Davos Newbies Home

The perfect antidote to all that triumph of the right nonsense 

The best thing I’ve read recently on American political alignment is Mark Schmitt’s essay American Conservatism, RIP (with his also recent Can There Be a Progressive Movement Without Organized Labor at its Center? not far behind). It’s a wonderful antidote to the article I’ve read at least a dozen times by different authors on the absolute triumph of the right in America. I’ll quote at length, which is something I don’t usually do:

  Even if Bush is reelected by a sizable margin, the intellectual enterprise known as modern American conservatism has been utterly shattered and bankrupt. This is not Bush’s achievement alone, but the Republican Congress’s as well, the result of a long era of decadence and self-dealing that began with conservatism’s triumph in 1994.
  For the last several years, liberals have bemoaned the idea that conservatives seemed to have a coherent, relatively simple philosophy: small government, low taxes, free trade, strong defense but non-interventionist foreign policy. But what is left of conservatism now except tax cuts, especially tax cuts that benefit particular financial interests? Tax cuts are not conservatism. They are not a coherent worldview. They were a part of the conservative philosophy, but not an end in themselves. Stripped out of the larger framework of smaller government, of modesty about the possibilities of change, of respect for tradition and history, and of the sense that central government can be oppressive as easily as it can be liberating, tax cuts amount to nothing more than a material benefit for a few, and a long-term liability for everyone else. Put another way, imagine that the animating ideas of liberalism were reduced to this promise: “We will create a new cabinet-level agency every single year.” That’s not a vision that can attract deep loyalty, and neither is the promise of a tax cut every year.
  If Bush loses, serious conservatives, with the possible exception of extreme social conservatives, will have to ask themselves what they gained from four years of unfettered power, and ten years of domination of American politics. Government is “bigger” by every measure, and more intrusive. A pet idea, Social Security privatization, was actually discredited by their president’s incompetence. Younger voters are increasingly turned off by the social conservatism, so the movement is not expanding its base. A huge new entitlement was created. The federal role in education expanded. And poor planning and dishonesty over Iraq weakened our defense, our credibility, and made it impossible to set a clear standard for when we would intervene and when not.
  All the tax cuts have done is to postpone the day we pay for these things.
  And if Bush wins, all this will still be true. Especially after a vicious campaign that offered no clear and persuasive conservative vision, it will be no easier for Bush to enact a conservative mandate. The corrupt short-term political bargains will only continue. If Bush wins, Karl Rove may be deemed a tactical genius, but the chances of a significant ideological realignment of American politics are lower than at any time since 2000. A smart conservative would surely prefer Bush to lose, if only to get the long process of intellectual rebuilding started right away.

Very good news: Clinton to campaign 

BBC: “Former US President Bill Clinton will join White House hopeful John Kerry to campaign in Pennsylvania, aides say. The 58-year-old will appear at a rally on Monday, seven weeks after he had quadruple heart bypass surgery.”

This is just the shot in the arm that the Kerry campaign needs in the final days. Things are going in the right direction, but no one is better than Clinton at galvanising the supporters that will need to turn up on election day.

So where’s Bush going to be on Saturday?  

Matt Gross speculates:

  So Bush is returning to Crawford on Saturday, or so his schedule says. Atrios isn’t the only person who finds it odd that the President is taking a day off 9 days before the General Election. Speculation in the blogosphere leans toward:
  A) Bush’s health continues to deteriorate, and he needs rest/treatment, or
  B) This is the October surprise, and Bush will show up on Saturday in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Boris’s own version of eating humble pie 

Boris Johnson, MP, newspaper columnist and editor of The Spectator, has plenty of ways of getting his views out. But I don’t think you’ll read a better account of his mea culpa visit to Liverpool than on his own weblog:

  There are some who say that it was outrageous that Johnson the editor should have been ordered to eat humble pie by Michael Howard. But they miss the point, that I was already consuming large quantities of humble pie before Michael made his suggestion, that any editor would have felt obliged to make some amends for that article — in view of the outrage that was provoked — and that, in any event, Johnson the politician apologises for and refuses to apologise for exactly the same things as Johnson the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *