And since Ross and Reihan are finding a Strange New Respect for Buchananism (or whatever passes for “paleoconservatism” these days) I should say that I’m reminded of a point Ramesh made years ago in his article on Buchanan. “Conservatives tend to place a lot of emphasis, maybe too much, on the idea that ideas have consequences,” Ponnuru wrote. “They hoist their ideas up the flagpole and then see who salutes. Buchananism puts its idealized social base first, and lets it drive everything else.” This sounds quite a bit like what’s going on with Lower-Middle-Reformism.
The late Sam Francis must be smiling from wherever he is (I have my hunches on where that might be) knowing that his Middle American Radicalism is getting a fresh coat of paint. ~Jonah Goldberg
Tom Piatak joins in the enfilading fire aimed at Goldberg’s obnoxious post. Reihan responds in a fashion that is far more good natured and generous than the post deserves. I have every intention of drawing out just how many things are wrong with Goldberg’s post (I suspect I will have some help in this department), but for now a few simple points. No one does more flagpole-raising and salute-demanding than people at NR, whose last remaining productive function (besides flacking for the warfare state) seems to be the enforcement of ideological purity whenever it is challenged by a crunchy con, an anti-imperialist, neopopulist or, well, anyone resembling a traditional conservative. Right around this same time last year Goldberg bestirred himself to write off, if not write out, Rod Dreher and anything remotely resembling a conservatism of place and virtue. Idiotically, this champion of rootless, Wal-Mart America has decided that the advocates for “Sam’s Club Republicans” are the latest batch of dissidents to beat down and skewer with not-so-subtle efforts to associate them (however implausibly) with the ideas of Dr. Francis. He did the same to another young blogger from the other side of the spectrum, Matt Yglesias, who had the temerity to state certain obvious truths about the influence of hawkish pro-Israel people on the political process and the politics of foreign policy. Goldberg replied by noting the similarity between the views of Yglesias and Lindbergh, as if this were an innocent observation intended to further debate.
From my perspective, there is actually nothing wrong with being associated with Dr. Francis or Col. Lindbergh, since both were honourable, patriotic and admirable men, and if modern observers come to similar conclusions or express similar views as they did it is probably because these gentlemen were substantially in the right in their own time. However, the intent of someone at NR invoking their names is clear: it is to demonise, discredit and defame those being so compared, because their names have been (unjustly) tainted with the vicious smears of earlier ideological enforcers. Why make these comparisons? Because the one engaged in the demonisation knows he cannot actually take on his adversaries in legitimate debate, but must always resort to the cheap, heavy-handed tactics of a commissar.
To the end of exerting control over the collapsing movement they have helped to ruin, the ideological enforcers will be perfectly happy to appear otherwise very flexible, pragmatic, empirical and politically savvy, and they will be champions of a supposed mild reasonableness that happens to coincide perfectly with agreement with their own positions. In this view, other people “idealise” and “romanticise” things, whereas they are supposedly the epitome of cautious, grounded common sense. It would be a clever rhetorical move, were it not so utterly transparent and weak.
Some might have “hunches” about the fate of Goldberg’s soul, but then charitable and decent people do not speculate about the eternal damnation of their political opponents as Goldberg was clearly trying to do.