Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pleonastic Sciolism

A recent article in the Washinton Compost by Steven F. Hayward asks, "Is Conservatism Brain-Dead?"

The author laments the (perceived) dearth of true intellectual conservatives in the current political scene. "We've traded in Buckley for Beck, Kristol for Coulter, and conservatism has been reduced to sound bites." Hayward's assertion that "off-balance" conservative intellectuals are "struggling to come up with new ideas" is inaccurate. What Mr. Hayward wishes to imply is that conservative ideas do not work, a premise which does not hold water. Conservatives have many tried-and-true ideas, albeit old, or even ancient, but nonetheless effective when put into practice. Our freedom, as men and as Americans, derives from God, whom no government can supplant. It is the left, and its worn-out ideas of tyranny and oppression, which are off-balance.

In his assault on the popular face of conservatism, Mr. Hayward is using an old trick of the left: Instead of debating the issues on their merits, go for the throat and call you opponent an idiot.
The brain waves of the American right continue to be erratic, when they are not flat-lining.

Consider the "tea party" phenomenon. Though authentic and laudatory, it is unfocused, lacking the connection to a concrete ideology that characterized the tax revolt of the 1970s, which was joined at the hip with insurgent supply-side economics.

Over one million Americans protesting tyrannical government is an unfocused phenomenon? What will Mr. Hayward call the 2009 Gubernatorial and 2010 Congressional elections, which I predict will be won by the more conservative candidates? A statistical anomaly?

Consider the following:

Today, it is not clear that conservative thinkers have compelling alternatives to Obama's economic or foreign policy. At best, the right is badly divided over how to fix the economy and handle Iran and Afghanistan. So for the time being,the populists alone have the spotlight.
How about following the Constitution? How about tax cuts? How about victory? These ideas, while simple, are not simplistic. They are fundamental American ideas. They are why over one million people showed up in D.C. on September 12th. "The left thinks talk radio and Fox News are insidious forces, which shows that they are effective," writes Hayward. Effective and accurate, these ideas are promoted daily in conservative and conservative-leaning media, which is why they (both media and message) are hated by the left.

While praising its intelligence, Mr. Hayward claims that a recent book, Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, was not well received "because it deployed the incendiary f-word..." Without actually reading the book, one would conclude from this statement that Goldberg had generously sprinkled his book with F-bombs. But a quick search shows only two occurrences in the entire 405 pages, both included in quotations rather than Goldberg's own words. Where are the complaints against the left for using this word, and rather liberally at that? To put it simply, what the fuck?

Liberal Fascism is the only pro-conservative book Mr. Hayward cites as "intellectual," while decrying its popularity. He fails to mention Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin, which is both intellectual and popular. But I digress. More worthy of Hayward's attention is the forthcoming book by John Derbyshire, in which he calls "our present condition 'Happy Meal Conservatism,' cheap, childish and familiar," and another new book by Sam Tanenhaus titled The Death of Conservatism, whose title alone explains its appeal.

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