What Conservatism Has Come To

Dave Weigel is a libertarian journalist. For the past couple of months, he’s been covering the conservative movement for the Washington Post. Last week, private e-mails of his were leaked to the media and it included some nasty things he had to say about the Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck conservatives — those more interested in ideology than ideas; who confuse brutality with strength; who think “fiscal conservatism” means low taxes, no matter how much we spend; who seem to almost revel in their ignorance.

I don’t agree with some of what he said — although he’s absolutely right about Pat Buchanan. And I’ve made no secret of my disappointment with Rush Limbaugh. In the 90’s, he blew smoke rings around the Clinton Administration, constantly countering them with facts and logic. He was so effective, the Administration secretly fed him information during the NAFTA debate (a rare occasion when they were on the same side). With Obama, he’s been pure bullshit and demagoguery. The final straw for me was when he described Obama as having had everything in life handed to him on a silver platter — you know, like most mixed-race kids who are effectively abandoned by their parents.

But the point here is that Weigel’s e-mails private communication. And such communication is easily taken out of context. And should probably not be used to judge someone. Remember when it was bad that someone hacked Sarah Palin’s mail account?

Well, the conservative echosphere has reacted to the e-mails. Weigel — a libertarian who is no friend of the Obama Administration — had the temerity to express anger over faux conservative and people like Dale Robertson (He’s the Tea Party guy whom all conservatives despise because he showed up to a rally with a racist sign; you’ve seen the picture of him; it shows up a lot in criticisms of the tea party even though he was there for about ten minutes and was asked to leave because of his racist sign). Weigel was also very critical of movement conservatives, Limbaugh and Matt Drudge.

So he must be a flaming liberal. Read Dr. Zero’s post here and the comments.

This flare of ideological purity is not an isolated incident. When I express concern about global warming or oppose torture, I frequently get bashed for my “bias” and branded as an Obama-loving liberal. Praise for any “enemy”, especially Obama, is denounced. Criticism of “our side” is left wing hatred.

Here’s Julian Sanchez:

But contemporary movement conservatism is apparently so Manichean, and so tightly in the grip of a bunker mentality, that such fine distinctions are no longer possible. To take a dim view of the self-serving demagoguery of a handful of prominent conservatives like Matt Drudge or Newt Gingrich is apparently, now, to display contempt for conservatives as such. If the Princess-and-the-Pea brigade now cheering his departure would bracket their persecution complex for five minutes, they’d realize that he was consistently delivering coverage about as fair and sympathetic as could reasonably be hoped for. What they apparently wanted was a movement hack to dole out indiscriminate praise to anyone claiming the mantle of conservatism–whereas Dave took the right seriously enough to make distinctions between what he saw as its credible thinkers and its nuts and opportunists. Memo to my friends on the right: If you bristle at being stereotyped as an undifferentiated bloc of racists and crude blowhards, maybe you shouldn’t take automatic umbrage when someone points out particular individuals who are.

Read the whole thing.

Now to be fair, this criticism applies to the loud minority who are controlling the conservative commentariat and the message boards. The vast majority of conservatives and Tea Partiers are simply concerned about where this country is headed and uncertain, at the moment, as to what to do about it. So they tend to glom onto anything popular without looking too closely at it.

And that’s why I know that this storm will pass. RIght now, there’s a lot of bitterness on the Right feeding this. They were utterly betrayed by Bush, something the still haven’t come to terms with. And now a liberal is in the White House and all their spleen is being vented on him, even to the point of inventing the kind of man he is out of whole cloth. (Example: I’ve had numerous long and pointless debates on various websites on the restrictive ROE our soldiers are enduring in Afghanistan. I point to articles that clearly show the rules come from the generals. They insist that Obama is a military-hating liberal and the rules are coming from White House lawyers).

But there the occasional signs of sanity. Mitch Daniels called for a truce on culture issues. The voters of South Carolina completely rejected the vile and somewhat racist smear campaign against Nikki Haley. Whatever his other faults, Bobby Jindal is showing competence in handling the Deepwater Spill. And voters are turning on incumbents of every stripe.

It may take a while, but eventually this bunker mentality will ease. And something reasonable will emerge. I just hope it’s not too late. The fiscal direction that this country is taking is too dangerous for the conservatives to spend too much time screwing around trying to find themselves.