Monday, June 07, 2010

Following Limbaugh's Lead, Fox News Watch Panel Questions Whether David Brooks is Actually a Conservative.

There is a bizarre notion circulating in conservative circles which claims that David Brooks is not really a conservative.

This is how narrow the conservative base is becoming in the light of the Tea Party movement. If you do not share their narrowly defined ideals, then you cease to be a conservative.

Consider the narrow point that conservative criticism of President Obama is unusually and often bafflingly, even embarrassingly facile. There are plenty of conservatives who recognize this. I can name six: Ross Douthat. Matt Lewis. David Frum. David Brooks. Conor Friedersdorf. Liz Mair. There are many more. But they have no incentive to police their own side. The moment they speak out, they're branded as apostates, and the conservative movement narrows even further. An impoverished opposition is bad for democracy. I subscribe to the Brendan Nyhan/Robert Frank notion that social shaming may well be a valid way for fact-checkers to convince more than a handful of people that the other side is simply wrong. Frum has done a serviceable job in calling out his fellow conservatives, but he does not possess the power or the infrastructure to shame people who cross a line. As Nyhan proposes, when someone like Frank Gaffney, who still gets invited to major events by reputable people, implies that President Obama a Muslim, he should be shamed into hiding by his fellow conservatives. (Shaming by liberals, or mere corrections, won't work, and will often promote the myth).
We saw all of this during the Bush years, where failure to back Bush no matter what he did meant that one became suspect.
What it takes to make someone a "conservative" in Bozell's eyes is the same as what is required in the eyes of all Bush followers -- a willingness to support Bush's actions because they are the actions of George Bush.
We see the same thing happening to hard-core conservative Bob Barr due to his criticism of Bush's violations of FISA . Similarly, the minute a Senator with years of conservatism behind them deviates from a Bush decree on a single issue, they are no longer "conservative." George Voinovich became a "liberal" the minute he refused to support John Bolton’s nomination; John Sununu is now "liberal" because he did not favor immediate renewal of every single provision of the Patriot Act which Bush demanded, and Senators like Chuck Hagel and John McCain long ago gave up any "conservative" status because of their insistence on forming opinions that occasionally deviate from the decrees from the White House.

People who self-identify as "conservatives" and have always been considered to be conservatives become liberal heathens the moment they dissent, even on the most non-ideological grounds, from a Bush decree. That’s because "conservatism" is now a term used to describe personal loyalty to the leader (just as "liberal" is used to describe disloyalty to that leader), and no longer refers to a set of beliefs about government.
This is where the right and the left differ. Anyone who reads here will know that I support Obama, but I find many areas where we disagree on policy or where I find him going far short of where I would like him to go.

On the right conservatism during the Bush years became a cult, tied to the notion that the leader was always right and that "real" conservatives must always back him.

The party now appears to be applying that same litmus test to the Tea Party movement and decrying anyone who doesn't agree with that movement's philosophy as no longer being a "real" conservative.

It's a further example of how bonkers these people are becoming.


Cecilieaux said...

An observation might help to clarify: the Bushies and the tea-party people alike are not merely conservative, they represent a budding fascism. This is neither bashing nor hyperbole.

What was more reminiscent of "Sieg Heil" than "USA! USA! USA!"? Let's remember that Hegelians of the right (the tea-partiers don't know they are, but so be it) have historically indulged in as many bloody purges as those of the left.

Kel said...

Now that you mention it I do remember those bizarre chants of USA, USA....

All very nationalistic...