Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Glenn Greenwald on the "Conservative" Movement

Glenn Greenwald destroys the growing claim that "the conservative movement" is not responsible for the damage wrought by Bush and the Congressional Republicans:

There is a serious fraud emerging in the political landscape that, though easily predictable and predicted, is now being perpetrated with full force -- namely, that the so-called "conservative movement" is not responsible for the destruction wrought on the country by the Bush presidency and the loyal Republican Congress which followed him.


Lowry and his "conservative" comrades were anything but passive observers over the last six years. They did far more than "watch" as the President and the Congress "disgraced" themselves and damaged this country. It was self-identified "conservatives" who were the principal cheerleaders, the most ardent and loyal propagandists, propping up George Bush and his blindly loyal Republican Congress.

It was they who continuously told America that George Bush was the unified reincarnation of the Great American Conservative Hero Ronald Reagan and the Great Warrior Defender of Freedom, Winston Churchill, all wrapped up in one glorious, powerful package. It was this same conservative movement -- now pretending to lament the abandonment of conservatism by Bush and the Congress -- which was the single greatest source of Bush's political support, which twice elected him and propped up his presidency and the movement which followed it.

So why, after six years of glorifying George Bush and devoting their full-fledged loyalty to him and the GOP-controlled Congress are conservatives like Lowry and Gingrich suddenly insisting that Bush is an anti-conservative and the GOP-led Congress the opposite of conservative virtue? The answer is as obvious as it is revealing. They are desperately trying to disclaim responsibility for the disasters that they wrought in the name of "conservatism," by repudiating the political figures whom they named as the standard-bearers of their movement but whom America has now so decisively rejected.

George Bush has not changed in the slightest. He is exactly the same as he was when he was converted into the hero and icon of the "conservative movement." The only thing that has changed is that Bush is no longer the wildly popular President which conservatives sought to embrace, but instead is a deeply disliked figured, increasingly detested by Americans, from whom conservatives now wish to shield themselves. And in this regard, these self-proclaimed great devotees of Conservative Political Principles have revealed themselves to have none.


[T]he Bush presidency never had anything to do with the Goldwater/Reagan "conservative principles" which one finds in textbooks and think tanks (but never in reality). Instead, the Bush movement is a rank fundamentalist and authoritarian movement which sought to vest virtually unlimited power in George Bush as Leader (and will do the same with its next Leader), and to expand, rather than contract, federal power in order to forcibly implement its view of the Good and to perpetuate its own power. That is what "political conservatism" in this country has become.


The fabled Goldwater/Reagan small-government "conservatism of doubt" which Sullivan hails -- like the purified, magnanimous form of Communism -- exists, for better or worse, only in myth.

While it is true that Bush has presided over extraordinary growth in federal spending, so did Reagan. Though Bush's deficit spending exceeds that of Reagan's, it does so only by degree, not level. The pornography-obsessed Ed Meese and the utter lawlessness of the Iran-contra scandal were merely the Reagan precursors to the Bush excesses which Sullivan finds so "anti-conservative." The Bush presidency is an extension, an outgrowth, of the roots of political conservatism in this country, not a betrayal of them.

All of the attributes which have made the Bush presidency so disastrous are not in conflict with political conservatism as it exists in reality. Those attributes -- vast expansions of federal power to implement moralistic agendas and to perpetuate political power, along with authoritarian faith in the Leader -- are not violations of "conservative principles." Those have become the defining attributes of the Conservative Movement in this country.

When are people going to wake up? The "conservative" movement, in practice, is fundamentalist, authoritarian, and fiscally reckless. Those who defend it are equivalent to those who argue that the communist movement just hasn't gotten a fair shot.


beepbeepitsme said...

What can I say? I agree.

asher said...

Conservative values never worked...this is why Reagan is seen as such a great hero.

If JFK were alive today, he'd be considered a conservative. After all, he was for a strong military, tax cuts and anti communism.

If you want to engage in sophistry..why not explain where the left begins and liberals end...or vice versa. I'm dying to hear this one.

Jewish Atheist said...


I agree that it's not clear-cut. What I'm arguing against here is the group of people who think that they are the conservative movement. Anyone who prefers W to Bill Clinton, for example, may think that they're conservative, but is clearly blinded by partisanship.

Centrist Democrats are probably real conservatives' best bet, but many will never admit it because of rhetorical reasons. They'll laugh and make fun of the Democrats for being in favor of taxes and go vote for some other idiot who's going to spend our grandchildren's money and tell us he's responsible.

Stephen said...

It is certainly ironic that the Clinton administration was more fiscally prudent than either Reagan or Dubya. I suppose defense spending was to blame in both cases. But if defense spending is the culprit, I don't know what Jeb's excuse is.

One might argue that Reagan achieved results with his investment (an end to the Cold War) whereas Dubya has paid a steep price to purchase worse problems for the USA in the immediate future. I didn't think much of Reagan at the time, but I guess I'd rather have him in office than Dubya.