It Ain't Easy at the Top

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If the next nine months of electioneering teaches us anything, it'll be about how Bill Kristol acts when he, his agenda, and his presidential candidate have all finally risen to the top of the GOP pecking order, instead of just plotting insurgencies and peddling influence from the sidelines. Early indications point to initial symptoms of sore-winneritis.

Take this Weekly Standard slap at non-neocon cons, for their "McCain Derangement Syndrome" and other diseases:

The fact is, ordinary American conservatives already are reconciled [to McCain]. Some are enthusiastic. And movement leaders are good at racing to the head of a parade when they see their "followers" marching by. […]

What's more, conservatism as a set of ideas is in pretty good shape. "Neoconservative" thinking on America's place in the world has beaten back attempts to revive the crabbed "realism" of some congressional Republicans in the 1990s as a plausible approach for dealing with the world of the 21st century. And there is a resurgence of creative thinking on domestic policy, reminiscent of the neoconservatism of an earlier generation. Younger conservatives are displaying a welcome heterodoxy in their approach to health care, taxes, and family policy issues.

I guess I missed that "resurgence of creative thinking" during the past eight years of mostly Republican governance….

And I also missed this when it came out, but Kristol's no-really-I'm-not-gloating New York Times op-ed from the other week contains a revealing passage about the great patriotic sacrifice made these past few years by Americans like … Bill Kristol.

It's not easy to rally a comfortable and commercial people to assume the responsibilities of a great power. It's not easy to defend excellence in an egalitarian age. It's not easy to encourage self-reliance in the era of the welfare state. It's not easy to make the case for the traditional virtues in the face of the seductions of liberation, or to speak of duties in a world of rights and of honor in a nation pursuing pleasure.

Pobrecito. But as the poet sang, you got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues….

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  1. the seductions of liberation

    In Jefferson’s time, uttering a phrase like that would probably get you shot…

  2. So according to the Weekly Standard, there is no conservative orthodoxy on issues of “health care, taxes, and family policy”.

    Wouldn’t that mean that there are no grounds to say that, for example, Hillary Clinton isn’t a conservative, despite her “heterodoxy” on health care, taxes, and family policy?

    And does anyone else wonder how shameless you have to be to talk about the “honor” of a nation that tortures powerless captives in secret prisons and lies about it? Isn’t treating prisoners with decency part of the definition of honor? Isn’t telling the truth even when it hurts your interests part of the definition of honor?

  3. I guess I missed that “resurgence of creative thinking” during the last eight years of mostly Republican rule….

    Preemptive war — especially preemptive war with no plan on how to end it — is very creative. Also, the administration has been quite clever in ways to justify their warrantless wiretapping, US Attorney firings, torture practices, and denial of FOIA requests.

    Then again, there’s always a fine line between creativity and psychosis.

  4. It’s not easy to encourage self-reliance in the era of the welfare state.

    How does this comport with his welcoming of “heterodoxy in [the] approach to health care, taxes, and family policy issues”?

  5. Chris — Yeah, but he was specifically referring to domestic creativity….

  6. Matt,

    The anti-McCainites in the Republican party are generally hypocrites and deserve to get slapped around. For the last seven years these people have sat around and said that the war in Iraq and the war on terror are the most important issues this decade. They also claim that the Democrats are the Party of Surrender. Then, as soon as their guy losses and they face the prospect of haveing to vote for someone they don’t like they all head for the hills and say they will sit out or vote for a Democrat in November rather than vote for someone they don’t like. If you are anti-war that is one thing. But to claim that the war is so important and then jump ship the first ship the first time you don’t get your way is just bullshit.

  7. Kristol was on Stewart’s show yesterday. I was impressed with how Stuart handled it; he normally is not good lately with people who who have the opposite view from him, esp on the war. His interview with Bolton was very awkward and even his last one with McCain denigrated to close to a shouting match.

    But Stewart handled the Kristol one with aplomb, so much so that even Kristol came off looking sort of good.

  8. Dave, you missed the best part of that NYT op-ed, right before the part you quoted:

    It’s not easy being a conservative movement in a modern liberal democracy.

    Notice how he implicitly assumes that “liberal democracy” — a term that came from the old meaning of “liberal”, meaning a democracy oriented towards individual freedom — is something that conservatives must oppose. Kristol and his ilk apparently want to undo the Enlightenment just as much as the Huckabites, just in a different way.

  9. For the last seven years these people have sat around and said that the war in Iraq and the war on terror are the most important issues this decade.

    I suspect that the war in Iraq was considered that important because it was the policy of the Bush wing of the Republican party, and therefore needed to be defended at all costs, lest the President be made to look bad.

    Once Bush doesn’t need to be defended any more, the war is less important and less of a unifier. McCain isn’t Bush, and McCain stands outside of the Bush cabal within the GOP, and that means his war stance isn’t as relatively important.

  10. And there is a resurgence of creative thinking on domestic policy, reminiscent of the neoconservatism of an earlier generation. Younger conservatives are displaying a welcome heterodoxy in their approach to health care, taxes, and family policy issues.

    Translation: embrace your inner nannytarian, and watch the government bloom! A large and all-encompassing government is what we need, just as long as the right people are in charge, and they mean well.

  11. Isn’t neoconservatism of an earlier generation an oxymoron?

  12. John,

    The people you’re talking about were just using the Eternal War on Terror Everywhere as a political ploy to scare people into voting for them. McCain actually believes in that shit. He’s the Frankenstein monster of the Right. The reason Romney couldn’t fight back by talking about economic conservatism is because they’ve spent six years subordinating economic conservatism (not to mention libertarianism) to WoT hype. The old nerve endings are gone.

  13. Does creating a loophole that exempts contractors in Iraq from both US and Iraqi, thus letting contractors kill Iraqi civilians and rape American women with no fear of prosecution, count as foreign or domestic creativity?

  14. His speech pattern inclines toward the megalomaniacal.

  15. Maybe a little bit of both Dragonfly.

    “”” But to claim that the war is so important and then jump ship the first ship the first time you don’t get your way is just bullshit.”””

    The war was never that important. It was sold they way only to get support.

  16. If it’s tough at the top, who care? it’s tough at the bottom too.

  17. “I guess I missed that “resurgence of creative thinking” during the past eight years of mostly Republican governance….”

    If you don’t see that that this administation has been about as creative as they come (e.g. creating a war in Iraq from whole cloth), you’re a frickin’ moron.

    Creativity isn’t aleays a good thing. German disposal of Jews in WWII was creative. Evil, but still, creative.

  18. The fact is, ordinary American conservatives already are reconciled [to McCain]. Some are enthusiastic.

    I as a conservative am neither reconciled nor enthusiastic.

    Check us out at http://www.SuicideVoter.org

  19. Gee, and all this time I thought there was no such thing as a “neoconservative”….or at least I didn’t think anyone that was one would actually use a word that instantly evokes the thought of Nazism to describe themselves.

    Of course if you go to the site, the WS cover displayed beside the article is titled “The German War Machine”

    What, exactly, was so damn wrong with that “crabby realism” anyway……I believe it might mean less dead brown people.

    Oh, well, fuck it,
    Seig Heil!

  20. I don’t get the point of the whole “suicide voter” thing.

    Why not vote for a 3rd party candidate instead? I mean, surly as a conservative who’s fed up with McCain, you’ve got more in common with, say, the Libertarian candidate. It seems to me that a protest vote for a 3rd party candidate would send a clearer message than voting for, and creating the perception of approval of, the likes of Clintama.

  21. “I guess I missed that “resurgence of creative thinking” during the past eight years of mostly Republican governance”

    Maybe they should put a libertarian on the NYT editorial board. In between the non-stop bitching about everything you could throw in a few Paul-style anti-semitic and anti-black rants.

  22. What, exactly, was so damn wrong with that “crabby realism” anyway……I believe it might mean less dead brown people.

    I remember being in college, and beleiving passionately that the realist, not-the-world’s-policeman foreign policy of the Republicans was the most evil, blood-splattered stream of thought in American politics.

    What a freaking naif, huh?

  23. Hey joe, where you gonna run to now?

    If and when the Democrats take the White House, you can bet your bottom dollar the neocons will have some kind of presence, whether it’s in the form of a few mid-level bureaucrats placed in sensitive positions or in top spots close to President Hillary or Obama. They’re already crawling all over the DLC, and they’ll find their way into a Democratic White House via the interstices between pure politics and policy wonkery.

    […]

    Like vampires risen from the dead each night, these creatures who shun the light and feast on pain and suffering, are refreshed and ready to take wing again. What they seek is what makes them feel alive and energizes them to want more, and that is war. They are the War Party, and they are Democrats and Republicans. They are columnists and publishers and academics, as well as politicians and publicists. They don’t have much of a mass base: they prefer to work in the shadows, manipulating rather than inspiring. By such Machiavellian means have they managed to stay viable, in spite of the disasters they have wrought through the years – giving them more scope for fresh disasters yet to be imagined.

  24. Reality based thinking is so crabby indeed…

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