Monday, May 8, 2006

One Word Led to Another: Conservatives Are Spoiled Children.

Scarcely a day goes by that a Republican doesn’t bleat in my ear that he is disappointed with George W. Bush. Usually I have nothing to say because at my age and blood-pressure level, one should think twice before he blows a gasket. The good thing is that few conservatives are actually unpatriotic, as I believe old friend Pat Buchanan has become: sour, jaundiced, not just reactionary but near anarchic, interested in rubbing old scabs raw—Hitler didn’t ever mean to go to war with us; FDR maneuvered us into war at Pearl Harbor; we ought to pull up the drawbridge against the world; illegal immigrants are blocking legals’ access to treatment in hospital Emergency Rooms; NAFTA has ruined our manufacturing although we don’t realize it. No, the general run of conservatives who are displeased are not like Pat who hated internationalism since he imbibed his reactionary father’s views at the breakfast table. I did the same but I got over it. They never have because they’re children. Absolute dilettante children.

They went along with Bush for the ride—and when the ride turned bumpy, they started to complain. It’s good to be 77 going on 78 because you can find repetitive strains in the political history you’ve lived. After Ronald Reagan won in 1980, a certain strain of conservatives (one to which I belong, the pro-life strain) expected that a Republican president would (a) instantly change the Supreme Court; (b) and with a snap of his fingers overrule Roe v. Wade. Then there was a great brouhaha about the best way to get it done, not taking into account the political realities: the fact that the Congress was only faintly Republican, that a good number of Republicans were not pro-life, that a vacancy had to open up on the high court for it to be filled.

Impatient because there was no instant vacancy after Reagan took the oath, like angry little boys and girls, the social conservatives began to argue among themselves about the nature of the constitutional amendment they wanted to outlaw abortion. Nellie Gray wanted a what she called a paramount amendment. Jesse Helms, normally a realist, supported a variant of this. Orrin Hatch wanted an amendment that would put the question up to the states, allowing them to decide (which the states were doing before Roe). There were many disputes over the kind of amendment to be passed by two-thirds of the Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states. It was a glorious ideological blood bath.

But it was conducted by conservatives who were engaged in blinding themselves to reality: they didn’t have the votes to pass any amendment through the Congress nor the votes to carry the requisite number of states. Then they woke up from this revelry and hunkered down for the long fight. Today the idea of a constitutional amendment has been discarded in favor of the Court negating Roe. But if the opportunity wasn’t at hand for another Court appointment, all of us—and I mean all of us pro-lifers, Nellie Gray included—would gladly buy the challenge the Hatch amendment affords, which is the same opportunity we will have when the Court overthrows Roe. We see the prospect of the Court turning the issue back to the states. Not a single soul among us would engage in the fantasy of a constitutional amendment, because we know through hard experience how tough it is to abolish abortion. Today pro-life organizations across the country are girding themselves for what they hope will be the fight in the states. How different, how beautifully realistic we are, compared to those hallucinogenic days after Reagan got in when we imagined we could win this battle overnight.

There was disillusionment with Reagan and the Republicans in Congress at the time, vows of punishment, retaliation—until conservatives wised up and grew up. The same foolishness is now being waged over President Bush. Like spoiled children, we vow we will stay home on election day, we call him “a great disappointment,” we will hold our breath until we turn blue: and cause red states to literally turn blue.

Barry Goldwater, facing the 1960 convention that nominated Richard Nixon with whom many on the right were disenchanted, said it well: “Grow up conservatives!” They did. The road to conservatism was long and hard: through the Goldwater campaign which, though a failure, recruited tens of thousands of recruits including Ronald Reagan…through the election of Richard Nixon in 1968…through the disenchantment with Nixon to Ford to the Reagan primary challenge of Ford…through Carter and finally Reagan. Thence through the wilderness with Clinton to Bush.

When Bush won in 2000, we were so hungry we thrilled to the prospect of someone appointing conservatives to the Court. Well, we are two-thirds of the way to conservatizing the Supreme Court, aren’t we? We wanted a strong presidency to push our country from the weaknesses of the post-Vietnam syndrome to a leadership position in the world (never mind whether or not foreign nations loved us or not). At 9/11 we wanted someone to move ahead, not get bogged down in arcane negotiations with the UN—someone who would return us to a dominant position, which, many of us felt, just might obviate another attack on our shores. We wanted a secretary of state who was firm, not a wishy-washy Madeleine Albright. We wanted a secretary of defense who would take risks with his popularity to see us through crises, not an abstract theorist like Les Aspin or a part-time novelist and poet like William Cohen. We wanted all this and an economy that would be booming, not a stagflation economy under Jimmy Carter; we even hoped to have economic growth and employment top the figures under Bill Clinton.

We wanted to have a vice president of the United States who was a human being, not a squirrelly eco-nut whose staff would advise him to wear earth tones to attract male voters, one who would spend his waking hours trying to reinvent himself. We wanted to have our party recognized as receptive to equal opportunity, not as a pander bear for minorities. We wanted an administration that would signal a break from the old conservative milieu—an administration with what we call “heart.” Well, what have we got?

We have a president who is the most decisive chief executive since Franklin Roosevelt, and even more important, determined to do what he thinks is right no matter how his popularity suffers. A president who has faced graver threats to our homeland security than any other president since James Madison (on whose watch the White House and Capitol were burned). A president who has kept his pledge to conservatize the Court, who has named two outstanding conservative jurists and is poised to name a third and possibly the decisive vote to turn this country and its foul counter-culture around. A president who by his actions in Iraq, it can be reasonably argued, has prevented attacks on us on these shores. A president who has fought for tax cuts that spurred the economy and helped improve our lives. A president who understands that business regulation should be fair, that of a referee on the playing field, not a referee who plays with the opposition.

We have a vice president who has peerless experience: as secretary of defense, Congressman, chief of staff to a president, who when he speaks brings to bear preponderant intellectual strength from that almost matchless experience. What other vice president in the history of this country has had this experience? Think! I’ll tell you: no one. John Adams had legislative experience, no executive; Jefferson had legislative and the governorship of Virginia (from which he fled as fast as his horse could carry him when the British approached).

We have a secretary of state who is one of the most effective managers of statecraft since Foster Dulles teamed with Eisenhower to begin to roll back the challenge of communism. And quite incidentally, a secretary who happens to be one of the brightest, most accomplished, black women in the world—no token, no affirmative action appointment she. We have a secretary of defense who at an advanced age is jeopardizing his health and is fighting against demands for his scalp—not just from partisan Democrats (one would expect that), but from Billy Kristol, no less: one who has not gone to war but who from his ivory tower at his magazine holds aloft a wooden sword and commands we go to war with Iran and kick China in the gonads.

(Yeah, he’s our guy, this Kristol and I happen to agree with him a lot on foreign-defense policies but not when he savages his own: with a purring voice sounding like something from the Harvard faculty lounge, a talking head on Fox whose top job was assistant to Dan Quayle). We have a secretary of defense who has to defend himself from our own side, with Kristol and others calling for his firing. And this in the middle of a war.

Many of you don’t remember World War II except from the old news-reels. When it ended, in 1945, I was within one year of being drafted. I remember those years very well. We were in a war: a different kind from this but we are in a war now which is much tougher to fight since there is no country but a twisted, perverted movement called Islamic fascism. I do not remember Franklin Roosevelt’s party stabbing him mid-way in that war as repeatedly as much of the Republican party is doing to Bush. The Democrats were loyal to Roosevelt, even as they knew he was sacrificing his very life for this nation: that he was ill, probably too ill to serve. They had respect and fought for him like tigers. I know: I was there.

So what do we hear from conservatives? Yowling about Bush’s failure to veto a single bill. Listen, I agree with you on the spending. But don’t you have the common decency to rally behind this man while a war is on? Yowling about a too-compassionate view on immigration. Listen, I tend to be more with him than you, but don’t you have the commonest loyalty to stand with the man you elected and reelected in the midst of war?

Gertrude Stein said of the nihilistic, spoiled literary people who had fled the U.S. for Paris post-World War I: “You are all a lost generation.” By which she meant there was no maturity, just whining and drinking and womanizing in Paris while the U. S. was picking itself up following that war, building industries, raising families, inventing new machines. She was right.

Now I tell you conservatives who bitch and moan over Bush (“oh he spends too much…he’s not articulate…he hasn’t vetoed anything…he spends too much”) to grow up and stop being spoiled, pampered children. Do more than get a life: decide to fight for this life and be soldiers, loyal, to the one who leads us in a war.

Frankly, conservatives: You don’t deserve what you have. The only trouble is that by whining and moaning, you show the weaknesses that have been laid to the doorstep of our generation: an America without much will. How can conservatives galvanize an America for will if they can’t galvanize themselves to be loyal to the man they elected?

In essence, you make me sick.


  1. President Bush would get conservative support if he would back conservative policy.

    Bush enacted the third largest entitlement program (through bribes and threats) via the RX Medicare program with a price tag larger than the current SS deficit. Domestic non defense spending grows at a higher rate under Bush than under Clinton.

    Bush campaigned against nation building and then he pledged over 2,000 American lives and over $1 Trillion when all is said and done to fulfill the plans of the Neocon Project for a New American Century (led by among others Kristol who will not be satisfied until every country in the planet is occupied by American troops while not protecting our borders from an invasion of 30 million - we need cheap labor).

    Bush and his "Log Cabin" handlers (Rove, Mehlman) are just as obsessed about short term polls and numbers as Clinton and they show no remorse while sacrificing conservative principle.

    Conservatives are grateful for their handful triumphs - Conservative judges and tax cuts - but they came at too great a cost - the selling out of America's long term viability for "A few elections (and tens of $ trillions) more”. Compassionate conservativism is neither compassionate to the children and grandchild who will be left holding the bag nor is it conservative in any sense of the word.

    Mexico's long term plans include repatriating the SW of America within 60 years and their current plans is to obtain dual citizenship and voting rights for the 30 - 50 million illegals here so they can extend their influence. China's long term plan is to take over America's economic leadership and our CEOs and government are very happy to oblige.

    What is our plan?
    (part two follows)

  2. What is our plan?

    Worldwide nation building? Sacrificing over a trillion dollars and thousands of Americans to fulfill some Neocon concocted scheme (which they later distance themselves from) while leaving our nation's borders free for invasion of 30 - 50 million illegal aliens? Enacting one of the largest socialist programs in our history which will bankrupt this nation for your children and grandchildren you write this blog? Relinquishing our borders and sovereignty so we spend $0.10 less for an apple? Selling out our manufacturing jobs so we can spend $0.10 less on a pair of socks? Brother can you spare a dime?

    The largest government deficits, trade deficits and future benefit obligations ever in our history and growing by leaps and bounds with new $12 trillion entitlement welfare schemes (over $76 trillion in unfunded entitlements or $30 trillion more than the current net worth of our nation).

    Children cry when their parents do not give them what they want, when they want it. Ice cream cones and electronic games are entitlements to be given on demand paid for by parents with unlimited resources. It is only after children grow up that they realize money is finite and sacrifice and planning for the long term is needed to create a better life for their children. Americans are looking for grownups to lead them but all they see are children bickering over their toys with no care of what tomorrow brings. We need grownups on both sides of the aisle but precious few are to be found in Washington these days.

    A Ron Paul / Pat Buchanan Conservative

  3. Tom,

    You had me soul searching with that post. Am I too hard on the Administration? Sometimes maybe, but I like to think that much of the criticism coming from economic conservatives has been tough love rather than abandonment. Fighting on judges, the new government on Iraq, and economic growth all portend well for the President as we move closer to the election day.

    Congress, on the other hand, well that's another story. President Bush early on agreed that he wouldn't embarass Congress with vetos and the GOP Congress has been rolling him ever since. I think the crankiness toward them is justified.

  4. Tom,

    Very good post. It is too bad you don't apply the same reasoning to state politics. Conservatives are whining and crying since they didn't win the governor's primary. They want to take their ball and go home. Well, go. Republicans and conservatives will win without the crybabies.

  5. I was surprised that you praised Bush for being decisive. If he makes the wrong decisions, then it's no virtue. Even worse, Bush can't admit when he's made a mistake. And so, it's no surprise that he calls upon us to stay the course even when it would make better sense to do something different. The longer this administration goes on, the more I see parallels with the Civil War. What we need is a Lincoln and instead we've got Jefferson Davis.

  6. Tom, maybe Al Harris is right. Maybe you are turning into David Frum.

    Have you actually read anything Buchanan has written (or other anti-war conservatives). Buchanan, unlike the others, actually (incorrectly) thinks the U.S. needs to see this debacle through.

    Since when does a conservative blindly get in line behind the government. Have you learned nothing from the last century, the bloody century, when
    states murdered about 162,000,000 million of their own subjects. And here we have a "conservative" putting his utmost faith in the State, something "conservatives" used to (correctly) ridicule liberals for.

    Even after the horrors of the 20th century it is sad that you still worship at the altar of the State when you should be talking about the State the way Jews talk about Hitler.

    Other anti-war conservatives are against this precisely because they are patriotic and they know it is the (or very close to the) greatest foreign policy disaster in the country's history.

  7. To quote your buddy Tom Fleming's response to neo-con David Frum when he accused conservatives of being "unpatriotic":

    "I cannot speak for others, but here at Chronicles, we are too busy with our own lives and families to be able to waste time hating strangers. We dislike them, largely on aesthetic and moral grounds, but they are not worth hating. So far from hating the Republican Party, we wish it well and hope that it will some day purge itself of the neoconservative leftists who have infiltrated it, but-and this is something they will never understand-we do not have a party. We give our loyalties to our families, our country, and our God. We leave it to Nazis, Trotskyists, and unprincipled opportunists to proclaim their loyalty to party." -

    Real conservatives knew what they were getting and never went along for the ride with Bush. They voted Buchanan or sat out. You don't even remember having your morning radio show summer 2000 with your buddy Tom Fleming when many a wary conservative called and told you they were sitting out or voting Buchanan or Libertarian? I certainly do. Don't blame conservatives (all conservatives) for the Bush debacle. Blame regular Republicans. Real conservatives were never on the Bush ship.

    I don't know the "we" you keep referring to in your article but real conservatives just wanted a Strict Constructionist. Not a modern day LBJ. They wanted the "humble foreign policy" GWB promised, not the reincarnation of Woodrow Wilson.

  8. The president who "conservatize[d] the Court" did so precisely because conservatives smacked him down when he wanted to appoint Harriet Miers, who would have liberalized it. If conservatives hadn't "whined" Harriet Miers would be on the Supreme Court today. The conservatives were successful despite of Bush, not because of him.

    While you lionize the VP, he's out starting a new Cold War with Russia. Whatever happened to Washington's Farewell Address?

    Why should conservatives rally behind a war that was bad from the start and is only going to get worse? The patriotic, decent thing, to do is to get our troops home. If it wasn't in our interests to begin with it certainly isn't in our interests to stay.

    Where is the maturity in following a leader down a dark path? Where is the maturity in begging for scraps from Longshanks table? Where is there anything even remotely conservative in putting your utmost faith in the government? Where is the maturity, knowing that all the State stands for is organized force and having the last Century as bloody evidence, in expecting it to continue to "protect" you?

    Bush’s apologists (and they are shrinking) can't say what he stands for. His entire presidency has been a reaction to events and pressures: 9/11, entitlements, Alito, hurricanes, etc.

  9. The Bush debacle was, sadly, avoidable. Whatever he has done to liberalism is nothing compared to what he has done to "conservatism". He has (almost) made Bill Clinton look conservative by comparison. I suppose all it would take for you to line up behind Bill Clinton would for him to change his party affiliation.

    "I cannot speak for others, but here at Chronicles, we are too busy with our own lives and families to be able to waste time hating strangers. We dislike them, largely on aesthetic and moral grounds, but they are not worth hating. So far from hating the Republican Party, we wish it well and hope that it will some day purge itself of the neoconservative leftists who have infiltrated it, but-and this is something they will never understand-we do not have a party. We give our loyalties to our families, our country, and our God. We leave it to Nazis, Trotskyists, and unprincipled opportunists to proclaim their loyalty to party." -