Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Was Right About the Republican Party

This might not interest my readers all that much, but I thought I'd link to a really great article at Salon.com about how George W. Bush has ruined conservatism. Here's an excerpt:

The Bush presidency has damaged American civil society in many ways, but one of the most lasting may be its destructive effect on conservatism. Even those who do not call themselves conservatives must acknowledge the power and enduring value of core conservative beliefs: belief in individual agency and responsibility, respect for American institutions and traditions, a resolute commitment to freedom, a willingness to take principled moral stands. It is a movement that draws its inspiration from towering figures: Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Burke. It stands for caution in foreign adventures, fiscal sobriety and a profound respect for tradition.

The writer, Gary Kamiya, goes on to say, "...Or at least it used to stand for those things." The article is a very clear assessment of the damages, and even hints at the fact that eventually, perhaps even under a different banner, those values (if not the Republican Party) will find their way into public discourse once again in a serious and un-hypocritical way.


Cathy said...

OK, my friend. You watched Frontline. Did you also watch Ken Burn's 'The War'? All Americans owe it to these brave and sometimes shattered souls - to listen to their stories.

It's a dangerous world and always will be. Today, our enemies want Armageddon, not the spoils of aggression as did Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.

The Allies could not have prevailed had the MSM covered their military blunders, their strategic stumbles, in the manner they do today.

So when Gary Kamiya makes this statement listing the President's malfeasance: " . . . and from authorizing torture to approving illegal wiretapping to launching a self-destructive war . . " - this conservative reader prays that thinking people start to believe in the real Evil threatening our comfortable lives.

Read Hanson's piece today for the true threats to our security.

We may stumble in this effort to thwart the jihadists' dreams of our submission or annihilation, but in a world in which biological vectors and agents can sicken and kill millions, and a dirty bomb in a city center can collapse our economy - I'll err on the side of self-preservation.

C'mon. If an elected American president over-reaches - we throw 'em out. On the other hand - if an American president fails to make the difficult decisions to take the steps and measures necessary to prevent another 9-11 . . .

Casey said...

Great comment, Cathy -- I want to read the Hanson before I respond at length. I'm assuming Victor Davis? NY Times? I can't find it.

Cathy said...


Oct. 22 - 'Congress' New Role'

Casey said...

That was a good article Cathy, as I suspected it would be... It seems to me that what some of the conservatives-who've-jumped-ship are responding to is a kind of fatigue that's induced by being constantly on alert, or, fearful. I agree that jihadists aren't just abstractions, and that there are people who really would like to topple the entire order of things in the West. But I've concluded (most recently, anyway) that the issue has more to do with specifics (U.S. support in Israel) than it does with generalities (America's preference for free markets, gender equality, etc.). I remember my uninformed and naive first reaction on 9-11: I was 23 that day, and when I saw what was happening, I asked myself, "What in the world did we do to make anyone this mad?"

However unjustified the violence was and has been, the answer to my question, regrettably, has not been "Nothing" for a long time...

*Note: Between the lines, of course, I'm suggesting that stationing American military in places like Kuwait and South Korea and elsewhere is part of the cause. But I'd be happy to hear someone argue that our "military adventures" abroad are necessary so long as there is some concession that America does sometimes use its military as more than direct defense (i.e., protecting Isreal--which may or may not be "worth it" for our government; I think the point is arguable).

Richard said...

That Hanson article is actually pretty worthless.

We live in a comfortable little bubble here in the US, that comfort predicated on the immiseration of millions. That is the evil in the world. Where do we think our comfort comes from? How is it maintained? Who are the people who do the dirty labor around the world that gets us the oil we need, who make the clothing we wear? Jihadists aren't "abstractions" but they didn't come from nowhere. If we'd ever left them the fuck alone, they wouldn't give a damn about us. Finally the "real Evil threatening our comfortable lives" is merely the logical endgame of capital accumulation, when we find ourselves increasingly living in conditions resembling those lived in by people around the world, as we wonder what the hell happened.

"What in the world did we do to make anyone this mad?"

The answer to this has never been nothing.

Casey said...


I love this response. Thanks for jumping in. Of course, the spector here is something like Nazism and our (perhaps) responsibility as the world's policemen... I agree with you that our presence in the Middle East probably can be understood as a cause of 9-11 (which isn't, of course, justification). Still, isolationism isn't without its own set of problems, right?

However mundane it is, I find myself moderately positioned between Richard and Cathy. Apologies to readers who appreciate a finely-composed polemic.

More commentary--anyone?

Casey said...

spectre. specter. spektor. Whatever.

S11 Republican said...

Sorry to burst the bubble here, but Salon.com is one of the last places on the entire Web that one should look for an objective assessment of the state of Conservatism in the U.S. The ideals of Conservatism are alive and as strong as ever, thank you very much - the only question is whether or not we Conservatives are being served well by Republicans, our nominal political party.

The premise of the article in question is laughable, as I would expect from the pen of a leftist: "... from authorizing torture to approving illegal wiretapping to launching a self-destructive war ..." The truth is that (1) there is zero evidence of authorized torture (2) the wiretapping in question isn't illegal, and (3) winning the war in the Middle East just might save Western Civilization.

We *do* have complaints with Republicans in precisely the issues that Gary Kamiya glossed over: (1) too much government spending on ever-growing socialist programs and (2) not closing and protecting the border, and ensuring that all visitors check in at Immigration as the law requires.

Conservatism is Conservatism, whether or not there's a Conservative President or party in charge. The problem is that the Republicans in D.C., who are supposed to be Conservative, have been drifting to the Left in domestic policy. That's a big reason Republicans lost Congress in '06 - why should a Conservative vote for a socialist just because there's an (R) next to his name?

Casey said...

Thanks for a more "objective" description of conservatism, s11.