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June 13, 2006


It seems to me that conservatives have also been either ignoring or denying the evidence on climate change over the years. And a similar point could also be made about the Bush administration's selective and distorting use of intelligence on WMDs in the build up to the Iraq war (more a point about neoconservative ideologues, I suppose).

Also, what do you mean by "theological" in your last paragraph? If the vices of this kind of analysis are the "compromise, moderation, and other signs of impurity" that you cite, then it seems "fundamentalist" might be a better word. However, if you mean thinking that seeks to confirm an proposition already given by authority, then I can see how you might be using the term in some medieval/scholastic sense.

I'm not a conservative, but if I might point out a defense: if conservatism is (broadly) defined as an interest in limited government, based on skepticism of overreach, then it's very hard to see how Bush's "Big Government" style of conservatism is a failure of conservatism, per se. I mean, if we all agree that we dislike it, then that seems to me to be an endorsement of the idea that we ought to be far more modest with government policy.

In other words, a conservative who assumes power and stretches it badly or too far has failed; not the idea that power should be more limited.

As someone -- who, I forget -- once said, a conservative in power is no longer a conservative.

...a conservative in power is no longer a conservative.

If that is the case, then conservatism is an ideology that will always fail. History has shown that communism and socialism are also faulty ideologies. Is conservatism the communism of the new millenium?

This kind of "analysis," which liberals frequently engage in as well, is essentially theological. Every political failure is attributed to compromise, moderation, or other signs of impurity.

Which liberals frequently engage in as well.

Got an example for that, or is this just some free floating balance thing you throw out there.

In fact, as with President Clinton, woundly criticized as "the best Republican President of my lifetime" by several notable bloggers; liberals "seem" to be more likely to criticize success which is non-liberal among people who are said to be "liberal."

And here's the thing:

Conservatives seem to be allowed to define themselves, Gerorge W. Bush is a conservative because he says so and people who claim to be conservatives say so.

Hillary Clinton is a "liberal" because people who claim to be conservatives say so, and people seeking free-floating balance say so.

I'm not so sure Hillary Clinton actually says so.

So, maybe yeah, "classical conservatives" who have remained remarkably silent about Mr. Bush's apostasy until recently may have a point. It would be nice if they'd made the point six years ago, five years ago... OR even on 9/12.

Meanwhile, it's not hard to find people who called themselves liberals who criticized DLC Bill Clinton a not-actually-liberal in real time.

Indeed, the same was true of Al Gore. That was, I think, the point of the Nader thing in 2000.

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