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May 03, 2007

Happy Failure of Conservatism Day

onionheads, originally uploaded by Muunstruk.

The Campaign for America's Future's Failure of Conservatism conference is in full swing.

Watch for ongoing updates, special features, and commentary throughout the at the new CFA-sponsored blog, The Big Con.


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Conservatism hasn't failed, and can't (the same with liberalism...they are an inter-dependent dynamic.) Republican Right Wing Partisans make liberals and Democrats look conservative today. The irony AND the disappointment, is that, today, liberals ARE the conservatives.

BTW - great pic.

The day after Congress thought it would be swell to legalize torture, I went for a run, and the local GOP hq was holding a party outside. No joke.

But presumably it was a local fundraiser, so I didn't think much of it, till I ran past the building and heard the band they'd hired singing:

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
’relax,’ said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!


The big talking point we're hearing from the wingnuts--now that the "Commander Guy"'s approval ratings are in the toilet--is that Bush "isn't a conservative" and his Presidency is a failure because he drifted from the true path of St Ronnie the Gipper.

Robert Borosage has a terrific column in the Chicago Tribune that totally debunks this myth:

Even Gipper can't pull this one out

As Republican contenders for the presidential nomination gather for their first debate Thursday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, they are caught between a rock and a hard place. The vast majority of Americans have given up on George Bush, the sitting conservative president. But the die-hards who still support him are loyal Republican primary voters that no Republican candidate can afford to offend.

How can the contenders distance themselves from Bush's failures without alienating their own base? Expect them to invoke the conservative icon Ronald Reagan early and often. They'll call for a return to the faith, pledge to follow in the footsteps of the Gipper and "morning in America."

But the Gipper can't save them. Each of Bush's signature failures -- the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, Enron and the corporate scandals, failed tax and trade policies, the attempt to privatize Social Security, the posturing around Terri Schiavo and stem cells -- can be traced back not simply to the conservative ideology and ideologues that sired them -- but to the basic concepts that Reagan championed. The Gipper can't lead Republican candidates out of the wilderness because, to paraphrase, his conservatism is the problem, not the solution.

Over the last six years, with Bush in the White House, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ramrodding the Republican Congress and Karl Rove focused on mobilizing the Republican base, conservatives have largely had their way. Bush pursued the core ideas of each strand of "movement conservatism" largely to catastrophic effect. In each case, he was largely implementing what Reagan had previously championed.

Go read the whole thing.

This onion bunch of conservative candidates has the appearance of National Bad Hair Day.

It should be "Happy Failure of Neo-conservatism Day." One of the worst things about neoconservatives is that they are interlopers who failed to discard their leftist ideology when they invaded the Republican Party. (At once amusing-and-repellent datum: Richard Perle is a registered Democrat who idolizes JFK.)

R. O'B. - The neocons discarded huge swaths of leftist ideology, at least inasmuch as they ever subscribed to it. "America Uber Alles" has never been a leftist idea, but it is at the core of neoconservatism.

On the Perle point - it's hardly surprising to find that he idolizes the man behind the Bay of Pigs. JFK was a mediocrity with good looks. The press thoroughly fell for it, as did far too many Americans.

To be fair, the neoconservatives discarded the basic ideas of liberalism and even socialism, but never abandoned radicalism. The ease with which they moved from the extreme left to the extreme right is one of the main motivating forces behind my claim that radicalism is a political orientation distinct from the left, the center, and the right.

Alon, a comment worthy of Shadia Drury in "Leo Strauss and Neo-Conservatives." Their antidote: The "Red-White-and-Blue" beast of nihilism present that vaniquished the "Blond Beast" of nihilism past, and will vanquish the "Jihad Beast" of nihilism future. But a beast is a beast is a beast. Let us look forward to restoration of progressive liberalism.


Whatever else, the neocons thoughtless meddling in the Near East is something they inherited from Woodrow Wilson. America had no business charging into WWI, just as it had no business charging into Iraq. (From a realpolitik prospective, it would have been better to leave the Baathists, if not Saddam, in power; now we are faced with the very real possibility of another Shiite mullacracy in the region.

Scallions? Rapscallions.

Neoconservatism's approach to foreign policy is more in line with Teddy Roosevelt's than with Woodrow Wilson's. Wilson was an idealist and an internationalist, but he was also into international cooperation and peace. Wilson created the League of Nations; neoconservative intellectuals consider international organizations a bane, a view they share with paleoconservatives.

I don't know if there's an obvious intellectual heir to Wilson today, but if there is, it's Amartya Sen. Sen's notion that the most important thing to impart to a country in development is democratic government is superficially identical to this of many radicals, including communists and neoconservatives. But whereas communists and neoconservatives tend to bend the definition of democracy to suit their needs, so that for a communist Cuba is democratic while for a neoconservative apartheid South Africa was, Sen tends to use a more conventional definition, focusing mainly on the existence of a free press and multiparty elections.

Frankly - the neo-cons are not above feigning neo-Wilsonian rhetoric when it suits them.

Con is the operative term.

I caught the Kuttner/Kristol "debate" on CSPAN.
Kristol squirmed and offered bromides and played fast and loose with timelines. Kuttner laid down smooth paragraphs sagging under the weight, dense with damning facts and observations. it was a kick to watch and a lot better entertainment than a couple of republican front runners flopping like landed fish at their podium when asked about abortion. You might be able to play CSPAN's archived REALAUDIO from this page:,&ArchiveDays=100

Alon Levy wrote, Wilson was an idealist and an internationalist...

No, the sine qua non of Wilson is that he was a racist scum who extended Jim Crow to the Federal workforce.

No, the sine qua non of Wilson is that he was a racist scum who extended Jim Crow to the Federal workforce.

That was in domestic policy. In foreign policy, he was a paradigm case of a liberal internationalist.

That's just like how Teddy Roosevelt was domestically a progressive and internationally an imperialist.

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