Republican Party

Best Analysis of Modern Conservatism Ever

As a companion to Chait's piece, David Frum wrote what I believe to be the finest analysis of modern conservatism to be committed to print.

Seriously, read it.

It's so refreshing to read an item by a Republican -- a conservative Republican -- who's being honest about his party and about reality. This was especially revelatory:

Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment.

I've said that, too, but it gains significant weight coming from a former Bush speechwriter.

One thing Frum missed is the fact that a lot of former Bush supporters felt so burned by accurate liberal criticisms about Bush (incompetent, intellectually vacant, arrogant, etc), they've engaged in childish pay-back by using anti-Bush slams against President Obama -- even if they don't fit. I hear about President Obama's "arrogance and stupidity" on talk radio all the time, not to mention apoplectic freakouts about how the president is circumventing the Constitution. This president. Yeah.

I'd love to talk with Frum about the issues. We disagree on just about everything in terms of policy, but I wouldn't have to enumerate the history of the teleprompter or the Hawaii origins of the president's birth certificate in order to engage about those policy differences.

  • D_C_Wilson

    There are three things that pretty much define the republican mindset these days.

    1) Ever since the Reagan years, there has been a growing sense in the GOP that the White House is theirs by divine right.

    2) They simply cannot mentally process the fact that Obama won the election. In their minds, his election should be impossible. It’s not just that he’s of mixed parentage, or that his father was from Africa, or that he has an “exotic” name. It’s all of those things plus that he’s a democrat. They just cannot fathom how someone like him has taken “their” White House. That’s why they have to keep repeating these fantasies about ACORN or the New Black Panthers or naked birtherim. They cannot and will never accept that Obama is the legitimately elected POTUS.

    3) Conservative ideology, as defined today by the philosophies of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand is not only infallible, but self-evident. Like Obama’s election, they cannot process the idea that the electorate might reject it. A prime example is their genuine shock when the Ryan plan proved grossly unpopular, even among current recipients of Medicare. Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed. Hence why their response to every defeat is to dig in further to the right.

    Putting these three things together, it’s easy to see how they’ve gone completely over the deep end.

  • Camel54

    That really was a breath of fresh air. Thx for bringing that to my attention. I get so tired of having the argument with friends and family that I’m too caught up in party politics, that I attack Republicans b/c I’m a Democrat when the reality is that I’m attacking the modern Republicans, the wingnuts who have taken over. I honestly believe in the balance of two parties b/c I am sure that Frum is right that a completely unchecked government of Democrats would go off the rails just like unchecked Republicanism has.

    It’s funny, I saw David Brooks on PBS last night saying plainly that the answer to our economic and deficit issues are clear, we all know it, we’ve all been dancing around the solutions, which amount to revenue increases as well as spending reductions. And of course I don’t agree with Brooks on the proportions of those things, but I was at least happy to hear another conservative just say that all this anti-revenue religion is killing the whole country.

    How much would I love to see opposition acting as statesmen. Behaving in a way where ideas can be debated and compromises made for the good of the majority rather than ideologies being adhered to venomously for the peril of all.

  • Robert

    I liked to be challenged on my views, which is why I look outside liberal news and blogs for information. Unfortuanely, it is hard to find conservatives who will debate the issues, without resorting to the talking points of Fox news and the nutty fringe. It’s easy to debate the history of our debt with a conservative who actually thinks for themselves, but with the Fox News/Tea Party crowd, they will just resort to blaming Obama/Heath Care Reform/”the Obama Recession”/yadda yada. After a while the debate gets boring.

  • Brutlyhonest

    Speaking of their alternate reality, there was a letter in the East Wingnuttistan paper today explaining how the pilgrims only survived by giving up their socialist ways and used selfish capitalism – they stopped sharing with everyone and each family kept what they produced so everyone worked harder. So much for T-day being about sharing!

    You can’t have a rational discussion with these people.

    • Ned F

      which paper? I’d love to hit myself with a brick. No, really, which paper, gotta link?

  • Corebela

    I noticed the similarities between Obama and Bush criticisms right after he was elected probably during the health care bull. It was so clear to me that they were just being childish ninnies because I’m young I still remember how children are and republicans are just like children.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Too true. Pretty much every slam ever made against Bush has been repeated and turned around onto Obama.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    It’s a very good article, and it acknowledges the alternate reality in which GOP fans exist:

    [C]onserv­atives have built a whole alternativ­e knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternativ­e reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosit­y. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—what­ever his policy ­errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompt­er, an affirmativ­e-action ­phony doomed to inevitable defeat. … We used to say ‘You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.’ Now we are all entitled to our own facts, and conservati­ve media use this right to immerse their audience in a total environmen­t of pseudo-fac­ts and pretend informatio­n.

    Of course, we’ve known this for some time.

    And Frum is not immune to it either, despite his protestations and his attempt to seem “reasonable.” He engages in exaggeration, distortion and mischaracterization just as well when he says things like “President Obama’s stimulus plan was mostly a compilation of antique Democratic wish lists,” refers blithely to “an Obama administration that wants to build a permanently bigger government,” and trots out the generic, boilerplate, vague, meaningless, See-‘N’-Say Republican bogeywords of “too much government, too many taxes, and too much regulation” as the consequences of not electing Republicans, which is equivalent to having “the wrong answers” to America’s problems.

    Frum is almost there. But not quite.

    • JWheels

      This was almost my exact take on reading the article. Even Frum still relies too heavily on hyperbole and stereotypes to craft his vision of a United States under Democratic control once again. Barack Obama is definitely more liberal than a number of recent Democratic presidents, but even he is not as liberal as the bizarre fantasy-Obama seemingly envisioned by a large number of conservatives. If you look at his policies, although his ideas represent a leftward shift (we were so far right pretty much anything represents that IMO), Obama is still shifting toward a more practical and streamlined government. He has not had any objections to cutting fraud and waste where they might exist. I don’t think we are anywhere near seeing too much regulation, and how can there be too many taxes when our tax rates are lower than they have been in over fifty years.

      Frum makes some pretty bold admissions in the first half of his piece, but does a pretty good job of walking that back by the end of it. I imagine he may not be as financially safe from his recent rejection by the far right as he indicates in the beginning. Of course I don’t have the facts to back that up.

    • mrbrink

      Right on, Graf.

      Well said.

  • nicole

    I’d love to talk with Frum about the issues. We disagree on just about everything in terms of policy, but I wouldn’t have to enumerate the history of the teleprompter or the Hawaii origins of the president’s birth certificate in order to engage about those policy differences.

    Exactly why I’ve been reading Frum (to get a genuine, non-wingnutty Conservative viewpoint) since 2009.

  • DrLearnALot

    Shockingly, refreshingly insightful.

  • JackDaniel07

    After literally begging for over a year, I have yet to get even one conservative or wingnut friend to debate me on the real issues and policies. Its almost comedic to see how many ways they have skirted it

  • Jeff Fecke

    I’m hopeful that the conservatives lose in 2012 precisely because I think it would help bring folks like Frum back into the leadership of the GOP. I don’t agree with them, but we need two functional, reality-based parties in this country.

    • dildenusa

      I absolutely agree with you but I believe the current leadership of the republican party, aka tea party, that has taken over the reins of power through assholes like Grover Norquist has turned off what used to be called Reagan Democrats. The tea party republics has also turned off independent voters by the truckload and even evangelical voters are now appalled by the tea party republics philosophy of allowing people to die simply because someone made a bad economic decision like not having medical insurance.

      This show of ignorance by the tea party republics will only continue as their leadership and the current crop of tea party republic presidential nominees continues to pander to tea party republic voters.