Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Sometimes, your blog posts get away from you. They take on a life of their own.

When I started writing this in my mind a few hours back, I absolutely knew what it was about.

THEN, it was about NY Times columnist David Brooks and two columns he recently penned.

Both splendid columns. One splendidly wrong. The other more splendidly right.

The first column, the splendidly WRONG one, was from the 11th and was titled "Darkness at Dusk".

You can find it at,

David posits there are two camps that are battling over the future direction of the Conservative Movement, he labels them "Traditionalists" and "Reformers".

Those labels are both slightly misleading and completely unnecessary.

Brooks' "Traditionalists" - the Rush Limbaugh-Sean Hannity-Sarah Palin-et al Camp are better and more accurately known simply as "Conservatives", they are the heart and soul of the Movement. Their values fall squarely into the Conservative arena, well defined over the last 50 years plus; by the National Review, WFB, the American Spectator, the Weekly Standard, etc.

David's "Reformers", have also been well defined, but for quite a bit longer than 50 years. Going back to the proximate and tragic demise of President Lincoln, they are best know as simply "Republicans". The two labels were intentionally confused by the Left in order to provide Lefty pols and the Left Wing Main Stream Media the ability to conflate the two very different Movements and give the badly educated a reason to vote against Conservatism by voting against Republicanism.

Since the spectacular rise of the Conservative Movement, Republicanism has gone by a variety of other labels; Rockefeller Republicans, Moderate Republicans, Center Left Republicans, Big Government Republicans, Bread and Circus Republicans, Tax and Spend Republicans, ad infinitum.

Part of the problem for Republicanism, the Lefty gimmick of equating Conservatism and Republicanism, WORKED SO DAMN WELL, that they now have to find their own political successes with a Conservative voting base or they will NEVER get back into power or prominence in National Elections. Admiral John was supposed to be their "Great Centrist Hope".

You can rest assured that had The Admiral triumphed two weeks ago, the Rockefeller Wing would have declared total victory and assured us that Reaganism was "dead as a doornail".

The labels change constantly, but back in The Day, the Giants of the Movement (Buckley, Meyer, Oakeshott, Kendall, et al) frequently referred to them as "Trimmers", as in "We'll give you the VERY BEST of the New Deal AND throw in the Great Society WITH JUST A ***LITTLE*** trim."

Brooks, by conjoining two very different ideological Movements within the Republican Party, intentionally or otherwise, disguises the very real issues' contention at the heart of their separate world views.

But, it won't work. Even Brooks acknowledges that when he says within the column, "Only one thing is for sure: In the near term, the Traditionalists are going to win the fight for supremacy in the G.O.P."

Brooks is setting up the Conservative Movement for a hijacking by Republicanism, down the road.

"Deja vu, all over again?" We just tried that for the better part of the last two years. IT FAILED MISERABLY, again.

Without replaying the Nov 4th Election, the various Polls show one thing clearly.


Brooks and the other "Reformers" need to convince the Conservative Base that the only way for Republicans to win national elections, is to run as Center Left Democrats.


Conservatives MIGHT stay home, as they did two weeks ago, and allow the Center Left Independents to decide the National Contests. But, they WILL NOT vote in sufficient numbers for Center Left Republicans, not now, not tomorrow, not any time soon.

A VERY LARGE percentage of those who self-identify as "Conservatives" just bailed on John McCain. And without Splendid Sarah, McCain would probably have lost another 10 - 20 % of the Conservative vote.

If The Admiral had gone with his One True Love, Joe Lieberman, instead of Governor Palin, it would have been even worse. Maybe as low at 60% Conservative turnout?

So what this column turned out to be about is;

Don't pay ANY attention to the Republicans behind the curtain.

The Conservative Movement, starting in the 60's, has provided the VAST BULK of; the MONEY; the VOLUNTEERS, the THINK TANKS, the MEDIA, the NEW MEDIA.

To homage a phrase. "We PAID for this microphone."

The next time somebody pitches the "We need to be more like the Democrats. Just a little less and a little better."

It's time for Conservatives to start the process of "Destroying all Monsters". Here's what I suggest you tell them.

"Go get your own political Party, if you can. I am a Conservative and I won't betray my values and beliefs just to win elections, and then govern like the Democrat that I would have NEVER voted for in the first place."


Pat Bateman said...

Just popped in to see what you Red Staters are doing these days. Interesting piece. However, if you could, please expand on your contention that the "left" conflated the Republican and Conservative movements, with a special attention to how exactly this actually would or did provide any benefit whatsoever to the "left"? When exactly are you contending this took place, and how exactly are you suggesting that taking two seemingly fractured and different ideologies and voting blocs and aligning BOTH of them against you is a "good" thing? If memory serves, the joining of both the classic Republicans and the typical Conservatives in a voting unit against the Democrats has been a complete and unmitigated success for the GOP - not the "left" - until the last two years, when there was simply too high a level of public rancor to overcome.

Keep up the fine work.

Seamus O'Shansky said...

Hi, Pat

Great Question.

How did the formula of Republican=Conservative work?

The cleanest example over the last 40 years is the large print dailies.

Since the late 1960's or early 1970's, most large print dailies routinely use (still today) the two terms absolutely interchangably.

In the 1980's the broadcast media followed suit, though they occasionally will make the differentiation.

The former best of the print dailies NYT and WaPo (esp WaPo as it's still a company town paper), USED TO BE more precise in their usage of the terms, but as they both went completely in the tank for the Dems, even they rarely use the term "Conservative" as a differentiator between the very different Movements.

On the success of the joining.

Yes and No.

We are now talking about the much bespoke "fusionism" of TNR/WFB.

It HAS been very, very successful AT TIMES.

The Democratic Party was built block-by-block, ward-by-ward, precinct-by-precinct. It gave them a much deserved advantage over the GOP and other political parties.

Buckley and Krewe saw the power of the post-WWII broadcast media and brilliantly used the new mass media to combine Conservative ideology with the existing Republican Party structure to create a national movement from the "air".

Although the successes have been real. So have the failures.

Nixon, who Conservatives HATED; then, now and forever is STILL reported as a "Conservative" President. Nixon was known within the Party as Center Left Moderate, and many were SHOCKED when Buckley and TNR backed him.

There are fabulous letters exchanged between Prof. Kirk and WFB on the subject of Conservative Support for Nixon's Campaign. Prof. Kirk was VERY wary about Nixon's ideologies. Buckley went to great oratorical lengths to convince that RN was one of "us".

Yet, Nixon gave us; bigger government, the EPA, Affirmative Action, racial norming, racial quotas and timetables and Title 9 expansion (a short incomplete list).

Those are all programs that nobody would have blinked twice had LBJ or Kennedy implemented them.

Same thing with the current Occupant of the White House. The clearest "Conservative" identifiers he has provided are tax cuts -- yet going back to the time of the GOP's founding in 1854 and Honest Abe's Presidency and throughout the last 160 years, and long before Conservatives got there in the 1950's, tax cuts were the BIGGEST (and in some periods the ONLY)idea the Republican Party had.

I'll be blogging on those criteria Conservatives might consider for evaluating Conservative candidates and office-holders.

BUT, let me close by saying the ONE and ONLY Conservative President elected since the "Fusion" was Ronald Reagan.

While the Republican Moderates elected FOUR Presidents; Eisenhower, Nixon (3x), GH Bush and GW Bush.

Conservatives did far better at lesser offices, especially US Senators and Governors.

But not nearly so well in Congress, especially post-Gringrich.