Should Conservatives Be Embarrassed?

A growing number of conservatives are in dismay about the state of their movement.

Steve Bainbridge sadly reports that “It’s getting to be embarrassing to be a conservative.”

He joins a growing number of conservative intellectuals, myself included, disappointed in the direction that the movement and the Republican Party have been going in recent years. It piggybacks off of the David Klinghoffer op-ed that Doug tackled in “Is The Right Losing Its Mind?” and laments, well, a lot of things.

Let’s take Steve’s list of complaints one-by-one.

1. A poorly educated ex-sportwriter who served half of one term of an minor state governorship is prominently featured as a — if not the — leading prospect for the GOP’s 2012 Presidential nomination.

I thought the Palin selection was a bad idea from the instant it was announced and my opinion of her has only gone downhill since then.   But the choice was a desperate political gambit, not the consensus pick of conservative movement oracles as to our shining light.  I’m not sure Palin was any less qualified be resume to be VP than, say, Geraldine Ferraro or Dan Quayle.   That’s politics.

That she’s a leading contender for the 2012 nomination scares me.  If she gets the nomination — and I’m still quite skeptical — I’ll break my perfect string of voting Republican for president going back to 1984.

But the fact that a non-intellectual candidate might have mass appeal by running on a hyper-populist platform is not shocking news.  Nor does it say anything about a set of ideological beliefs.   It is, again, just politics.

2. Tom Tancredo calling President Obama “the greatest threat to the United States today” and arguing that he be impeached. Bad public policy is not a high crime nor a misdemeanor, and the casual assertion that pursuing liberal policies–however misguided–is an impeachable offense is just nuts.

Well, yeah.  But Tancredo’s a nut.  A nut who got approximately the same number of delegates in the last Republican primary cycle as my dog, Molly.

There are always a handful of yahoos in Congress — elected in very odd districts — who hold ridiculous ideas.  Singling them out can be amusing but it’s not reflective of much of anything.

3. Similar nonsense from former Ford-Reagan treasury department officials Ernest Christian and Gary Robbins, who IBD column was, as Doug Mataconis observed, “a wildly exaggerated attack on President Obama’s record in office.” Actually, it’s more foaming at the mouth.

Essentially, the same thing.  A couple of apparatchiks from bygone administrations have seemingly bought into the silliest rhetoric about the consequences of Obama’s policies and have gotten a likeminded publication to run an article that hardly anyone will read and which will soon be forgotten.

4. As Doug also observed, “The GOP controlled Congress from 1994 to 2006: Combine neocon warfare spending with entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects and you end up with a GOP welfare/warfare state driving the federal spending machine.” Indeed, “when the GOP took control of Congress in 1994, and the White House in 2000, the desire to use the levers of power to create “compassionate conservatism” won our over any semblance of fiscal conservatism. Instead of tax cuts and spending cuts, we got tax cuts along with a trillion dollar entitlement program, a massive expansion of the Federal Government’s role in education, and two wars. That’s not fiscal conservatism it is, as others have said, fiscal insanity.” Yet, today’s GOP still has not articulated a message of real fiscal conservatism.

So, apparently, the Republican Party governs as if they’re a bunch of politicians rather than true believers in their campaign rhetoric?

Given that there’s not an electorally viable alternative party that believes in fiscal restraint, that tells you something about our polity. Certainly, it doesn’t mean you should be embarrassed to hold a set of ideological values that tells you these things are nuts.

5. Thanks to the Tea Party, the Nevada GOP has probably pissed away a historic chance to outst Harry Reid. See also Charlie Crist in Florida, Rand Paul in Kentucky, and so on. Whatever happened to not letting perfection be the enemy of the good?

The Tea Party isn’t a conservative movement but a radical populist one.  They’ve managed to dominate a couple of caucuses and primaries  and select candidates in elections that few bother to show up for.   And the result is the  nomination of candidates perhaps less likely to beat the other party than if the voters had been more strategic.

That happens every election cycle.  In both parties.

And even so:  Rand Paul will probably win.   Marco Rubio would have easily beaten the Democrat in November is Crist hadn’t been a sore loser.  But, if Crist wins, so what?  He was going to win as the Republican, anyway.  It’s just a Joe Lieberman situation.

I’ll give you Sharon Angle.  But, again, it says nothing about the conservative movement that a populist wins a low turnout contest on occasion.

6. The anti-science and anti-intellectualism that pervade the movement.

The GOP and the conservative movement are dominated by Evangelicals.  They have been since the glory days of Reagan, but they’ve doubtless increased their influence.

Steve is a devout Roman Catholic college professor.  I’m an atheist former college professor.  There isn’t a political party that represents us!  None  that did would fare well in mass elections.

Steve and I are doubtless closer to the Democrats than the Republicans on a handful of issues covered under this rubric.  But we’re closer to the Republicans on more issues that we truly care about. So, we bitch and moan — and try to change a few minds here and there along the way — but at the end of the day we wind up holding our noses and voting for the candidates with (R) after their name.   That’s life in a two-party state.

7. Trying to pretend Afghanistan is Obama’s war.

Of course Obama inherited the war, which George W. Bush initiated back in 2001.  But no significant American leader opposed the war.  Most, including Obama, still maintained that it was “a necessary war” as recently as the 2008 campaign.

So, I actually do think it’s fair to call Afghanistan “Obama’s War” given that he campaigned on the need to fight it more enthusiastically and has in fact done so — with a marked escalation in American casualties — since taking office.

Additionally, he campaigned for the presidency, taking the job not only willingly but enthusiastically.  America’s wars are his wars.  If he doesn’t like it, he’s in the best position of anyone in the country to end them.   And, again, he isn’t trying to end this one:  He’s doubling down every chance he gets.

8. Birthers.

There are some fringe nuts out there.  A couple of them even get elected from time-to-time.  But the idea that Obama isn’t the legitimate president is not a serious part of the conservative movement or the Republican Party agenda.  It just isn’t.

9. Nativists.

Depending on how this is being defined, it’s arguably a majority view in the country.  Conservatism, at least of the American strain, has always had a heavy dose of patriotism and even jingoism.

10. The substitution of mouth-foaming, spittle-blasting, rabble-rousing talk radio for reasoned debate. Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt, and even Rush Limbaugh are not exactly putting on Firing Line. Whatever happened to smart, well-read, articulate leaders like Buckley, Neuhaus, Kirk, Jack Kent, Goldwater, and, yes, even Ronald Reagan?

That inaccessible, highbrow programming like “Firing Line,” which only a handful of us ever watched, represented the entirety of conservative media once upon a time is precisely what begat Rush Limbaugh, et. al.

As Doug noted in in “Is The Right Losing Its Mind?

When William F. Buckley started National Review in 1955, the American Right was essentially non-existent.

[…]

Much has changed since 1955, though. conservatism is no longer in exile as it was back then. It’s a political movement with political leaders that has to appeal to voters. It’s also a propaganda movement led by people like Breitbart, Limbaugh and Beck that is as much concerned with grabbing eyeballs as it is with engaging in political debate, perhaps more at times.Klinghoffer wants conservatism to be the philosophical, spiritual movement it was under Buckley and Russell Kirk. That’s all well and good, but that’s not the kind of movement that’s likely to have much luck changing the world in the long term without changing itself. In some sense, the changes that Klinghoffer laments are an inevitable result of the movement’s success.

It’s also a different era.  The days of 3 channels, a couple of national newspapers, 30 minutes of news a night, and the Fairness Act are gone.   In their place is a cacophony of 500 channels, 24/7/365 news and commentary, everyone who wants one with their own blog and Twitter feed, and so forth.

The gatekeepers are gone and we’re left with a much messier and coarser polity.

This is mostly to the good.  A Steve Bainbridge probably wouldn’t have had a platform 30 years ago; certainly, a James Joyner wouldn’t.  But there’s a diminished civility is the price we pay for the democratization of discourse.

Am I embarrassed by some people who call themselves “conservatives”?  You betcha.  Am I embarrassed to call myself a “conservative.”  No.

There’s a tendency among intellectuals to conflate the intellectual work of a movement, the rhetoric and actions of political parties, and things bubbling up from loosely affiliated adherents to the ideology in the mass public.    But these are only tangentially related things.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Politics 101, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. Bob in Zion says:

    Nice piece. There is no reason, other than guilt over Bush for people to be embarrassed to call themselves conservatives.
    Guys like Doug have been going off the deep end; inexplicably;for the last year or so over the direction of the conservative movement. Most of it is, IMHO based on their assertion that Ron Paul was the only good candidate, and still being pissed that he’s the rights version of Ralph Nader.

  2. Tim says:

    The trouble with rational, reasonable discourse it that it can’t be had with people such as yourself who are so busy castigating anyone and everyone you consider to be of lesser intellect that you don’t hear the truly good arguments being made. Discourse is made all the more difficult by the fact that you think everyone is of lesser intellect than yourself. Go ahead and admit it. Take your authoritarian shots at me all you want. I am not afraid.

    The fact is, guys like you have ruined the conservative movement and created, as much as anyone, the Tea Party movement, because you don’t stand for anything other than reasonableness, which results in the lack of principles. Had the conservative movement and the hand-picked candidates thereof lived up to the ideals of limited government, rather than looking for a way to feed at the trough, there would be no need for a Tea Party.

    Consider yourself and intellectuals like you (though I have seen scant evidence of your obvious intellectual superiority) the authors of the Tea Party and sit back with that smug smile on your face, Mr. Joyner.

  3. Patrick says:

    Excellent rebuttal.  Well put.

  4. LaurenceB says:

    As a former Republican who first voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate in 2004, let me add a couple more reasons why I was, and am, dissatisfied with the current GOP.
    1. Torture.  If you had told me back in the eighties or nineties when I was a stalwart Republican that the GOP would so strongly endorse torture, I would have thought you were crazy.
    2. Remember the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth Amendments?  A Republican Administration did everything it could to hold American citizens arrested on American soil indefinitely, without charges, without a lawyer, without the opportunity to face accusers or challenge evidence in court, without being informed of their rights, all while being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.  That was scary, and thanks to Republican efforts, the the issues are not resolved and will probably come back to haunt us again.
    3. Vilifying “the other”.  Sure, as James mentioned, there have always been some nativists – but has the list of folks conservatives fear or scapegoat ever been this long?  (“Militant gays”, “Islamofacist Muslims”, “Illegal Criminal Mexicans”, “Reverse Racist Blacks”, etc.).  And that’s just the mainstream conservative voice – I’m not even counting the fringe conservatives.  For example, did you notice Philis Schafly’s recent rant against single women?  Do we add them to the list now?  Really?  Seriously?
    4. Wars.  As much as I disliked Clinton, the relative peace of the nineties was pretty nice.  Debating Kosovo seems so quaint now.  As Bush famously said “It was amazing I won.  I was running against peace and prosperity and incumbency”.  If you want to call Aghanistan “Obama’s war”, that’s fine – but as long as he doesn’t start two new ones he’s still doing better than the Republicans.
     
     
     
     

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I think the more pertinent question is why are paleo-cons, crunchy cons, or libertarians Republicans? They have very little in common with those who hold power in the national Republican Party.   My guess is that the primary reason is that under our system your choices are to vote Republican, vote Democratic, or be irrelevant.

     

    Once you’ve acknowledged that and decided you still wish to be relevant, you’ve got to accept the political absurdities that go along with that commitment.  As Charles Dudley Warner advised us more than a century ago “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    James:
    You’re in the ivory tower talking theory.  I’m going to use a historical analogy and I don’t mean it to be taken literally, or as a moral equivalency, but you’re Trotsky in a party that’s under the thumb of Stalin.  Your ideology is irrelevant to the foot soldiers and apparatchiks and political headliners who run the party.
     
    You distance yourself from the nuts and imagine them to be marginal.  They’re not the margin:  you are.
     
    Evidence?  Newt Gingrich. He used to be one of the GOP intellectuals.  Look at him now, groveling, babbling like a jackass to curry favor with the people you imagine to be marginal.  The GOP is the Tea Party and Limbaugh and Beck.  And you, my friend, and others like you, need to stay away from Mexico City.

  7. DC Loser says:

    @LaurenceB – I couldn’t have put it any better than you.  I too voted for a Dem the first time in 2004, and it looks like it’ll be a long time before I go back into the GOP tent.  The whole party has gone batshit crazy.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @LaurenceB

    I’d point out that Obama hasn’t exactly done much to walk back the Bush policies on torture, detention, surveillance, etc.   Bush went too far in knee jerk reaction to 9/11 but he’d long since (certainly, by 2006) walked back to a saner position through a combination of replacement of Neocons (Rummy, Wolfowitz) with Realists (Rice, Gates) and the judiciary doing its job.

    And, while I get the opposition to the Iraq War — even though every significant Democratic candidate in 2008 in a position to vote for it did so (Obama was in the Illinois legislature and opposed) remember that Obama was an enthusiast for the Afghanistan War, chiding Bush for not fighting hard enough, who has doubled down on it.

    It’s true that the wars of the 1990s were small by comparison. They were also unnecessary.

     

  9. grampagravy says:

    Drat your “reasonableness” James Joyner! You people who want to talk things through and consider every side of an argument are undermining our right to spew filth and invective in defense of our “principles.” How can we possibly hope to govern in an environment where reason rules?
    As for the Republican Party…they have been doomed from the moment McCain tried to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away, and any pretense that the welfare of the nation came before electoral politics died at the same time. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party doesn’t really have anything better to offer.

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds

    We mostly agree on this.  My main criticism of Bainbridge here is his misapprehension that Bill Buckley was ever a modal representation of the conservative movement, much less the Republican Party.   I think our chief disagreement is that you seem to think the Democratic party-in-electorate is comprised of thoughtful intellectuals and I think they’re just as crazy as the Republican party-in-electorate.

    Mass politics is messy and likely to irritate us ivory tower types.

    I’m not sure that the Tea Party represents a majority of the GOP, although I agree that it’s mostly a subset of the GOP along with a bunch of disaffected libertarian types.

    But, at the end of the day, both parties are ever-shifting alliances of convenience.

     

  11. JKB says:

    The gatekeepers are gone and we’re left with a much messier and coarser polity.

    The other day, they played “Three Days of the Condor” on television.  In the final scene where Condor lets the CIA know he’s told the NYT a story and the CIA guy asks but what if they don’t print it.  I couldn’t help be think how quaint that scene is today.  Today, who cares if the NYT thinks it is a good story, in seconds , the story can be round the world a dozen times.  And as many a college girl has learned, once it’s out there, it can never be totally removed.

  12. sam says:

    @tim
     
    “The fact is, guys like you have ruined the conservative movement and created, as much as anyone, the Tea Party movement, because you don’t stand for anything other than reasonableness, which results in the lack of principles”
     

    [P]eople altered, at their pleasure, the customary significance of words to suit their deeds: irrational daring came to be considered the “manly courage of one loyal to his party”; prudent delay was thought a fair-seeming cowardice; a moderate attitude was deemed a mere shield for lack of virility, and a reasoned understanding with regard to all sides of an issue meant that one was indolent and of no use for anything. Rash enthusiasm for one’s cause was deemed the part of a true man; to attempt to employ reason in plotting a safe course of action, a specious excuse for desertion.  One who displayed violent anger was “eternally faithful,” whereas any who spoke against such a person was viewed with suspicion.
    Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, Book 3.82-83: Civil War in Corcyra

     

  13. Wayne says:

    First it cracks me up when people talk about the need for civility but seem to have no problem attacking and belittling their opposition.  Attack the conservative movement if you want but please say why. Don’t just say you think they are nuts or extreme.  Same goes for Palin. Say what you disagree with her with instead of simply taking pot shots at her.  How many  presidents have we have who were governors from “minor” states or half term senators, etc? How many have written notes on their hands without being called stupid? It goes on and on. As I stated before, I’m not a big Palin fan but most of the attacks on her are asinine.
     
     
     
     
    In the past there were many conservatives that were not happy with”moderates” republicans who spent too much money and pass too many invasive laws. Now conservatives are gaining momentum to push a more conservative agenda and the “moderates” are complaining. I guess the big tent philosophy only goes one way.  If you really want a big tent, you are going tolerate a wide variety of thoughts and opinions.
     

     
     
    If you are interested in pushing a conservative agenda, you should seek what the majority can agree with and promote that. Voicing opposition to policies you disagree with is fine. Personally attacking members of your own group does not help your group’s cause.
     
     
     
    If you think it would be better to have the ultra liberal (IMO unqualified) person as President than a conservative (IYO unqualified) person as President then I doubt you are a conservative in the first place.
     
     
     
    I am not the type of person that says” trust me vote my way” or “I want you vote at all cost”. I tell people study the policies and philosophies of both political parties. Decide which fit them most and go with them. My part is to convince them that mine is the better way.
     

     
     
     

  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    So James, is the degree Sarah Palin EARNED AND PAID FOR some how less because it is from the U. of Idaho?  You might have a diminished opinion of her, but have you ever spoke to her?  Have you ever heard her in person?  So your opinion is based upon what others have said.  There is a fine example of modern science.  Have you examined her total body of work?  She is doing something you are not capable of.  Like most of the intellectual elites, you must live off the work of others.  Sarah makes her own living.  The two you write about here are inconsequencial.  Who cares what these two write.  Elsewhere on the web these two are dismantled.  Kind of like what Tim wrote and Patrick seconded.  LaurenceB.  If you voted for Kerry over Bush, I have to say, you deserve what you get.  Kerry was a coward in Nam.

  15. Michael says:

    Sam, while a positively brilliant reference (and one more reason why I need to read that), what part of tim’s comment made you think that a reasonable comparison to history would have any positive influence on his beliefs?

  16. john personna says:

    For me the article went off the rails half-way through.  I detected sort of a change in emotion, when it stopped being criticisms and started being rationalizations.
     
    The nice thing about being an independent is that you don’t have to do that.  There isn’t this “OMG, if I wasn’t a Republican I’d have to be a Democrat!” lurking at the back of the independent mind.

  17. grampagravy says:

    Kerry was a coward in Nam.
    Zelsdork, you stood beside Kerry in Vietnam, or is this based on what “others have said?”

  18. sam says:

    @Michael
    “what part of tim’s comment made you think that a reasonable comparison to history would have any positive influence on his beliefs?”
    I don’t think anything will change his mind; I just thought of the passage when he wrote James off for James’s reasonableness. The ideological mind erects an invincible barrier, impervious to experience, resistant to argument, unalterable, imperturbable,
    If Thucydides shows us anything it’s that human nature doesn’t seem to change much.
     

  19. LaurenceB says:

    @James Joyner
    I’m really trying not to be snarky, but I have to say that I’m not convinced at all by this line of argument.  In a nutshell, you’re trying to make the Democrats sound “just as bad” – but it’s not very convincing.  Let me illustrate:
     
    If I started a fire, and you didn’t try to put it out, I don’t think you’re as much to blame for the fire as I am.  Do you? (You are Obama on surveillance)
    If I smashed my neighbor’s windshield with a tire iron, after you said it was a good idea, I think I’m more to blame.  Don’t you? (You are the Democrats on Afghanistan)
    If I convinced you to help me steal a car, I think I’m more to blame than you are.  Don’t you? (You are the Democrats on Iraq)
    If I started a criminal enterprise from which we both profited, and your conscience got the better of you, so you stopped it once you were able to, but never reported me to the police, I think I’m the more guilty party.  Don’t you agree? (You are Obama on torture, detention)
    If you spent $100 on a totally unnecessary item such as a pet rock, meanwhile I spend $1,000,000 on the similarly frivolous purchase of a ceramic figurine, I think it’s pretty clear that I’ve done something much, much dumber.  Don’t you?  (You are Clinton in Kosovo, I am Bush in Iraq)
     

  20. steve says:

    Part of the problem here is that the GOP seems to have a lack of credible senior politicians to act as leaders while they are out of power. The entertainers have become de facto leaders. At work, I hear the conservative crowd quoting Beck and Limbaugh, not Gingrich or even Cheney. The only exception is Palin, your next presidential nominee.
     
    Steve

  21. floyd says:

    “Should Conservatives Be Embarrassed?”
    Yep!
     Next article please…
    “Should Liberals be ashamed?” 

  22. James Joyner says:

    @LaurenceB

    I don’t understand your argument by analogy.   Bush had policies and Obama has, 18 months into his presidency, continued them or even built on them.  That makes them as much his policies as Bush’s.

  23. Gerry W. says:

    4. As Doug also observed, “The GOP controlled Congress from 1994 to 2006: Combine neocon warfare spending with entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects and you end up with a GOP welfare/warfare state driving the federal spending machine.” Indeed, “when the GOP took control of Congress in 1994, and the White House in 2000, the desire to use the levers of power to create “compassionate conservatism” won our over any semblance of fiscal conservatism. Instead of tax cuts and spending cuts, we got tax cuts along with a trillion dollar entitlement program, a massive expansion of the Federal Government’s role in education, and two wars. That’s not fiscal conservatism it is, as others have said, fiscal insanity.” Yet, today’s GOP still has not articulated a message of real fiscal conservatism.

    This is called “guns and butter” economics. LBJ was the last president to do that and he had money printed (inflation) to pay for the Vietnam war and his Great Society. And we suffered many years of inflation, higher interest rates, extreme recessions, and higher unemployment. Bush has done the same using deficits and debt. And we will suffer many years for that.

  24. What does “conservative” even mean, in a normative sense?  Can you provide any sort of criteria that distinguishes a conservative from a non-conservative, other than the circular “they refer to themselves as conservatives”?

  25. floyd says:

    Sam 
      .You are right on one point…. human nature doesn’t seem to change much.[lol]

  26. <blockquote>My guess is that the primary reason is that under our system your choices are to vote Republican, vote Democratic, or be irrelevant.  Once you’ve acknowledged that and decided you still wish to be relevant, you’ve got to accept the political absurdities that go along with that commitment.</blockquote>
    Or we could just accept the fact that we are irrelevant and no amount of voting Republican is going to change that.

  27. Drew says:

    Hmmmm.  Should Conservatives be Embarrassed?

    And our President just did The View.

  28. john personna says:

    There are enough moderates and independents now that they decide the Presidential elections.  Neither party has a national majority.  And arguably the last half-dozen Presidents were the more moderate choices of the two.
     
    As an example, GWB didn’t win on “I am a Conservative.”  He won casting “Gore is a Liberal.”

  29. reid says:

    “If you think it would be better to have the ultra liberal (IMO unqualified) person as President than a conservative (IYO unqualified) person as President then I doubt you are a conservative in the first place.”
    There have been almost no “ultra liberal” candidates for president recently that I can think of, aside from Kucinich (and he’s definitely fringe).  Obama certainly isn’t.  Just because Rush and Beck and friends are constantly screaming “Socialist commie liberal!!” doesn’t mean it’s true.
    The last time we put an IMO unqualified conservative in office it ended in disaster.  They seem more inclined to start wars, for one.  (James: citing Democratic votes for the Iraq war is unfairly sweeping a lot of important contextual issues under the rug.)

  30. john personna says:

    (It is always interesting to remember that strictly speaking McCain vs Obama, one on one, McCain was more moderate, but the strangeness of the Republican nomination system meant that he couldn’t run that way.  He needed to move hard-right, and add Palin, and then face Obama carrying that positioning.
     
    I’m with those who think McCain as McCain could have won, but his party couldn’t allow it for reasons related to the original topic.)

  31. reid says:

    “And our President just did The View.”
    You’re truly desperate if that’s the best you can come up with.

  32. reid says:

    johnp, I agree about the Republican primary process, but I don’t know about “moderate McCain” being more moderate than Obama.  It’s become a pet peeve of mine that every Democratic presidential candidate automatically becomes the “most liberal member of Congress”.  In any event I’d say Obama’s a 4 and maybe McCain, if he wasn’t pandering, is a 6 deep down.

  33. Russ says:

    The problem as I see it is we have a country that has turned our political system into sport. Each side rooting for the other side to lose and doing whatever is best for their team. We have defense, offense and cheating and a media that roots for their team. Vilifying the opposition is commonplace and the problem is we sent the elected officials to Washington to be one team to make decisions for the American public, be it citizens and business’ interests and controls. We cannot sustain a viable government with each team winning and taking control every election cycle. We have no consistency on core government values and goals. We have each branch of government reaching to usurp the job of the the others and the turmoil created. We must eliminate the need for our elected officials to sensationalize their opinions for reelection cash. Case in point, why didn’t LBJ get a book deal?

  34. sam says:

    @JP
    “I’m with those who think McCain as McCain could have won, but his party couldn’t allow it for reasons related to the original topic.”
     
    Yeah. See this article in the Post on Paul Ryan: Rep. Ryan pushes budget reform, and his party winces (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/01/AR2010080103518.html).
     
    You know, I think the attitude of the current Republican party to folks who are conservative (in the careful, prudent tradition) is not unlike that of the Catholic Church to the mystics in its tradition: “We honor and treasure your contributions, but we think it best if y’all repair to that nice, remote, out of the way, secluded monastery while we conduct the important business.”

  35. MDD says:

    I guess it’s about time to rename the blog, “Inside the Beltway”. Good grief, did you have to write this post to get into the David Frum fan club?
    Amazingly, there are those of us with advanced degrees who don’t agree with you, James. I know, considering the lofty social circles you frequent, it is hard to believe, but it’s true.
    I’ve read your blog pretty much since it started, and used to link it often, but you, like many others, have become a victim of your own high self-regard. You truly believe that the average voter is stupid and, god forbid, anyone ever go against the established conventional wisdom, as defined by you and those who have deemed themselves superior to the rubes.At least you didn’t blame your pseudo-conservatism on mental illness like some have done lately.

  36. Drew says:

    reid –

    “Desperation” is not even in my lexicon.  But observation that a supposed serious world leader has been reduced to doing The View?   Ouch!

    Double Ouch!!!

  37. sam says:

    “Amazingly, there are those of us with advanced degrees who don’t agree with you, James. I know, considering the lofty social circles you frequent, it is hard to believe, but it’s true.”
     
    There seems to be a subtext of some of the comments in this thread (well, not so sub, actually), that James’s education and background –and current employment–somehow taint his observations. (And not to pass over the pissant remarks about his supposed inflated self-regard. That claim is quite telling, if you think about it. Telling of the one making the assertion.) I disagree with him about 90% of the time on policy matters, but you can’t find a fairer voice in blogosphere, imo. Oh wait, there’s the key: his fairness and reasonableness (cardinal sins, evidently). It’s a continuing amazement to me why anyone who is a thoughtful conservative would still be in the Republican party, most of whose members seem to have mental engines fueled by resentment and, consequently, to have fee-fees with the tensile strength of a soap bubble. Losers.

  38. anjin-san says:

    Getting embarrassing?

  39. An Interested Party says:

    So…pointing out that Sarah Palin is very poor presidential material, Tom Tancredo is a nut, decrying hysterical rantings about a “second American Revolution”, and labeling the Tea Party as exactly what it is, among other things, are all now cause to label a person who espouses these views as an elitist insider who looks down on the “little people”?  Interesting…

  40. anjin-san says:

    But observation that a supposed serious world leader has been reduced to doing The View?   Ouch!
    Compared to Fox News, The View is a Mensa meeting…

  41. Juneau: says:

    *Sigh*  OK, James – if you and the 35 other conservative “intellectuals” are “uncomfortable with the direction the GOP is going”,  the what have you got to offer in substantive ideas?  Other than some amorphous version of Democrat-Lite?
    In other words, you surely can’t be arguing that a lack of executive experience by the “popular” GOP candidate is dismaying to you – because that didn’t apparently prove to be a problem with the current chief executive.  You must therefore be arguing ideas, I assume.  So?  What are your ideas of a “proper” conservative approach that you feel you can comfortably support?

  42. anjin-san says:

    I happen to know that the real Juneau was beheaded by Mexican drug gangs and is buried in the Arizona desert along with countless other patriotic, God fearing Americans. Who is this imposter?

  43. Poo Poo says:

    More rightwing denialism. I know that Tancredo et al are nuts. But you are ignoring the fact that fringe nuts like him are being mainstreamed by conservative media at breakneck speed. These nuts are perhaps fringe, but the door is WIDE OPEN for these fringers to step through on these media platforms that need to fill airtime and attract hits.
    Sane conservatives need to wake the f#$% up. Stop making excuses!

  44. Gus says:

    So the question is really how you define conservative. Tell a tea partier he’s a radical populist, not a conservative, and see what he says. What you’re really saying is “Sarah Palin, Tom Tancredo, and Sharron Angle do not fit my narrow definition of conservative.” Sorry, but most people, incorrectly perhaps, will lump you in with the nuts. Sane conservatives need to do more to differentiate themselves if they want to be able to deny that they’re in the same movement as the crazies.

  45. Wayne says:

    What is telling is who James friends are here, Anjin, AIP, Sam.
    Saying Obama is not liberal is about like saying the Pope is not Catholic. Massive spending, massive government takeover and controls, the Government is the solution philosophy.
    Got to go.
     

  46. floyd says:

    “”rightwing,I know that Tancredo et al are nuts,fringe nuts,These nuts are perhaps fringe, these fringers,  

    POO POO;
     So your point is…. marginalization… or is it just redundancy?

     One question, where can I find this “conservative media” large enough to “maistream” anything? 
     

  47. Juneau says:

    @Wayne
    If you think it would be better to have the ultra liberal (IMO unqualified) person as President than a conservative (IYO unqualified) person as President then I doubt you are a conservative in the first place.

    This is the central principle to the whole debate.  And I would also add that if you are hesitant to conclude from the observable evidence that Obama is ultra liberal in his intentions and philosophy, then the last part of the above quote applies just as accurately.

  48. sam says:

    @Wayne
    “What is telling is who James friends are here, Anjin, AIP, Sam.”
    If defending someone against a raft of unfair and unfounded charges, charges which besmirch his character, put me on the debit side of your ledger, well, I can live with that.

  49. An Interested Party says:

    Yes, if only James would write more things that were agreeable to ZR III, Tangoman, Drew, floyd, Juneau, Steve Plunk, and Wayne, then, and only then, would he be a “real” conservative rather than an elitist RINO…

  50. Juneau says:

    Yes, if only James would write more things that were agreeable to ZR III, Tangoman, Drew, floyd, Juneau, Steve Plunk, and Wayne, then, and only then, would he be a “real” conservative rather than an elitist RINO…

    Finally…you’re getting it!  🙂

  51. floyd says:

    Juneau;
        Good one! [LOL]
     You know blind hogs and acorns.

  52. An Interested Party says:

    Thanks, boys, for letting us all know how much you like echo chambers…

  53. anjin-san says:

    Got to go.
    Hopefully you are going of to learn how to form a coherent sentence…

  54. davod says:

    Why is Tancredo Nuts?