November 14, 2008

Clowning, I hope

A few days ago my colleague Richard Spencer discussed one of the silliest columns I?ve ever seen, a piece of utter gibberish that is offered up by the New York Times? ?resident conservative? David Brooks. The piece in question was so stupid that it seemed to be a spoof. Even PC readers of the Times and the smiling dullards of the ?conservative movement? could not possibly believe, or so I thought, in Brooks?s drawing of ?battle lines? in ?the fight over the future of conservatism.? Apparently I was wrong. Sean Hannity presented Brooks’s column as a work of brilliant insight on his program on FOX this Tuesday

According to Brooks, the split in question is between ?a group of Traditionalists,? who are typified by Sean Hannity and tax-cut advocate Grover Norquist and entrenched in ?the institutions? and a collection of brainy ?reform? conservatives being led by among others David Frum, Ross Douthat, Ramesh Ponnuru, Peggy Noonan and (of course) David Brooks. Richard noticed that Brooks was trying to exculpate the neocons from charges of weakening the GOP, by creating his own split and by locating it within the neocon camp. After all, according to this version, the ?Traditionalists? against whom Brooks and Frum are presumably leagued are also neocons. This ?traditionalist? group exudes devotion for Sarah Palin, who during the campaign, if mind serves, became the mouthpiece of Randy Scheuermann and of other neocon foreign policy mavens. Additionally, Brook?s attempt to depict Palin as the heroine of the anti-immigrationist Right has no foundation. On immigration Palin is indistinguishable from McCain and Obama. They are all effusively pro-amnesty and Palin was equally effusive in her regrets that the GOP hadn?t done more to reach out to Hispanics.

I initially insisted in a conversation with Richard that Brooks was spinning such nonsense because he was pulling someone?s leg. His column included such silliness about Hannity and the ?Conservative Old Guard,? that it seemed that he was sticking out his tongue at his real opposition, namely us. How could any adult believe that the advocates of global democratic revolution massed in Beltline think-tanks, the loudmouth GOP-shill Hannity, and the open-borders, pro-Islamic Norquist are ?Traditionalists?? Are such organizations as Heritage and AEI full of unknown admirers of Count Metternich and Burke? Do Hannity and Norquist burn the midnight oil pouring over the tracts of the Southern Agrarians and Burke?s Reflections?

Having thought over this matter, it seems to me that I may be overestimating the cultural literacy of Brooks and his readers. They are probably about as bookish as my freshmen, who have never read history or serious literature. In his exceedingly parochial mind, Brooks may really think that Sean and Michael Ledeen fit the term ?traditionalist? (whatever the hell that means!), while his own buddies are the ?conservative Reformists? (whatever the hell that means!). What must be assumed in both cases is that the terms in question have no fixed meanings or points of reference. In the nominalist universe of the minicons and their liberal debating partners, nothing means anything outside of the politically-driven meanings that journalists assign to them while over drinks. Their level of discourse barely meets the standards of my pet Basset Murray.

David probably discovered, or at least was told, that there is a real, honest-to-goodness split in the GOP. It is one that involves the neocons and unthinking, sociological Republicans together with elements of the Religious Right on the one side, and on the other, more traditional small-government Republicans. The second group despised McCain and either stayed home on Election Day or else found some way of registering their discontent in the voting booth. All of the anti-neocon Republicans where I live (except for me) went for Obama in protest. Now this is the real split, which this website, and other websites identified with the Old Right, have been stressing for months. Since we are not part of the neocon-liberal dialogue, it may not matter what we say, except to the extent that it must be countered in the establishment press. And so Brooks with the complicity of his left-liberal patrons concocted his own imaginary split in the GOP. His fictitious account does not require any consideration of anyone or anything not included in the neocon camp. It looks as if David put most of his Jewish friends on one side of his divide and on the other the goyim who work for them. That his column sprang from a cultural illiterate, assigning arbitrary labels to largely invented sides, makes it all the more appropriate for its audience. Brooks and his readers are well-suited to each other?s deficiencies. 

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