John Heilemann: Coming GOP/Conservative Civil War

Following up on my interest in the future of the conservative party in America and where it will head (and the possibility of a new reformist conservatism/GOP taking hold over the long haul), great piece by one of my favorite politicos John H in the New York Mag. Link here.

The sides are laid out perfectly here:

But Brooks, like Frum, sees the internecine fight over McCain’s No. 2 as reflecting a deeper set of ideological fissures in the party. “Basically, the people who are down on Palin and the campaign McCain is running think that it’s time to move beyond Reagan and that we’ve got to go off and do something new,” he explains. “A lot of the people who are defending the campaign and Palin think that we got out of touch with Goldwater and Reagan and we’ve gotta get back to that.”

Not surprisingly I’m on the Brooks, Frum, Friedersdorf, Douthat/Salam, Larison (down on Palin) side of that tussle. The latter are represented by the last holdouts at the National Review and its increasing wingnuttery. Christopher Buckley ought to be glad he got fatwa-hed out by them. How long can Frum hold out there I wonder?

Speaking of Frum:

“One thing that will certainly happen is a fundamentalist response,” says Frum. “ ‘If only we had been more consistently conservative, none of this would have happened; there’s still a conservative voting majority out there, and Bush alienated them with his too-centrist policies and various deviations from conservative orthodoxy; McCain was obviously unacceptable; and if the voters turned down ham and eggs, it’s because they wanted double ham and double eggs.’ That will be one view. How fast, how dramatically, and what form the alternative will take—that, no, we have a deeper problem—I can’t predict. But it will come.”

This is undoubtedly coming, but weirdly it has been fused both with the language of small government but the reality of big government spending, but yet embrace of Bush because of his evangelical/identity politics brand. Palin will undoubtedly be at the center of that fight, and Huckabee undoubtedly is part of that as well. [I would take Huck as Prez over Palin any day of the week].

My fear is that this reaction is going to insane after the coming devastation for the GOP in t-minus 15 days. And I unlike say Daily Kos types, will not be taking any great pleasure in the intra-GOP bloodletting and mania that will no doubt come as a result of all this. What Brooks calls the potential for a pseudo-Stalinism I think is very much in play. Weekly Standard, Commentary, Townhall, HotAir, National Review, Powerline–if they continue to dominate the right-wing o’sphere, good God almighty is it going to be a continued descent into hacktastic oblivion.

I’m generally a guy who finds myself veering towards the opposition. I’ve spent years condemning Bush every which way to Wednesday, but now that the Dems are coming–and trust me I’m no big fan of Pelosi and Harry Reid, I dig a number of the Dem Governors like Schweitzer, Sebelius, Richardson, but the Congressional Dems not so much–it is time for me to be shifting back more to the conservatives. Also, a party in exile is always more fun intellectually to be a part of because they are the ones who are going to be having the First Principles discussion. The left will be dominated by process, messaging, political/media strategy, etc. now that they have the reins of power.

But it will be a chance to get in at the ground floor on the conservative side. That is, if they space is open, i.e. not trashed by the purity doctrine/loyalty tests and working class political conservative correctness.

I’ll leave you with Buckley the Younger, who has clearly not lost his wit (whatever else some on the right may think he has lost). Here’s Christopher, re: Palin:

“I will readily confess that I was one of many who swooned the day after the announcement,” he says. “But it’s kind of like dating a supermodel. There comes a moment, unfortunately, where they start talking.”

double heh.

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Published in: on October 19, 2008 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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