I thought they were serious people interested in a genuine meeting of the minds. I was dying to have useful conversations with intelligent conservatives, who knew how to write and also knew how to debate."Eliminationist" being a perjorative description of an outcome in domestic politics similar to the triumph over the Soviet Union, which collapsed from the weight of its own inherent contradictions, once Ronald Reagan resolved to call evil by its right name. To the extent that a conservatism that genuinely succeeds -- rallying a majority to a decisive rejection of liberalism -- would "eliminate" the political viability of its philosophical antithesis, then the term is accurate.
It has never happened. It will never happen with the Robert Stacy McCains of the world, for they are not what we think of as conservatives. They are probably best described as part of the group that flirts with what David Neiwert calls eliminationists and eliminationist ideas . . .
The problem of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" was that it sought to co-opt liberal policy ideas -- No Child Left Behind and Medicare prescription drugs being the most significant examples -- as a sort of pre-emptive compromise. This had the opposite of its promised political effect, since it involved a "conservative" paying rhetorical tribute to policy ideas that were the opposite of conservative.
If, as we were led to believe in the case of NCLB, experts in Washington have all the answers to assuring educational excellence, then why not give the federal government complete control of American schools? The fundamental premises of NCLB therefore being antithetical to any recognized meaning of "conservative" (in its American sense, as opposed to some universalist philosophical "conservatism" detached from the constitutional principles of the Founding), then the "success" of NCLB would have had the effect of invalidating basic conservative principles.
Of course, NCLB has been an abject failure, producing none of the promised policy benefits in terms of educational improvement, while spectacularly failing to "take away an issue" from the Democrats, which was its aim as political "strategery." By attempting to pass off this Big Government boondoggle as "conservative," Bush succeeded only in confusing people about the meaning of conservatism.
Karl Rove envisioned a "permanent Republican majority" to be obtained in a "center-right" nation by this sort of unprincipled "triangulation," blurring the edges of partisan loyalty by seeking compromise between right and wrong, offering voters a Laodicean blend of truth and error.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it appeared as if Rove and the Republicans might actually achieve this dubious objective. With the economy buoyed by tax cuts -- the one inarguably conservative policy that President Bush implemented-- and with attention focused on national security issues, the GOP stunned the Democrats in the 2002 midterms and handily dispatched John Kerry in 2004.
Ah, but fatal hubris had already taken hold, and in the next two elections, the Republicans who had sowed the wind reaped the whirlwind. Now, in 2009, the liberals stand triumphant, and we see many in the GOP arguing for a "pragmatism" even less principled than the bankrupt politics that have led the party of Reagan to a low ebb of influence it has not seen since 1977, or perhaps even 1965.
"Eliminationist," bah! As if Dave Neiwert wouldn't eliminate conservatives if he could. Let us return to the vacuous arguments of Tristero:
Whatever you call them, they hate liberalism with a passion. And by "liberalism" I mean liberalism as in the Enlightenment and the American Founders such as the Jefferson of the Declaration and the letter to the Danbury Baptists. These are people who are still fighting the battles lost by the Federalists in the earliest days of the United States.What Tristero knows about the Founders is as a thimble to my ocean -- to accuse me of siding with the Federalists (e.g., Hamilton, Adams) rather than with the authors of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798! Tristero could more accurately accuse me of sympathy with the Anti-Federalists (e.g., James Mason and Patrick Henry) who opposed ratification of the Constitution on the grounds that the central govenrment created was insufficiently limited, and would ultimately prove hostile to liberty.
Tristero knows even less about the ratification debates than he knows about Jefferson. Years ago, while visiting a girl in Charlottesville, I was able to spend a day at Monticello and found myself standing before Jefferson's grave, pondering that pregnant riddle: Why would a man who had twice been elected president, rather than to list such an honor on his tombstone, instead command that it should note his authorship of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom?
This question long burdened my mind, and I studied that document intently over the years so that I might almost cite by memory the key passage:
[T]hat to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical . . .Intimately familiar with the text, I am also well-versed in the historical background of abuses caused by the establishment of religion, abuses which Jefferson sought to spare his fellow Virginians. But "establishment of religion" does not mean what Tristero and his fellow liberals have been indoctrinated to believe it means. People who file federal lawsuits, claiming their "civil rights" have been violated if a pastor is invited to say an invocation over the public-address system before the start of a high school football game, are not friends of liberty but its worst enemies.
The problem of the "Naked Public Square" -- the cultural vacuum carved out in our society by the advance of militant secularism -- is far from the contemplations of a Tristero, content as he is to think in the superificially convenient categories furnished to him by his indoctrinators.
Accept these prefabricated categories and the selective narratives provided to you by your professors, and you are mentally enslaved, incapable of forming genuinely independent conclusions. There is an entire universe of facts you've never encountered, yet your conception of your self as "educated" serves to stifle any sense that you ought to inquire further. These, you see, are the liberals who don't get the irony of their "Question Authority" bumper stickers!
Like so many other liberals, Tristero you possess the arrogance of ignorance, presuming that no one can possibly know facts that you do not. Ergo, if anyone does not share your opinions, this must somehow signify their intellectual and moral inferiority to you, Tristero, who can't even accurately describe the political landscrape of your own country during the life of Jefferson.
Facts you do not know, Tristero? That I am an ex-Democrat, perhaps? That if I had been content to accept prefabricated ideas, I might still be a Democrat? You do not know me, and you don't know what I know and yet, in your vast ignorance, you are going to lecture me about the Founders? Make. Me. Laugh.
And now, Tristero, to your conclusion:
I'll simply conclude by repeating what so many of us have said: our political discourse is deeply askew. Norman Podhoretz's and Robert Stacy McCain's ideas would have only a marginal impact and distribution in a healthy discourse. Instead, NoPod, a truly troubled soul, is thought a serious intellectual, and the likes of McCain are heard everyday in the drooling rants of Beck and other clowns. They can't be ignored, but they also can't be engaged. Believe me, I tried. I learned.Well, you may be the first liberal ever to describe Newt Gingrich as "personable," a term that few Republicans of my acquaintance would apply to the former Speaker. As to the "drooling rants of Beck" -- do you perhaps mean the investigative reporting that led to the recent resignation fo Van Jones?
Finally, don't be fooled if, like Huckabee or Gingrich, they seem personable. They have a long history of acting on their hate and rage. These are ugly, ugly people.
And really, why would anyone think that -- compared to you, Tristero -- Norman Podhoretz is a "serious intellectual"? He only spent three decades as editor of Commentary, one of the nation's most influential monthly journals. His most recent book is, what, his 11th? He was a student of Trilling, he knew Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer, to say nothing of his acquaintance with such historically significant figures as Ronald Reagan and Jeanne Kirkpatrick.
That you should sneer at me, Tristero, is not in the least surprising, but to condescend to Norman Podhoretz as a "troubled soul" -- well, no one can say that your observations about "drooling rants" from "clowns" lack for authenticity, as you examine the subject of your expertise every time you look in a mirror.
Conservatives and their "long history of acting on . . . hate and rage"? That's hard to do when we're laughing our asses off at the likes of you.