Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Decision '08, Politics, conservative reform — Rick Moran @ 10:05 am

We are in a full fledged Indian Summer here in central Illinois - or, for those sensitive folk who believe it a sin to invoke any racial references even if they are positive, let’s call the 70 degree weather, gorgeous sunny sky, and the light wind sweetly scented with the smell of burning leaves “false” summer.

False, or Indian, it doesn’t matter. It is the last gasp of the seductress Summer, her last shimmy, her last provocative wiggle before her father, Old Man Winter comes barging into the room to check and see if we’re necking.

Nature is doing her yearly Technicolor thing - the autumn raiment covering the trees is really striking; spectacular deep reds on the maple across the street, elegant yellow-orange on the oaks lining the block, somber burnt umber covering the hickory. Is autumn a melancholy time for everyone? Perhaps it’s knowing what’s ahead that depresses me; the annual struggle with snow blowers, biting cold, dark skies, short days, and the lonely winds that whip across the prairie sod seeking a way through the weatherproofing to chill our bones.

Election day in America is held in November with a bow toward our yeoman farmers who would be too busy with the harvest to have time for politicking. Any later in the year and the roads would be impassable due to snowfall. So the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November seemed about right. Farmers could make the long, arduous journey to town and cast their ballot for the state’s electors. Back in the day, the presidential candidate’s name appeared nowhere on the ballot. Citizens elected people to represent them in the electoral college. Of course, everyone knew which candidate the elector was supporting so it felt almost like they were voting directly for Washington, or Adams, or Jefferson.

Eventually, states put the name of the candidate on the ballot, usually alongside that of the elector supporting him. It is an imperfect system and no doubt many Democrats wish to do away with it. But I sincerely hope they don’t if for no other reason than many of the arguments made at the Constitutional Convention in favor of the Electoral College still pass muster with me today. (I make many of those arguments here).

All of that is in the past and today, we find ourselves on the cusp of history. An African American may very well win an historic victory while the Reagan revolution - a cause for which I worked directly or indirectly for almost 30 years - is being swept away. As I have noted, change is part of the bargain if you want to be an American and accepting change is the key to thriving in this country. But I have an old man’s attachment to the causes of my youth and it will be difficult to see something that began with so much promise swept away due to the negligence, the cynicism, and the incompetence of the inheritors of it.

I read Ross Douthat’s melancholy post this morning and found myself nodding in agreement all the way through it. Now, Ross is one of them “elitist” conservatives in that he has more than two brain cells working at the same time and has actually written a book with big words in it - not like conservative hero Sean Hannity who makes it easy for us common folk to read by never using a word with more than 4 syllables in it. “Cotton candy conservatism” I call Hannity’s pablum. And that’s insulting cotton candy.

Here, he articulates my exact feelings about Bush and McCain:

I had a succession of meals last week with smart conservative friends, and I found them all relatively sanguine about the defeat that’s almost certainly about to be inflicted on the American Right. Each of them, in different ways, express a mix of enthusiasm for the “whither conservatism” battles ahead and relief at the prospect of finally closing the books on the Bush years. This has been an exhausting Presidency for conservatives as well as liberals, and for many people on the Right the prospect of being out of power has obvious upsides: No longer will every foul-up and blunder in Washington be treated as an indictment of Conservatism with a capital C; no longer will right-wingers feel obliged to carry water, whether in small or large amounts, for a government that’s widely perceived as a failure; and no longer will the Right have the dead weight of an unpopular president dragging it down and down and down. Defeat will be depressing, of course - none of my friends were Obamacons by any stretch - but it could be liberating as well.

This was how I expected to feel about a McCain defeat, too, and I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t - why I feel instead so grouchy and embittered (clinging to my guns and my religion, and all that), and more dispirited than liberated. I didn’t have particularly high hopes for a McCain-led ticket in the first place: I never went in for the Mac-worship many journalists have practiced over the years, and part of me was dreading having to spend four years trying to explain that yes, I want a reformed conservatism, but no, I don’t like the kind of reform-ish quasi-conservatism that the McCain Administration is advancing. And then there were all the other reasons to think that a GOP defeat might not be so bad: You can’t win every election; it’s hard for a political party to change its ways without the clarifying effects of a devastating defeat; Obama’s a smart guy who’ll probably make at least some policy choices I support; the election of a black President will be a great day for America; etc.

I stopped “carrying water” for Bush a couple of years ago but I know exactly what Ross is talking about. He has exhausted himself having to defend some basic conservative tenets that, however imperfectly were advanced by the Bush Administration, nevertheless many of us felt obliged to point out the danger of the alternative. That and the constant drone of hyperbolic, rabidly partisan dissent left one feeling as if wrung through a wringer.

Tired, a little dispirited, Douthat takes the words out of my head and puts them on paper:

But I think the deeper reason for my political gloom has to do with something that Jonah Goldberg raised in our bloggingheads chat about conservatism - namely, the sense that the era now passing represented a great opportunity to put into practice the sort of center-right politics that I’d like to see from the Republican Party, and that by failing the way it did the Bush Administration may have cut the ground out from under my own ideas before I’d even figured out exactly what they were. As I said to Jonah. I have all sorts of disagreements with the specific ways President Bush attempted to renovate the GOP, on the level of policy and philosophy alike. But the fact remains that the renovation Bush attempted was an effort to respond to some of the political, social and economic trends that Reihan and I discuss in Grand New Party - and those of us who want a reformed conservatism have to recognize Bush’s attempt, and reckon with his failure.

This is by no means a new insight, but it’s one that’s been brought home to me by the looming end of the Bush Era and the struggles of the McCain campaign. Conservatism in the United States faces a series of extremely knotty problems at the moment. How do you restrain the welfare state at a time when the entitlements we have are broadly popular, and yet their design puts them on a glide path to insolvency? How do you respond to the socioeconomic trends - wage stagnation, social immobility, rising health care costs, family breakdown, and so forth - that are slowly undermining support for the Reaganite model of low-tax capitalism? How do you sell socially-conservative ideas to a moderate middle that often perceives social conservatism as intolerant? How do you transform an increasingly white party with a history of benefiting from racially-charged issues into a party that can win majorities in an increasingly multiracial America? etc.

Here are my own thoughts from a post I wrote after the 2006 mid term debacle:

The disconnect I speak of above arises from the cage that Republican candidates have been placed in by the various factions of conservatism that makes them slaves to an agenda that is out of date, out of touch, and after 2008, there’s a good chance that it will lead to Republicans being out of luck.

Breaking out of that cage will be difficult unless the party continues to lose at the polls. And part of that breaking free will be making the Reagan legacy a part of history and not a part of contemporary Republican orthodoxy. The world that Reagan helped remake is radically different than the one we inhabit today and yet, GOP candidates insist on invoking his name as if it is a talisman to be stroked and fondled, hoping that the magic will rub off on them. Reagan is gone and so is the world where his ideas resonated so strongly with the voters.

But Reagan’s principles remain with us. Free markets, free nations, and free men is just as powerful a tocsin today as it was a quarter century ago. The challenge is to remake a party and the conservative movement into a vessel by which new ideas about governing a 21st century industrialized democracy can be debated, adopted, and enacted. Without abandoning our core beliefs while redefining or perhaps re-imagining what those beliefs represent as a practical matter, conservatism could recharge itself and define a new relationship between the governed and the government.

But before reform comes the fall. And even if, as Yglesias believes is possible, the party and the movement are able to limp along for a few years with a cobbled together coalition, eventually the piper must be paid and the wages earned. It won’t be a quick or easy process. But it will happen nonetheless.

Ross and I are on the same wavelength although he has obviously given a lot more thought to the nuts and bolts of refashioning the conservative movement. But we both crave big answers to the big questions. How can small government conservatism be relevant in an era (probably permanent) where the people demand more and more from government? What role can conservatism play in a modern, 21st century industrialized democracy? What is the conservative answer to the nationalizing of health insurance or education policy? Is simple opposition all we are capable of?

The old truisms and bromides just don’t work anymore. The context has changed but we are still trying to squeeze the old verities into the framework of people’s expectations and desires with regard to government. There is, as I said, a “disconnect” that is so obvious, the American voter no longer sees conservatism as being relevant to their own lives.

I am not a believer in predestination. I do not think the future is set by any means. The future will be what we make of it - no more, no less. It is this hope that I cling to as I watch with sorrow the beliefs and work of my adult lifetime rejected en masse by the voters.

So be it.


  1. Amputating the word “social” from “conservatism”, I suggest, will go a long way toward rehabilitating the disgraced GOP brand. America isn’t a Luddite theocracy, and her citizens will no longer tolerate self-important Bibleist mullahs like Dobson telling them what they can and cannot do. Conservatism isn’t necessarily a loser, but legislating morality most certainly is.


    Comment by Old Paws — 11/4/2008 @ 11:44 am

  2. How about INSISTING on morality, folks? I’m sorry but our nation was founded by God fearing men who, despite their manifest flaws, possessed strong character and courage. We cannot expect the Almighty to smile upon our nation if we have turned our back on Him. It’s that simple.

    Islam is making inroads because belief in God is waning among some people and nature abhors a vacuum.

    If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything folks.

    Comment by Gayle Miller — 11/4/2008 @ 12:19 pm

  3. “no longer will right-wingers feel obliged to carry water, whether in small or large amounts, for a government that’s widely perceived as a failure”

    How mealy-mouthed… “widely perceived” as a failure? If you and Russ can’t bring yourselves to admit that the “wide perception” is justified, you’re not carrying water, you’re carrying a load of crap. Good luck rebuilding conservatism.

    You know what I really hate about fucking idiots like you? You can’t take “yes” for an answer. That is childish, immature and bespeaks a mind besotted with mindless, partisan hackery.


    Comment by Postagoras — 11/4/2008 @ 12:35 pm

  4. Good, thoughtful post, Rick.

    Comment by Chuck Tucson — 11/4/2008 @ 1:51 pm

  5. Old Paw,
    How about amputating the word “neo” from conservative. I have much more a problem with that group than socons. Mostly because they actually have real power, two botched wars, massive increase in size of gov’t, and a big deficit.

    Comment by BBQ — 11/4/2008 @ 2:06 pm

  6. Regarding “Old Paws”’s comment: Ding-Ding-Ding! You sir, have hit upon it. As an independent voter, I will be ready to vote Republican again when they stop running on a morality-Red State values platform. I don’t often agree with Bill Maher, but he was right when he said on his show last week that Republicans are supposed to be sober, boring, steady guys who tread cautiously abroad and are good with your money at home. Nobody wants a moral scold as a President. Keep small government as a philosophy not only as related to taxes, but also, keep government’s nose out of my bedroom, local pub, doctor’s office and (Greek Orthodox) church.

    Comment by Jim — 11/4/2008 @ 2:07 pm

  7. Indian Summer is when you have apache fog.

    Comment by Dave — 11/4/2008 @ 2:19 pm

  8. Amen to Old Paws - conservatism does not mean mandating one’s set of moral values over others, yet that’s how this political philosophy is perceived today. With all due respect to Gayle Miller, “insisting on morality” is exactly what the Republican Party has been doing over the past 8 years and there has been rightly a huge backlash against that. I’m a Christian, yet to state that my religious views are in any shape or form morally superior to those of my friends that are Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, or atheist would be wrong-headed. If there is one common moral that should be insisted upon in America, it’s freedom - freedom to practice your own religion (or no religion at all), build your own business, speak freely, invest, have control over your own body, marry who you want, and earn a living without the government intervening in either your social or financial lives. Not too long ago, conservatives such as Ronald Reagan made spreading the ultimate American value of freedom here and across the world their central purpose and theme. However, when conservatives started making their central purpose to force society to adhere to what they believed to be “moral values”, that’s when the American people started moving away. To intimate that anyone who doesn’t rigidly adhere to a supposed moral code “doesn’t stand for anything” is ludicrous. Freedom for all Americans is what I stand for and that’s the most important value of all.

    Comment by Frank the Tank — 11/4/2008 @ 2:37 pm

  9. Entitlements will implode. The American welfare state is too large, and too cumbersome, to continue let alone to bear the weight of what the left-wing soon will toss on its back. The Left never has reformed any entitlement program, unless one includes welfare reform Clinton accepted under Republican pressure. Conservatism will be renewed, and I don’t mean the inevitable anti-Democratic congressional backlash in 2010 or 2012 or whatever–when the hollowness of the Democrats comes to the fore as these programs collapse or result in a tax burden that has to trickle down into the lower income levels.

    The only reason I’m not dispirited is because that day looms large and fast approaches.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 11/4/2008 @ 2:58 pm

  10. . . .
    That was possibly the most insightful and moving internet post I have ever read.

    I don’t know what you did prior to helming RWNH, but a salute to you and your efforts to make your vision of a better America come to pass.

    Comment by busboy33 — 11/4/2008 @ 2:59 pm

  11. 2 Gayle Miller:
    You have pointed out one of the problems. There is a differnce between conservative government and Christianity.

    If you wish to build an entire party platform on your religious belief, please go ahead.

    But I seem to remember that America is the land of the free, and that includes freedom of religion, so if some of us don’t follow you, just remember that is our choice as Americans.

    Comment by Pan_theFrog — 11/4/2008 @ 3:30 pm

  12. Rick, you always raise interesting points.
    I have been considering the same things you talk about in your post. I have been a conservative for 40 years. My parents were strongly conservative, especially my mom, who was smart, self-educated, and loved politics. So I come by it honestly (the politics part, I failed to inherit her intellect.) I, too, wonder what is going to become of a movement and a philosophy that seems to be contracting ever smaller. When the percentage of people in this country who pay little or no tax becomes larger than the percentage of people who do, how can conservative thought grow. People seem to be demanding more and more of a government that is less and less able to provide what they demand.
    And I will be glad to see this administration gone, as I have grown ever wearier of the constant blathering, mostly stupid attacks. Unlike many, I think Bush is a good guy, but I never believed he was truly a fiscal conservative, especially as I watched him govern my state, and more especially as he has been POTUS. Conservatism must find new ways to attract people to it, and to find those new ways, examination of our principles and the way we espouse those principles to people must be undertaken. Self-examination can be an unpleasant experience, but a necessary one. I can’t say I look forward to the process, but I’m willing.

    Comment by Mikeyslaw — 11/4/2008 @ 4:35 pm

  13. Old Paws has it nailed.

    I believe it was Reagan’s second run (I voted for him the first time and that was the last time I voted Republican) when discussing the election with a friend and how we intended to vote, I heard “But… BUT… THE DEMOCRATS WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES!!!!” What came out of my mouth in response then is even more apt now some 20 years later: I would rather have a Democrat in my wallet than a Republican in my womb. It was also about that time that the head of the Republican party here in Houston was Stephen Hotze who openly advocated replacing the Constitution with Biblical law. Yeah, that’s troubling. Even moreso because it has been well proven since that it wasn’t a momentary fluke or regional lapse in sanity - it has only grown in influence.

    I don’t know what “conservatism” is anymore beyond the actions and directions taken by the self-proclaimed “conservative” party the past 15 years or so. Sure isn’t the party of my staunch Republican parents or mine in my youth. No, I don’t believe all Republicans think this way - I know they don’t as this blog is so demonstrative of (thanks, Rick, that’s why I read you) - but the willingness of the party to not only abide, but actively court and embrace, this authoritarian, bigoted, hateful fringe is abhorent to me and clearly many, many others whose numbers are growing. Actual policy discussions, good productive debates, have been lost it seems, replaced by screaming “I’m more moral than you are!” pointlessness.

    When the Republican party returns to a belief in the importance of upholding the Constitution, (rather than the determined effort to destroy its principals as it has the past 8 years), in this SECULAR nation as was intended by its founders, and once again decides to represent all, rather than corporations and the wealthy few… count me in.

    Comment by Annie — 11/4/2008 @ 4:49 pm

  14. OK, that should be principLES, before someone accuses me of accusing Republicans of being out to get school administrators. *g*

    Comment by Annie — 11/4/2008 @ 4:55 pm

  15. Old Paws,

    Morality shouldn’t be legislated? Name one law that isn’t moral.

    Comment by Bald Ninja — 11/4/2008 @ 7:09 pm

  16. RM wrote: “the American voter no longer sees conservatism as being relevant to their (sic) own lives”

    Conservatism IS relevant to my life. I am fiscally conservative and wish my government was more so. But what has that got to do with today’s republican party? If you’re leaving it, OK; start a new party that IS conservative. But if you want to reform the GOP, you had better first realize that it currently has little to do with conservatism. And then figure out what to do with the God crowd.

    Comment by HyperIon — 11/4/2008 @ 7:56 pm

  17. It seems to me that we are near the end of the great American experiment in self governance. As Ben Franklin was alleged to have said “we have given you a Republic, if you can keep it.” The founding fathers knew that without the power to tax the income of the people, government growth would be restrained. We decided that times had changed and that the government needed an income tax. It has taken 95 years to reach this point and history shows that there is no turning back. Once a government has the power level that the American people are about to give it history shows that the government takes on a life of its own.

    The fundamental problem that the Conservative movement will always have is that we do not view Government as the solution to all problems, so most do not seek carreers as elected representatives. Liberals believe all human problems can be solved with the right government program.

    Democrats see the Constitution as limiting their ability to solve all of societies problems. Democrats see the Constituion as a living document meant to change with the times which renders the limits on the Government contained in the document as meaningless.

    Who is going to get elected promising less Government when the opponent says vote for me and I will raise your neighbors taxes to pay for you needs?

    Comment by Illinois Conservative — 11/4/2008 @ 8:50 pm

  18. Rick,

    Nice post. I hope I too can muster up some of your peacefulness by the end of this week. I have been avoiding reading anything or watching TV all day. I don’t want to hear the news… I don’t want to hear my college friends cheer in glee when Obama is declared the winner (having no clue what he actually stands for apart from having a D after his name). When I think of a Democrat controlled everything in Washington, I shudder. Finally liberals are going to be able to hatch all these pie in the sky plans that Republicans have prevented. End of our country as we know it? Maybe not. Frightening? Most definitely.

    We have 4 years to resell the conservative brand. Hopefully in 4 years we can have a more fired up conservative base, and pick up some more votes from the DisIllusioned-Obama-Promised-Me-Hope-And-Gave-Me-Reality crowd.

    Comment by Shelby — 11/4/2008 @ 9:07 pm

  19. Gayle,

    This country was founded by men who authored The Constitution. This country is based upon the principles held therein.

    Please stop dragging Christianity into American politics. It just pisses off Christ, believe me.

    I wish you guys would stop trying to revise history. It’s about the Constitution, not the Bible.

    Comment by Pythagorus — 11/4/2008 @ 9:48 pm

  20. Rick,

    The upside of tonight’s results is that Reid and Pelosi are going to be pulling the strings for the next two years, not Obama. If the last two years are any indication of how badly they can f$%k up the federal government, Republicans need only to stay out of their way until 2010. Republicans must direct their efforts toward regaining either or both houses of Congress, and cultivate the kind of leadership that can depose the anointed one in 2012. Think Newt Gingrich without the baggage.

    Comment by Sirius — 11/4/2008 @ 11:23 pm

  21. 2 in 7 employees are employed in government
    government directly controls 40+% of GDP

    Demos broke it, now they have bought it - next, they can pay for it

    Comment by Robert Jackson — 11/5/2008 @ 2:33 am

  22. Smart conservatives, as Douthat calls them, make a lot of sense; more sense, economically, than the left. And I think a majority of Americans can usually get behind what they say.

    The trouble is the addition of socio-religious experiments into the political process. I would have voted McCain if he had picked a rational, business-minded conservative running mate — a Giuliani for example. Look — even New York voted for Giuliani. What does that say? That conservatism’s success in the future, in an increasingly white collar country that’s run by increasingly secular power structures and managed by basically secular suburbanites (not by religious exurbanites), is contingent upon sticking to the core economic issues, and jettisoning the religious wing of the Republican party. Once the two are separated, I think the religious faction will have about as much pull as the Libertarians do right now. Meanwhile, the GOP will be able to absorb the Libertarians into its fold.

    For me, the GOP platform makes sense in a lot of ways, but I’m so constantly offended by the high-handed moralizing babble, and things like the choice of Sarah Palin, that I can’t in good conscience vote Republican. Take away the anti-abortion activism, the creationism, the attempts to put the ten commandments in front of the courthouse, the constant appeals to the most ignorant people in the country to live in fear of ‘those who’ve declared a war on christmas’… just stick to the economics and the fundamentals and leave the religious nuts to go out and shoot themselves in the foot, stop stirring up fear among the religious population of what we secular “liberals” are doing in the cities with our homosexuality and our party drugs…and I promise a lot of the so-called liberals will rally behind you because at the end of the day, we don’t like paying taxes either.

    We’re just too smart to be preached to by the likes of Sean Hannity, and it offends us.

    Comment by Josh — 11/5/2008 @ 5:19 am

  23. I’m sure the William Kristols and Joe Liebermans of the world are sipping champagne right about now. They did their job for 8 years, duping the most clueless traitorous Republicans that ever existed.

    Now they can sit back and watch Rahm Emanuel take over and continue it all.

    SHAME on any right winger that ever listened to AEI, the Weekly Standard or any of the false conservative Neocon outlets.

    You were duped, and you failed us and our party.

    Comment by Ken — 11/5/2008 @ 5:26 am

  24. From Dr. Leo Strauss:”It’s a shame that a Republican rout won’t have a corresponding impact on the insular, smug pundit class. One can only wonder, what would it take in electoral collapse to get La Noonan banished from the airwaves? Texas going blue? With Alabama? And if so, if only the Boy King could have given that to us, too. She was especially grating on Morning Joe today.

    Although there is truth that the Movement is happy to reject the ‘host’ as the failure. The parasite is, of course, never the cause.”

    I’m readin this noddin my head…….

    Comment by The Fly-Man — 11/5/2008 @ 6:34 am

  25. Well, Rick, I don’t think that you are a fucking idiot. I personally think that a fiscally conservative, small-government view is a critical part of the dialogue in our government. I applaud the desire to bring that back. But I can remember the past eight years, when Republicans in Congress and the White House acted in favor of their own power and not in the best interests of the country. I can also remember the deafening silence of all but a few conservatives during that time, and I wish that there has been a more vocal repudiation of the Bush administration. I really wish you and Russ success for the future.

    Comment by Postagoras — 11/5/2008 @ 6:46 am

  26. I just read an AP dispatch this morning where Obama asked McCain to help lead the country.

    Tell us if you think McCain will likely say yes and what that will do to viz this article.

    Some have even mentioned giving McCain a cabinet position in order to replace McCain with a Democrat.

    I’m thinking if McCain puts on his beanie, gives it a twirl, and reaches across the aisle the Republican Party is simply toast. this is, again, a clever maneuver by the Left to blur the differences and then be able to deflect blame. I don’t see how one can start rebuilding when so many may as well join the Blue Dog caucus.

    Explain, also, how Obama and the Democrats can screw things up so badly that they’ll suffer loses at the next mid-terms? They’ve ran against Bush for eight years, have won in large part thanks to Bush, and will get away with blaming cleaning up Bushes mistakes for at least two years. Along the way, they will enact whatever they wish to advance their special interests groups and hordes of dependents (how about 40 million new Democrat voters).

    All in all, the Republican Party stands today as the Edsel of the political arena. By the time the leaders and pundits and holy people hash out a new design one hopes won’t be a another Edsel with just a different style. I think it’s virtual suicide to undertake a redesign without also initiating a vigorous attack. The sooner the better. If you don’t discredit the environmentalists, the Democrat special interest groups, and the Democrat brand on key issues you’ve lost the next election cycles as far as the eye can see.

    Comment by cedarhill — 11/5/2008 @ 7:18 am

  27. Rick, I have my wager pay up. email me an email address….i can’t use your form for some reason.

    don’t worry about it.


    Comment by headhunt23 — 11/5/2008 @ 8:32 am

  28. vacuus virtus

    Comment by the Fly-Man — 11/5/2008 @ 8:38 am

  29. Good post, but I think the contradictions of Republican policy have paved this road we are on. We bristle at National Healthcare, but offer no alternative to National Education, with all its dismal consequences. Bush increased Federal spending by 69%, but his supporters tell the country that only fiscal conservatism will preserve the good.

    Your average Republican voter (as opposed to ideologue) is going to wonder why he has to pay for other people’s crap while remaining prudent and self-sufficient in his own life. Eventually he asks himself, “If we’re going to have democratic socialism, I may as well get mine.” He isn’t rich, but he has to pay the costs of other people’s failures (prison, welfare); subsidize other people’s lives (eduction, corporate subsidies); and clean up the messes of very stupid and venal people (Enron, bank bailouts, etc.).

    Where’s the REAL Republican opposition to any of this? Or the real opposition to Jihad, for that matter? It doesn’t exist.

    So we go back to tending our own garden. But if this is best that Republicans can do, then it really isn’t worth the fight.

    Comment by Don Kenner — 11/5/2008 @ 8:48 am

  30. Rick - I already wrote it. You can put it on the front page if you want:

    After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion the Chicago Bears are a superior football organization in every way to the Minnesota Vikings. This has not been a easy realization for me to come to, as I am a long time fan of the Vikings, having been one for over 30 years, plus I am a season ticket holder. However, the facts are the facts.

    First, the Personalities of the history of the Bears far outshines those of the Vikings. From Red Grange and Bronko Nagurski thru Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka, onto Jim McMahon and Refrigerator Perry, and today with Devin Hester and Brian Urlacher, their players have color. The only comparable Vikings players in the color category were Jim Marshall who is known more for a boneheaded play rather than his greatness, Carl Eller, whose color comes mainly from beating up cops, Randy Moss whose color came from stupid antics (although both Bears fans and Vikings fans find it hard to fault him for mooning the Packers’ Fans), and Onterio Smith who was caught with a prostetic penis used to fool drug tests. Advantage Clearly Bears.

    Second, Coaching. First the Bears had George Halas, a legendary coach who won several NFL Titles. Their next great coach was Iron Mike, who won them a Super Bowl, and did so with flair and earned cult like status in Chicago. Our guys? Norm Van Broklin who succeeded only in running off one of the best QBs of all time, Bud Grant, a great coach who couldn’t win the big one, Jerry Burns, a guy known mainly for underachieving on the field and dropping an f-bomb every 4 words in press conferences, Denny Green, another under achieving coach, Mike Tice the ticket scalper, and Brad Childress, perhaps our worst coach ever (and I haven’t forgotten Les Steckle). Advantage? Da Bears.

    Third, we have to look at the uniforms. Clearly the Bears uniform is superior. Once upon a time the Vikings had good looking uniforms as well, but some ex-Giants fan owner gave us uniforms that look better suited for Arena league play. The Bears uniforms on the other hand, reek class and sophistication while still maintaining a tough guy apperance. Advantage, Da Bears.

    Fourth, Stadium. The Bears play in a historic stadium where the atomic bomb was created, it’s called Soldier Field. There’s no way some teflon bubble named after a squishy liberal Vice-President can top that. Plus, why the hell are the Vikings playing inside anyway. Whimps. Advantage, overwhelmingly Da Bears.

    Fifth, Cheerleaders. The Bears cheerleaders all appear to be created out of Greek Mythology tales surrounding seduction. The Vikings’ cheerleaders appear to be scooped up out of a Hennipen Avenue crack house. Advantage the Bears.

    Lastly, History. The Bears have on overwhelmingly rich history filled with legendary plays and players, titles and greatness - sending their fans to both the highest peaks and the lowest valleys. The Vikings on the other hand have only set up their fans for habitual and continual disappointment.

    Yes, when you add it all up, the Bears are clearly the superior football organization.

    Comment by headhunt23 — 11/5/2008 @ 10:49 am

  31. I voted for Bush and other Republicans thinking I would get fiscal responsibility and at least some effort to reduce the side of government. Three weeks after the Republicans the spending restrictions were gone and we were off to the deficit spending races. I was expecting a virulent conservative revolt but there was nothing. How did Rove get away with it? Easy, he put the Limbaugh and company noise machine to work and brought out the liberal bashing bauble and like a bunch of easily distracted children the “conservatives” went right along with it. The first lesson to learn is that Conservatism is a political philosophy, not a “brand” to be “sold”’ by Rove and his sales force of Coulter, Hannity and Limbaugh. Real Conservatism has solutions to today’s problems but all I see is one liberal bashing tirade after another.If you want Conservatism to be relevant ignore what the left is doing and offer your solutions, dump the liberal bashing and explain the alternatives to a big all encompassing government. Quite frankly I don’t see this happening, the movement has been a kool aid cult for so long that it will take a new generation not poisoned by the uber partisan Limbaughs to take up the fight.

    Comment by grognard — 11/5/2008 @ 11:57 am

  32. Wow. Great philosophical pro-conservative arguments on a comments talkback. May it continue. And I say this as a left of center guy.

    Please, smart conservatives. Come back. You’re the ying to our yang; we need the rise of an intelligent conservative movement to hold us back from our worst instincts. I look forward to the next William Buckley. And make a good enough intellectual argument, and I could see myself voting (R) next time.

    But, psst, do me a favor: kindly jettison the Dobsons and the Brent Bozells from your coalition. ‘Kay, thanks.

    Comment by Jim — 11/5/2008 @ 12:22 pm

  33. Anyone, including Ross Douthit, who is disappointed in George Bush’s brand of “conservatism” wasn’t paying attention in 2000. He governed exactly as he campaigned…what do you think “compassionate conservatism” was, little yellow smiley face stickers on his lapel? There was, and isn’t, anything conservative about No Child Left Behind, or a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Most of the commenters here do a pretty good job of not conflating party with ideology. Republicans are losing because of one, single, overarching mistake: they haven’t governed in the manner in which they campaigned, and won, in 1994. They can no longer claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility and small government. Reagan is invoked, but his legacy has been abandoned. His brilliance was that although he recognized that social and religious issues (like it or not) were important to his base, his two major issues, taxes and the SU (strong defense) would resonate well beyond the party. This has not changed; the party has. I voted for Bush twice and McCain once simply because they were preferable to the alternatives. Never again.

    Comment by Bob C — 11/5/2008 @ 7:31 pm

  34. The average American citizen doesn’t have a clue what real conservative ideas are about. They live in never never land or they are so involved in their daily activity to survive they hardly have time to gather any meaningful insights into “political ideologies”.
    Too many “commentators” are so encased in a political philosophical morass they never see a real American and so do not understand what has happened to the Joe the Plumbers of this country.

    Comment by edward cropper — 11/5/2008 @ 9:25 pm

  35. As a liberal reader wandering the conservative blogs, let me congratulate you on one of the most thoughtful, sympathetic ones I’ve found. Like some other commenters, I think the public dialogue badly needs the continued defense of traditional conservative values - fiscal conservatism, free-market capitalism as the bedrock of individual achievement, and, in my case, the rights of the unborn.

    What I think has kept conservative platforms untenable for liberal yuppies like myself is our perception of not only a bankrupcy of ideas but a more general disinterest in addressing inequalities of opportunity. These, to many of us, are not only an obstacle to prosperity under the conservative model but a national tragedy and embarrassment. This is especially so - and IMO, ought not to be a partisan issue at all - in the case of children and their reasonable claims on society for basic health care; safety; a basic education not markedly inferior because their community is poor, with a realistic opportunity for higher education, etc. if their families can’t/don’t provide these.

    This bankruptcy and disinterest may be more perceived than real…but in my search of conservative blogs so far I haven’t found much to convince me otherwise. (The only exception has been the occasional framing of the school voucher issue as an approach to our nationwide education problems.) I would love, if you’re so inclined, to hear a conservative articulation of how serious a problem inequalities of opportunity are to you, which ones you take most seriously, and what sort of general platform your political philosophy would offer them. And I’m far from the only one…from what I’ve seen, this is what my generation talks about, when we talk politics.

    Unfortunately, most on the left confuse “equality of opportunity” with “equality as a result.” This presupposes massive government intervention to “level the playing field.” There is a conservative case that can be made for some redress of past injustices in the law but it is my contention - and most other conservatives - that the intervention goes way too far and has now devolved into little more than the law catering to one or more special interest groups.

    To work toward a society where all have the same chance at jobs, education, etc. should be the goal of all. The question is should we try to evolve toward a color blind society where one rises as a result of their natural gifts and hard work or one where government mandates “equality” based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity alone - exactly the opposite of “color blind” and a society where racial and gender nose counters dominate. Conservatives reject this intrusion because both in logic and in practice, it divides us and does not advance the cause of equal opportunity but rather is conscious discrimination. Not just against white Christian males, mind you. Asian Americans are experiencing discrimination because the number of qualified candidates who wish to enter quota-oriented schools or educational programs exceeds the number of “places” that have been reserved for them. Jewish Americans are treated similarly.

    The answer is a recognition of past discrimination and laws that facilitate advancement. Attempting to define “equality” by divvying up jobs and education in some ludicrous effort to legislate “fairness” is the wrong approach.


    Comment by Steph — 11/13/2008 @ 9:49 am

  36. Thanks much for your reply.

    No objections to the content. But what I think remains the problem - and I’ve seen you articulate this recently too - is a lack of proposals from conservatives that convincingly take the equality-of-opportunity issue seriously without falling into the confusion you describe. Or what list of programs/proposals from the right - successful, unsuccessful, good but politically untenable, whatever - out of the last decade would you consider representative? Or do you think there really has been a vacuum in this area from the right that needs to be filled?

    Comment by Steph — 11/13/2008 @ 11:56 am

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