Brooks Vs. Krugman

October 8th, 2007at 01:33pm Posted by Eli

Alas, I never got around to addressing David Brooks’ latest silly attempt at the “Dubya has failed conservatism” narrative by distinguishing between “temperamental” or “dispositional” conservatives who are cautious and averse to change, vs. “creedal conservatives” who worship their own pet ideas:

Free market conservatives built a creed around freedom and capitalism. Religious conservatives built a creed around their conception of a transcendent order. Neoconservatives and others built a creed around the words of Lincoln and the founders.

Wait, WHAT??? How the hell does anyone get from Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson to “The entire world must bow before us”? But I digress. And by speaking approvingly of “dispositional conservatives” as opposed to those irrational, impetuous “creedal conservatives,” Brooks furthermore implies that he himself is one of one of those reasonable and pragmatic dispositional conservatives, despite, well, everything he’s ever written.

Now Krugman has a great column today debunking the whole idea that Dubya is somehow not a “real” conservative:

There have been a number of articles recently that portray President Bush as someone who strayed from the path of true conservatism. Republicans, these articles say, need to return to their roots.

Well, I don’t know what true conservatism is, but while doing research for my forthcoming book I spent a lot of time studying the history of the American political movement that calls itself conservatism — and Mr. Bush hasn’t strayed from the path at all. On the contrary, he’s the very model of a modern movement conservative.

For example, people claim to be shocked that Mr. Bush cut taxes while waging an expensive war. But Ronald Reagan also cut taxes while embarking on a huge military buildup.

People claim to be shocked by Mr. Bush’s general fiscal irresponsibility. But conservative intellectuals, by their own account, abandoned fiscal responsibility 30 years ago. Here’s how Irving Kristol, then the editor of The Public Interest, explained his embrace of supply-side economics in the 1970s: He had a “rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems” because “the task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority — so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.

That’s really quite a remarkable and revealing quote. Kristol casually dismisses budgetary issues as mere “accounting deficiencies,” thus implying that they exist only on paper and are something that only finance geeks worry about.

Krugman goes on for a while in this vein, providing numerous examples of Republican/conservative disrespect for government, oversight, media, human rights, minorities, and the rule of law – mostly from conservative role models like Nixon, Reagan and Goldwater.

Then he gets a little weird – perhaps a backhanded reference to the talking heads who have so willingly enabled the conservative master plan?

Now, as they survey the wreckage of their cause, conservatives may ask themselves: “Well, how did we get here?” They may tell themselves: “This is not my beautiful Right.” They may ask themselves: “My God, what have we done?”

But their movement is the same as it ever was. And Mr. Bush is movement conservatism’s true, loyal heir.

Heh. The bottom line is, Brooks’s “dispositional conservatives” no longer exist, if indeed they ever did. Or perhaps more accurately, they are now known as “progressives.” Oh, the irony.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Politics,Republicans

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