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Posts Tagged ‘Jonah Goldberg’

Republican internal divisons; and the myth of an isolationist GOP

by Mojambo ( 73 Comments › )
Filed under Cold War, Egypt, History, World War II at August 9th, 2013 - 8:30 am

Dr. K. is wrong on this. Democrats (as Jonah points out) in the 1930’s were just as isolationist as Republicans. I do agree with him though that taking back the Senate and the presidency is the only way to go and shutting down the government would  be a bonanza for Obama and that closing down the government would be suicidal.

by Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON — A combination of early presidential maneuvering and internal policy debate is feeding yet another iteration of that media perennial: the great Republican crackup. This time it’s tea-party insurgents versus get-along establishment fogies fighting principally over two things: national security and Obamacare.

National security

Gov. Chris Christie recently challenged Sen. Rand Paul over his opposition to the National Security Agency metadata program. Paul has also tangled with Sen. John McCain and other internationalists over drone warfare, democracy promotion and, more generally, intervention abroad.

So what else is new? The return of the most venerable strain of conservative foreign policy — isolationism — was utterly predictable. GOP isolationists dominated until Pearl Harbor and then acquiesced to an activist internationalism during the Cold War because of a fierce detestation of communism.

With communism gone, the conservative coalition should have fractured long ago. This was delayed by 9/11 and the rise of radical Islam. But now, 12 years into that era — after Afghanistan and Iraq, after drone wars and the NSA revelations — the natural tension between isolationist and internationalist tendencies has resurfaced.


The more fundamental GOP divide is over foreign aid and other manifestations of our role as the world’s leading power. The Paulites, pining for the splendid isolation of the 19th century, want to leave the world alone on the assumption that it will then leave us alone.

Which rests on the further assumption that international stability — open sea lanes, free commerce, relative tranquility — comes naturally, like the air we breathe. If only that were true. Unfortunately, stability is not a matter of grace. It comes about only by Great Power exertion.

In the 19th century, that meant the British navy, behind whose protection America thrived. Today, alas, Britannia rules no waves. World order is maintained by American power and American will. Take that away and you don’t get tranquility. You get chaos.

That’s the Christie/McCain position. They figure that America doesn’t need two parties of retreat. Paul’s views, more measured and moderate than his fringy father’s, are still in the minority among conservatives, but gathering strength.  […….]


The other battle is about defunding Obamacare. Led by Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, the GOP insurgents are threatening to shut down the government on Oct. 1 if the stopgap funding bill contains money for Obamacare.

This is nuts. The president will never sign a bill defunding the singular achievement of his presidency. Especially when he has control of the Senate. Especially when, though a narrow majority (51 percent) of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, only 36 percent favor repeal. President Obama so knows he’ll win any shutdown showdown that he’s practically goading the Republicans into trying.

Never make a threat on which you are not prepared to deliver. Every fiscal showdown has redounded against the Republicans. The first, in 1995, effectively marked the end of the Gingrich revolution. The latest, last December, led to a last-minute Republican cave that humiliated the GOP and did nothing to stop the tax hike it so strongly opposed.

Those who fancy themselves tea-party patriots fighting a sold-out cocktail-swilling establishment are demanding yet another cliff dive as a show of principle and manliness.

But there’s no principle at stake here. This is about tactics. [……]

As for manliness, the real question here is sanity. Nothing could better revive the fortunes of a failing, flailing, fading Democratic administration than a government shutdown where the president is portrayed as standing up to the GOP on honoring our debts and paying our soldiers in the field.

How many times must we learn the lesson? You can’t govern from one house of Congress. You need to win back the Senate and then the presidency. Shutting down the government is the worst possible way to get there. Indeed, it’s Obama’s fondest hope for a Democratic recovery.

Read the rest –  On healing the GOP

Jonah demolishes the myth that the GOP alone was isolationist in the run up to World war II.

by Jonah Goldberg

They’re back! The isolationist poltergeists that forever haunt the Republican Party. Or so we’re told.

In July, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had a set-to over American foreign policy. Christie clumsily denounced “this strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought.” It was clumsy in its garbled syntax but also in its ill-considered shot at “libertarianism.” What he meant to say, I think, was “isolationist,” and that is the term a host of commentators on the left and right are using to describe Paul and his ideas.  [………]

I’m not so sure. Last week, Paul introduced a measure to cut off foreign aid to Egypt. After some lively and enlightening debate, Paul’s amendment went down in flames 86 to 13. And, as the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank noted, that margin was misleading given that six senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), sided with Paul only when they knew he would lose the vote. […….]


In other words, rumors that the GOP is returning to its isolationist roots are wildly exaggerated.

In fact, rumors that the GOP’s roots were ever especially isolationist are exaggerated too.

Republicans first got tagged with the isolationist label when Massachusetts Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge led the opposition to the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. But his opposition to a stupid treaty in the wake of a misguided war wasn’t necessarily grounded in isolationist sentiment. Lodge was an interventionist hawk on both WWI and the Spanish-American War. Lodge even agreed to ratify President Wilson’s other treaty, which would have committed the U.S. to defend France if it were attacked by Germany.

Or consider the famously isolationist Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio), a role model of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). As a presidential candidate, Paul routinely touted Taft’s opposition to U.S. membership to NATO as proof of the GOP’s isolationist roots. But Taft also supported the Truman Doctrine and, albeit reluctantly, the Marshall Plan. He promised “100 percent support for the Chinese National government on Formosa [Taiwan],” and wanted to station up to six divisions in Europe. What an isolationist!

Meanwhile, countless leading liberals and Democrats embraced isolationism by name in the 1930s and deed after World War II. J.T. Flynn, the foremost spokesman for the America First Committee, for example, was a longtime columnist for the liberal New Republic.

The self-avowed isolationist movement died in the ashes of World War II. But while it lived it was a bipartisan cause, just like interventionism. Similarly, the competing impulses to engage the world and to draw back from it aren’t the exclusive provenance of a single party; rather they run straight through the American heart.  [……..] Even most hawks preferred a cold war to a hot one with the Soviet Union. And most doves supported striking back against al-Qaeda after 9/11.

Many supposedly isolationist libertarians are for free trade and easy immigration but also want to shrink the military. Many supposedly isolationist progressives hate free trade and globalization but love the United Nations and international treaties.

Krauthammer is absolutely right that the GOP is going to have a big foreign policy debate — and it should (as should the Democrats). I’m just not sure bandying around the I-word will improve or illuminate that debate very much.

Read the rest – Isolation versus intervention is a bipartisan debate




Rand Paul’s paleoconservative problem

by Mojambo ( 62 Comments › )
Filed under Anarcho-Capitalism, Elections 2016, Hate Speech at July 18th, 2013 - 8:30 am

His biggest problem is that paleoconservatives are pretty vile (and if you don’t believe me take a peak at the wrongly labeled online magazine “The American Conservative”).   Rand Paul is not a paleocon but he carries a lot of baggage because of his father and some of his own aides and that is too bad because I really do like Rand Paul. As Jonah points out – if they could tag John McCain and Mitt Romney as bigots, watch what they would do to Rand Paul.  However, Rand Paul is no bigot – he wants the GOP to aim for 25% of the Black vote and he deplores the Rovian tendency to write off huge swaths of the country.

by Jonah Goldberg

Rand Paul is the most interesting contender for the Republican nomination. And when I say interesting, I mean that in the broadest sense.

A case in point: Last week, the Kentucky senator hit some turbulence when the Washington Free Beacon reported that Jack Hunter, Paul’s aide and the co-author of his book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, was once the Southern Avenger.

Who’s that? Starting in the 1990s, as a radio shock-jock, Hunter would wear a wrestling mask made from a Confederate flag, while making jokes about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and having the South re-secede.

“Although Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place, the Southern Avenger does regret that Lincoln’s murder . . . turned him into a martyr,” Turner said in 2004. Maybe the humor is all in the delivery?

Hunter’s defenders, including my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano, think the reaction against Hunter has been cranked up by neocon “hawks, whose ideology is . . . being discredited every day.” According to Napolitano, “Jack’s sin in their eyes was having spoken favorably of states’ rights, and negatively of Lincoln.”

“Negatively of Lincoln” is a curious understatement, given that Hunter — who admits to giving a “personal toast” to Booth on his birthday — once suggested Lincoln would have had an amorous relationship with Adolf Hitler.

Meanwhile, Hunter says he has matured and is embarrassed by much of what he said in the past. Moreover, he says that for all the theatrics and bombast, he’s never said, believed, or done anything racist. “I abhor racism,” he wrote at his site, Southernavenger.com, “and have always treated everyone I’ve met with dignity and respect.”

Such controversies are hardly new to Paulworld. Most famously, Rand’s father, former Representative Ron Paul, the three-time presidential candidate (for whom Hunter worked in 2012), published newsletters bearing his name that brimmed with bigoted bile. […….]

Both controversies stem from the same sinful strategy adopted by so-called paleolibertarians in the 1980s. The idea was that libertarians needed to attract followers from outside the ranks of both the mainstream GOP and the libertarian movement — by trying to fuse the struggle for individual liberty with nostalgia for white supremacy. Thinkers such as Murray Rothbard hated the cultural liberalism of libertarians like the Koch brothers (yes, you read that right) and sought to build a movement fueled by white resentment. This sect of libertarianism played into the left-wing view of conservatism as racist.  […….]

“The paleo strategy was a horrific mistake,” libertarian economist Steve Horwitz wrote in 2011, “though it apparently made some folks (such as Rockwell and Paul) pretty rich selling newsletters predicting the collapse of Western civilization at the hands of the blacks, gays, and multiculturalists.”

By no means do all Ron Paul supporters subscribe to this dreck. […….] Most take great offense at any suggestion that Paul or Paulism has anything to do with racism.

Rand Paul literally and figuratively grew up in the shadow of all this, but while he’s always circumspect when talking about his dad, in private and in public he has given no hint of subscribing to the Rockwell-Rothbard thesis. Indeed, he is sincerely eager to reach out to African-American voters on issues like the drug war.

Rand Paul shares his father’s ambition to be president. Color me skeptical. Even though he’s a vastly better politician — morally and strategically — than his father, in a climate where politicians like Mitt Romney and John McCain can be demonized as bigots, should Rand Paul ever be nominated, one can only imagine what his opponents, in and out of the media, would do. Unfairly or not, his task of clearing the air would be Augean.

Hence another irony. Defenders like Napolitano think Paul’s critics subscribe to a “dying ideology,” but Paul’s only shot at the White House hinges on thoroughly interring an ideology far more deserving of death. He’s got a lot more work ahead of him.

Read the rest – Rand Paul’s paleo problem

Hillary is no Barack

by Mojambo ( 52 Comments › )
Filed under Elections 2016, Hillary Clinton, Politics at May 7th, 2013 - 11:30 am

The thought of that overrated, overhyped, appallingly mediocre woman (who was a God awful Secretary of State) coming back into the White House (along with her attention starved husband) makes we wish that the Democrats would nominate a Martin O’Malley or Deval Patrick (better yet Joe Biden). Seriously though this whole notion of “next in line” is how we wind up with the Bush’s, Dole, McCain and Mitt.

by Jonah Goldberg

In a move that had some of us dropping to our knees and shaking our fists at an indifferent God, C-SPAN recently announced that it is launching its “Road to the White House” programming for 2016.

For others, however, the response was more like “it’s about time!” Chief among them is that happy band of political warriors who think it’s “Hillary’s turn.”

Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi admitted that she prays Hillary will run. Also last week, Emily’s List, the liberal feminist organization dedicated to getting liberal feminist women elected to public office, announced it’s big new “Madam President” campaign dedicated to removing some imaginary “men only” sign on the Oval Office.

Emily’s List President Stefanie Schriock says the effort isn’t — wink, wink — all about Clinton, but she concedes, “There’s one name on all our minds: Hillary Clinton.  [……]

Translation: If Hillary runs, get out of her — and our — way. The same day Emily’s List announced its spectacularly unsubtle Madam President campaign, Quinnipiac released a poll finding that Clinton was the overwhelming favorite of Democratic primary voters. Sixty-five percent said they preferred Hillary, compared with 13% for next-in-line Joe Biden (who also may think he’s owed the presidency because it’s “his turn”).

‘Rendezvous with destiny’?

Ironically, Clinton might be borrowing a page from Barack Obama. In a less ham-fisted way, the Obama campaign cultivated a sense that America had a “rendezvous with destiny” (Franklin Roosevelt’s famous phrase) to elect the first African-American president. Obama himself often underplayed the point, merely referring to the “historic” nature of the election, his candidacy, etc. His supporters weren’t nearly so understated.

Director Spike Lee declared in the summer of ’08 that when Obama is elected, “it will change everything. … You’ll have to measure time by ‘Before Obama’ and ‘After Obama.'”

Though some of us might have rolled our eyes at that kind of hyperbole, it was precisely the kind of thing that got millions of idealistic young people and other first-time voters to rush to the polls for Obama.


Maybe. But there’s reason for skepticism. Leave aside the fact that it is very rare for a party to hold the White House for three elections in a row. George H.W. Bush pulled it off in 1988. Before that it was FDR in 1940 and then Teddy Roosevelt in 1904.

First of all, gender and race have different historic and political frequencies. Charges of sexism, deserved or undeserved, simply do not have the same sting as charges of racism. And while most Americans would like to see a female president, that aspiration doesn’t pull on the heartstrings in the same way.

More specifically, the simple fact is that Hillary Clinton is no Barack Obama. In 2008, Obama was still an exciting unknown. Clinton has been in the news for two decades. And even with Obama’s glory in full fade, it’s worth noting he’s still a vastly more compelling personality. Watch January’s (journalistically vapid) 60 Minutesinterview with both Clinton and Obama. The president comes across as engaged and energetic. Clinton seems like the person who comes up to tell you “there’s no eating in the library.”

Fickle approval ratings

Her supporters cite her high approval ratings upon stepping down as secretary of State. But that popularity almost surely has more to do with the fact she stayed out of the unappetizing food fight of domestic politics over the past five years.

George W. Bush’s approval ratings have gone up over the past few years for the same reasons. But if Bush publicly started taking controversial positions, it’s doubtful that his approval trends would continue. The same holds for Clinton. The sooner she starts acting the partisan she is — and has to be to win the Democratic nomination — the sooner she will return to her role as a polarizing figure.

Clinton’s performance as secretary of State almost surely has nothing to do with her poll numbers because her performance was awfully lackluster. It’s damning with faint praise that often the first — and sometimes only — thing her promoters cite as an accomplishment is that she flew a “million miles” as secretary of State. […….]Talk about celebrating quantity over quality. Her tenures as senator and first lady are pretty light on major accomplishments as well.

Maybe she can pull it off. Maybe after eight years of a fairly moribund economy (so far at least) and eight years of vicious partisan squabbling, Hillary Clinton can win with essentially a “more of the same” economic agenda, a lot of hoopla about being a woman and excitement over it being “her turn.”  […….]

Read the rest – Hillary is no Barack

The Republican party is ideologically sound — it’s just not very persuasive; Republicans have a messaging problem

by Mojambo ( 250 Comments › )
Filed under Conservatism, Elections 2012, Liberal Fascism, Mitt Romney, Politics, Progressives, Republican Party, Tea Parties, The Political Right at January 17th, 2013 - 2:00 pm

What bothers me the most about the past GOP primaries was that two of the more successful and qualified governors Mitt Romney and Rick Perry felt the need to be something that they were not – hard core social cons instead of the  pragmatic center-right people that they are.  Romney’s advisers  admitted that it was a mistake to do that.


An immigration strategy that helped Mitt Romney win the Republican primary likely cost him in the general election, a top adviser admitted in a postmortem.

In audio of a Harvard panel released on Monday morning, a group of top Romney strategists dissect the reasons their candidate fell short. At one point, someone in the audience asks whether the hard-line immigration positions Romney took during the primaries may have damaged his standing among the general electorate.

“I regret that,” campaign chief Matt Rhoades said after a pause.

by Jonah Goldberg

It’s hard for a lot of people, particularly on the right, to recognize that the conservative movement’s problems are mostly problems of success. But the Republican party’s problems are much more recognizable as the problems of failure, including the failure to recognize the limits of that movement’s success.

American conservatism began as a kind of intellectual hobbyists’ group with little hope of changing the broader society. Albert Jay Nock, the cape-wearing libertarian intellectual — he called himself a “philosophical anarchist” — who inspired a very young William F. Buckley Jr., argued that political change was impossible because the masses were rubes, goons, fools, or sheep, victims of the eternal tendency of the powerful to exploit the powerless.

Buckley, who rightly admired Nock for many things, rightly disagreed on this point. Buckley trusted the people more than the intellectuals. […….]

It took time. In an age when conservative books make millions, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it once was to get a right-of-center book published. Henry L. Regnery, the founder of the publishing house that bears his name, started his venture to break the wall of groupthink censorship surrounding the publishing industry. With a few exceptions, Regnery was the only game in town for decades.

That’s hardly the case anymore. While there’s a higher bar for conservative authors at mainstream publishers (which remain overwhelmingly liberal), profit tends to trump ideology.

[…….] It’s only in the legacy institutions — newspapers, the broadcast networks, and most especially academia and Hollywood — that conservatism is still largely frozen out. Nonetheless, conservatism is a mass-market enterprise these days, for good and for ill.

The good is obvious. The ill is less understood. For starters, the movement has an unhealthy share of hucksters eager to make money from stirring rage, paranoia, and an ill-defined sense of betrayal with little concern for the real political success that can come only with persuading the unconverted.

A conservative journalist or activist can now make a decent living while never once bothering to persuade a liberal. Telling people only what they want to hear has become a vocation. […….] Many liberals lived in such an ideological cocoon for decades, which is one reason conservatives won so many arguments early on. Having the right emulate that echo chamber helps no one.

Ironically, the institution in which conservatives had their greatest success is the one most besieged by conservatives today: the Republican party. To listen to many grassroots conservatives, the GOP establishment is a cabal of weak-kneed sellouts who regularly light votive candles to a poster of liberal Republican icon Nelson Rockefeller.

This is not only not true, it’s a destructive myth. The Rockefeller Republicans were purged from the GOP decades ago. Their high-water mark was in 1960, when the Goldwater insurgency was temporarily crushed. Richard Nixon agreed to run on a platform all but dictated by Rockefeller and to tap Rockefeller’s minion Henry Cabot Lodge as his running mate. When the forebears of today’s tea partiers threatened to stay home or bolt the party in 1960, Senator Barry Goldwater proclaimed, “Let’s grow up, conservatives!”

It’s still good advice. It’s not that the GOP isn’t conservative enough, it’s that it isn’t tactically smart or persuasive enough to move the rest of the nation in a more conservative direction. Moreover, thanks in part to the myth that all that stands between conservatives and total victory is a philosophically pure GOP, party leaders suffer from a debilitating lack of trust — some of it well earned — from the rank and file.

But politics is about persuasion, and a party consumed by the need to prove its purity to its base is going to have a very hard time proving anything else to the rest of the country.

Read the rest – The myth of an impure GOP

Rodan Addendum: Republicans have a messaging problem

The Republican Party’s messaging is so bad, it could not even explain how to use a toilet seat. The cowardly Establishment wants the Progressive Media to accept it. Purists refuse to adapt to the electorate or accept new ideas.. This is pure dysfunction which enables the Obama Regime to run circles around the GOP.

The Republican party has a serious problem, and it’s not that the party isn’t conservative enough. The problem is that Americans are having a hard time understanding what we stand for and whom we represent. Put plainly, it is an identity crisis.

This identity crisis recently almost cost John Boehner his speakership. Those who voted against him — and those who planned to vote against him — did so because they feel that the GOP is being pushed in a direction that requires abandonment of their conservative principles. They went to Congress to defend these principles, not compromise them.


While many will argue that these deals were meant to ensure that Republicans would not be seen as “mean and nasty,” they destroyed Republican credibility. And herein lies the problem: Boehner is more concerned with the media’s perception of the party than with the actual integrity of the party’s philosophy.

Republicans like him are willing to be “Democrat-Lite” as long as they believe it will allow them to keep sitting at the table of power. However, this theory is counterproductive in the advancement of conservative principles — something the GOP should have learned in the Bush years of “compassionate conservatism,” when Bush and Cheney were no less vilified. Did they forget the pummeling we took in 2006 and 2008?

The national Republican Party needs message discipline and find a way to communicate directly to the American people.