Libertarian History/Philosophy

Small Tent Conservatism

On questioning the Dear Leader, Rush Limbaugh


At the American Enterprise Instutute (AEI) last week, a panel of conservative intellectuals gathered to discuss the legacy of National Review founder William F. Buckley and the future of the Republican Party. During the question-and-answer period, a retired foreign service officer, who confessed to having frequently loitered at National Review editorial meetings in the 1960s at the invitation of senior editor Wilmore Kendall, lamented the anti-intellectualism of today's conservative movement. "Do we have to listen to 14-year-old kids and overweight blabbermouths," he grumbled, to receive our marching orders? Another questioner denounced the "fundamentalism" of talk radio doyen Rush Limbaugh, to which Chris DeMuth, former president of AEI, responded with a curt "amen." (He refused to elaborate, when pressed.) Panelist Charles Kesler, editor of the Claremont Review of Books, argued that it would surely be a "bad thing if Limbaugh was the tip of the conservative spear or the spokesman of the conservative movement."

If conservatism seems rudderless today—opposed to so much, in favor of so little—it is hardly the first time. In a 1971 interview with author George Nash, the libertarian fusionist Frank Meyer sighed that his comrades in the conservative movement defined themselves primarily in opposition to liberalism, forsaking a coherent governing strategy based on clearly defined principles. Indeed, when Meyer made these comments, there was a Republican in the White House who, on important issues like wage and price controls, had little interest in governing from the right. It was perhaps these years in the wilderness, being unaccustomed to success, that held together the always tenuous libertarian-conservative coalition. In his classic study The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, Nash noted that, despite fissures in the free market and social conservative wings of the movement, the right had, for the most part, "managed to remain united and cooperative."

But that was then. Today, the libertarian-conservative alliance is marked more by skepticism than cooperation, though President Barack Obama's response to the financial crisis will likely push the two groups back into an uneasy coalition. After the disastrous Republican losses of 2006 and 2008 and the deeply unpopular war in Iraq, Republicans might want to revisit Frank Meyer's question: Conservatives know what they are against, but what on earth are they for?

A handful of conservative intellectuals, noting that the political realities of 2008 require a different set of solutions then those that drove the Reagan revolution in 1980, have started asking this very question. David Frum, editor of the website New Majority and former Bush speechwriter, provoked anger on the right when, during the 2008 campaign, he dismissed the clueless Sarah Palin as an intellectual lightweight, unfit to be a "heartbeat" away from the Oval Office. Last week, after Limbaugh denounced those who desired "reform"—no names were offered, but his targets were clear—from the dais at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Frum responded with a denunciation of his own. "With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history," Frum wrote, "Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence—exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we're cooperating!"

This was an apostasy too far. The conservative radio host and National Review columnist Mark Levin shouted that Frum was a "Canadian a-hole," a "jerk," and a "putz." When Frum called in to respond, Levin sputtered that "nobody knows who you are," no one reads "[your] pathetic books and pathetic articles," and—in what seems customary of right-wing yakkers—when he attempted to repond to this flurry of ad hominem invective, Levin cut his microphone. Frum, he declared, was "damaging the conservative movement" with his criticism of fellow conservatives.

Such puerile insults, as John Derbyshire points out in the American Conservative, are Levin's stock-in-trade and often sound like outtakes from Topps' Wacky Packages. For instance, Levin is fond of attacking the reporters at the "Washington Compost and New York Slimes." (When pundit Tucker Carlson told a crowd at CPAC that conservatives should strive to produce fact-based journalism like that of The New York Times, he was lustily booed). Levin, of course, responded—and proved Derbyshire's point, calling him "reckless" and an "idiot."

Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative opinion clearinghouse Red State, added his two cents as well, thundering against "these leeches" and "turds who want us to sideline our most proven warrior," while wondering if "any of these critics ever actually won an election?"(Does it need pointing out that the current crop of Republican politicians, intellectual leaders, and strategists have themselves had a rather difficult time winning elections?)

For those who swear no fealty to "the movement," it is clear that, for all of the mau-mauing he's received from critics, Frum has a point. Limbaugh's exhausting speech to a standing-room only crowd of CPAC true-believers gives an idea of what he thinks ails the Republican party. The solution, as it always is, is a surfeit of Reaganism:

For the purposes of this occasion, I'm not going to mention any names, I bet with you I won't have to…I cringed—it might have been 2007, late 2007 or sometime during 2008, but a couple of prominent conservative but Beltway establishment media types began to write on the concept that the era of Reagan is over. [Crowd Booing] … You see, to me it's a no-brainer. It's not even something to me: How do you get rid of Reagan from conservatism… These people in New York and Washington, cocktail elitists, they get made fun of when the next NASCAR race is on TV and their cocktail buds come up to them, those people are in your party? How do you put up with this? It would be easy to throw them overboard, so as to maintain these cocktail party/Beltway/New York City/inside-the-Beltway media relationships. But I tell you: This notion that Reaganism is dead, conservatism needs to be refined, let's take a look at this.

This is much the same advice Limbaugh gave George W. Bush in 2000: "Don't move to the center…The Reagan base in the GOP is more excited and stirred up than any time I remember in the nearly 12 years I have been doing my national show." Eight years later, he was making the same, almost Marxian class-war argument against the "cocktail elitists," "intellectualoids," "hoity-toity bourgeoisie," and "pseudointellectual conservative media types" that pushed the very un-Reaganesque John McCain's to the top of the ticket. After Obama's victory, Limbaugh bizarrely determined that voters avoided the Republican Party because it wasn't conservative enough.

Limbaugh, the argument goes, is an entertainer but also a very clever guy. If this is indeed true, then he is surely aware that Reaganism was a specific reaction to a specific set of challenges—communism and detente, high marginal tax rates, the Iranian hostage crisis—that are rather different than the financial crisis currently enveloping the country. And assuming that Limbaugh isn't simply trading in hero-worship and caricature, which Ronald Reagan is he talking about? The pragmatic Cold Warrior who enraged his conservative followers by engaging with Mikhail Gorbachev at Reykjavik and attempting to forfeit American nuclear weapons? The president who decided, after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, that the best response was to, with haste and alacrity, get the hell out of Beirut?

There is a substantive case to be made—which is, alas, beyond the scope of this argument—that it was the triumph of Reaganism and the end of the Cold War that temporarily doomed conservatism. The rise of Limbaugh followed, and the right soon began obsessing over Bill Clinton's cheating heart and cheating golf game, all while paying little attention to the reshaping of its post-Cold War message. Bush's razor-thin victory in 2000 was hardly an ideological victory for mainstream conservatism—preaching, as it did, a humble foreign policy and a "compassionate" social policy.

When one strips away the facile and vague arguments about a return to Reaganism, what remains is a profound—and ill-defined—anti-elitism. During the 2008 campaign, Jim Nuzzo, a White House aide to the first President George Bush, dismissed Sarah Palin's critics as "cocktail party conservatives" who "give aid and comfort to the enemy." "There's going to be a bloodbath," he told the Daily Telegraph. "A lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party. The litmus test will be: where did you stand on Palin?" (A few days before making his Stalinist diktat, Nuzzo, in an interview with the Boston Herald, happily cited William F. Buckley, a patrician conservative that kept an Upper East Side maisonette, frequently employed words that required the consultation of multiple dictionaries, and partied with Truman Capote.)

Asking the correct questions about recent Republican failures will require a substantive look at just what George W. Bush's presidency has wrought—those failed policies that so many talk radio apparatchiks unswervingly defended for the last eight years. And while it's fair to look at the policy prescriptions offered by reformists like Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat, David Brooks, and David Frum and find them wanting, it is quite another to suggest that such questions shouldn't be asked in the first place. To Mark Levin, "real" conservatives have had "enough" of Frum's ideas about Rush Limbaugh. And Limbaugh last week demanded a stop to the criticism of Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, declaring that "I don't want to hear from you ever again if you think that what Bobby Jindal said was bad or what he said was wrong or not said well."

So Rush Limbaugh plugs his ears when confronted by critics from the right, Mark Levin appoints himself enforcer of ideological orthodoxy, and David Frum is branded a traitor to the movement. Have fun in the wilderness Republicans, but don't ever say that you weren't warned.

Michael C. Moynihan is a senior editor of Reason magazine.

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  1. n b4 John!

  2. Yeah the conservative party is in the wilderness because of Rush…

    Give me a fucking break.

    I hear the guy maybe an hour a week and can find just about everything Moynihan claimed to be completely inaccurate.

    Jesus if you are going to criticize Rush then go after him not some invented straw man.

    Hell i can do that:

    Rush is wrong on immigration and is unable to make a good argument on why free markets and free trade is good for everything but labor.

    Rush thinks Mexican immigrants will vote for left wing democrats. He is wrong on this.

    Rush is wrong on gay marriage.

    Rush is wrong on military intervention.

    Rush has not spoken about the war on drugs in a long long time. I suspect his position has changed due to the charges brought up against him for prescriptions of Oxycontin. He is wrong for not saying why his position has changes and not articulating it.

    See how that works Moynihan?

  3. Weak, Moynihan. Seriously Christ-sucking-fat-cock weak.
    This is particularly fucking stupid:
    Reaganism was a specific reaction to a specific set of challenges that are rather different than the financial crisis currently enveloping the country.

    Yes. “Reaganism” fit the time, but now low taxes and attempting to rein in runaway government spending are just so passe.
    You’re really a libertarian? I think you just call yourself one to get laid.
    Those “challenges” — what a weak fucking word — to the economy stem from exactly what Reagan saw wrong with the government not only of his time, but all time: Overbearing, overspending, blundering, unresourceful and generally a big fucking drag on prosperity.
    Sound familiar?
    How old are you? 12?

  4. Wow, a Limbaugh post. Is it last Tuesday already?

  5. Rush Limbaugh knows exactly who he speaks for. Unfortunately it’s the right end of the political conservatives, and unfortunately that audience is solidly anti-gay, right-to-life, anti-immigration, etc. They exhibit the same emotional attachment to anti-freedom issues that the liberal anti-gun, ultra-green, PETA crowd has.

    Everyone else is getting chewed up between them.

  6. Nobody likes this!

  7. Neither party (R’s and D’s) really “gets it.” The Republicans are anti-Democrat, and the Democrats are anti-Republican. Both parties have forgotten that this country was founded on limited government and individual freedoms.

    The Republicans are really struggling trying to find a “savior” if you will. For some reason, “intellectualism” is anathema to the party. It’s all about the blue-collar, moral agenda. It won’t work for swing voters. The only thing that might help them receive more votes and attention is the fact that the economy will probably get worse under the socialistic measures that are currently being implemented by the Democrat-majority executive and legislative branches. In which case the message is back to being “anti-Democrat”, not pro-free market, pro-individual rights instead.

  8. The only point I’d like to make is that it is…….not sure what the word is….”unseemly”…….”wrong”…….”unethical” for an elected politician to criticize a private individual.

  9. Opposition to Statism should be principle based. Just blaming liberals for everything doesn’t cut it.

  10. Limbaugh steals those concepts from objectivist/libertarian thought that he agrees with and discards the rest without any sort of regard for intellectual consistency. In other words, he’s a conservative: philosophically and politically bankrupt.

  11. Idea wise, what are conservatives like Frum proposing that is better than what Limbaugh is talking about? Frankly, the most of what I see from people like him are ad hominem attacks on those like Limbaugh and Palin that are more for their style, and policy suggestions that embody the worst tendencies of the Bush Administration and the Hastert Congress, only more so. Rank and file conservatives are tired of being taken for granted at best and held in contempt at worst by the GOP politicians and nominally conservative MSM pundits. I’m not sure what Moynihan sees as laudable in what Frum is peddling aside from cultural affinity.

  12. Michael C. who?

  13. And ed demonstrates pup tent libertarianism.

  14. pup tent libertarianism

    Never heard of that one.

  15. Rush Limbaugh has been surpassed by Glenn Beck in every way except audience numbers. What Rush does Beck does better. His only problem – probably the only reason he has not surpassed Rush in numbers – is the same problem that Mitt Romeny had. He is – GASP – a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. There is a certain element of the Salafi Christians who will not associate themselves in any way with that church – not all Evangelicals are like that but enough. But I do like Rush Limbaugh and think he has valuable insights at times – but he is no longer the master of the art form he started. Beck is the king now IMHO.

    1. Glenn is funny. Mitt is not. Glenn is real. Mitt is plastic. Glenn fights. Mitt doesn’t. Glenn gets middle America. Mitt doesn’t have a clue. Glenn is putting it out what he’s got, five days a week. Mitt has a boring, boilerplate, ghost written op-ed once a month. Glenn is a life force. Mitt is buzz kill.

      So, yeah, it’s a Mormon thing. (Mittbots are soooo annoying)

  16. “What Rush does Beck does better.”

    Which is like saying a slug is faster than a rock.

    Seriously, I can only hope Beck and Rush get more and more influence in the GOP. Please, please, please make it so. Both embody what is becoming the characteristic of the GOP: the inability to convince anyone who is not already a true believer, because of the inability to imagine why others could possibly disagree with them (other than that they are evil).

    So, MORE RUSH!

  17. “Both embody what is becoming the characteristic of the GOP: the inability to convince anyone who is not already a true believer”

    Both have convinced others who were not already “true believers”.

    “because of the inability to imagine why others could possibly disagree with them”

    I do not kow much about Rush’s political history but Glenn Beck was once very liberal. He has talked about this many times. He knows what it is like to hold a postion very differnt from his own.

  18. It is ironic to see conservatives spending so much time talking about who is a cocktail-drinker and who is Joe Sixpack. It sounds like what I’ve heard called “identity politics”.

  19. MJ nails it. I’ll just add that Moynihan’s assertion that Limbaugh, or conservatives in general, have been “unswervingly” defending Bush all along just shows that Moynihan hasn’t bothered to actually listen to Limbaugh or talk to actual conservatives. After all, he already knows they’re “clueless,” so he can skip actual research and just get his information about them from the unerringly correct author of “The Right Man: An Inside Account of the Bush White House.”

  20. I must also agree with both MJ and Joe Kristan. Both Beck and Limbaugh have heavily criticized Bush and savaged McCain. In fact I remember hearing Conservative talk radio play the Soviet National Anthem out of protest the day McCain got the nomination. Beck and Limbaugh are no friends of the Republican leadership and have not been for quite some time.

  21. MNG,

    By the way I responded to your comments on the Jim Bellows, RIP thread.

  22. I don’t get to listen to Rush Limbaugh that often, but when I do (usually while working in the garage), I find myself saying “Go Rush!” a lot more than “No, Rush!”. (That said, his segments on evolution betray a total lack of understanding of the theory.)

    Most of the people who criticize him have not listened to him. They have a preconceived notion of what he says based on out-of-context soundbytes, his “cigar-smoking, fat-cat” looks, and what others who don’t like him (and also haven’t listened to him) say about him.

    On matters of fiscal policy (which, with the way the major parties are decaying on that issue, is my only care anymore) he’s dead-on right.

  23. Wow, send the likes of Frum, Noonan, Brooks, and Will off packing because they aren’t fire-breathing conservatives.

    The GOP is even sicker than I thought. Read the Frum article in Newsweek. The GOP has lost 33 points among college graduates (now -8) and is getting shellacked by the under 40 crowd and lost California by 24 points. Rush is the disease and the symptom.

    Reality is difficult to accept among the true believers.

  24. “Wow, send the likes of Frum, Noonan, Brooks, and Will off packing because they aren’t fire-breathing conservatives.”

    No, send them packing because they do not have spines.

    “The GOP has lost 33 points among college graduates (now -8) and is getting shellacked by the under 40 crowd and lost California by 24 points.”

    This is because of a two fold problem: 1. The GOP (with the exceptions of Paul and Flake) has given up on the idea of defending capitalism. and 2. The party is now associated with Salafi Christians who care more about bashing gay people than shoring up our nations financial system.

    “Rush is the disease and the symptom. ”

    He is neither. Have you ever listened to his program? If not you should give him a try He is on Noon – 3pm Eastern

  25. The Republican Party is rudderless and in desperate need of a change, writes Michael C. Moynihan.

    Nah, they had their turn. Now it’s the Dems’ turn to be blamed for everything.

    It shouldn’t take long for Dems to discreit themselves. Besides the ethical problems in Congress, this White House is already complaining that being President is too hard for anyone to expect them to spell Russian words or put an iota of thought into a gift for the British PM.

  26. “Rush is the disease and the symptom. ”

    Rush is the symptom of the MSM’s socialist disease. He wouldn’t exist if they didn’t create a huge gaping hole in the market for news by leaning so consistently left.

    Besides, we had Rush in 1994, 2000, 2002, 2004.

  27. Rush was absolutely wrong on Bush, Iraq, and many social issues.

    On fiscal policy, however, he’s absolutely right. We need limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the power of the private sector now more than ever, and if the GOP had stuck to those principles instead of going on a spending bender they’d be in a much better off position today.

  28. “Rush was absolutely wrong on Bush, Iraq, and many social issues.”

    On Bush? He was wrong to heavilly criticize Bush every single time he came out for some new government program? From the very begining he was on Bush’s big government policies and skewering them.

  29. Great, another Rush Limbaugh thread. Now we can have the cult of Rush come on here and get all fired up over how their very own Ron Hubbard got attacked.

  30. Alberta Libertarian, I am by no means a “cultist” I disagree with Rush on many social issues and on evolution among other things. But I will defend him when he is right. I will also defend him from attempts at censorhsip (I am NOT accusing Reason of supporting censorship but some in Congress).
    First they came for the talk radio hosts

    When the Nazis came for the Dittoheads,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a Dittohead.
    When they locked up the raw milk drinkers,
    I remained silent;
    I was lactose intolerant.

    When they came for the small business owners,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a small business owner.

    When they came for the LImewire users,
    I remained silent;
    I did not use Limewire.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

  31. Yo, fuck David Frum

    Just before the war, this is his own attempt at playing the roll of Gate Keeper:

    You may know the names of these antiwar conservatives. Some are famous: Patrick Buchanan and Robert Novak. Others are not: Llewellyn Rockwell, Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming, Scott McConnell, Justin Raimondo, Joe Sobran, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski, Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos . . .

    They have made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe. They deny and excuse terror. They espouse a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism. They publicize wild conspiracy theories. And some of them explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation’s enemies.

    War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.

    Not only is he and Brooks unsavory on this front, but in the matter of economic policy, he and Brooks live in a bizzaro alternative universe where Herb Stein’s policies were a rip roaring success, and the intellectual adjustment made after the era of stagflation never had to occur. There is no one I am more deeply suspicious of than this guy.

  32. I think Mr. Moynihan should ask about who really directed the policies of the Bush years before he sides with his fellow beltway pundit. Was it the Frums, Kristols, Douthats, and Brooks OR the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world?

    Is the “compassionate conservatism” of Rush Limbaugh that put people into houses they could not afford and added a Medicare entitlement to an already broke system?

    In light of this it’s certainly a reasonable response to say “Hey we tried it your way, you rode the Bush boom, and now it’s a bust..Time to try some real conservatism”

    Moynihan, Reason, other pundit rags in general are good intellectual diversions but I’ll never take them seriously as spokesman for any movement. All they ever really accomplish is a mutual fan club amongst beltway pundits, libertarian or otherwise. That may be great for cocktail conversation and appearances on but not for much else.

    As for the “appoint[ing] himself enforcer of ideological orthodoxy,” and the lamenting of “David Frum branded a traitor to the movement.” One need not look too far to see the ridiculous of this claim. I present the writing of poor, unappreciated, and high minded David Frum with the following ex communication of his own over the horribly mistaken invasion of Iraq:

    “They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country.

    War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen – and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them.”

    I’m not sure what Mr. Moynihan feels he’s accomplished as a libertarian writer with this piece.

    I challenge my fellow libertarians to compare the vitriol above to the speeches of some of the principled conservatives at CPAC the author so cavalierly mocks and then condemns. All of the videos are here:

    Most impressive was Mark Sanford’s speech: ( @42:00)
    There was more appreciation of liberty and inspiration in that speech than I’ve seen published in Reason for a long time. Also watch in awe at Paul Ryan elucidating the principles of freedom and condemning the Federal Reserve echoing that kook Ron Paul.

    Also notice the near silence on the foreign interventions from all the speakers including Rush. Look at Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson call them out on the folly of foreign adventurism. And do take a look again at the much maligned Limbaugh speech…is there anything to which a libertarian can truly object? Contrast that atmosphere to the one Frum and his ilk created post 9/11.

    No the Republican party’s problem isn’t the lack of principled conservatives it’s the beltway “strategists” and “prognosticators” and spineless politicians who heeded their call for compromise of principle that are the problem.

  33. Though, Noonan was certainly right about Palin. It is somewhat disturbing that a significant segment of the Republican intelligentsia (spare the obvious) did not see her obvious deficiencies. Perhaps,they were incensed by the left’s original shrill attack on her, but that is no excuse to remain blind when she faced easily answerable questions from Gibbs and Couric. If you can’t face their softballs (and she couldn’t) you are not ready for the major leagues.

  34. Forget, please, “conservatism.” It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    “[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor,
    Recovering Republican

    PS — And Limbaugh has never made a bigger ass of himself than he did at CPAC telling that blaphemous “joke” about himself and God…

  35. Go suck my atheist cock, Lofton.

  36. I listen to Rush MAYBE a couple times a week. I agree with him on some issues, and disagree on others. I always find it interesting when I hear people trash him.

    Rush Hater: “Rush Limbaugh is an idiot. Bla, bla, bla…”

    Me: “Do you listen to him?”

    Rush Hater: “Me?!? No way…”

    Me: “Nuff said.”

  37. “You’re really a libertarian? I think you just call yourself one to get laid.”

    What color is the sky in your world?

  38. Sorry, MIchael Moynihan, but I disagree that Republicans have to dump Reagan’s philosophy. When Reagan took office, America had two major problems:

    1. The Federal government was too large, and its policies were restricting freedom and hurting the economy.

    2. There were a bunch of evil foriegners killing people and trying to dominate the West.

    Now, it is almost 30 years later, and what are America’s main problems now? Guess what! The same exact two. The solutions are the same as they were then: free markets and a strong foriegn policy.

    I am going to make a bold prediction: in the year 2039, the top two problems in America will be:

    1. The Federal government will be too large, and its policies will be restricting freedom and hurting the economy.

    2. There will be a bunch of evil foriegners killing people and trying to dominate the West.

    Any bets on the solutions?

  39. I think it’s extremely cynical for Emmanuel, and Carvel to “target” Rush. Not because I’m so pro Rush. I just “thought” Obama was above all this. Hope and CHANGE my ass. To me it stinks of Nixon’s media “blacklists”.

  40. It’s an interesting concept JK, but I think Mr. Lofton might be denouncing Conservatism as it stands today as even incompatible with religious folks. Libertarianism, of course, welcomes all to practise their conscience whether the rest of us think it is nonsense. Our only concern is that does it does not infringe involuntarily on our Liberty.

    Conservatism today seems to embrace some ill-defined orthodoxy which if I were religious myself would find unsettling.

    I really think that libertarianism is the only viable option for free-thinking religious people who don’t want to force orthodoxy on others. Just like Jesus, I’d rather hang with publicans (and not divulge my income) and sinners than with Republican sinners like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

    I think there should never be an atheist litmus test for libertarian club membership. That is so anti-libertarian in and of itself.

  41. Rush should run for the Senate just like Al Franken did. That way the worse he could do is remove a fucksake from office. He’d be off the airways and doin’ what he prescribes.

  42. I left the Republican Party probably five years ago because the Republican Party forgot what is stood for. It not only started outspending the Democrats but also became as corrupt as they had been. And then they started a war that never needed to be started. Iraq was never a direct threat to the United States and we broke international law in going to war. The Republican and conservatives must decide what they stand for and take a stand. Until then, I will look for another answer.

  43. An article by Moynihan that isn’t absolute shit?

    Did the weatherman make a forecast for a cold day in Hell?

  44. Limbaugh is not a politician or a philosopher or an economist or anything important at all–he’s just a reasonably talented actor who has made his millions entertaining simple-minded righty American yahoos. Good for him. He found his niche. We should all be so successful.

    The most interesting thing about this so-called “controversy” is what it says about the Democrats. The election is over and they won it all and yet, four months later, they are still in campaign mode. Self-confident victors don’t behave in this manner. They’re scared, incredibly ingracious and pathologically thin-skinned. But why? They won! ‘Tis odd.

  45. Yea ed, you’d think the press would cool out for a while after their record contribution to Obama’s election. But they are currently going balls to the wall trying to tie every Republican in Washington to Rush. And strange, according to a Pew poll the “simple-minded righty yahoos” are some of the most informed people in the country.

  46. I’m a pro-gay rights, pro-capitalism, pro-constitution civil rights & peace advocate. I see no place for myself withing the ‘so-called’ conservative movement, and especially not in the Republican Party. I went to a few of my local Republican Executive Committee meetings. They usually lasted 2 to 3 hours and could be easily distilled down into one compound word – ‘Islamohomophobia’.

    Conservatives are never going to build a winning coalition when capitalists like myself are driven away from the movement by revolting intolerance.

    As for Rush Limbaugh, I just don’t get how millions of Americans can listen in everyday on an unattractive man masturbating in the mirror.

  47. “After the disastrous Republican losses of 2006 and 2008 and the deeply unpopular war in Iraq, Republicans might want to revisit Frank Meyer’s question: Conservatives know what they are against, but what on earth are they for?”

    That’s what the speech was primarily about. Refer to all the talk in the speech about principles.

  48. according to a Pew poll the “simple-minded righty yahoos” are some of the most informed people in the country

    Having their TVs permanently set to Fox News and their radios to Rush and Laura Ingraham doesn’t make them “well” informed. They’re getting much of their information second-hand, filtered through the biases of their conservative heroes. They take those pronouncements as fact, unquestioning, faithfully. To call oneself a “ditto-head” is to admit sheeplike obedience.

  49. Second hand my ass, ed. Your stereotype might make you feel superior, but us Yahoos can’t help but hear news filterd first through the New York Times. What gets refiltered by conservatives is sometimes believed to be fact, but not always.

  50. Lofton,

    If I felt absolutely sure about the existence of God, and more importantly, His ultimate temperament, I would be mighty nervous and hesitant before I pimped Him out like a cheap whore to service my personal political ideology.

  51. “””So, MORE RUSH!”””

    Yes, anything Moving Pictures or before.

    What? Wrong Rush?

    Rush is a blowhard that loves to hear himself talk. He does everything to support his ego. That’s not a crime, nothing wrong with it.

    If he really gave a shit about the political landscape of the nation he would run for office. To make this a sports methaphor, Rush prefers sitting on the sidelines throwing rocks at players on the field instead of suiting up and actually competeing in the game. He is one of the greatest, at least most popular, political monday morning quarterbacks that ever lived.

    Rush never spent a day in jail to protect anyone in the Bush admin. A New York Times reporter did. Would anyone at Fox news spend jail time protecting an Obama staff member?

    “””Second hand my ass, ed. Your stereotype might make you feel superior, but us Yahoos can’t help but hear news filterd first through the New York Times.”””

    James, don’t you agree with ed that people who only get their news from one news agency and two bias radio talk show hosts is NOT well informed. It wouldn’t matter if they are leftwing or rightwing.

  52. Moynihan nails it – Rush is the poster child of the “anti-intellectual” conservative. There was a thread here last week that went into the subject extensively.

    Repeating “government is evil” repeatedly is not an intellectual argument. A parrot could do it.

  53. Speaking as a relatively (few years ago) recent college graduate, to the individual who was quoting the statistic concerning falling support for the GOP amongst college graduates, I’d lay more blame on the slanted education one receives in college. It wasn’t until I got away from the assigned reading lists my teachers gave me and sat down with the classic works on free-market economics and philosophy that I really began to understand the principles that define libertarians and conservatives (and make them more similar than libertarians and liberals), and how important they are to our fundamental rights – to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    On to Rush – I don’t agree with everything he says, of course (I doubt anyone agrees with everything another person says). But I think that his core principles and his analysis tend to be spot on, even if I disagree with some of those core principles. The argument presented in this article is, just as others have described it, poorly constructed. It actually reads very similarly to many “mainstream” liberal articles run in such organizations as Newsweek, which take facts out of context.

  54. “””Moynihan nails it – Rush is the poster child of the “anti-intellectual” conservative.”””

    I think that goes to Coulter.

  55. For all the attention Rush is getting, he still is a less popular figure in the U.S. than George W. Bush. Having him as the party’s spokesman is pure gold for Dems.

    The lowbrow bigotry of the right as a commodity is selling at about the same levels as Citi group’s stock.

  56. A social conservative is the enemy of personal liberty – whether of US evangelical or Saudi Wahhabi makeup.

    The defense of such beliefs on this site is indicative of the failure of libertarian politics.

  57. Trickyvic, can you give me evidence that there are hordes of Rush listeners that only get three sources of news? Between C-span, the Wall Street Journal, the Baton Rouge Advocate, the Livingston Parish news, Reason Magazine, the lefty bias of radio news( the most concentrated propaganda in news) and god knows how many other sources, I’ll put my level of informed up against anyone. How many hours of House coverage have you watched so far this year, I’ve watched dozens.

  58. “””Trickyvic, can you give me evidence that there are hordes of Rush listeners that only get three sources of news?”””

    TrickyVic said
    “James, don’t you agree with ed that people who only get their news from one news agency and two bias radio talk show hosts is NOT well informed. It wouldn’t matter if they are leftwing or rightwing.””

    I didn’t say anything about Rush listeners per se, nor you. So why would I bother looking for evidence for something I didn’t claim. Since I said leftwing and rightwing you should know I’m NOT picking on any one team.

    But if it is true that only FOX News and rightwing talk show hosts are the only true media and everything else is MSM and MSM is bad, then they limit themselves. The same is true for the opposite team too. Don’t you agree?

    Seems, by your own words, that you are NOT one of the “simple-minded righty yahoos” which ed was referring so no one is talking about you.

  59. Just checked in to confirm a suspicion that there are plenty of moronic, cult of Rush “libertarians” too. Suspicion readily confirmed within seconds. “Conservatives” problem to me seems to be that they have a tendancy to rally behind the biggest asshole they can find. Which is why the rest of us like a guy like Ron Paul. He doesn’t seem to need to bluster and puff himself up trying to pretend to be some kind of badass like most of these “conservative” entertainers who now own the GOP. Clinging to tenets like,”you must never admit you’re wrong, it shows weakness,” like a lead life preservers. They are the champions of the dumb.

  60. Trickyvic, I think you were trying to further ed’s point with your initial question. And the rhetorical needed no answer. Your second post definately implies you think Rush listeners are generally uninformed. My point is that people try to disparge Rush listeners as only getting right wing propaganda, and frankly that is impossible these days. What makes you think I’m not the typical listener?

  61. the comments here prove what i’ve come to believed for a while – most libertarians are just amoral republicans. y’all are pathetic.

    good article mr. moynihan.

  62. To all of those urging Rush’s critics to at least listen to his programs: I tune in to Rush from time to time. While I can accept the argument that many of Rush’s stated positions should find support among libertarians, I have found it impossible in Rush’s case to separate style from substance. The use of ad hominems, insults, browbeating, bullyragging, etc. to “spice up” the program is a total turn-off for me. If Rush took the actual substance of his arguments, elaborated on them, and did it in NPR style, I would listen regularly. If anyone can suggest someone who shares Rush’s views and who behaves in a civilized manner, let me know.

  63. Sayeth TrickyVic: “Seems, by your own words, that you [James Ard] are NOT one of the “simple-minded righty yahoos” which ed was referring so no one is talking about you.

    Indeed. I hardly thought it necessary to qualify my statement to include those nonsheeplike freethinkers who happen to listen to Limbaugh. Getting your news and opinions from many sources is comendable. But I’ve listened to Rush’s show, and if the quality of the call-in commentary is any indication, his listeners are the devoted choir to which he is preaching.

  64. Ron | March 10, 2009, 2:04pm | #

    If anyone can suggest someone who shares Rush’s views and who behaves in a civilized manner, let me know.

    Well put. And good luck with your search. Political discourse in this nation has devolved into an anti-intellectual food fight, both on the left and the right. Is Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann any more civilized than Rush Limbaugh? Hardly. And can anyone name a single Air America personality who didn’t publicly wish for George Bush’s “failure”? The left’s hysterical, hypocritical reaction to Limbaugh’s “I want Obama to fail” quip is breathtaking in its chutzpah.

  65. Fusionism was doomed the day that the Cold War ended. I was a nascent conservative as an adolescent, devouring the shorter, funnier departments of National Review in the library, even before I joined my high schools debate team. I watched WFB on Firing Line and The Advocates, and delighted in the oxymoron he represented: the intellectual conservative. Buckley, in his more libertarian moments, could get wistful about how, once The Red Menace was defeated, the statist compromises he and other fusionists put up with for the duration of the emergency, such as conscription, could be disposed of. The more libertarian views of Meyer, or of Buckley family friend Frank Chodorov were to prevail after Victory Over Communism, but sadly, not before.

    In my college days I got sick of compromising. After participating in the doomed Gerald Ford campaign, I told the GOP to take a hike. If I’m going to have to lose, he gauchely quoted himself, at least I can do it with my principles intact.

    Post-Reagan, we finally had the situation Buckley had posited: no USSR, a “peace dividend,” and the first real chance since 1929 to retard and reverse the growth of government. Bush I couldn’t get a handle on that, while Clinton just wanted to swap guns for butter.

    Unfortunately, our “entangling alliances” motivated the jihadist nutbars into attacking us, providing the conservatives with a new rationale for postponing a military build-down. That the neo-Wilsonians overreached shouldn’t have surprised, but we are all stuck with that bill, along with those from the domestic spending W indulged in, in no small part to buy off potential war opponents.

    The only way that fusionism could make any sense anymore is if paleocons and whatever rump of classical liberals who remain allied with the Republicans walked, and made common cause with libertarians. I’m not counting on it.


  66. Mr. Moynihan,

    Before you chastise anyone for being anti-elite maybe you could, you know, show the proven track record of how elites have performed better than non-elites in government. Can you even seriously make a case that Palin would be worse than Obama as president? I do not mean in people’s subjective opinion but in actual policy.

  67. Libertarianism is, unfortunately, mostly dead.

    The Electorate is no longer concerned with liberty and freedom, but with entitlements. The major political parties therefore just divy up which interest group’s entitlements they want to represent, and call those entitelments “positive rights.”

    Kevin said “The only way that fusionism could make any sense anymore is if paleocons and whatever rump of classical liberals who remain allied with the Republicans walked, and made common cause with libertarians.”

    Here I am, but we’re not going to win any elections; and the more of us that defect from the Republican coalition, the more likely we are to get statists like Obama…

  68. This is ridiculous …

    George W. Bush was the most Left-wing president since FDR until Obama, as evidenced by the extreme growth in both the size and scope of government during his tenure.

    Conservatives, while it took them way too long, have finally woken up to this (the wake-up call being McCain’s nomination), and now demand Republicans get back to the Goldwater/Reagan philosophy of smaller, limited government.

    What do they get for this? Well for one, a libertarian magazine ripping them for not heeding the “advice” of pundits who’d prefer to see the Republican Party continue their leftward ways.

    And for Palin? So very few get it! Her appeal is simple: she’s just not like any standard politician. Her smiles are genuine, and she’s obviously enjoying herself … she ain’t one of THEM!

    The best thing that could happen in our country is for both the policy-wonks and the legislature to shut their pie-holes by taking a 4-year vacation far, far away.

    Elites and so-called “intellectuals” are who got the country into the mess it’s in today. “Intellectuals” are the most over-rated people on the planet. The famous, yet non-intellectual investor Jim Rogers said it best when he said, “why do we listen to these people?” They’re always wrong.

    If “listening” and toying with Leftist, state-control ideas is the best advice libertarians have to offer … the libertarian movement is in worse shape than the conservatives.

  69. Here I am, but we’re not going to win any elections; and the more of us that defect from the Republican coalition, the more likely we are to get statists like Obama…

    There is a reason why Frum and Brooks are stirring the shit and Newsweek is enabling them. With the Obamaable administration, both conservative and moderate Republicans are showing both a spine and unity with one another in opposition to the Democrats’ apocalyptic agenda.

    It appears to be an effective strategy, the latest news that Democrats are breaking away from supporting Check Card. If Obama continues to prove to be a weak leader, expect the Republicans to break off many more democrats to form a voting block.

    This is what the illiberals fear the most, so they send in their usual chumps, Frum and Brooks, to obfuscate and muddle the truth. This business with Limbaugh is merely a side show to this strategy.

  70. Is Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann any more civilized than Rush Limbaugh?

    YES. There is a huge difference between what’s left of conservative “discourse” these days (entrenched as it is in anti-intellectualism and lowbrowness), and the discourse on the left, which isn’t afraid to actually engage facts and be coherent in its arguments.

    This false equivalence ignores the very real devolution of conservative thought into the cartoonish goose-stepping state it now finds itself in.

  71. Ron wrote:

    . . . I have found it impossible in Rush’s case to separate style from substance. The use of ad hominems, insults, browbeating, bullyragging, etc. to ‘spice up’ the program . . .”

    Ad hominems, insults, browbeating and bullying are not only style — they are also substance. People who act that way break the rules of civilized discourse, which are essential to a democratic society. You have to be polite, respectful and open minded toward responsible members of the opposition. That’s good citizenship, which is something they used to teach in schools in the old days that conservatives supposedly admire.

    I do not mean that you have to be polite every minute of every day. Partisan satire is fine. But not for three hours a day every single day!

  72. I never have listened to Rush Limbaugh but the idea that the Republican ticket/party hasn’t been conservative enough the past few years is spot on. Is he the ideal face for the Right Wing, probably not.

    That said, the Right should stand for limited government and mean it. Stop peddling pork with one hand and condemning it with the other.

    The right should stand for free markets and tax reform. A rising tide lifts all boats. The size o the pie is not fixed, the economy is not zero/sum.

    The right should stand for a vigorous foreign policy which puts America’s self interest first. We should be aggressive and unforgiving in defending our ideals.

    The reason that Reagan is still relevant is because the Government is still the problem.

  73. “””Your second post definately implies you think Rush listeners are generally uninformed.”””””

    No it doesn’t.

    “””””My point is that people try to disparge Rush listeners as only getting right wing propaganda and frankly that is impossible these days.””””

    Rush isn’t as right wing as some people think, but right wing propaganda does exist, so does left.

    “””What makes you think I’m not the typical listener?”””

    I didn’t accuse you of being a Rush listener, much less a typical one. I did accuse you of not being a simple-minded righty yahoo. Was I wrong?

  74. Jamie Kelly quotes Michael Moynihan:

    “Reaganism was a specific reaction to a specific set of challenges that are rather different than the financial crisis currently enveloping the country.”

    Jamie Kelly comments:

    “Yes. ‘Reaganism’ fit the time, but now low taxes and attempting to rein in runaway government spending are just so passe.”

    Yeah – as though Ronald Reagan actually reduced taxes or ever took even the slightest step in the direction of “rein[ing] in runaway government spending.” Is this guy some kind of comedian?

    “Those ‘challenges’ — what a weak fucking word — to the economy stem from exactly what Reagan saw wrong with the government not only of his time, but all time: Overbearing, overspending, blundering, unresourceful and generally a big fucking drag on prosperity.
    Sound familiar?”

    Yes, actually it does. It sounds like the federal government after eight years of Ronald Reagan.

    “How old are you? 12?”

    How old are you? Four?


  75. A little bit off topic on the thread but a great point was made about David Frum’s opportunistic duplicity at National Review:

    A friend e-mails a point I surprisingly haven’t seen made:

    David Frum enthusiastically supported Rudy Giuliani for president. How does Rudy match up with Barack Obama’s manifest virtues cited by Frum? Frum praises Obama as “soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry” and notes that he is an “apparently devoted husband and father” who epitomizes the ideal of “responsibility.” Rush Limbaugh is faulted for being “aggressive, bombastic, cutting and sarcastic” and for his “tangled marital history.” Frum has the gall to criticize a radio host for allegedly failing to measure up to Obama having backed for president a thrice-married, angry and aggressive adulterer who also (gasp) smokes cigars?

  76. Conservatives would be long past the denial and anger phases if not for the war(s). As long as Bush was busy “fighting the terrissts over there”, conservatives (and Republicans in Congress) were willing to overlook apostasy from the economic leg of the stool. Because Reagan gave pretty speeches and stood up to the commies, conservatives are able to forget that he left the size, cost and power of the government essentially unchanged.

    Conservatives just need to decide what they can do without. Smaller and cheaper government or fealty to presidents who fight wars and make people feel proud of themselves.

  77. Published December 13, 2006 on

    “Sock It to the Left!”
    The Rise of the Spite Right

    by Barry Loberfeld

    Of those not there, most who know of the incident probably do so from Jerome Tuccille’s Radical Libertarianism: A Right Wing Alternative. At the 1969 Young Americans for Freedom convention in St. Louis, one faction — the libertarians — opposed the U.S. government’s orchestration of both the war in Vietnam and suppression here at home (including the nexus thereof: conscription). Their slogan: “Sock it to the State!” They were met (fiercely) by another faction — the “traditionalists” (with the actual tradition never identified) — who opposed that opposition. Their cry? “Sock it to the Left!”
    This political drama flashed in the warder of my brain when something recently happened that put into perspective the bewilderment that has possessed observers of “conservatism” in the present age. The bewilderment itself comes from seeing too many individuals evade/dismiss/deny every error/deception/disaster in the “War on Terror” and repeat the same ill-conceived mantras (e.g., “Better to fight them [rump Ba’athists? rival Muslim sects?] there than here!”). People who used to parrot Rush Limbaugh’s dictum that the military exists only “to kill people and break things” and condemned Clinton for American involvement in the Balkans, now pout that the “liberal media” aren’t covering the super job the Army is doing in rebuilding Iraq. (A Reason commentator observed that the actual level of progress would have embarrassed a Soviet apparatchik reporting to his superiors. My own quip is that today’s “conservatives” are so committed to the welfare state that they established another one in Iraq.) It’s as if it’s a badge of honor to see how long they can continue to support — no matter how incoherently — an unsupportable war.
    The something-recently that clued me in to what’s been going on was a response to a list made by Christopher Garvey (who ran this year for NY Attorney General on the Libertarian line) of rights that Americans have lost under President Bush. The respondent, N. (whom LRCers might recall from my “Letter to a Conservative Friend”), complained that Mr. Garvey’s facts “sound like DNC talking points.”
    Bingo! Now I saw it all too clearly. Forget the Democrats’ actual record on the war and related issues: If N. believed “liberals” were opposing Bush’s attack on civil liberties, he was going to support it. And I thought about how any questioning of the Administration was always met with cries of “Support the Troops!” — as if all those who didn’t fall in line were ’60s radicals spitting on returning soldiers and calling them “baby killers.” The struggle isn’t against “Islamofascism” (minted by Christopher Hitchens to baby-talk fellow Leftists into backing the war) or terrorism or even al-Qaeda. The imperative, no less now than in ’69, is to “Sock it to the Left!” The “conservatism” of today isn’t that of Taft or Goldwater. It arguably isn’t even that of a “Religious Right,” since it seeks, not to serve any God, but only to stomp its Devil. Behold the Spite Right.
    The Spite Right was born, not in the reflection of Read or Chodorov or Garrett, but in the confrontationalism of Up from Liberalism. Its progeny include Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Goldberg, Gallagher, Malkin, Ingraham, Savage, O’Reilly — self-scribbled caricatures who dwell in their own political cartoon, where there are only intrinsically evil “liberals” (Mr. Limbaugh adduces Ed Koch and William Kunstler on the same page) vs. “conservatives” whose goodness derives solely from fighting them. Such “liberals” are the Spite Right’s Left, and once that Left was deemed “anti-war,” pro-war was deemed anti-Left, i.e., the Good. Thereafter, the only matter of duty was to defend that war from this “liberal” assault. That meant fighting any and all “liberal lies” that challenged Administration Truth, which was Truth because it stood in opposition to those “lies.” It meant fighting any moral challenge to the war, which actually could be only immoral because it challenges the war — the War on Liberals, the struggle that is the essence of morality. It meant fighting the usual “anti-war” suspects, from Hollywood “limousine liberals” to sign-waving street protesters. For the Spite Right, Iraq is another name for Vietnam.
    The Spite Right’s vacant contrarianism is but one more species of identity politics, which rejects any transcendent norms, any morals that constrain men irrespective of group affiliation. Hence its members hold themselves to no such standards. We are told not to criticize “our Commander-in-Chief” — this from characters who slapped CHELSEA HAS TWO MOMMIES on their bumpers. We hear roars of indignation over what Senator Kerry said “about the troops” — roars that were previously directed toward the “liberal media” for distorting Senator Helms’ Clinton-better-have-a-bodyguard joke. We see men who never donned the uniform dare to just smear John Murtha — evidently Spite Rightists themselves are allowed to criticize government officials “while troops are in combat” — and do so while almost literally hiding behind a woman’s skirt. Alas, we have yet to hear or see those who sought to oust Clinton call for the resignation of a president who would not face the 911 Commission (part of his own “War on Terror”) because he could not bring along the vice president — “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived” — to hold his hand and perhaps whisper in his ear.
    This hypocrisy is hardly limited to issues relating to war. Ann Coulter, for example, cracks that if “liberal” jurists “interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the First Amendment, we’d have a right to bear nuclear arms by now.” And what exactly does that deserve — other than a rim shot? This: If conservatives “interpreted the Second Amendment the way they interpret the First Amendment,” even the National Guard wouldn’t have guns. One wonders if the godly Miss Coulter reads a Bible wherein Christ commands the believer to ignore the beam in his own eye but knock the mote out of his neighbor’s — a musing that extends to that lamest of ducks, the equally crudely written and drawn “Dullard Fillmore,” where “liberal” hypocrisy is the only hypocrisy that exists for condemnation. And what is going on in the mind — in the soul — of a man, Michael Medved, who decries “save-the-world liberalism” and defends the global-liberationist delusions of George II and his court? (Answer: “Conservatives are both happier and nicer than liberals.”) I need only mention Mr. Limbaugh and the subject of drugs.
    Spite Right relativism is as metaphysical as it is moral. Because the only reality is of “liberal” harm, there is no consideration of what harm might come from the anti-“liberal” forces, who will consequently continue to aim their fire — no matter what those blasts actually hit. Any admission of error would be, not a matter of intellectual honesty, but only a concession of right to the Left — to the Devil. And that can never be. The ultimate evil for Sean Hannity is not to be found in a combat zone in Iraq or even in a cave in Afghanistan, but in the seat across the desk.
    I don’t require warnings that there is indeed a real Left with real evil — no libertarian does. But the Spite Right is not alerting but numbing us to that evil. When the wolf is said to be everywhere, people soon come to believe there’s no wolf at all — the most vulnerable state to find ourselves when it finally does appear. The sober response to the Spite Right terror of “liberals” was demonstrated by H. L. Mencken with regard to Communists who acted in support of black Americans: “The way to dispose of their chicaneries is not to fight them when they are right.” The whole of morality — and truth — cannot consist of waiting for a Howard Dean (or a Nancy Pelosi) to make a pronouncement.
    I find myself speculating whether Buckleyism’s always-puzzling politics — suppression of civil liberties (except gun rights) but rejection (if only rhetorical) of “Big Government” on economic issues — makes perversely perfect sense as a point-by-point opposition to the politics of the Enemy. For the record, there are traces of a pre-Buckley Spite Right. In her April 3, 1948 letter to Isabel Paterson, author of The God of the Machine, Ayn Rand mentions a man who said that he was in favor of conscription “because the Communists are against it.” She quotes her husband’s comment: “I suppose even Communists are against smallpox. Is he for it?” Such is the mad logic of the Spite Right that if known “liberals” ever officially came out against disease, these latter-day “conservatives” would unsheathe their daggers in defense of any and all diseases. The only remaining question: Would the Spite Rightists continue to practice the anti-Leftism they preach if said Left ever came out against suicide?
    “Sock it to the Left!”

  78. My fav line:

    Conservatives “oppose so much and favor so little.”

    Yeah, individual liberty is such a small thing.

    Dumbass. As usual, a ginormous blind spot prevents a pundit from seeing the whole point of conservatism. If you pundits could string two thoughts together you might realize it kinda follows that conservatives would be against a lot of “things,” since those “things” in this context amount to massive government intervention. Why do we constantly have to spell it out for these morons?

  79. Why is it the media including Reason, NEVER mention Pres.Reagan’s book, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation–? So-called Catholics as Kennedy, Kerry, Pelosi are 100 degrees opposite the prophetic encyclical on human life of Pope Paul VI –and the Church in America is as Pontius Pilate, to survey “What is truth?” Download Humanae Vitae free off the Web. Muslims have families, while we reject the ideals of NFP and choose the lottery of abortion? Obama-nation ahead.

  80. You folks forgot that President Reagan inherited a very sick economy, with inflation above 10%, an oil crisis. Remember when the credit card interest was at 8% and Carter had it upped to 25%… Yes, the economy was a mess. I am surprised that you forgot about it.

  81. There was a time when the “Republican” party stood for Constitutional government.
    I am one of those arcane individuals who still believe that the Constitution as written and not perverted by so called “judges” and others who consider themselves to be “Supreme” is still the law of the land. Why do we allow judges to legislate from the bench? PS: They ARE breaking the law.
    The Rinos and Dinos give the Constitution lip service and then violate it innumerable ways.
    Rush define Rush and nothing more. He surely is not my spokesman.
    This country is being systematically destroyed because there are those who are willing to do so and whenever they are confronted with a consolidated group, they merely slither into the group and then get them fighting amongst themselves.
    If we can not agree to get the miscreants out of office, we can then stand back and blame anyone, including Rush, without blaming the individual we see in the mirror.
    Ignorance IS NOT bliss, ignorance is death..

  82. Rush most clearly articulates the philosophy of the Republican Party not the beaucratic dunderheads in the leadership roles for the party and not Michael Steele, and ceratinly not David Frum. Their attacks have me searching for a third party I can support with my finances!

  83. I’m not going to get sidetracked by this Rush discussion. Rush articulates the conservative philosophy extremely well. Something that is quite lacking amongst the tired Republican leadership. You can castigate Rush and his devotees for being anti-gay, but that is simply a misperception based on liberal fear and loathing of religion. You can assert that Rush is strident and mean, but your judgment rings hollow because of your own stridency and meanness.

    I am sick to death of both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats because they are so gullible, easily manipulated by their fear and loathing of the right wing and other things they don’t understand, and self serving. Republicans because they are so spineless and inarticulate (and self-serving). The Constitution was the finest document ever written for political purposes. I suggest you reread it and remember how God gave this nation the greatest advantages and our solemn obligation to serve Him or reap the consequences.

  84. The arguments for leader of the Republican party are fast and furious. The worst thing the party can do, in my opinion, is forsake the moral reserve that it has defended. The best thing it can do is rebuild the middle class whose conseratives had to choose between moral liberty and economic freedom – and many reluctantly chose the economic to try to put food on the table and gas in the car BUT Obama has proven even more of a challenge.

  85. This is the biggest bunch of crap to say it politely that I’ve read in a while, although the spending bills will remain the worst reading ever. And do I read this right that McCain was to the right and conservative? Where do these people come from, Mars?

  86. Just for the record, I subscribe to the Rush Limbaugh brand of conservativism. He is the spokesperson of conservatives! Moynihan and Frum sound like elitists that only think they speak for me. THEY DO NOT!

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