The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Conservative Intellectuals: Cry me a river

Posted by Bill Nance on October 5, 2008

Lately we’ve been reading columnist after columnist associated with the Republican Right decry the Palin selection and tearing their clothes in mourning for the “good old days” of “conservatism.” I’m frankly getting sick of hearing it.

Whether it’s Kathleen Parker whining about how she’s become the victim of “vicious” attacks for daring to question Sarah Palin’s qualifications, or Andrew Sullivan‘s pathetic wistful idolatry of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, it seems people who have been “movement conservatives” are horrified over what has become of their precious movement.

Notably absent has been the slightest move toward taking responsibility for the damage they and their “movement” have wrought to the American polity.

The Palin phenomena, and the mindset of the vast numbers of people to whom she appeals, are largely the creation of these so-called “conservatives.” This did not happen out of nowhere. It’s been the work of 30 years labor to bring it about.

From Reagan to W., these folks have systematically manipulated both the radical religious right and their populist fellow travelers in a cynical strategy to demonize “liberals,” a class which they claimed included virtually anyone who believed in legal abortion, believed in a secularist government or had any substantial difference of opinion with their agenda. “You’re either with us or against us,” wasn’t a creation of George Bush. It was merely putting explicit words to a policy which the Republicans had been following since 1980. At least Bush was talking about other countries. His fellow travelers on the right had been using it against domestic political opposition since the days of Nixon.

Movement conservatives weren’t content to simply state their political case. They weren’t satisfied to do anything less than destroy their perceived enemy to the left. With no regard for the long and useful tradition of a loyal opposition or for that matter, actual facts, anyone who showed compassion for the poor, disagreed with a kneejerk adherence to the Truman Doctrine or dared question the Republican Canon of tax breaks for the rich and deregulation uber alles was the enemy; worthy only of contempt and destruction.

Now they have the temerity to gasp in horror at a conservative movement which has become the vehicle of hate, racism and anti-intellectualism; as though it was ever anything else. Does Andrew Sullivan think Reagan’s famous line about welfare queens was anything BUT code-word racism? Please, spare me the feigned shock.

These so-called “conservatives” have poisoned the well of information, the press, so well and faithfully that nowadays a giant portion of the population feels completely free to disregard any fact which doesn’t affirm their prejudices because, after all, it’s just the “liberal media,” who are not to be trusted.

They have set up straw man after straw man, claiming folks like or the ANSWER coalition are somehow representative of all Democrats, that the ACLU, takes only radical left-wing cases, or that the New York Times and Washington Post, newspapers which could cover their walls with Pulitzer prizes are all part of some vast left wing conspiracy to turn America into a socialist state. And when they haven’t been doing it themselves, they’ve been notably silent as the deeds have been carried out by proxies.

Where were these people in 2000 when frat boy George Bush, a man transparently stupid, and a miserable failure in every venture of his privileged life, said Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher? Where was their vaunted intellectual honesty then?

I’m quite happy to see movement conservatism getting its comeuppance. This is a movement which has damaged this country so badly we may never recover. Their failed ideologies and their uncritical support of smear tactics, deceipt and pandering to the very worst in human nature deserve to be thrown on the trash heap of history.

I’m only afraid that the damage they’ve done has so poisoned the country that the only thing which will result from the bonfire of the Republican brand will be an over-reaction by the Democrats. -A party only slightly less odious and demonstrably even more stupid, than their rivals.


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