Tom Edsall weighs in on the Republican malaise in the New York Times. His prescription, in shorter form: more power to the neocons.
Apart from that, much of what Edsall says is true enough, even if it has been said long ago in TAC and other venues. He cites multiple luminaries on the destructive impact on talk radio on conservative discourse, though he fails to note John Derbyshire’s TAC lament of four years ago that we “have allowed carny barkers to run away with the Right.” He quotes northeastern Republican functionaries lamenting the GOP’s resistance to immigration reform. But don’t look for Edsall to suggest an immigration strategy that does not punish lower earning American citizens; that would complicate his argument that opposition to legalizing the illegals is a view held only by racist nostalgists. Instead he cites the open borders Wall Street Journal editorial page to buttress his point.
But most dispiriting (because Edsall is not a stupid or uninfluential writer) is his touting of Bill Kristol as one of the bright lights diagnosing GOP problems. To make this work, he has to exculpate the Iraq war and the neoconservative mentality which generated it from any responsibility for conservatism’s problems. Kristol, he notes, shares his assessment that the GOP is in deep disarray. To acknowledge establishment conservatism’s problems might have anything to do with the Bush/Cheney three trillion dollar bloodbath, generated by propaganda spearheaded by Kristol’s own Weekly Standard, would inconvenience Edsall’s argument. As it would the Times, which would prefer people forget its own role in spreading false narratives about Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons program.
It’s probably the assessment of most TAC writers that the Republican party’s embrace of neoconservative foreign policy attitudes is one of the most serious problems facing the GOP. Whatever might have been the strengths of John McCain and Mitt Romney, their bellicose public statements, their deference to right wing Israel lobbyists, their readiness to confront other powers in their own backyard over issues having nothing to do with America, their apparent eagerness to open up new fronts for war, was altogether sufficient reason to deny them the presidency. I can’t read Edsall’s mind, but the sight of this veteran liberal trying to excise foreign policy from the list of GOP problems while touting Bill Kristol as one of the wise men seeking to solve them illustrates how deeply the forever war mentality has permeated liberal sectors of the Washington establishment, and how little those sectors have learned from the Bush-Cheney presidency. It should remind that electing Democrats is no guarantee against the wars the neoconservatives want us to fight.