Thursday, September 15, 2005

Surprise Us

The Moose abhors tedious predictability.

The Weekly Standard is celebrating its ten year anniversary. Whether you agree or disagree with the journal, it is a must-read not only because of its significant influence on the Republican leadership class, but also because it is lively, informative and often commits honesty even if it enrages its comrades on the right. It can surprise us.

We live at a political moment when it is increasingly difficult to take a heterodox position that aggravates your partisan side. "Norquistism" - a Lenninist devotion to "democratic-centralism" is the prevailing ethos. On the right and the left there is an attempt to impose ideological discipline and squash behavior that is viewed as not useful to the "team."

The contrarian Moose is of the opinion that ideological diversity is a strength and not a weakness. That is why the Standard can be so refreshing. Evidence is contained in the tenth anniversary issue of the magazine. The editor asks several contributors to answer the following question,

"On what issue or issues (if any!) have you changed your mind in the last 10 years- and why?"

The most interesting and controversial response to the query was penned by the always insightful Andy Ferguson. He writes a devastating critique of Republican power,

"The current story of Jack Abramoff's lucrative self-dealing, involving as it does such movement stalwarts as Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, may seem lunatic in its excesses, but the excesses aren't the point. The point is the ease with which the stalwarts commandeered the greasy machinery of Washington power. Conservative activists came to Washington to do good and stayed to do well. The grease rubbed off, too."

The Moose saw first hand the beginnings of the corruption of the cons - back in the mid-nineties when the once revolutionaries transformed themselves into lucrative lobbyists cashing in on their proximity to power. Right wing rule is epitomized by Jack Abramoff and Michael Brown - one who is sleazy the other who is incompetent.

The central question is whether the conservative devolution was the result of human failings or ideology. It was both. Right wing ideology offered a justification of unbridled money power. Whether it is the elimination of the estate tax, the defense of sweatshops in the Marianas Islands or the fleecing of Indian tribes, it is all rationalized as the "defense of freedom and the market." Maintaining power is the over-riding imperative for the GOP - ideology has become dispensable - hence the embrace of the expansion of the entitlements for the benefit of the drug industry and pork barrel spending.

DeLay's recent declaration that there is no fat remaining to cut in the government and that the federal bureaucracy is running at peak efficiency officially heralds the end of the conservative "revolution". It is dead, over, kaput.

This new bastardized form of conservatism, however, is even more formidable because it is not restrained by ideology. For instance, even wing nuts like DeLay are not adverse to buying votes through big government spending. As the Schiaivo episode demonstrated, they will also attempt to employ the power of the federal government even if it involves violating once precious federalist principles.

Democrats, however, should not be stricken with irrational exuberance over the Republican travails. As bad as it is for the elephant, the donkey is not exactly knocking the socks off the American people. Many have doubts about the Democrats' positions on such fundamental cultural issues as patriotism and faith. The Republicans are defined by their money elites and the Democrats are branded by their cultural elites.

That is why it would be good to hear from a chorus of national Democratic leaders denouncing the ludicrous California judge's ruling against the pledge of allegiance. How about a defense of "under God" in the pledge from Chairman Dean?

Surprise us.
-- Posted at 8:17 AM | Link to this post | Email this post