Will the real conservatives please stand up.
August 22, 2004 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Pat Buchanan has realsed a new book called "Where the Right went Wrong" just in time for the Republican National Convention. The politics of war in the U.S. must make strange bedfellows if Pat Buchanan, Lou Rockwell and more recently Rep. Doug Bereuter of Nebraska can have anything in common with Moveon.org and Common Dreams. What does it mean for such a notable Republican to publish an anti-war book and be this critical of President Bush? Will moderate Republicans stay at home, vote third party or even switch to John Kerry? A growing trend or blip on the radar? [More inside]
posted by Bag Man (21 comments total)
From what I understand, another anti-war conservative group includes The American Conservative.
posted by Bag Man at 12:17 PM on August 22, 2004

On a more personal note, I have a very good friend who is an Evangelical Christian who opposes the war and George Bush. He would otherwise be with Bush, but for the war. He voted Bush in 2000, but plans to vote for Michael Peroutka of the "Constitution Party" this year. Often in political debate people are made out to one dimensional straw men based on one view or only a few views. This is simply not true in anyone's case. I have been accused of being such a person and it hurts because it's not true, my friend lends further proof that no one is one-sided or one dimensional when it comes to politics. Does anyone else have any input on this issue?
posted by Bag Man at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2004

from the second paragraph of your own link: "The arguments in the book, "Where the Right Went Wrong," which was released late last week, may be familiar, at least to readers of his magazine, The American Conservative, which was founded as a forum for opposition from the right to the invasion of Iraq."
posted by quonsar at 12:27 PM on August 22, 2004

Well, hasn't Buchanan always been an isolationist? I've seen him on tv a lot speaking against the war, but i can't imagine he would ever vote Kerry. I bet he still supports the party when the time comes.

Bag Man, I think your friend illustrates that while we all have a roster of issues we care about, just one issue is enough to make someone vote (or not vote, as in his case) against someone or for someone.
posted by amberglow at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2004

blip on the radar - the biggest asset of the GOP is the loyalty of its members. self-introspection is never going to win them elections.

He would otherwise be with Bush, but for the war.

i'd like to think that there are a lot of usaians out there like him. we'll see (after a looong 2.5 months).
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on August 22, 2004

"We're still friends. Patrick is a libertarian, or at least in that direction. I think of politics as a circle, not a spectrum of one line not just right and left. Patrick and I are often pretty close. Patrick's an honest person. He's a straight guy and very smart guy."
-- Hunter S. Thompson
posted by wfrgms at 12:45 PM on August 22, 2004

Conservatives who are actually, you know, conservative- the Republicans of the 80's- are starting to feel about the Republicans of the 00's the way the Republicans of the 70's felt about the Republicans of the 90's. Except this time they don't want to be replaced.

I think part of it is the "smash and grab" aspect of the current Republican organization- a significant portion, as seen in the warblogs, of the mainstream GOP right now is the "9/12ers" who, failing to catch Osama, need liberals to blame for being scared to death. It's all about the war, and the victory, and gloating about how they won the war afterwards. To use a financial metaphor, Republicans are spending every cent they make; they're simply not investing.

A Republican or Democratic president regardless, the war in the Middle East, by numbers and resources, is eventually going to lose itself as an option, and when that happens, the conventional wisdom of the majority of Americans simply not supporting the hard-right GOP domestic agenda is going to screw them. Royally.

There's been all this talk about the "eventual extinction of the Democratic Party," and most intelligent conservatives know it's self-gloating bullshit. The truth is that the Republican Party is doomed if it bases its entire platform on singular current issues. Mainstay conservatives realize that the cost of a Bush victory for the sake of the immediate gratification of the Regean-era PNAC project is a rising bubble similar to the 90's internet boom. When this ends, likely after the next election, the party isn't going to decline; it's going to pop. As seen in Gingrich's 90's and the post-9/11 organization, the modern GOP makes a huge assault for massive gains, then overreaches and loses it all. They're the German Army of political parties.

Scary as it sounds, as a left-wing liberal I have more in common with a racist totalitarian like Buchanan than I do with a fanatic lunatic like Bush. What has made conservatives like Buchanan less powerful, but longer lasting, in the field of conservatism is their legitimate abilty to think ahead.

The greatest threat to the Republican Party right now is that it simply does not have a ten-year plan. Team Bush has, since Day 1 in 2001, planned everything around getting Bush re-elected. No one remembered to plot anything further than that.

On a side note, I can't stand almost everything Buchanan believes in, but it's clear that he's an intelligent person. You have to respect and acknowledge that if you want to counter his insane beliefs. Also, per my personal beliefs, we owe his paranoia a debt of gratitude for bringing down Nixon. But that's just me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:47 PM on August 22, 2004

buchanan is just one of many republicans who think dubya gives republicans a bad name.

he also knows his history and he knows that history will have a hard time defending this administration. on paper these 3 3/4 years were a disaster. the possiblity that bush could actually *gain* votes after his performance is mindblowing.

buchanan is stepping away from the meltdown, and doing what people of all parties should do when they see that their party has gone astray: call bs.

and if you can sell a few books at the same time, good for you.
posted by tsarfan at 1:16 PM on August 22, 2004

They're all dead men walking if Bush is re-elected.
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:18 PM on August 22, 2004

Well, hasn't Buchanan always been an isolationist?

Yes, he was against the war in Iraq since before it began.
posted by caddis at 1:46 PM on August 22, 2004

I suspect there are actually several more subtle divisions in the republican party than are widely acknowledged. To start with, in the "doldrums" period from Eisenhower or even earlier through Ford, there were the "AuH2O" (Goldwater) republicans, far-right but not religious orientation; the largest group "republican silent majority"; and then liberal, or "country club" republicans.
Reagan caused a sea change in things, the new order being the "religious right" ("Moral Majority"), the "conservatives", and the "corporate" internationalists and beyond.
Bush II uses the think tanks of the latter group, from organizations like PNAC and the CATO Institute, rather than those like the Hoover Institute and the Heritage Foundation, that are of a more "conservative" outlook. They can be said to be a radical minority in the republican party, one which many republicans are uncomfortable with, but are willing to abide as long as they appear successful *by conservative standards*, not necessarily by the public at large.

Buchanan is a throwback to even earlier time, perhaps the 1930s, when isolationism was still possible, and Europe was seen as imperial, despotic and war-mongering. For him, no foreign interaction is desirable.

He is joined by the libertarian-republicans, who if they ever get a prominent voice will call for the dismantling of much of the post-Hoover through Cold War government as being constitutionally unsupportable, and while not isolationist, see little reason for committing US forces to "foreign entanglements."
posted by kablam at 3:14 PM on August 22, 2004

I fall into a semi-libertarian category, and I think I'm somewhat liberal overall, but I'm actually a bit of an admirer of Pat Buchanan's.

The guy is positively brilliant. He says some pretty outrageous things at times, but he is, undoubtedly, principled and very intelligent. One of the things that impresses me about his writings is that he can find a historical precedent for nearly everything - he knows history extremely well and is always quick to point out a comparable event from history.

Also, perhaps as evidence that the American politics has entered into some bizarre alternate reality, here's this extremely favorable Ralph Nader interview conducted by Pat Buchanan.

(Oh, and did you see the guy on the Ali G show? I thought he handled himself really well, and clearly seemed to get the joke from the beginning. I thought most of what he said was entirely sensible. A shame about that rapping thing, though...)
posted by mragreeable at 9:26 PM on August 22, 2004

In 1990, many Americans opposed the drive toward war in the Persian Gulf; Buchanan was one of the few critics who saw a Jewish plot. "There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East – the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States," he asserted

posted by zaelic at 1:08 AM on August 23, 2004

The Raygun Democrats now become the Kerry rePublicans.
posted by nofundy at 5:51 AM on August 23, 2004

I think that there'll be more Republican infighting if Bush is re-elected than if he won't. If Bush loses, than Delay and Frist are going to roll out a very simple blocking game. Kerry won't be permitted to raise taxes and he won't get any liberal judges confirmed.

If Bush is re-elected, however, then all the gloves can come off. There are some huge intra-Republican disputes on domestic policy -- making the tax cuts permanent, ending the rise in public sector spending, entitlement reform, the entire immigration thing. In terms of foreign affairs, there's not really so much a debate on policy as there is on persons. Colin Powell may choose to make his move -- dump Rumsfeld and that crowd, or see me walk out the door. Condoleeza Rice may even have to choose sides -- right now, her personal relationship with Bush has enabled to avoid being seen as firmly in either camp.
posted by MattD at 5:55 AM on August 23, 2004

Team Bush has, since Day 1 in 2001, planned everything around getting Bush re-elected. No one remembered to plot anything further than that.

making the high-bracket tax cuts permanent, eliminating the estate tax, opening more federal lands to mining and foresting via reinterpretation or nullification of Clinton's roadless rule, offering 40-year, no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq, sneaking a few religious judges on the supreme court ...

i think people with influence in the current administration are definitely thinking 10-20 years down the line. unfortunately, their priorities are fucked up.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:21 AM on August 23, 2004

Buchanan says in the book that Kerry has absolutely nothing to offer (real) Republicans, and that Bush has his good points. So don't look for him to start championing Kerry.

I think MattD nails how it will play out, basically it will happen after the election regardsless of who is elected. If Bush is elected (and I am almost certain he will be), it will be a civil war to see who gets to rule the country. If Kerry wins, then it's a civil war to see who can get elected in 2008. Either way you're looking at a battle, but the terms of the battle will obviously be very different depending on the 2004 election results.
posted by cell divide at 12:44 PM on August 23, 2004

Buchanan says in the book that Kerry has absolutely nothing to offer (real) Republicans, and that Bush has his good points. So don't look for him to start championing Kerry

I don't think Buchanan would ever champion Kerry, but you'd think that at least some monetary conservatives would be mad enough to stay home, vote third party or give Kerry's message of fiscal responsibly at least a serious listen. That's just one issue I can’t figure out.

What I really don't get is how can anyone who is/was opposed to the Iraq War support Bush who has made the Iraq War a center piece of his presidency and his re-election? That's what I don't get. The only person who I know of that has made that logical connection and has taken action is my Evangelical Christian friend. The irony is that given his radical social views I’d suspect he’d be the least likely to make such a move. Go figure.

I know that there was never going be a mass defection in this age of polarization, but one would expect at least some noticeable movement. What ever happened to the following one's values rather than one's brand name? Maybe it's all about winning for the team rather than doing what you believe in...sad.
posted by Bag Man at 4:37 PM on August 30, 2004

Conservatives for Kerry? Here's Your Man.

What bothers him is that generation after generation of Bushes are so unwilling to transcend their class interests.

"An old buccaneer and bootlegger like Joe Kennedy became an SEC head for Roosevelt and cracked down on his own class," Phillips says, adding: "The Bush family would just appoint a Gucci-shoe-licking sycophant. The family has simply developed a culture of being enormously supportive of their class."

Even the president's Texas twang grates on Phillips, whose own accent is clipped and clear and, we must note, a tad patrician. "Listen to them! Assemble the very best panel of linguists you could find and have them listen to brothers Jeb and G.W. -- they wouldn't even guess they're in the same family," Phillips says. "G.W. talks like a cowboy and he's no more a backwoods Texan than I am."

So what's an Nixon-Eisenhower Republican to do when he steps inside a voting booth in November 2004? Phillips shrugs. As it stands, Kerry has his vote, although the text of Phillips's endorsement probably won't appear in any Democratic ads. "I'm hoping that Kerry's a seven on a scale of 10, but I'm afraid maybe he's just a five," Phillips says. "But Kerry's running against a zero. So my choice is clear."

posted by y2karl at 9:23 PM on August 30, 2004

If Bush loses, than Delay and Frist are going to roll out a very simple blocking game. Kerry won't be permitted to raise taxes and he won't get any liberal judges confirmed.
But we're retaking the Senate--for sure. Kerry will have part of Congress with him. Let the kooks in the House do what they want--it won't become law. Look for normal judges, too--not liberal or the reactionary kooks Bush appoints during recesses.
posted by amberglow at 10:08 PM on August 30, 2004

Part of me wants to see Bush win so that his faction of the Republican party is utterly humiliated with four more years of failure. As a centerist liberal libertarian, I don't really have a problem with a lot of Republican ideals. Democracy is all about vetting a range of ideas and trying to find the one that works best, at least in it's most theoretical form.

One of the (several) problems with the current administration, and the current faction of the Republicans that seem to be running things, is that it has eschewed a lot of Conservative ideals in favor of power politics. The group seems more concerned with asserting its control of things than with the wellbeing of the nation and its citizens.

I find Pat Buchanan, and many of his ideas, scary. What I find more scary, however, is that I think he has better ideas than the people currently in power.
posted by moonbiter at 11:53 PM on August 30, 2004

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