Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ranking Conservatives

A Proposed Pecking Order for Honest Conservatives

Brad DeLong
via C&L

Who should we ... respect--and give a boost to, in terms of reading them, arguing with them rather than mocking them, debating them, and suggesting that others read them?
As far as honest conservatives are concerned, it's a difficult question. Those I usually suggest--economists like Bruce Bartlett and Andrew Samwick and Bill Niskanen, strategists like Richard Clarke and Tom Barnett and Brent Scowcroft, social policy types like Rod Dreher and John DiIulio, unclassifiables like Andrew Sullivan and Ross Douthat--I find dismissed as "not typical conservatives. We want a representative of the conservative point of view. Someone like Larry Kudlow or Ramesh Ponnuru."
It strikes me that those who reject my advice are (as is almost always true) making a mistake. They are going about it the wrong way. We want an "honest conservative"--a conservative intellectual adversary we can respect, who is also intelligent. But their first move is to define a "conservative" as a public supporter of the Bush regime and its deeds. That means, I think, that they are searching the empty set.
Slavoj Zizek applied this to the puppet regimes of Eastern Europe under the iron curtain:
The Trilemma: Of the three features—-personal honesty, sincere support of the regime, and intelligence—-it was possible to combine only two, never all three. If one was honest and supportive, one was not very bright; if one was bright and supportive, one was not honest; if one was honest and bright, one was not supportive...
But it applies just as well to the Bush regime. Sincere conservative supporters are not bright. Bright conservative supporters are not honest. Bright and honest conservatives are not supporters--and so are ruled out, and we are left with Larry Kudlow and Ramesh Ponnuru.
I think we should recognize that the intelligent, honest conservatives out there are not Bush supporters, and turn that to our advantage in selecting honorable intellectual adversaries.
What I would like is a list of "honest conservatives" who fit into the following categories--and let me try to give an example of a person whose existence is recognized by the mainstream media for each class:
  • Class of 2000: People who in 2000 said, "George W. Bush is not qualified to be president, and we should be really worried about this."
  • Class of 2001: People who in 2001 said, "I supported Bush in 2000, but George W. Bush is not listening to his honest conservative policy advisers, and we should be really worried about this." John DiIulio
  • Class of 2002: People who in 2002 said, "I supported Bush in 2000 and 2001, but 911 has unhinged the administration; it's detention and other policies are counterproductive; it needs to be opposed." Richard Clarke
  • Class of 2003: People who in 2003 said, "I supported Bush over 2000-2002, but enough is enough. That's it. I supported the invasion of Iraq because I was certain there was evidence of an advanced nuclear weapons program--otherwise invading Iraq was just stupid. Well, there was no advanced nuclear weapons program. Invading Iraq was just stupid. Plus there's the Medicare drug benefit. These people need to be evicted from power." Tim Barnett, Bill Niskanen [Daniel Drezner]
  • Class of 2004: People who in 2004 said, "I've been a Bush supporter. I'm a Republican and a conservative, but I've had enough: I'm voting for Kerry." Andrew Sullivan, Bruce Bartlett, Brent Scowcroft, Dan Drezner
  • Class of 2005: People who in 2005 said, "I voted for Bush in 2004. But I made a mistake. A big mistake." [Lawrence Wilkerson].
  • Class of 2006: People who in 2006 said, "I know I supported Bush up to last year, but that shows I'm not the brightest light on the clued-in tree." Rod Dreher, Andrew Samwick

The class of 2007--people who are now opposed to Bush only because they think Bush will drag the Republicans down in 2008 -- doesn't count. Dead-enders who are still claiming that Bush is Teddy Roosevelt don't count. They aren't honest conservatives. They are only worth scorn, and fit objects for nothing but mockery. One just doesn't joust with them in honorable intellectual combat. It's not done.
I say divide "honest conservatives" into the classes of 2000 to 2006, rank them by seniority according to the date of their public honesty, and use that as a ranking for who to read, who to respect, and who to promote as worthy intellectual adversaries. Refer to them using this citation form:
Brent Scowcroft, Honest Conservative Class of 2004...
Who else falls where in this classification?

Brad DeLong has a new ranking system for ... honest conservatives … And then this very insightful entry
Now comes Rick Perlstein:
He explains how “honest conservatives of the class of 2007″ - the ones who only thought to turn away from Bush when it became obvious both was destroying the Republicans and the conservative project and empowering the Democrats and the liberal project - will use the public’s memory of Bush’s disasters to, well, destroy the Democrats and the liberal project. And, most importantly, points out that the media will let them get away with it
and then Digby steps up to the plate:
You can see the contours already as you observe the unbelievable sight of the House Republicans taking to the floor to assail the Dems for earmarks. Really. They are. They have no shame and no conscience and they can switch gears and turn on the phony sanctimony without even a sheepish grin to show they know they are full of shit. For them this is combat by any means necessary and they simply don’t care if someone says they are hypocrites…read on

. . .. ... ..... ........ oOo ........ ..... ... .. . .

Class of 2008

¡Scott McClellan! 5.27.2008

. . .. ... ..... ........ oOo ........ ..... ... .. . .


. . .. ... ..... ........ oOo ........ ..... ... .. . .

2010.02.21 Smerconish Party's Over

.... Collegiality is nonexistent today, and any outreach across an aisle is castigated as weakness by the talking heads who constantly stir a pot of discontent. ... All of which leaves homeless those of us with views that don't stack up neatly in any ideological box the way we're told they should.

I think President Obama is earnest, smart, and much more centrist than his tea party caricature suggests. He has never been given a fair chance to succeed by those who openly crow about their desire to see him fail (while somehow congratulating one another on their relative patriotism). ... I'm not folding the tent on him. Not now. Not with the nation fighting two wars while its economy still teeters on the brink of collapse.

All of which leaves me in a partisan no-man's-land, albeit surrounded by many others, especially my neighbors. By quitting the GOP, I have actually joined the largest group of American voters.

. . .. oOo .. . .

March 2010 David Frum

  • The Daily Dish, Frum's Departure From AEI Reax March 26, 2010
    • But here's where David and I agree: we both grew up when conservatism was intellectually sharp and interesting. Its current brutal anti-intellectualism, its open hostility to moderation in any form; its substitution of purer and purer ideology for actual, pragmatic ideas: these are trends that have left a lot of us on the center right marooned. I think David may well be glad he is now formally ostracized. It will liberate him and his formidable mind. Serious thinking conservatives know that these are times for real re-thinking, not more positioning. Julian Sanchez:
      One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!) This epistemic closure can be a source of solidarity and energy, but it also renders the conservative media ecosystem fragile.
[x-ref the question: to what extent Frum's apostasy & excommunication fit the 'class of 2010' criteria (e.g., Yglesias, Varadarajan, Coates) -ed.]

. . .. oOo .. . .

January 2011 honorable mentschen ;) for Joe Scarborough

August 2016 TPM Guide to GOPers Hopping off the Trump Train

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