Neil Henry vs. Jay Rosen Future-of-Journalism Smackdown!
links for 2007-06-05

Habemus Catum!: "There's More to Conservative Governance than the Failures of George W. Bush!"

Yes! We now have a new Shrill One! And he ullulates to the dead uncaring stars: "THERE'S MORE TO CONSERVATIVE GOVERNANCE THAN THE FAILURES OF GEORGE W. BUSH!!"

In a midnight ceremony last night here at the Miskatonic University World Headquarters of the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill--those who have been driven into loud unearthly unsanity by the mendacity, malevolence, disconnection from reality, and sheer incompetence of George W. Bush, his administration, and his tame flacks, journamalists, gibbons, sloths, and other creatures--there was installed a new Grand Heresiarch of the Order: Ross Douthat!

It has been a long time coming for Ross, who spent year upon year on the journey. But welcome! Lead us well!

Ross Douthat: The Lessons of Bushism: [T]he failures of this Administration are therefore something that reformist conservatives of every stripe - whether they're crunchy, Brooksian, Salam-Douthatian (there's a mouthful) or what-have-you - are going to have to live with going forward. They're arrows in the quiver of the Reagan-plus-nothing crowd: Any time someone says that "conservatism needs to adapt to cope with the challenges of X, Y or Z" from here on out, someone else will be able to sneer and say "that's the attitude that gave us the prescription drugs benefit and the Bridge to Nowhere!"

And yet in a broader sense... [that] argument... attributes a deep ideological consistency to an Administration that's rather obviously been making things up as it's gone along. Yes... small-government conservatives knew - or should have known - that Bush was no Phil Gramm. But the content of that accomodation has been driven more by expedience than by any kind of intellectually-consistent revision of conservatism. In 2000, you'll recall, Bush campaigned on the theme of "compassionate conservatism" and made tax cuts and education reform his signature issues. "Compassionate conservatism" gave us very little... the people associated with it, from John DiIulio to David Kuo, soured on the Bush Administration long before a lot of small-government conservatives did.... Education reform gave us No Child Left Behind, the only major Bush-era policy innovation that actually attempted to use federal power to advance conservative ends, which was what the boosters of "big-government conservatism," notably Fred Barnes, claimed the Bush era was all about.... [N]either Rod Dreher nor David Brooks were begging for steel tariffs, or the prescription-drugs benefit, or the energy bill or the transportation bill. These were attempts to buy off swing voters... and reward the party's interest groups....

Indeed, insofar as Bush emphasized an ideological theme... it was the "ownership society," not "compassionate conservatism"... that led to the signature domestic-policy push of Bush's second term, the politically-disastrous quest to reform Social Security, as well as various attempts to woo the mythical "investor class" with dividend tax cuts and HSAs. Then of course came immigration "reform," which is... ideologically-unclassifiable... unites free-market absolutists... [and] evangelicals... while taking fire both from cultural conservatives like Rod and a collection of empiricists....

There's more to conservative governance than the failures of George W. Bush, and I fail to see how (to take a personal example) "Sam's Club Republicanism" is descredited by the transportation bill, steel tariffs, or Medicare Part D, when the only thing they have in common is that they aren't libertarianism...

Ah. We remember the early days, when the Order of the Shrill was so small that its Grand Conventions consisted of Paul Krugman talking to himself while warming a can of baked beans over a can of sterno while he huddled from the rain beneath a New Jersey turnpike overpass...

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