise wife who accords her husband that freedom — in moderation — and a foolish wife who interferes.

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Wow, there’s a lot of DSM-defined projection going on with this post and with the underlying blog item to which it makes reference. Not too subtle, I might add.

    In any event, at the risk of wasting bandwidth, let me just point out there’s a major difference between the left-wing’s caricature of conservatism — which ironically enough is supported to a large extent in connection with national and sometimes with local GOP primary contests — and the much greater body of conservatives out there in the general electorate.

    Regarding conservatives at large it’s not really about money, bombs or Jesus. It’s about personal responsibility rather than statism. That a Chamberlain-style approach to foreign policy is a recipe for WWII-style conflagrations. That the 1st Amendment provides both for the free exercise of religion in addition to providing for separation of church and state; in other words, that we’re a nation founded upon principles of freedom of religion, not freedom from all religion.

    Think it over.

  10. sam says:

    ” the sheer lacklusterosity of Fred Thompson”

    I heard someone on the tube remarking on just how fvcked up the GOP is now, saying “They’re looking for Ronald Reagan and they can’t even find Fred Thompson.”

  11. Kylopod says:

    Just to clarify something: I’m the one who created that picture above, where I combined Michael Reynold’s “money, bombs, and Jesus” remark with the oft-repeated “three legs of the conservative stool” idea, by picking up some Google Images and manipulating them in Microsoft Paint. My apologies for its crudeness; I’m not much of an artist or photoshop nerd, and I’m sure there are people who could do a better job with this idea, but I just couldn’t resist, and it didn’t take very long.

  12. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Your comment reminds me of Republicans in the 80s who believed the Democratic Party would shrink into nothingness just because the GOP had won a few Presidential elections. They were wrong too.

    This is another of your famuos strawmen Doug. Would you like to show me anywhere I’ve said the Republican party is going to shrink to nothingness. The whole idea is totally fatuous. I’m talking about here and now and the disconnect between the belief (not proven by his rhetoric) that Romney is just right of center and the reality of where the bulk of the GOP is currently located.

  13. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: The DSM. I didn’t know they still published that.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    Wow, there’s a lot of DSM-defined projection going on with this post and with the underlying blog item to which it makes reference. Not too subtle, I might add.

    Please…look who wrote that–the Tsar, er, King of projection and the unsubtle…

    It’s about personal responsibility rather than statism.

    Yes of course, except for all those Republicans who were for the Wall Street bailouts and who want the government to keep its hands off their Medicare…

    That a Chamberlain-style approach to foreign policy is a recipe for WWII-style conflagrations.

    Such a phony argument…yes, it would have been such a Chamberlain-style approach to have avoided the Iraq Disaster…

    Think it over.

    You first, друг…

  15. michael reynolds says:

    You can not imagine . . . actually, you probably can . . . the dread with which I re-read this. No one wants to be reading their own four year-old posts. God knows what silly bullsh-t I was talking back then.

    As for millions, well, I don’t know about that. But it did occur to me after a while that, “Hey, wait a minute: no one is paying me to write this blog!” I mean, I’m a liberal, I’m a Democrat, but I’m not a communist. I have expenses.

  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    that we’re a nation founded upon principles of freedom of religion, not freedom from all religion

    Another dazzling and meaningless pronouncement from our resident Tsar (I loved the ritual obeisance to Chamberlain who btw did declare war on Hitler while we had to wait for him to do it to us).

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Regarding conservatives at large it’s not really about money, bombs or Jesus. It’s about personal responsibility rather than statism. That a Chamberlain-style approach to foreign policy is a recipe for WWII-style conflagrations. That the 1st Amendment provides both for the free exercise of religion in addition to providing for separation of church and state; in other words, that we’re a nation founded upon principles of freedom of religion, not freedom from all religion.

    A word of advice: if you’re going to complain about “the left-wing’s caricature of conservatism,” it ain’t good optics to immediately start doing just that to liberals.

  18. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, I’ve got nine-plus years of archives built up on this thing and there’s certainly a percentage of it that’s cringeworthy in hindsight. Sometimes on pretty sure hindsight. I’m actually surprised at how much of it has stood up. And how much more prolific I was before trading bachelorhood for fatherhood.

  19. Blue Shark says:

    @john personna:

    Actually No.

    Sarah Palin was an all-in gamble by McCain and his genius brain trust.

    …Just because the base fell in love is not the same as hanging her around his neck.

    …The Levi Johnson move? … well that is a head-scratcher, but that too was all McCain.

  20. Herb says:

    @Kylopod: “My apologies for its crudeness”

    Apology accepted! Now put it on a T-shirt and get Sr. Reynolds some more $$.

  21. Franklin says:

    @michael reynolds: You gotta butt out of this critique, dude! You can’t even be here to play the “aw shucks it sucks” card. It was funny. And as with a lot of truly funny things, there was a hint of truth.

  22. Burt Likko says:

    @Ben Wolf: Well, that would explain a thing or two. Really, if Reynolds were calling the shots for the GOP, wouldn’t he have it pursue the most catastrophically self-destructive path imaginable?

    Lo! Rick Santorum is the front-runner. Reynolds’ plan is working exactly as planned.

  23. The Money, Bombs, and Jesus thing is a funny punchline, but using it as a basis for serious analysis seems reductive to the point of usefulness. I mean, there’s a serious point about how fusionism was largely held together by anti-communism and how the GOP, following the end of the cold war has avoided a need to reexamine it’s philosophical underpinnings because it was easier to just pander. On the other hand, reducing the entire range of GOP foreign policy, which runs from non-interventionist, to realists, to neo-conservative to “Bombs Good” isn’t saying anything insightful about that point. It’s just as silly as Republican who want to character oposition to corporatism as being marxist or concern about civil liberties as being pro-crime.

    This essay also provides an answer to MR’s frequent question about why libertarian leaning voters who are obviously unhappy with the Status Quo in the GOP still largely refuse to work with the democrats. As this essay makes clear, the Democrats despise us, and we all know it, “liberaltarian” propaganda to the contrary. It’s like the failures that resulted from the neocon failure to appreciate the internal conflicts between various groups in the middle east and treating them all as one unified group of “Muslims”. So the left fails to distinguish between the various subgroups on the right ans thus misses oppurtunities to take advantage of oppurtunites to forward common interests.

  24. @Stormy Dragon:

    Point of uselessness, even.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I didn’t write this post, but I did create the cartoon at the top of this page, and the fact that I did it as a cartoon should indicate that I recognize it’s a caricature. I’ve never felt compelled to use a phrase like “money, bombs, and Jesus” in earnest. I am, however, intrigued by the “three-legged stool” idea propounded by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Jonah Goldberg. It strikes me as a cute rhetorical attempt to paper over the philosophical tension among the factions of today’s right by disguising a practical coalition as a model of ideological coherence. Once it’s defined this way, you no longer need to explain why you’re simultaneously singing the praises of Jesus and Ayn Rand, or why the government is terribly inefficient and wasteful except when it’s invading other lands. In a way, it’s a little like the old economist joke about assuming a can opener: many conservatives just choose to assume these three factions represent a coherent whole and not deal with the conflicts underlying this assumption.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    On the other hand, reducing the entire range of GOP foreign policy, which runs from non-interventionist, to realists, to neo-conservative to “Bombs Good” isn’t saying anything insightful about that point.

    The question is, which one of those viewpoints has dominated GOP foreign policy lately…considering what the Bush Administration did, I think we can reasonably answer that question…

    So the left fails to distinguish between the various subgroups on the right ans thus misses opportunities to take advantage of opportunities to forward common interests.

    How could those on the left reach much common ground with libertarians, considering that many of the latter seem to despise so much of what government does, apart from its very basic functions?

  27. anjin-san says:

    It’s about personal responsibility rather than statism.

    Right. So just confirm for us that you have the million dollars or so on hand in liquid assets that you will need if, God forbid, you or a member of your family suffers a catastrophic illness or accident that requires things like multiple surgeries, 24 hour care, and home retrofitting. I know you will stick to your principles and refuse any government subsidy.

  28. Anonne says:

    It’s a crude but generally accurate frame in which to view the current state of the Republican party.

  29. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    As this essay makes clear, the Democrats despise us, and we all know it, “liberaltarian” propaganda to the contrary.

    You object to the use of bombs as a shorthand for the vast increases in military expenditures favored by the GOP but it’s a not unreasonable symbol and everyone immediately knows what it means. And surely it’s a matter of debate whether Libertarians are more despised by Democrats or Republicans. Does anyone really think the money establishment of the GOP who after all are the folks who sign the checks regard Libertarian economic and foreign policy thinking with anything other than total hilarity. Basically the GOP regards Libertarians as useful idiots which is why they let Ron Paul stay on the ticket and try to avoid trashing him too much in case he bolts and runs as an independant.

  30. @Blue Shark:

    Sarah Palin was an all-in gamble by McCain and his genius brain trust.

    What I remember is (link):

    When Sen. John McCain was running for president, he did plan to name Sen. Joe Lieberman as his running mate, but then word leaked out, a McCain campaign adviser said during a Sunday news program.

    Once word got that McCain was leaning topward the Democrat turned Independent who sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2000, it sparked a political blowback, Schmidt said. That is when former Alaska governor Sarah Palin entered the race and became a household name.

    Now we could emphasize whatever committee went out and found Palin, but I think that “blowback” is the story. At that point I think McCain said “fine, whatever.” That weighs badly on him of course.

  31. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Your comment reminds me of Republicans in the 80s who believed the Democratic Party would shrink into nothingness just because the GOP had won a few Presidential elections. They were wrong too.

    Just revisiting to see if Doug had responded to the reply to this load of nonsense. Apparently not.

  32. Tillman says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    On the other hand, reducing the entire range of GOP foreign policy, which runs from non-interventionist, to realists, to neo-conservative to “Bombs Good” isn’t saying anything insightful about that point.

    An accurate description of the actions of a governing majority shouldn’t be insightful, it should be obvious. What bothers me is how a factious coalition with non-interventionists, realists, and neoconservatives ended up going to war in Iraq, when it seems to me that a sober antebellum accounting would place the realists with the non-interventionists.

    As for general discontent with Money, Bombs, and Jesus, @Anonne has it right:

    It’s a crude but generally accurate frame in which to view the current state of the Republican party.

  33. Tillman says:

    I don’t know about Democrats “despising” libertarians. It seems among the outspoken Democrats I know that they consider libertarians too optimistic.

  34. Ernieyeball says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    “…not freedom from all religion.

    Yeah sure. But if we could just be free of your religion it would be a good start.