“Not that he’s an important guy, Frum,” O’Reilly noted as he asked Goldberg for analysis, but did note that it was a strange attack coming from a conservative. “They seem to be mad at Fox News,” he suggested. Goldberg had an answer to why this was the case: “there are two kinds of conservatives… intellectual conservatives, or something close to that– they don’t like the riff-raff.” Goldberg argued Frum was one of these intellectuals, and almost seemed sympathetic when asking O’Reilly rhetorically, “could you imagine how frustrating it must be to be an intellectual” who realizes “the riff-raff have more of an influence on politics and culture?”
Conor Friedersdorf suggested that Bill O’Reilly and Bernard Goldberg are not only intellectuals themselves, but are also bad intellectuals:
When used as a noun, the definition of “intellectual” is simple enough: a person who relies on their intellect, or mental labor, for work or leisure. . . .
I want to address this notion that it’s coherent to divide professional writers, pundits, and media personalities into the categories “intellectual” and “non-intellectual.” Because it isn’t.
Take Bill O’Reilly, who as an honors student in college majored in history and wrote for the school newspaper. In addition to his early media gigs, he was briefly a teacher and earned a master’s of public administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He’s also authored 10 books, including a historical account of Lincoln’s assassination. This isn’t to say that O’Reilly’s arguments are particularly rigorous, or that his books are particularly good. He isn’t an intellectual who produces good work. But as surely as Mary-Kate Olsen is an actress, O’Reilly is an intellectual.
As is Rush Limbaugh. All the man produces are ideas and arguments — do they not flow from his intellect? Again, they aren’t particularly good ideas.
Conor defines “intellectual” far too broadly, since just about everybody who follows politics or is an activist relies on the intellect. Paul Johnson, who wrote the excellent Intellectuals, defined the word thus: “An intellectual is somebody who thinks ideas are more important than people.” It’s a harsher, more stringent definition–but it clarifies.
Conservatives have rightly been skeptical of Johnson’s intellectuals. The only way to understand Limbaugh and Goldberg’s aspersions on intellectuals is to understand that they’re talking about Johnson’s definition, not Conor’s. Eric Hoffer once explained the trouble with Johnson’s intellectuals thus: “The sick in soul insist that it is humanity that is sick, and they are the surgeons to operate on it. They want to turn the world into a sickroom. And once they get humanity strapped to the operating table, they operate on it with an ax.“ That’s the sort of thing David Frum takes mild offense at being compared to (Frum seems to know enough not to be too offended at the attack).
The irony of it all is that Limbaugh in particular is a defender of conservative ideology; if conservatism were a faith, Limbaugh would easily be fidei defensor. Frum’s critique of much of contemporary conservative ideology is that it doesn’t help ordinary people and in some places actively hurts their interests. In other words, Limbaugh is a Johnson intellectual and Frum isn’t.
“You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient,” Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Council, the nation’s largest gay rights organization.
The reaction of the crowed at the recent Republican debate was shameful. The reaction of the candidates – more so. It angers me that even those representatives of the party that champions our citizens in uniform would allow such a thing to happen.
In my guts I know he’s nuts, but I think I’d really like a President Paul. When he commented that if we withdrew our soldiers from Afghanistan we could spend the savings on “children’s programs or whatever,” the man earned a spot in my heart forever. Tonight, I raise a glass to the good Dr. P.
No sooner has the soon-to-be-unlamented Kay Bailey Hutchinson announced that her middling senate career will be coming to its natural, shrug-inducing end, than not one but two conservative stars have declared that they want the spot.
Ted Cruz is a Reaganite and a top flight lawyer who assertively used his position as Texas’s Solicitor General to advance the cause of constitutional government through the courts. His win in Medellin was a major victory for federalism, and he was the leader in getting 31 states to sign on as amicus for the plaintiff in Heller, the landmark Second Amendment case. And, as mentioned here, his wife went to the same college we did.
Michael Williams has been a major voice for Tea Party conservatism in Texas, and has used his twelve years on the Railroad Commission (which regulates Texas’s oil & gas industry) to make serious pro-growth changes in the Texas energy industry. The Commission’s decision several years ago to allow and encourage hydraulic fracture drilling opened up America’s largest natural gas field. He would bring real energy expertise to the senate, which is mostly composed of ignorant boobs (read: lawyers). Just as importantly, he would bring diversity to the senate, which has not had a bow-tie wearer since Paul Simon left in 1996.
Sadly, at most one of these men will be our next senator. Personally, I’d like it if John Cornyn also retired so that both Cruz and Williams could serve. While Cornyn’s votes are generally unobjectionable, conservatives will best remember him as the man who headed the Republican Senate Campaign Committee during the cycle when it endorsed two party-jumping liberals (Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist). If he stays true to form, Cornyn will throw his support behind Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who strikes me as one of only two men in America sad to see Charlie Crist lose last year.
Yesterday our governor and lieutenant governor were sworn in for their new terms in office. Today, we start with the sober business of balancing the state’s budget.
The legislature’s going to have $72 billion to spend for the next two years; if current levels of services were maintained, it would require $99 billion. If current levels of spending were maintained, without accounting for population growth or inflation, it would require $87 billion. Plainly, either taxes have to go up, or spending has to come down. And merely reducing the rate of spending growth and shuffling around money through accounting tricks will not get it done. This is going to require real tax hikes, or real spending cuts. The Republicans in office were elected on a pledge of not raising taxes, so these cuts are going to be very real.
The Texas budget is going to be important for conservatives nationally. This state is very much the standard-bearer for the national Republican party, and for conservative Republicans in particular. We’ve got more than a 2/3 Republican majority in the state House, and almost as big of a majority in the Senate. We’ve got a Republican elected to every statewide office. Our governor has been a prominent national booster of the Tea Party, and our lieutenant governor is enough of a political chameleon that he’s currently going along with Tea Party sentiment. Most importantly, we’ve got an electorate that believes this state should be setting an example for other states, and for the federal government as well. For now, at least, Texans seem to be in a mood to see these budget cuts through, even if it hurts.
In short, if the conservative approach of balancing budgets through cutting spending without raising taxes can work anywhere, it has to work here, and it has to work now. I’ll be posting updates as the process develops. I’ve got faith that Gov. Goodhair will stick to his pledge, but it’s not obvious what the end result will look like.
The most distressing thing about D’Souza’s book, to me, is that Newt has jumped all over it. Ferguson’s point is accurate – whatever the virtues of D’Souza’s theory, it’s not needed to explain Obama’s actions, and it comes off as the crazed ravings of a deranged partisan. Whatever happened to just pointing out that the people you disagree with are wrong? Why do they need to be part of some multi-generational cage match with Western Civilization?
In that light, Newt’s support for this book completely nixes him from my list of supportable 2012 candidates. The same intellectual curiosity and desire to be edgy that helped him become Speaker and made him open to a lot of genuinely useful conservative reforms also made him open to the sort of partisanship that helped re-elect Bill Clinton. Twelve years out of power haven’t changed a thing.
2012 needs a simple candidate for the Republican party. “Excessive government spending and regulation are strangling the American economy. We must fix both, and set loose the American entrepreneur.” There may be other issues at play, but they will need to take a backseat to that simple message. And, particularly, we will not want complex explanations for simple problems getting in the way.
D’Souza’s theory is politically noxious and utterly unnecessary. My ideal 2012 candidate would greet it with a shrug of the shoulders; my nightmare candidate would behave exactly as Newt has.
Pessimism is a virtue for journalists in general and political journalists in particular, mostly because things are naturally less likely to go right than wrong. Michael Barone once summarized the pessimist’s strengths and cautioned against the optimist’s weaknesses:
Political judgments are affected by temperament. Optimists tend to be confident that their side is winning and alert to signs that things are moving their way. Pessimists tend to be gloomily certain that their own side is messing things up and that the other side is running circles around them. Pessimists often produce great political reporting. Robert Novak, an embattled conservative, is always ready to report stories that show conservatives hopelessly divided, outmaneuvered, on the verge of defeat. The Washington Post’s Thomas Edsall, a gloomy Irish liberal, chronicled the rise of the Religious Right and conservative Republicans’ gains in the ethnic working class. We optimists have it a little harder. We’re inclined to see the smallest glimmer of hope as a harbinger of victory. We tend to overlook issues or character traits that produce serious problems for our candidates. We are slow to discern trends in the wrong direction. We can try to discipline ourselves by rigorously analyzing data, but sometimes such discipline is not enough.
Given all the conservative triumphalism around us this election cycle, a degree of conservative pessimism is needed. Unfortunately, Andrew Pavelyev has overdosed on a good thing:
The long election cycle of 2010 is finally (almost) over. Yes, the general election still remains, but that’s almost an afterthought, since it is shaping to be the most boring and inconsequential federal election in a generation (seriously, will it make any real practical difference whether the Republicans pick 5 or 50 House seats?). The real action in this election cycle was in the Republican primaries, they are almost over, and we already know who won: (drum roll, please!) President Obama. American conservatives have suffered a crushing and lasting defeat. The center of gravity in American politics has shifted permanently and irreversibly to the left (and conservative ideology will eventually follow).
The saddest thing is that this conservative calamity is mostly self-inflicted. More and more conservatives get Oprah-cized (one of their favorite leaders, Sarah Palin is sometimes called “the conservative Oprah”, and in my humble opinion Glenn Beck deserves that title too). They now believe that expressing their feelings (e.g. by nominating quixotic candidates) is more important than trying to influence government policies (e.g. by nominating viable candidates). They withdraw from practical politics and instead join a protest movement. They march in the streets in tricorn hats while the liberals (whom they unwittingly help to put in office) are creating new entitlements and raising taxes.
Although Mr. Pavelyev makes many good points, he’s overdosing on pessimism like a drunk on a whisky bender. Consider his assessment of the Senate in 2012:
Even if Republicans capture the House this November, they will have a barely functional majority – a 225-210 split is about the best we can realistically hope for – and will be almost certain to lose the House again in 2012, potentially even by a worse margin than in 2008. Such a scenario would be devastating to conservative causes, since Obama would claim that his own re-election victory combined with his party wrestling the House from the GOP (and expanding their Senate majority) gives him a clear mandate to implement his agenda (rather than pursue bipartisanship).
Recall that in 2000, the Democrats had a net pick up of four seats; in 2006, the Democrats netted six. Those seats are up in 2012, and there simply aren’t many vulnerable Republican seats left. It’s very likely that Obama, should he win reelection in 2012, will have a net loss of seats in the Senate, which happened to both Nixon in 1972 and Reagan in 1984.
Pessimism, like all good things, can be overdone. A bit is a tonic, but too much of a good thing can be bad.
Hubbard posted this at 8:13 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 as Conservatism
The American experiment was based on mutual respect, acceptance of differing religious beliefs and common decency. Burning anyone’s sacred scripture is an affront to all of these.
The world needs more voices not fewer. More faith not less. It is not God that tells man to hate, kill or stifle thought. It is a fringe understanding of religion. God beckons us to seek His face. I refuse to believe that a loving Father would punish honest and bold questions. But I do believe there must surely be eternal consequences for those who hate or kill in his name.
Let us not fail to recognize that this week we witnessed Christian extremists behaving in ways made infamous by a monster fascist. The reactions by Muslim radicals only mirrored the minds of those in Iran who currently stone people to death for what they call the “sin of homosexuality.”
The world has once again come to a point where it cowers at best and, at worst, appeases crazy and dangerous men of all philosophies of God and man. We must again link arms and unite despite our differences against evils that only wish to destroy or enslave no matter the god they hide behind. “The truth shall set you free” is more than a phrase — it is a universal principle that cannot be changed by a bonfire or suicide vest.
History teaches us what happens to those who not only burn books, but also to those who do not respect freedom of speech — especially when most find it vile and offensive.
How, outside of moving to New Jersey, can I vote for this man?
I remember in the primary last year certain conservatives tried to paint Christie as the squish Republican because of social issues. Now that he seems to be on a perpetual Tell It As It Is tour, I believe that, though the man may well way 350 pounds, there is not one ounce of squish on him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wonder what this must feel like from behind your desk. You’re President of the United States. You have to deal with the fallout. And he’s a pastor who’s got 30 followers in his church. Does it make you feel helpless or angry?
Why on earth would anyone feel helpless or angry because some people are doing things you don’t agree with? And why would the president, in particular, feel helpless or angry about it? I guess this question could be rephrased, “Does it make you feel helpless or angry that you’re not a dictator who gets to control every action of his subjects?”
The correct response to this question, which, of course, the president did not give, is: “Free people do the darnedest things, and I was elected to manage the government, not tell American citizens how to behave in their spare time. I won’t be burning any Korans, that’s for sure.” But Calvin Coolidge has been dead for some time now, and I’m not sure we’ve had a president since then who would have gotten the answer right.
For those who had fretted that the Republican Party had lost its soul, nothing could be more heartening than watching Lisa Murkowski go down to a Tea Partier. She was being groomed: She was appointed by her own father to fill the senate seat he vacated when he was elected governor; In her first term she was already on the Appropriations Committee, barreling pork like few others; She was going to be the next Ted Stevens, spending 40 years in the Senate serving no particular principle other than being a reliable vote for the party leadership and sending oodles of other people’s goodies to the folks back home.
This year’s Republican primaries have produced quite a crop of genuine right-wingers: Miller in Alaska, Lee in Utah, Buck in Colorado, Angle in Nevada, Toomey in Pennsylvania, Rubio in Florida. I’ll even toss in Paul in Kentucky, who will also stand athwart the budget voting “No.” Every one of those candidates is favored to win. Perhaps not every one will, but I’m proud to belong to the party that nominated them.
Combine those guys with Coburn, DeMint, and Vitter, and by God if we don’t have ourselves a strong core of real, principled conservatives in the Senate, the likes of which we have not had for too long now.
Apollo posted this at 12:03 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 as Conservatism
Here is Laura Ingraham discussing The Lower Manhattan Islamic Cultural Center on December 21, 2009 with the imam’s wife, Daisy Khan:
Ingraham: Let’s talk about the Islamic center at Ground Zero… Questions– I can’t find many people who really have a problem with it. Bloomberg is for it. Rabbis in New York say that don’t have any problem with it. Why near ground zero? Why’d you choose that space?
Khan: Well, I think the closeness of the center to Ground Zero, first and foremost, is a blow to the extremists. And you know we Muslims are really fed up, Laura, of having to be defined by the actions of the extremists. You know, we are law-abiding citizens, we are faithful people, we are very good Americans, and we need to project a different image of Islam. One of tolerance, love, and the kind of commonalities that we have with other faith communities. And the center will be dedicated to promoting what it means to be Muslim, but what it also means to be American. And that is the real message that needs to get out.
Reasoned, constructive discussion. Under pressure from Ingraham, Khan backpeddles some of her husband’s more troubling comments, but it ends with the two of them pushing for common values. If anything, it’s a little saccharine.
Here is Laura Ingraham, more recently, on Fox Friends (exact date unknown):
Fast forward to the 2:00 mark to get to her comments.
Ingraham: Well it depends on the meaning of the phrase ‘distinguished Muslim cleric’. You know when I hear that I’m thinking okay what does that exactly mean. Does that mean that you disavow terrorism? Does that mean that you say that ‘Yes Hamas is a terrorist organization?’ Does that mean that you would say that the United States is not responsible for what happened on 9/11? And when we look back on his comments, and I know you guys have covered this, I mean this isn’t even a close call. For this Imam to describe the United States as an accessory, essentially, to murder in that interview after September 11th and then to refuse to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization. That seems to be pretty much a disqualifier from flying on the taxpayers dime, but not in this administration, the radical usually wins out in this administration.
Ingraham: Again think about this, think about if heaven forbid some Christian right wing group somewhere located in the world attempted an attack on Mecca or Medina, and it was successful. Can you imagine how they would be received if they said ‘Oh well we want to build…’ a group comes along as says ‘We want to build a mega-church right next to Mecca or Medina’. I mean do you think they would be welcomed in the Middle East for doing that? No they would be described as provocative and unnecessarily aggressive and it wouldn’t be tolerated. Now look we’re different from Saudi Arabia, and I’m glad we are, but again this is an unnecessary and aggressive move against people who, our country has been nothing but kind and welcoming to people who want to play by the rules.
No mention of the fact that the proprietors of the Lower Manhattan Islamic Cultural Center actually are playing by the rules. This is what modern populist conservatism has come to, naked bigotry and demagoguery solely for political expediency.
It makes me sick.
(First video H/T to Tom, co-authored by Tom)
Jamie posted this at 1:47 PM CDT on Monday, August 16th, 2010 as Conservatism
I really don’t know what to think of Glenn Beck. There is no doubt he is a genius broadcaster, a seemingly true to form Libertarian-Conservative and a powerful force in conservative politics. The problem I’ve had lately is that he seems to be bat-shit insane. Whether its the bizzare chalk board rants about a hidden socialist conspiracy or his accusations that Obama is a racist, I just can’t seem to get behind this guy.
O’REILLY: Do you believe — do you believe that gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?
BECK: A threat to the country?
O’REILLY: Yeah, it going to harm the country?
BECK: No, I don’t. Will the gays come and get us?
O’REILLY: OK. Is it going to harm the country in any way?
BECK: I believe — I believe what Thomas Jefferson said. If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?
Thank you! Although I now await the avalanche of people explaining why Beck isn’t a real conservative.
But wait! There’s more. Beck is doing a one hour special on Calvin Coolidge – perhaps the greatest conservative politician in American history not named Ronald Reagan. According to The Prophet Jonah it will include an interview with Amity Shlaes author of perhaps the best book on understanding The Great Depression I have ever read.
Glenn is really causing a lot of cognative dissonance over here at Jamie’s House. Fifty percent of the time he’s a loon, the other fifty he might be my favorite popular conservative.
This little story was linked off of Drudge the other day, and I think is illustrative of a particular mindset:
Credit card agreements are written on average at a 12th grade reading level, making them not understandable to four out of five adults, according to a CreditCards.com analysis of all the agreements offered by major card issuers in the United States.
The average American adult reads at a ninth-grade level and readability experts recommend important information — such as credit card agreements — be written at that level. Only one in five adults reads above a 12th-grade level.
Let’s ignore whatever methodological problems may exist with the article (i.e. defining reading levels). The article has a particular point of view, namely that credit card companies need to make their agreements easier to read. And as a fan of clear and simple legal writing, I don’t disagree with that (though I’ve no problem reading my credit card agreements). But I think this story is a neat litmus test.
You might be a liberal if: You read this story and come away believing that credit card companies make their documents purposefully difficult to read so as to scam people out of money. This is a simple case of large financial institutions using their superior economic position to leverage the law in a way that harms the little guy.
You might be a conservative if: You read this story and wonder, “Why the hell, in a country where schooling is compulsory until at least age 16 (i.e. 10th grade), and where 27% of people have four year college degrees (i.e. 16th grade), 80% of people read at a 9th grade level or lower?” The vast majority of Americans have credit cards, and yet the vast majority of those people have no idea what sort of agreement they’re getting into? Why don’t they put a little effort into understanding things. Knowledge is not a difficult thing to acquire in this age.
Apollo posted this at 2:30 AM CDT on Saturday, July 24th, 2010 as Conservatism
Tonight on FoxNews, Sean Hannity will tell McCarthy what a wonderful book he’s written and imply something even more inflammatory than what McCarthy wrote. McCarthy will not exactly endorse this, but he’ll smile and let it slide.
In a post on the Corner, McCarthy will thank Hannity for being such a great host — and a Great American! — and complain that the Establishment Media is ignoring him.
After the book begins selling, McCarthy will be invited on various talking heads shows, possibly The Daily Show.
When Jon Stewart confronts him about the book’s subtitle title, McCarthy will emphatically deny its plain meaning. In fact, he’ll be a little hurt that Jon would think that’s what he meant.
Fellow Cornerites will rush to his defense and complain that Stewart was unduly fixated on the title and ignored the book’s substance.
Moments later, Kathyrn Lopez will un-ironically link to Kieth Olberman’s latest screed as evidence of how liberals are coarsening our national discourse.
Jonah Goldberg, who is traveling, will make a quick post promising to weigh-in as soon as possible. A week later, he will write a 1,200 essay on the subject. Twenty-four of those words will concede McCarthy’s critics’ point (three of which will be “everybody knows this”); the remaining 1,176 will defend McCarthy from strawmen.
I love NRO and am a subscriber but, Jeez guys, this routine is getting old.