Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Conservatives without a Conscience

Believing they had found a new Ronald Reagan in the person of candidate George W. Bush conservatives of every stripe coalesced and rallied behind him in 2000. Without that reprise of what was Reagan’s Big Tent in the 1980s Bush could not have won.

Without the disasters and follies that have happened on Bush’s watch, such as 9/11, the anthrax scare, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the widespread spying on Americans and the torturing of captives, Hurricane Katrina, skyrocketing national debt, etc., conservatives would probably not be finding reasons to call one another names today.

During Bush’s seven years in office the meaning of what it is to be a “conservative” has become a finger-pointing game involving purity tests and blame. Now it’s obvious that there is a lot of difference between neoconservatives, cultural conservatives, foreign policy conservative, corporate conservatives, fiscal conservatives, Libertarian conservatives, and so forth.

Today, it seems about all they have in common is a shared admiration for Ronald Reagan.

With Sen. John McCain as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, conservatives within the party are at one another’s throats. His heroic military record and his honesty are being ridiculed. He is called a Republican in Name Only (RINO) by holier-than-thou-pundits.

Where all of this is leading it’s hard to say. Maybe the Big Tent will survive this storm, maybe Bush has destroyed it. All I am sure of at this point is that the father of the conservative movement in the Republican Party in the 1960s, Barry Goldwater, must be spinning in his grave.

There is no way the Goldwater that I remember and still admire would stand with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Karl Rove and Ollie North as honest conservatives, or as true patriots.

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