Monday, January 28, 2008

The lost virtue of patience

Peggy Noonan was right when she said in The Wall Street Journal last week that the Republican Party is in the midst of what she called a "slow civil war," and she got the reason for the fighting correct:
As for the Republicans, their slow civil war continues. The primary race itself is winnowing down and clarifying: It is John McCain versus Mitt Romney, period. At the same time the conservative journalistic world is convulsed by recrimination and attack. They're throwing each other out of the party. Republicans have become very good at that. David Brooks damns Rush Limbaugh who knocks Bill Kristol who anathematizes whoever is to be anathematized this week. This Web site opposes that magazine.

The rage is due to many things. A world is ending, the old world of conservative meaning, and ascendancy. Loss leads to resentment. (See Clinton, Bill.) Different pundits back different candidates. Some opportunistically discover new virtues in candidates who appear at the moment to be winning. Some feel they cannot be fully frank about causes and effects.

One of the things we try to do in our writing is to be fully forward and frank about causes and effects. There are a few people who read our work who are not comfortable with that frankness because it offends their (often false) notions of what conservatism is and what they think the Republican Party is, isn't, or is supposed to be. One of the reasons for the present infighting within various factions of the Reagan coalition is that the coalition has been torn asunder by the neglect of the present administration (something else Peggy Noonan got right in her column), and the coalition needs to find its moorings again. This is a feat that no single nominee in a single election cycle can accomplish. Today's conservatives have truly lost the virtue of patience.
On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.

I have heard multiple pundits, from Rush Limbaugh in the national talk radio circuit, to my good friend Adam Graham in the blogosphere, rage on about the end of the Republican Party if John McCain is nominated. I have come to agree with Adam that McCain must be stopped (that means that those of us who vote on February 5th must vote strategically in order to block McCain), but if he is nominated it will not spell doom for the GOP or for the conservative movement. Love or hate McCain-and I'm not on the love bandwagon by any means-he knows that he can only go so far in the fall without support from the Republican Party's conservative base. He will attempt to reposition himself as the Southwestern Goldwater conservative he was when he first came to the United States Senate.

Conservatives are going to have to trust that a former Massachusetts Governor really will be as conservative as he promises, that a former Arkansas Governor will not raise taxes through the roof, or that an Arizona Senator will not root the GOP out from within, as he now says he will not. The movement is far from dead, and we must remember that the state of the Republican Party is reflective of the country at-large: Uneasy, indecisive, and without clear direction.

Conservatives cannot expect to nominate a candidate they can all agree on or feel comfortable with when we ourselves have yet to decide the direction in which we want our movement to go.

This isn't the end of the movement, it is the end of an era-and the present process is an indication that conservatism is growing up.



At Monday, January 28, 2008 8:33:00 AM, Anonymous Adam Graham said...

David, I think the only way he destroys the GOP Is if he actually gets elected and I don't think he will. I think he'll severely injure it in this election, but this election isn't the end of the world.

I don't think he'll run as a conservative to unite the party. I think you're giving him credit for a degree of political savvy McCain doesn't have. In 2000, he lost the election because of a united push against him by Conservatives. The Smart thing to do is politically is to find ways to appease them and make them more happy with you. Instead, he's spent 8 years antangonizing us.

At Monday, January 28, 2008 8:49:00 AM, Anonymous A. Renee Daley said...


Conservatism is growing up is nothing more than code for change and for becoming more liberal.

And you sir are supporting that.

All I have to say is. Baa Baa.

At Monday, January 28, 2008 11:07:00 AM, Blogger joe lance said...

So, no chance that Rudy Giulani will be the great uniter?

I'm just joshin' ya.

At Monday, January 28, 2008 12:54:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


When a brokered convention is still a possibility, anything could still happen.

I wouldn't hold my breath on the "uniter" thing, though.

Anyway, just some thoughts on this post...

I couldn't have asked for more clear evidence of what I've been trying to say around these parts for months. Thank you, David, for proving me right.

This sort of talk reminds me of the apologists who said that the Titanic was unsinkable. In the James Cameron theatrical version of the Titanic's fateful voyage, Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line was heard to say "THIS SHIP CAN'T SINK!?!" even after the ship had hit the fateful iceberg.

Unfortunately for 2/3 of the people on the ship at the time, she did sink.

To David and anyone else who thinks like this -- you can plug your ears and cover your eyes. You can pretend that nothing bad is really happening. Just remember that doing so will not stop the ship from sinking.

And such denials may serve to hasten the impending disaster.

I can only pray that you don't end up metaphorically frothing about in a freezing ocean, grasping for anything that might save you, while the rest of us decide whether or not we want to come back for you. As in Cameron's Titanic, its likely that very few of us would.

At Monday, January 28, 2008 1:10:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


One thing I simply cannot understand is the failure of those who preach this "patience" message to comprehend the ultimate goal of the Left.

As the Maha-Rushie says (correctly), liberals HATE conservatism. The day they can relegate true Goldwater/Reagan conservatism to the dregs of history will be one day too late for them. In other words, they can't do it soon enough.

And honestly, they've devised an ingenious plan to accomplish the goal. Obviously, as time goes by, Republican candidates are becoming incrementally less conservative -- but only by so much in each election cycle. The diehards who follow politics notice, but Joe Six-pack who doesn't pay close attention won't really know the difference until it's too late.

Eventually, Republican candidates will be virtually indistinguishable from Democrat candidates -- thereby effectively ending conservatism and relegating the Republican Party to irrelevance. And that would mean thta Democrats would gain unfettered, permanent power to do as they please.

When David says that "conservatism is growing up", this process is exactly what he is describing.

Certain "Republicans" are unwittingly doing the bidding of (and the grunt work for) those who want to destroy everything we've ever fought for as a movement.

And those same "Republicans" have the nerve to say that others often have false notions of what conservatism is.

If that is so, it's only because conservatism is being sold out and bastardized by those who are selfish and out for their own personal gain.

The evils of power and greed are unbecoming, indeed. Some desperately need to learn that lesson.

At Monday, January 28, 2008 3:39:00 PM, Blogger Chucko said...

There are too many brilliant and powerful people on the *conservative* (not Republican) side to let this nation slide into the abyss. Blanket labeling every Romney, McCain, or Huckabee supporter as "plugged ears, eyes covered sheeple" is not constructive in the least. Personally, I could care less about the Republican party, and renounced my membership a while ago. I do, however, feel that certain candidates are preferable to others. If it was McCain vs. Hillary, I figure policy would be a wash, so no point in voting for either. Romney provides me with someone I can vote for... his message is one I agree with. Huckabee, less so, but at least he is socially conservative. Giuliani's more liberal than Clinton, but he's not going to be the nominee anyway. All of these candidates, agree with them or not, are qualified. Romney, McCain, and Huckabee do represent certain favorable aspects of conservatism, and I feel that for me, Romney is addressing the issues and positions I care about.

Some operatives are beginning to feel the same way.

At Monday, January 28, 2008 8:28:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


I did not say that Romney, McCain, and Huckabee supporters were making themselves oblivious to reality.

That statement was directed at the idea that the Republican Party as it has been -- and, thereby, Goldwater/Reagan conservatism -- is NOT in deep, deep trouble.

It was directed at the idea that all I need is patience and everything will be okay.

It was directed at the idea that conservatism needs to "grow up".

By the way -- the New York Times, as liberal a rag as you'll ever find, endorsed John McCain. One of the things they praised him for was the ability to "grow" as a politician.

I wish I were making that up, but I'm not.

Anyway, let's try this one on for size...

One of the things that David and I share in common is our Catholic faith. To me, the current goings-on in the Republican Party are something very much akin to "Cafeteria Catholicism" -- a phenomenon where Catholics pick and choose which Catholic beliefs they want to follow.

Since David obviously thinks that it is okay to support the idea of Republicans putting forth an incomplete conservative as it's nominee, here's an interesting question...

Would David support the Catholic Church installing cafeteria Catholics in positions of authority, such as the Priesthood, or even the Papacy?

My guess is that the answer would be an emphatic "no", and that a conniption fit would occur if such a thing ever really happened.

Obviously, this is a rhetorical question -- unlike the Republican Party, the Catholic Church doesn't sell its soul for want of power. But it's still an interesting question.

Why? Well, one simply must wonder how someone can accept mediocrity in one instance yet demand completeness in another. It's pretty hypocritical, if you ask me.

Principles are important. Either you have them and use them consistently, or you don't. There is no middle ground.


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