Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Defending Rove: Bill Kristol's un-conservative conservatism

This should hardly come as a surprise, but Weekly Standard editor and Fox News-frequenting neocon-Straussian Bill Kristol does not think that President Bush should fire Karl Rove (or, presumably, that Rove should resign). See here:

[W]ould firing Rove help Bush? No. It would reflect at attempt by Bush to find favor among "good government" moderates and allegedly reasonable critics. It would signal a repudiation of the dominant political strategy of Bush's first term. And it would most likely prove a disaster.

After all, it was with Rove as his primary adviser that Bush put together the remarkable back-to-back election successes of 2002 and 2004. Bush had barely won the presidency in 2000, and Republicans had lost five Senate seats. Yet with Rove's advice, Bush was able to help the GOP gain seats in both the House and the Senate in 2002 and 2004, as well as building a three million vote majority in the 2004 presidential election...

In fact, throwing Rove overboard -- dropping the political adviser who has been with Bush during his past comebacks and greatest triumphs -- will increase the sense of a White House in disarray and retreat.

But isn't it? (Or does the truth not matter?)

Kristol, long an influential conservative pundit and prominent Republican strategist (if never fully accepted by the current administration, given his past and present support for John McCain), argues that Republicans "must accept the persistence of the polarization that has marked American politics since the election of 2000" and that that Bush himself must remain "a polarizing president".

To that end, Bush needs Rove, the only one who can get him back on track, the track of polarization, going into 2006. This is about "a Bush comeback," to a point, but it's really about the long-term success of the conservative movement and the party to which Kristol long ago sold his soul. I have no doubt that Kristol cares deeply about the conservative principles he professes to revere, but, in this case, his naked ambition, his ambition to push an agenda of electoral victory, trumps any real concern for the good, for what is good for America.

He'll do anything, it seems, to win. That's all that seems to matter.

In this sense, he's like Polemarchus, trapped in a political world of friends and enemies -- but where's the Socrates to guide him to justice? (Plato, Republic, Book I)


By the way, what the hell's wrong with "good government" and "moderation"?

How does he even have the nerve to call himself a conservative? Burke would not be amused.

I've already written about Kristol's "culture of conservative victimhood". You can add to that an essentially un-conservative conservatism.

He's one of the smartest people on the right. Too bad he's put himself in the service of those who would battle for control of the ship. He should have stuck to stargazing (Plato, Republic, Book VI).

(For more, see the Bull Moose.)

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  • The view being offered by many on the right is that this is a partisan battle. No matter what "their" sins "we" can't let them win.

    This has been seen in issue after issue. Though Kristol was not guilty of this (since he was one of those being ignored) the attitude towars Iraq reflects the belief that all is a talk show battle against liberals, any constructive criticism about Iraq which might have increased odd of success was dismisses as liberal treason or ignored.

    Within this context there is no other reality.

    One thing people don't understand is the reality of human minds, we have a view of "normality" which includes a degree of reason. This when mantained is artificoial and in families and other interactions we pretend it's existence glossing over the irratonalities.

    In intense political situations large parts of the population move towards sometihing resembling hallucination. Currently the right is more effective in imposing theirs and kin it the world as hypothesized by history and geograpy doesn't exist, it is us and them, thee them being liberals.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:26 PM  

  • I think at this point, Krystal is more of a Republican than he is a conservative. And, in fact, conservative ideology has become so muddled that it's hard to tell who is really a conservative. A lot (not all) conservatives seem to identify Bush with conservatism and have to defend him at all costs even when he engages in actions that cannot be considered conservative in any rational sense.

    I agree with Anonymous above that much of the conservative movement now sees defeating liberalism as a much more important goal than advancing a rational conservative ideology. So, now we will support domestic spending if it will keep the Democrats out of power,we will defend Bush's vast expansion of presidential power because we can't concede any point to liberals.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:12 PM  

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