I Hope Brooks And Buckley Are Right About The Right

2 comments April 30th, 2007at 04:52pm Posted by Eli

Few things are as musical to my ears (okay, eyes) as when the conservatives’ own pundits turn against them.

My dad’s old school chum, William F. Buckley Jr:

The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue. The opinion polls are savagely decisive on the Iraq question. About 60 percent of Americans wish the war ended – wish at least a timetable for orderly withdrawal. What is going on in Congress is in the nature of accompaniment. The vote in Congress is simply another salient in the war against war in Iraq. Republican forces, with a couple of exceptions, held fast against the Democrats’ attempt to force Bush out of Iraq even if it required fiddling with the Constitution. President Bush will of course veto the bill, but its impact is critically important in the consolidation of public opinion. It can now accurately be said that the legislature, which writes the people’s laws, opposes the war.

Meanwhile, George Tenet, former head of the CIA, has just published a book which seems to demonstrate that there was one part ignorance, one part bullheadedness, in the high-level discussions before war became policy. Mr. Tenet at least appears to demonstrate that there was nothing in the nature of a genuine debate on the question….


But beyond affirming executive supremacy in matters of war, what is George Bush going to do? It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq. The indicators rise and fall from day to day, week to week, month to month. In South Vietnam there was an organized enemy. There is clearly organization in the strikes by the terrorists against our forces and against the civil government in Iraq, but whereas in Vietnam we had Hanoi as the operative headquarters of the enemy, we have no equivalent of that in Iraq, and that is a matter of paralyzing importance. All those bombings, explosions, assassinations: we are driven to believe that they are, so to speak, spontaneous.

General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it. Students of politics ask then the derivative question: How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters?….

The general makes it a point to steer away from the political implications of the struggle, but this cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma.

And our old friend Bobo weighs in on the bold and resolute Republican response to this crisis from the NYT Green Zone:

The Democrats have opened up a wide advantage in party identification and are crushing the G.O.P. among voters under 30.

Moreover, there has been a clear shift, in poll after poll, away from Republican positions on social issues and on attitudes toward government. Democratic approaches are favored on almost all domestic, tax and fiscal issues, and even on foreign affairs.

The public, in short, wants change.

And yet the Republicans refuse to offer that. On Capitol Hill, there is a strange passivity in Republican ranks. Republicans are privately disgusted with how President Bush has led their party and the nation, but they don’t publicly offer any alternatives. They just follow sullenly along. They privately believe the country needs new approaches to the war against Islamic extremism, but they don’t offer them. They try to block Democratic initiatives, but they don’t offer the country any new ways to think about the G.O.P.

They are like people quietly marching to their doom.

Bobo then laments that all of the Republican presidential candidates are hiding their lights under bushels, trying to be like George Allen, only without all that racism stuff (I think).

The big question is, Why are the Republicans so immobile?

There are several reasons. First, there are structural barriers to change. As it has aged, the conservative movement has grown a collection of special interest groups that restrict its mobility. Anybody who offers unorthodox tax policies gets whacked by the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform. Anybody who offers unorthodox social policies gets whacked by James Dobson.

Second, there is the corrupting influence of teamism. Being a good conservative now means sticking together with other conservatives, not thinking new and adventurous thoughts. [snort!] Those who stray from the reservation are accused of selling out to the mainstream media by the guardians of conservative correctness.

Third, there is the oppressive power of the past. Conservatives have allowed a simplistic view of Ronald Reagan to define the sacred parameters of thought. Reagan himself was flexible, unorthodox and creative. But conservatives have created a mythical, rigid Reagan, and any deviation from that is considered unholy.

Fourth, there is the bunker mentality. Republican morale has been brutalized by the Iraq war and the party’s decline. This state of emotional pain is not conducive to risk-taking and free and open debate.

In sum, Republicans know they need to change, but they have closed off all the avenues for change.


Change could, miraculously, come soon. But the odds are it will take a few more crushing defeats before Republicans tear down the self-imposed walls that confine them.

Let’s hope those crushing defeats give the Democrats enough time to start fixing everything the Republicans broke. And that they’ve learned a lesson other than “We need to be more ruthless and sneaky.”

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Media,Politics,Republicans,War


  • 1. LJ/Aquaria  |  April 30th, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    The only lesson they will learn is to be sneakier and more ruthless. It’s all they know how to do. Only a fool like Bobo thinks they ever had any “original” ideas. Conservatism by its very nature is antithetical to “original.” They’re reactionaries. It’s all they know. Thanks for the laugh, Booboo, you feckin’ moron.

    The vote in Congress is simply another salient in the war against war in Iraq. Republican forces, with a couple of exceptions, held fast against the Democrats’ attempt to force Bush out of Iraq even if it required fiddling with the Constitution.

    I’m not going to follow the link, but Buckley was a little unclear about who was fiddling with the Constitution. Did he mean the Democrats? If so, does he not understand the blatant hypocrisy of such an assertion? I mean, that’s fucking rich, accusing Democrats of flddling with the Constitution, after these Republicn apes have spent so many years trashing it. Tell me that’s not what he’s saying here.

  • 2. Eli  |  May 1st, 2007 at 7:07 am

    I don’t think Buckley elaborated on that. Presumably it has something to do with infringing on the Commander-In-Chief’s warmaking prerogatives. But Congress is supposed to have a say as well, and to control the funding, which is what they’re doing here.

    Strictly speaking, it would probably be better to pass a bill that simply cuts off the war funding, but they don’t have the votes to override the inevitable veto, at least not yet.

Contact Eli



Most Recent Posts




April 2007
« Mar   May »

Thinking Blogger

Pittsburgh Webloggers

Site Meter

View My Stats *