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Sunday, February 12, 2006
What Is Conservatism?

Here's a buffoonish post by Glenn Greenwald. He does make one or two valid points but overall it's breathtaking in its cluelessness.

That "conservatism" has come to mean "loyalty to George Bush" is particularly ironic given how truly un-conservative the Administration is. It is not only the obvious (though significant) explosion of deficit spending under this Administration – and that explosion has occurred far beyond military or 9/11-related spending and extends into almost all arenas of domestic programs as well. Far beyond that is the fact that the core, defining attributes of political conservatism could not be any more foreign to the world view of the Bush follower.

The criticism of domestic spending is valid; however, given the fainting spells the liberals are prone to anytime some program gets cut (or, as we all know, gets the rate of increase cut) it's hard to credit their sudden fiscal conservatism as anything other than a convenient stick. If President Bush were to suddenly get some fiscal discipline we'd hear moans about how much his cuts were hurting the poor.

And in that regard, people like Michelle Malkin, John Hinderaker, Jonah Goldberg and Hugh Hewitt are not conservatives. They are authoritarian cultists. Their allegiance is not to any principles of government but to strong authority through a single leader.

It is hard to describe just how extreme these individuals are. Michelle Malkin is the Heroine of the Right Blogosphere, and she believes in concentration camps. As an avid reader of Michelle’s blog, I really believe that she would be in favor of setting up camps for Muslim-Americans and/or Arab-Americans similar to the ones we had for Japanese-Americans which she praises. Has anyone ever asked her that? Could someone? I don’t mean that she would favor interning them indefinitely - just for the next few decades while the war on terrorism is resolved.

A little red meat for the partisans there; Greenwald, like most liberals (a term he spurns but does not explain why it does apply to him--See Correction Below) has no real knowledge of conservatism, so he ascribes the "extremist" label to us. The comment about "she believes in concentration camps" is just plain silly. I read In Defense of Internment; it's not hard to guess that Greenwald didn't. What she is defending the internment camps from is the charge that they were solely motivated by an irrational racist hatred of the Japanese.

And the claim that "I really believe that she would be in favor of setting up camps for Muslim-Americans and/or Arab-Americans similar to the ones we had for Japanese-Americans which she praises. Has anyone ever asked her that? Could someone?" is buffoonery. Not surprising, since Mohammed Atta's picture was on the cover, she was asked that question many, many times in interviews when the book came out and always answered no. But if Glenn Greenwald wasn't watching, it didn't happen I suppose.

As for this part, it is just projection:

And the core emotions driving the Bush extremists are not hard to see. It is a driving rage and hatred – for liberals, for Muslims, for anyone who opposes George Bush.

Come on, Glenn, do you really believe that Bush's supporters are the haters here? Just compare the level of discourse at, say Power Line with that of Fire Dog Lake or the comments section at Atrios or even the HuffPo. Who's got spittle coming out of his/her mouth, Rush Limbaugh or Randy Rhodes?

There's a germ of a decent post in there, but it's hard to get at. You know how it is, Glenn is so suffused with hatred for Bush that he can't see straight. He sees all conservative bloggers and columnists politicians as identical; we get our marching orders from Rove and we blindly obey.

Rick Moran also deconstructed Greenwald's post. I disagree with Rick about Andrew Sullivan here:

Is Andrew Sullivan a conservative? As far as I’m concerned, he can define himself any way he chooses and we are free to agree or disagree. I look upon Andrew as our crazy conservative uncle whose rants show an independence of thought that is vital to any ideological movement. He will continue to be flayed by those whose shallowness matches Mr. Greenwald’s in seeing his disagreements with the Administration as something akin to treason. But for Greenwald to posit the notion that Sullivan is no longer considered a conservative because of gadflies like Bozell is loony.

That's wrong. I suspect that most conservative bloggers think Andrew Sullivan should no longer be considered conservative, as would my fellow right-wing commenters over at Lucianne.

And although I've had some pretty tough words for Andrew in this blog, I would disagree with those conservatives. Andrew's still reasonably conservative, he's just got one overriding issue--gay marriage--that results in him voting against his positions on other issues.

So I do think that Greenwald makes a reasonable point here; split with Bush far enough, and you're no longer considered "conservative". Of course, many Democratic bloggers have been attempting to drum Joe Lieberman out of the party for not being relentless enough in opposing Bush, so it's hardly a unique failing on the Right. A

Correction: Up above I wondered why Greenwald spurned the term liberal. I was able to locate a few posts where Greenwald certainly did not appear liberal on some of these issues: spending, abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, immigration, "judicial activism," hate speech laws, gay rights, utopian foreign policies, etc. etc.

If he's really on the conservative side on all those issues (I certainly found evidence on the abortion question), then I gotta think he's legitimately not a liberal, just like Andrew Sullivan is not a liberal. He's just got an issue that pulls him strongly to the liberal side for now. I still think it's a pretty shallow piece of preaching to the choir.
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