Friday, February 06, 2009

New Republic Ejaculations on Conservatism Premature and Self-Induced

Sam Tanenhaus trots out the biennial "death of conservatism" trope so beloved of the truffle-snuffing hedonists on the lefter fringes of the Obama psychosis [for Obama substitute the du jour cliche of the moment favored by the autistic narcissists in the MSM]. Roger Kimball in Armavirumque does a good job interpreting the gist of culture warrior Tanenhaus's latest breathless exhalations:
when someone of Tanenhaus’s disposition comes along bearing tidings–and in The New Republic, no less–that Conservatism is Dead, it is time for us knuckle-dragging right wingers to rejoice. It’s not just that Tanenhaus doesn’t get what conservatism is all about: his immersion in the left-wing echo chamber that is The New York Times assures that his understanding of recent history will be composed entirely of fact resistant establishment clichés.

Tanenhaus begins by telling his readers that, bad though things were for conservatives after Barry Goldwater’s defeat in 1964, they are actually much worse now:

After George W. Bush’s two terms, conservatives must reckon with the consequences of a presidency that failed, in large part, because of its fervent commitment to movement ideology: the aggressively unilateralist foreign policy; the blind faith in a deregulated, Wall Street-centric market; the harshly punitive “culture war” waged against liberal “elites.”

This is one of those rhetorical gems that requires the tartness of Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman’s veracity–every word out of her mouth, said McCarthy, is a lie, including “and” and “but.” McCarthy’s judgment has to be somewhat altered in the case of Tanenhaus, for the lack of truth is not, I think, a product of mendacity so much as sclerotic liberal orthodoxy. The Left is everywhere engaged in a process of mythopoeic misrepresentation. George W. Bush must be demonized so that the Messiah, BHO, can be properly exalted.

Absent that distorting filter, we can see that 1) President Bush’s presidency cannot really be said to have “failed” 2) far from being committed to “movement ideology,” Bush was strikingly wet on many issues (prescription drugs for seniors, no child left behind, “compassionate”–gag–”conservatism,” etc.); 3) his foreign policy was not “aggressively unilateralist”: it just wasn’t a model of capitulation; 4) Bush did not exhibit a “blind faith in a deregulated, Wall-Street centric market” but intervened massively in the market when the economy faltered; 4) he did not, alas, pursue a culture war, “harshly punitive” or otherwise, against liberal “elites,” much as we might have wished he had. One sentence, five untruths: good job, Sam! But I do want to give credit where credit is due and point out that there is one element of truth to that sentence. It’s not an assertion, or even a word, rather a bit of punctuation: the scare quotes around “elite.” Conservatives should be proud to welcome genuine elites–i.e., those who excel in one pursuit or another–and he is surely correct that liberals can only be described as “elite” in a Pickwickian sense.

Kimball goes on to deconstruct more of the Tanenhaus rodomontade, but doesn't mention that Rush Limbaugh is beginning to replace George W. as the bete noire of the livid arm-wavers like HuffPuff and Odorboy, and that demonization will proceed along the lines of a "standard of accountability" such as the one Debbie Stabenow is beginning to tout, the first oomph in the pushing and shoving to enact a "Fairness Doctrine," which is by no means fair, but very doctrinal. Marty Peretz and some others in the New Republic keep it from going entirely bolshie, but Tanenhaus appears a throwback to the Uncle Joe-loving past of this rag's flirtations with totalitarianism, as long as it was of the left, sinister, Euro-red side of the spectrum.
...[Tanenhaus] ends by calling on conservatives to reject “ideology” and “recover their honorable intellectual and political tradition.” What he means, of course, is that conservatives should stop being conservatives and get with the leftoid program as epitomized by the Geist of The New York Times and Barack Obama. Sam Tanenhaus has written a piece that is half epitaph, half sermon for the conversion of sinners. He tells us that conservatism is dead, and then how conservatives might save themselves. Most conservatives, I suspect, will take a pass on the offer of redemption à la Tanenhaus. And as for the funeral Tanenhaus came to preside over, I suspect that conservatives will respond as Mark Twain is said to have done when he heard of his own obituary: rumors of their death have been exaggerated.

I can recall how Goldwater's '64 defeat heralded the end of conservatism. Funny how Carter's double-digit inflation & interest rates are nowhere near as Chicken Little as the current economic downturn.....guess that media barrage of superlative exaggerations has got Nancy Pelosi upping our jobless rate to 500 million per month in all 57 states....two examples of how long I expect this current round of conservatism's death throes to last!

Is Obama another LBJ, propounding a "war" on poverty and a "great" society? Or as the Democrats' chief mentor put it, is history repeating itself the second time as farce?

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