Jonah Goldberg has a great article up talking about the various types of conservatism. Here’s a little glimpse into his article:

Many of the younger conservative policy mavens and intellectuals have become steadily less enamored of free markets and limited government. Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, formerly Bush’s chief speechwriter, has crafted a whole doctrine of “heroic conservatism” intended to beat back the right’s supposed death-embrace with small government and laissez-faire economics. He calls for moral crusade to become the animating spirit of the right. He’s hardly alone. “Crunchy conservatism,” the brainchild of Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher, is also a cri de coeur against mainstream conservatism. Both of these derive from the kind of thinking that led Bush to insist in 2000 that he was a “different kind of Republican” because he was a “compassionate conservative”, a political program that apparently measures compassion by how much money the government spends on education, marriage counseling and the like.

What these gentlemen are talking about isn’t conservatism. Gerson particularly isn’t talking about conservatism. What he’s talking about is a mix of populism and conservatism. It’s the product of his belief that government is part of the solution. Personally, I’d call it watered-down liberalism.

Bill Kristol’s editorial tries making the argument that conservatives should welcome this year’s candidates, an argument that I reject:

For example: John McCain, with a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 82.3, is allegedly in no way a conservative. And, though the most favorably viewed of all the candidates right now, both among Republicans and the electorate as a whole, he would allegedly destroy the Republican party if nominated.

Or take Mike Huckabee. He was a well-regarded and successful governor of Arkansas, reelected twice, the second time with 40 percent of the black vote. He’s come from an asterisk to second in the national GOP polls with no money and no establishment support. Yet he is supposedly a buffoon and political naïf. He’s been staunchly pro-life and pro-gun and is consistently supported by the most conservative primary voters, but he is, we’re told, no conservative either.

Or Mitt Romney. He’s a man of considerable accomplishments, respected by many who have worked with and for him in various endeavors. He took conservative positions on social issues as governor of Massachusetts, and parlayed a one-term governorship of a blue state into a first-tier position in the Republican race. But he, too, we’re told, is deserving of no respect. And though he’s embraced conservative policies and seems likely to be steadfast in pursuing them–he’s no conservative either.

Kristol’s blinders prevents him from seeing that we need a Reaganesque conservative now. His argument for John McCain, in particular, is feeble. McCain’s lifetime conservative rating isn’t the issue. Most of that rating was built his first 2 terms. The statistic that Mr. Kristol should be talking about is McCain’s conservative rating during the Bush administration. Why is Mr. Kristol ignoring McCain’s global warming legislation? Why is Mr. Kristol ignoring McCain-Feingold, the most despicable assault on the First Amendment in US history? How can Mr. Kristol ignore the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, which abandons any pretense of abiding by the rule of law?

This morning, George Will takes a dramatically different perspective on John McCain:

In the New Hampshire debate, McCain asserted that corruption is the reason drugs currently cannot be reimported from Canada. The reason is “the power of the pharmaceutical companies.” When Mitt Romney interjected, “Don’t turn the pharmaceutical companies into the big bad guys,” McCain replied, “Well, they are.”

That’s a socialist’s attitude of pharmaceutical companies. Shouldn’t that scare every Republican in the nation?

That isn’t the only complaint Mr. Will, along with hundreds of thousands of other conservatives, has with him. Here’s another complaint:

McCain says he would nominate Supreme Court justices similar to Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Sam Alito. But how likely is he to nominate jurists who resemble those four: They consider his signature achievement constitutionally dubious.

When the Supreme Court upheld McCain-Feingold 5-4, Scalia and Thomas were in the minority. That was before Alito replaced Sandra Day O’Connor, who was in the majority. Two years later, McCain filed his own brief supporting federal suppression of a right-to-life group’s issue advertisement in Wisconsin because it mentioned a candidate for federal office during the McCain-Feingold blackout period prior to an election. The court ruled 5-4 against McCain’s position, with Alito in the majority.

Sen. McCain isn’t credible when he says that he’d nominate strict constructionist judges. That’s nothing more than pandering. They’d imperil his ‘greatest’ legislative achievement.

Simply put, John McCain opposes too much of the GOP’s best thinking to be trusted as their leader. I can’t support him. PERIOD. He’s shown a willingness to totally abandon the principles of Reagan and Goldwater. There’s no hint whatsoever that he’s got an instinct for libertarianism. Quite the opposite. He’s shown a propensity for worshiping at the altar of megaregulation. Here’s proof of that propensity:

When McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced legislation empowering Congress to comprehensively regulate U.S. industries’ emissions of greenhouse gases in order to “prevent catastrophic global warming,” they co-authored an op-ed column that radiated McCainian intolerance of disagreement. It said that a U.N. panel’s report “puts the final nail in denial’s coffin about the problem of global warming.” Concerning the question of whether human activity is causing catastrophic warming, they said, “the debate has ended.”

Sen. McCain’s attempt at stopping debate on a hotly contested issue is typical. He’s shown a pattern of total certitude on issues where major questions exist, especially if the idea has been proven in the court of popular opinion. If we think about it, it’s fair to conclude that that fits his personality. He didn’t want to debate McCain-Feingold on the basis of its assault on the First Amendment. He spoke only about ridding the system of corruption. He didn’t want McCain-Kennedy to be debated. PERIOD. They didn’t want committee hearings. They wanted to limit debate and restrict the amendment process. They knew that it couldn’t pass if it was debated on its merits.

I reject Romney’s convenient conservatism because it isn’t conservatism. It’s populism disguised as conservatism. Last week in Michigan, we saw how little regard Mitt has for the Tenth Amendment. While pandering for votes, he told Michiganders that the federal government would bail the state out after Jennifer Granholm ran that state’s economy into the toilet. That isn’t proof of holding fast to federalist principles. I won’t trust Mitt on federalist issues. While I’m certain that he’d cut some spending, I’m equally certain that he’d grow government in other places that it shouldn’t grow in.

I won’t trust Huckabee. PERIOD. After watching Common Sense Issues fill the phone lines in South Carolina with lies about Fred Thompson’s record, then watching him halfheartedly tell them to stop, I’m certain that Huckabee is one of the sleaziest politicians I’ve seen on the national stage.

Even though I’m pro life, I don’t have trust issues with Rudy. I disagree with him but that isn’t the same as not trusting someone. I’m confident that Rudy’s a federalist who’d nominate strict constructionist judges. The fact that he’s got Ted Olson, someone with impeccable strict constructionist credentials, higlights Rudy’s fidelity to the strict constructionist perspective. I’m also certain that he’d keep taxes low and that he’d try and keep government under control.

More importantly, I’m confident Rudy wouldn’t govern by moistening a finger before making a decision. I’ve watched him long enough to know that he’ll listen to all perspectives, even if he doesn’t agree with that perspective. He accumulates information first, then makes a decision. McCain starts with a conclusion, then works back from there.

Of course, Fred’s still the gold standard. Unfortunately, voters thus far haven’t asked the right questions. The discussion’s centered on process (he didn’t get in soon enough) and measurables (cash on hand) instead of qualifications and fidelity to conservatism’s proven ideals.

Hugh Hewitt avoided talking about Fred’s libertarianism, Fred’s adherence to federalist principles and his record of fiscal conservatism. Hewitt rejected his conservative principles to pad his wallet, which is troubling.

It’s time for movement conservatives to withhold support from the populist wolves in sheeps’ clothing. It’s time that We The People told Hugh Hewitt that we don’t give a damn about his boy Mitt. It’s time that We The People told Ed Rollins to slink off the national stage along with his liberal client Gov. Huckabee. It’s time that we told Sen. Sell Republicans Down the River (aka Sen. McCain) that we won’t tolerate his consistent liberalism.

It’s time that harking back to Reagan became Republicans’ motivation, not just talk.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

One Response to “Re-Defining Conservatism?”

  • Maquis says:

    I wouldn’t vote for McCain even if Hillary was his opponent. They’d both damage the country, but McCain would destroy the Republican party to boot, so there would be no recovering from his errors. I wouldn’t cast a ballot for Hillary, but I’d sit things out, drop my afilliation with the GOP, and start looking for a real conservative movement.

    McCain wouldn’t be the lesser of two evils, he’d be a great evil to compare with a Clinton but with an even longer recovery time.

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