Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Smartest Conservative of the Day: Peter Wehner (on Glenn Beck)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

He's our SCotD, and it's also our QotD, from Commentary:

Beck seems to be a roiling mix of fear, resentment, and anger -- the antithesis of Ronald Reagan.

More:

[T]he role Glenn Beck is playing is harmful in its totality. My hunch is that he is a comet blazing across the media sky right now -- and will soon flame out. Whether he does or not, he isn’t the face or disposition that should represent modern-day conservatism. At a time when we should aim for intellectual depth, for tough-minded and reasoned arguments, for good cheer and calm purpose, rather than erratic behavior, he is not the kind of figure conservatives should embrace or cheer on.

Wehner has had a long career in Republican circles, and, as a conservative, he is right, I would say, to dismiss Beck as "harmful" to conservatism. (Although, Reagan certainly played on anger and fear, too.)

And yet, I wonder if his ode to a more genuine conservatism isn't just a little too quaint, and grossly inaccurate. He may long for conservatism with "intellectual depth," one full of "tough-minded and reasoned arguments," one defined by "good cheer and calm purpose," but "modern-day conservatism," the conservatism of today, is more anti-Burkean than Burkean, a shallow facade masking the relentless pursuit of power at its core.

Today's conservatism is more populist than elitist, more about lies than the quest for the truth, more about party, the Republican Party, than country, more about vindictiveness than "good cheer," more about screaming bloody murder than "calm purpose."

It's more about Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter and Dear Leader Rush and the rest of that rightist ilk than it is about the sober conservatives of Wehner's imagination.

Is Beck harmful to conservatism? Yes, probably -- although, one wonders what can actually harm conservatism, given how low it has fallen.

But, to many, Beck is conservatism. And, even if he flames out, there will be many more to take his place.

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3 Comments:

  • No. NEVER let them get away with this "antithesis of Reagan" junk. Reagan's public persona has nothing to do with it. Under his direction, the Republican Party machine from 1977 onwards was all about "fear, resentment, and anger" -- and that's not even the point. The real point is that they were about dividing the country into irreconcilable factions because they thought they could seize permanent power that way. Our Constitution and our traditions take a very lenient view of political modalities, but I state that this one is a grave crime, because it cannot play out "within the system"; it must destroy and replace the system, as it has done.

    By Anonymous Frank Wilhoit, at 7:04 AM  

  • 2009 is the year of the stupid. Only the stupid get media attention. Only the stupid grab headlines. The stupid get under liberal skins who react and heap even more attention upon the stupid. How stupid is stupid for dominating the news? And how smart are we for reacting every time the stupid say something ... stupid?

    By Blogger (O)CT(O)PUS, at 10:31 AM  

  • Ronald Reagan:

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/29318.html

    "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals – if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is."

    Reagan is smarter than Wehner -- and better read.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:28 PM  

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