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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on July 27th, 2004 (All posts by )

    Melanie Phillips on Andrew Sullivan:

    And this is surely why Bush is so hated by the left. For this hatred wildly exceeds the normal dislike of a political opponent. It is as visceral and obsessive as it is irrational. At root, this is surely because Bush has got under the skin of the post-moral left in a way no true conservative ever would. And this is because he has stolen their own clothes and revealed them to be morally naked. He has exposed the falseness of their own claim to be liberal. He has revealed them instead to be reactionaries, who want both to preserve the despotic and terrorist status quo abroad and to go with the flow of social and moral collapse at home, instead of fighting all these deformities and building a better society.

     

    24 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. Ken Says:

      What social and moral collapse at home? The homicide rate is down. The unmarried teen pregnany rate is down. For the most part, things are looking up on the social and moral front, and have been since the late 1990′s.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      “Collapse” may not have been the best word to use, though I think it’s closer to being true in the UK, where Ms. Phillips is, than it is here. I think there’s some truth in the overall gist of her theory about why the Left hates Bush.

    3. Ken Says:

      You’re right, she’s British. Should have paid closer attention to that…

      In my (admittedly weak) defense, she seemed to be speaking of Bush’s domestic opposition when she says “He has revealed them instead to be reactionaries, who want both to preserve the despotic and terrorist status quo abroad and to go with the flow of social and moral collapse at home, instead of fighting all these deformities and building a better society.” – but I guess it could also refer to British people like Andrew Sullivan who attempt to persuade us to vote against Bush.

      But here theory on why Bush drives our friends on the left (and many libertarian types) around the bend does sound reasonable.

    4. Jonathan Says:

      Still, your point on the lack of social and moral collapse is well taken, so maybe this wasn’t the best quote to have used. But the Left is reactionary WRT foreign and domestic policy, and so are some UK “conservatives,” as Phillips points out.

    5. DSpears Says:

      I am still completely puzzled by the sheer hatred of George W. Bush by the left here and abroad. I noticed it especially in England when I was there 2 months ago. He is the poster child for everything the Brits and Europeans hate about America, but nobody could ever give an actual explanation about what it was that they actually disliked, at least not a coherent or rational one. The level of conspiracy theories imagined by highly educated people was actually a little scary.

      Likewise, I would think that G.W. Bush is a conservative that liberals could love, like Nixon, who they hated with an equal passion. Signing bills crafted with Ted Kennedy, expanding domestic spending on farmers and education and energy and the NEA for God’s sake! Watching Spencer Abraham, who introduced a bill in the Senate to kill the department of Energy because it was a big waste of taxpayer money, become it’s chairman and it’s biggest advocate who doubled it’s budget in 3 years, is the poster child for the decline of the wide-eyed idealists who rode the “Contract with America” into office (where they proceeded to act just like the slimy tax and spend Democrats they relaced).

      But this has gotten him absolutely nowhere with voters because if you are going to vote for a big government liberal, why not vote for the real thing? Only Bill Clinton had the slight of hand to pull off something like that.

      Reagardless, the reason Bush is going to lose this election (and I’m convinced he is) is that he has made all of the same mistakes of his father: dramatically and brazenly turning out to NOT be Ronald Reagan Jr. GHW Bush was an old-style country club Republican who never believed in small government, low taxes and the Reagan revolution. This was the same guy who called supply-side economics “voodoo” economics. It’s why Reagan never strongly endorsed Bush, he knew what his real political beliefs were.

      When GW Bush was running in 2000 as a “compasionate conservative”, I had the same opinion as the Democrats: He’s just saying all that to get elected. I even remember thinking “thank goodness he’s a real Reaganite, unlike his dad”. Oops. Just like blond hair on a beach at 30 feet, I was deceived by his tax cutting proposals and didn’t look at anything else. On the flip side, I think Dubya believes the only mistake his father made was breaking his “read my lips” pledge. But Bush Sr. made a lot more mistakes than that. He raised taxes at the same time that the Fed was pushing the economy into a recession. Bad move. But his administration also increased regulation and spending (like his son) at rates that put a serious dent in Reagan’s 8 years of work in this area.

      In short, George Herbert Walker Bush and George W Bush have both de-energized the activists in the Republican party: The Reaganites. These are the people who get out the vote and, like me in 1992, stayed at home on the first Tuesday in Novemeber.

      In a way I hope Bush loses and loses badly so that the Republican party I once thought so highly of will have to take a good looks at itself in the mirror and get back to it’s Goldwater/Reagan tradition of small government, low taxes, strict Constitutional construction and personal responsibility.

      But the next president gets to appoint the Federal Reserve Chairman we will have to deal with for many years to come, and that alone means I can’t stomach a Kerry victory. Then there’s the Supreme Court. Arrgggghhh!

    6. Rick in NY Says:

      Finally! Someone else who understands that the Left is not liberal. Flying under the banners of wealth redistribution and moral anarchy, the Left’s only identifiable philosophical traits are at odds with, if not incompatible with, the tenents of classical liberalism.

      And not that it means anything, but why won’t the DNC put the insufferable Michael Moore on stage at the convention and seal W’s victory in November.

      What a happy thought…

    7. Ken Says:

      “Then there’s the Supreme Court. Arrgggghhh!”

      The Supreme Court is the least of my worries. The Supreme Court mostly strikes down laws rather than writing new ones; there’s an abundance of laws that need to be stricken down, and a “liberal” court will indeed strike some of them down.

      I’d love to see a conservative court strike down all the economic interventions of the 20th Century based on a badly flawed reading of the Commerce Clause, but I seriously doubt Bush would even attempt to create such a court, and if he did, the present Senate would never in a million years go along with it. Whereas liberal judges have been useful in other areas; I for one will shed no tears for the ban on birth control (!) that was struck down a couple of decades ago, nor for various restrictions stricken on First Amendment grounds.

      Granted, sometimes the Supreme Court expands the meaning of existing laws far beyond the intent of their authors, as when civil rights law somehow sprouted sexual harassment law, restrictions on IQ testing of potential employees, and a few other surprises. And, very occasionally, a Supreme Court will strike down a law that’s actually useful, as it did with the death penalty in 1976. But, for the most part, the prospect that the court will strike down some bad laws rather than some other bad laws is not nearly as much of a consideration as the War on Terror, Kerry’s promises to jack up Bush’s already outrageous spending, Kerry’s insistence that if only the right guy had said “pretty please with a cherry on top” that France would have gone along with a war on its own business partner, Kerry’s endorsement of (more) socialized medicine, and so on. And, of course, the fact that he’d be more likely to choose a bad Fed commissioner.

      “But this has gotten him absolutely nowhere with voters because if you are going to vote for a big government liberal, why not vote for the real thing?”

      That may explain our friends on the left voting for Kerry. It doesn’t explain their insistence that Bush is the Second Coming of Hitler.

    8. croix_de_guerre Says:

      Here’s the Miriam/Webster Collegiate definition of fascism:

      “A political philosophy, movement, or regime . . . which exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”

      Here’s a succinct statement of the Democratic national party philosophy:

      “A political philosophy, movement, or regime . . . which exalts [multilateral elites over the] nation and often [a spoils system based on] race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition [, in accordance with politically correct principles].”

    9. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      But the Left is reactionary

      Interesting juxtaposition. Reactionary, a word *of* the Left, which describes those seeking to turn back socialist progressivism, being used to describe the Left.

      I think the Left has simply become isolationist. I think that undergirds much of the oppostion to the Iraq war. The world can go to hell, who cares. We can’t control it and have no right to try to control it. That would be imperialist, colonialist, and ethnocentric.

      Pro-Iraq war folks believe that if the world (or a large piece of it) goes to hell it’s likely to impact us in a very negative way and may eventually draw us into MUCH larger war, a la WWII. They also belive egregious tyrants can be overthrown, no apology necessary, whatever the UN thinks.

      Christoper Hitchens pointed out several months ago the progressive Left formerly believed in opposing tyranny everywhere but has abandoned that ideal. (He never addresses their support of Stalin, Mao, etc.) It’s now the neo-cons who support the overthrow of tyranny for its own sake, which is why he’s drawn to them.

      As for why Bush drives the Lefties nuts, I think a European decribed it best. He was discussing Europeans dislike for him but I think it applies here as well. It’s his persona. His policies and their impact on Europeans aren’t really much different from Clinton’s. It’s the way he talks, his smirk, his unmasked disdain for certain opinions, his seeming to not take his position of responsibility seriously. From a European point of view, here’s a man sitting in the most powerful seat in the world and they don’t think he’s up to task intellectually. It scares the piss out of them. Then he smirks at them and essentially tells them he doesn’t give damn what they think: Kyoto, ICC, etc. That made them feel both powerless and not listened to. Clinton was so smooth he could take a different policy position from them yet make it seem he really wished he could do it their way.

      For Sullivan, he thinks Bush is fiscally irresponsible (I agree), but the deal breaker for Sully is Bush’s support of the DMA (which I also oppose).

      For me, the make or break issue is Iraq. I think that’s the biggest issue on our plate. We absolutely, positively have to see that through to a successful ending. Kerry is not going to be any more fiscally responsible than Bush and he’s a waffler on Iraq. That’s why I can’t support him.

      Where’s John McCain when we need him?

    10. B.S. Says:

      This is pure, one hundred percent, unadulterated horseshit. You folks better lay off those IQ suppressors. It is starting to show. Replace a few words in the Quote of the Day and you have the same description of the Clinton haters a few years back. But let me just say this about that: there is horeshit and then there is horseshit, and this is horseshit.

    11. Jonathan Says:

      Clearly it must be horseshit, since it’s obvious you already have bullshit covered.

    12. Jonathan Says:

      Mike, I think it’s more than isolationism. It’s what’s left over when socialist ideology is repeatedly refuted by events. What remains is interest-group politics, secular religions (environmentalism in particular) and resistance to change.

      BTW, I hold no brief for Bush. He strikes me as a decent person but he’s been a lousy president on everything except the war. But the war is the main issue. And as bad as Bush is on domestic issues, even there I think he’s still better than Kerry. (I think McCain is a pipedream. His temperament and unwillingness to support his party mean that he will probably remain a Senator.)

    13. DSpears Says:

      “Where’s John McCain when we need him?”

      John McCain doesn’t believe in limited government any more than John Kerry does. In fact, they have so much in common he should of been the Democratic VP nominee. Oh wait a minute, that was something that McCain considered before he turned it down. The very fact that he woudl be considered or that he would consider it is confirmation of what I have known for years: John McCain is a Democrat. If Zell Miller weren’t so old they could have just switched places and nobody would have ever known the difference.

      “The Supreme Court mostly strikes down laws rather than writing new ones; there’s an abundance of laws that need to be stricken down, and a “liberal” court will indeed strike some of them down.”

      If the Supreme Court has lately restrained itself from the unfortunate power they have to not only strike down but to make law, it is only because the members of the court, by a slim margin, have chosen that role for themselves. Rhenquist, Kennedy and O’Connor are getting up in age and one or all of them could be replaced by the next president.

      The Supreme court is one vote away from returning to it’s activist past. This is the A number motivationg tactic for the liberals in the Democratic party: Get back control of the Supreme Court so it can start carrying the heavy load of liberal law making again. Since 1934 when the Supreme Court saved the country from fascism, liberals have viewed the court as the most important component of their “progressive” dreams. If there is one thing that separates conservative from liberal judges, it is the idea that there are new rights to be found in the Constitution (like the “right to privacy”, a word that doesn’t appear in the Constitution) and that once these rights are “discovered” the principle of precedent cements them into law forever.

      “I’d love to see a conservative court strike down all the economic interventions of the 20th Century based on a badly flawed reading of the Commerce Clause, but I seriously doubt Bush would even attempt to create such a court, and if he did, the present Senate would never in a million years go along with it.”

      Unfortunately, you’ll never get that from a Democratic appointment, but I would bet that Clerance Thomas would at least consider that idea. For now this is a pipe dream, and no, I don’t think politicians of either stripe want to give up the idea that the federal government has the right to regulate anything and everything it pleases. Most conservatives would probably argue that it does, but shouldn’t be used as often. Until the Libertarian party can get more than 1% of the vote in an election, don’t hold your breath on that one.

      “I for one will shed no tears for the ban on birth control (!) that was struck down a couple of decades ago, nor for various restrictions stricken on First Amendment grounds.”

      The First Amendment is the only part of the Constitution that has been adequately defended over the years with it’s original purpose still in tact, and past precedent alone means that it is secure for as long as the mind can imagine. That’s all well and good, but the 10th amendment is the one they should have focused on, it certainly would have stopped the perversion of the Commerce Clause. But there aren’t any well funded organizations who blindly defend the 10th amendment from any and all violations no matter how small or insignificant, so it’s fate was sealed a long time ago.

    14. Val Says:

      “But this has gotten him absolutely nowhere with voters because if you are going to vote for a big government liberal, why not vote for the real thing? Only Bill Clinton had the slight of hand to pull off something like that.”

      I wholeheartedly agree, Bush’s triangulation points the wrong way and doesn’t even work.

      “It’s what’s left over when socialist ideology is repeatedly refuted by events. What remains is interest-group politics, secular religions (environmentalism in particular) and resistance to change.”

      Right on target, Jon!

    15. freddie poo Says:

      Hate Bush? Yes. He is disliked well beyond his party affiliation. After all, most Dems did not hate his father. Fact: W intrudes his born again convictions onto a secular state, cuts s help to the armed forces (check what has been slashed at Vet’s hospitals!) etc and then tells us how he supports our troops; hands out massive tax breaks to those not in need and give us a deficit that ils beyond belief; gives fancyh titles to programs (no child left behind) and then leaves zillions behind; does nothing to help in the medical crisis confronting the nation; screws up the environment and on and on and on…Are Americans better off than they were 4 years ago? Hell NO

    16. Jonathan Says:

      I think we’re better off now as compared to four years ago, in the same way that the U.S. was better off in 1943 as compared to 1939: we haven’t yet resolved the main problem but at least we are dealing with it.

    17. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      John McCain doesn’t believe in limited government

      I like McCain because he’s impeccably honest, he’s tough as nails when a hard task needs to be done (like Iraq), and I’m comfortable with his political idealogy, which is centrist.

      …he should of been the Democratic VP nominee…something that McCain considered before he turned it down.

      He was asked enough times, wasn’t he? I think the fact that his political opposition trusts him enough to invite him in says something about his centrism and wide appeal. I think Kerry wanted him for two reasons: A) His appeal is high in the exact category Kerry needs to garner votes to win, from the soft left, across the center, into the soft right. B) They share a Vietnam bond and Kerry trusts him.

    18. lindenen Says:

      freddie poo, please post actual information to support your (imo, false) assertions or go away.

    19. DSpears Says:

      “I like McCain because he’s impeccably honest, he’s tough as nails when a hard task needs to be done (like Iraq), and I’m comfortable with his political idealogy, which is centrist.”

      Centrism is not a political ideology, it’s game strategy.

      I am not a centrist nor do I admire such beings. “Centrism” is a cloak worn by those trying to game the system for fame and glory, Bill Clinton being the poster child for this wing of political thought, and Aaron Burr being it’s founding father. The practitioners of this morally and intellectually flexible ideology look at any situation as an opportunity to shoot the gap between two ideologically opposed groups and look like a statesman and a compromiser, instead of a devious political game player employing Clinton’s principle of “triangulation”, which was his only unwavering political principle.

      I have much more respect for Jesse Helms or Ted Kennedy in that respect. You don’t have to ask Ted Kennedy where he stands on an issue, you already know. At least he’s honest about his own beliefs, even if I disagree with them (and condemn his murderous driving skills).

      Attempted centrism, which is what “compassionate” conservatism is, has back-fired for Bush and is the reason that a lot of conservatives may just sit this election out. And he hasn’t picked up a single vote in exchange for whoring himself out to the special interest groups that have traditionally fed at the government trough. Not a one.

    20. Mark T Says:

      Is there also a point that Clinton made the media feel central to decision making while Bush clearly has little or no time for these self appointed opinion formers? No better way to guarantee negative press than to make the press feel unimportant. There is also the long tradition of anti american intellectual snobbery here in europe.

    21. Lex Says:

      “…he hasn’t picked up a single vote in exchange for whoring himself out to the special interest groups that have traditionally fed at the government trough. Not a one.”

      Evidence? This strikes me as wrong.

      Centrism is popular because it is a way to try to get votes to win elections. They do it because it works. So, what is the basis for your assertion?

    22. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I am not a centrist nor do I admire such beings.

      I have much more respect for Jesse Helms or Ted Kennedy…

      Respect whomever you’re comfortable with. Personally, I have no respect for idealogues. They tend to fall into a category I call ‘wingnuts’. You find them on the far right and far left wings of politics. You can’t reason with them. Idealogy is all, don’t bother me with facts.

      By centrist, I mean open to argument, persuasion, reason and compromise. I tend to stand (as, I believe, McCain stands) slightly right of center. I have more faith in markets than government programs, however well intentioned. That doesn’t mean I see no place for government programs. I tend to be hawkish on law & order and national security. That doesn’t mean I see no place for diplomacy.

      I’m open to alternatives. Want to persuade me? Show me the science, the statistics, the economic indicators and curves. But life, and especially politics, is more than math and science. There are intangibles: morality, hope, opportunity, even ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’. Try to define that. Care to apply a mathematical function to those and measure them? You can’t. Yet they all affect our perception of our society. One person’s bliss is another’s misery. They can only be addressed through the political sphere.

      There’ve been two ‘leaders’ I’ve known personally that I deeply admire. Neither were idealogues:

      The first, Bill Buebel, was the classic ‘self made man’. He worked himself through college, rose to the highest levels of a major corporation, retired and bought a small company. That’s where I met and worked for him. Amazing person. Could (and did) teach himself almost anything. Hard working, rational, kind, insightful. Brilliant engineer. He would constantly warn me against thinking I knew the answer. He constantly admonished me to look at problems and issues from many different angles. It’ll give you deeper insight, he said. You’ll make a better decision in the end.

      The second, Gerhard Bergman, was a senior manager at a medium-large company I worked at. You could write a novel about his life. Born in eastern Germany, bombed by the USAAF, escaped from Soviet East Germany with his family in the post-war years, worked as an endentured laborer on a midwestrn farm, I could go on and on. I never missed an opportunity to talk with him because I liked him and admired him. He once told me that the worst quality you could have in a manager was that he thought he knew all the answers. You never want that guy running things, he’d say. You want someone who goes out and seeks information, talks to people on all sides, considers alternatives. He also said it was important to understand that people need to get along with each other. That’s almost as important as their ability to do the work. If people aren’t getting along, you’re not going to be getting much work done.

      Important ideas. They apply equally well to politics.

      Bjorn Lomborg personifies the ideal of being open to persuasion. He started with a given set of beliefs, investigated, discovered he was wrong, changed his position. I assume you’d admire him more if he’d simply dug in his heels and cried, “But I don’t *WANT* to change my views, so I wont!!” He’d be your hero then. We wouldn’t make much progress as a either a society or a species if the majority of people simply adopted a set of views and adhered to them, regardless.

      In fact, there wouldn’t be any politics. Politics is the art of the possible. It requires (usually) compromise. The alternative would simply be a sort of ongoing warfare. Each side clinging desperately to it’s position no matter what the evidence or argument to the contrary.

      Finally, being a centrist allows for a larger set of choices. Although you may tend to a certain formula, a certain approach, a certain set of principles and ideals, you’re not bound to them through an inflexible idealogy. There are more potential solutions from which to select. What’s not to like?

    23. Anonymous Says:

      “Hard working, rational, kind, insightful.”

      Was he willing to compromise those things in order to accomplish a goal? Would he choose to be unkind or irrational if it furthered his ambition? Would he reject hard work if he thought it would smooth over a situation or further his own wealth or standing? Would he abandon his insightfulness in order to skew the advantages of a sitution to make himself look good?

      This is what I am talking about. Bedrock principles that never change regardless of the fickle winds of public opinion. I suggest that you take a good look at your heroes again.

      “Respect whomever you’re comfortable with. Personally, I have no respect for idealogues. They tend to fall into a category I call ‘wingnuts’. You find them on the far right and far left wings of politics. You can’t reason with them. Idealogy is all, don’t bother me with facts.”

      First of all, I’m not comfortable with ANY politician. By their very nature they are all dishonest, double-dealers concerned primarily with their own fame, fortune and personal ambition. The idea that any politician should be idolized or admired is an absurdity. In the end they are all cut from the same cloth. So over time I am comforted only by the fact there are certain politicians who at least maintain some form of consistency.

      In my mind the story of America isn’t one of great men using their charisma, courage and intellect to make a constantly better government and better world, it is the story of concept (the Constitution) so durable that the thousands of mediocrities, incompetents, bullies and ambitious tyrrants, most of whom were born into privilege and couldn’t (and didn’t) hold a job in the private sector, that have run the United States government over two centuries couldn’t turn it in to a despotic tyrrany, as 99.9999% of governments have over the history of world.

      Maybe I’m old fashioned or have a romantic view of what makes America different, but people who form a bedrock set of principles on which they will not waver, and will fight to the death is the American way. Without that we’d still be the milchcow of the British empire. The centrists you admire remind me more of Tallyrand than Madison or Jefferson or Hamilton. Aaron Burr must be your favorite Founding Father, he embodied everything you seem to admire. He was a man without principles constantly shifting his political allegiances wherever ambition and the opportunity to gain political advantage took him. He shot Alexander Hamilton because he constantly pointed out his total lack of principles over and over again in public until he had to respond to defend his honor. Aaron Burr died in disgrace, remembered primarily as a murderer and traitor, (both somewhat deserved) and both problems brought on by a zealous ambition mixed with a lack of any guiding principle. i.e., he was a centrist.

      “We wouldn’t make much progress as a either a society or a species if the majority of people simply adopted a set of views and adhered to them, regardless. ”

      Are you implying that “we” can’t make progress as a society or a species without government, and the slimy politicans that practice that art, leading the way? If anything, government and the politics which ultimately drives it usually get in the way of progress more often than they lead it.

      “In fact, there wouldn’t be any politics.”

      Are you saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing?

      “The alternative would simply be a sort of ongoing warfare. Each side clinging desperately to it’s position no matter what the evidence or argument to the contrary.”

      That IS the definition of politics.

      The two party system and the competing war over ideas is a never ending battle simply because there is more than one way to look at any set of facts. The ongoing warfare you describe is the single biggest check and balance on government power in the Constitutional republic under which we live. We have been to the brink many times when one party or the other has gained overwhelming superiority, and the Constitution has almost been slaughtered by these unfortunate situations many times.

      “There are more potential solutions from which to select. ”

      Maybe that’s the difference, I don’t look to politicans for “solutions”, they are usually at the root of the problems they are trying to solve in the first place. a true cynic would say that they cause these problems on purpose just so that they can be the ones to provide teh solutions. I’m not qite that cynical, but the evidence doesn’t allow me to rule out that possiblility either.

    24. DSpears Says:

      That last one was me by teh way.