". . . and the Brookses and Meghan McCains of the party might as well join up with the Democrats, for if we adopt the 'moderate' programs these folks are pushing, we might as well have a one-party Democratic state."
-- Donald Douglas, on "Core Values Conservatism," agreeing with me and Charles Murray (I think)
Professor Douglas is taking issue with Ross Douthat's critique of Murray's Thursday lecture at the American Enterprise Institute (yet another event to which I was not invited).
Not being a member of the intellectual leisure class -- hit the tip jar, people -- I have no time for fucking around with the fine points on this one, nor is there any need for that. We need not agree on the ideal size of government in order to agree on three major points:
- Government is too big. It's too expensive, too powerful, and too meddlesome. Even if we could get this much government at half the price, it's still more government than is good for us.
- Bush and Republicans were wrong to expand government. No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D were giant steps in the wrong direction which, by blurring partisan distinctions, made it more difficult for the GOP to present itself as the party of limited government.
- Democrats want government to be even bigger. Government can never be too big, too expensive, too wasteful or too intrusive to satisfy The Evil Coalition of Liars and Fools.
You need not agree with Grover Norquist on the desireability of shrinking the federal government until it's small enough to drown in the bathtub. With government as big as it is now and rapidly growing much bigger, the current situation creates a clear line of demarcation. You are either a small-government conservative or you are not a conservative, period.
Murray, Douthat and the Professor are welcome to engage in a three-way intellectual Jello-wrestling match over the fine points of philosophy or policy on all this. As politics, however, the choice is clear: The Republican Party can either (a) try to reclaim its limited-government credibility by going all-in against Obama's neo-Keynesian economic plan, or (b) employ the approach favored by The Republicans Who Really Matter by nitpicking the small change.
My hunch is that (b) is a one-way non-stop ticket to Republican irrelevance. Jennifer Rubin is right: The opposition party must oppose. This is that 4 a.m. call, and if my answer lacks nuance and sophistication, it at least has the merit of simplicity: WOLVERINES!UPDATE: Not directly related, but one of The Republicans Who Really Matters weighs in:
Drive-by pundits . . . are non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias.
Fuck you, Kathleen Parker. I started out in the news business making $4.50 an hour in 1986, and I'll take no lectures from the overprivileged likes of you. What journalism has become is a disgrace, and the unwillingness of people in the news business to say "fuck you" to useless idiots like you is one of the reasons why. (H/T: Tim Graham.)
UPDATE II: Kevin Williamson weighs in with a more thorough fisking of Parker's column, as opposed to my outraged punk-smacking. The outrage is that someone who has for so long been a mere opinion columnist -- as opposed to working in the actual news end of the operation -- should be lecturing anyone about what's wrong with the news business.
"Newspaper columnist" used to be a gig that you had to work a long time in the news business to get. The late, great Lewis Grizzard, for example, started out as a brilliant young sports reporter, and nonetheless was past 30 -- and had already served as executive sports editor of the Chicago Tribune -- before he became a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1977.
Then in the 1980s and '90s, as cable news and USA Today started encroaching on the turf of the metropolitan dailies, there was this big push for "diversity" and "youth," the chief result of which was a lot of Clever Girl Columnists wasting newsprint. (Hello, Rheta Grimsley Johnson! Hello, Maureen Dowd!)
Kathleen Parker was one of the better Clever Girl Columnists who got the affirmative-action leg up in that manner. But she succumbed to the Elite Media Syndrome of thinking that working in the news business makes you somehow superior to the guy who drops 50 cents in the newsbox, and her insufferable elitism is an apt metaphor for what went wrong with the business.
It's still possible to make a profit on a newspaper, but to do it, you've got to have a small staff of people who work their butts off. You've got to have do-everything staffers, rather than having specialists who won't lift a finger to help outside their job description. And one of the luxuries that profitable newspapers can no longer afford is the overpaid op-ed columnist who never gets her shoes dirty.
Good-bye to bad rubbish.