A reader writes:
In "Falwell's Legacy" your reader wrote:
"the classic definition of conservatism (smaller government + lower taxes = more personal liberty and a stronger, freer republic) has been on life support since the right sold their souls and went after the wallace voters in '68 and then embraced falwell in '80."
The Bush/Cheney/Gonzalez/Rove "unitary executive" effort has given the conservative movement one more thing to face down: authoritarianism. As you rightly said, conservatism is historically about smaller government. The "unitary executive" as a concept and as a policy could not be more the opposite of this, yet it is what conservatism stands for, at least in large part, in early 21st century American politics.
Could there a better example of it and how far it's reached into our culture than Mitt "aims to please" Romney offering to double the size of Guantanamo? Short of jack-booted thugs checking people's citizen ID cards, I can't think of any. Thank god we're not there. Yet.
The "double Guantanamo" moment should indeed define Romney. It was a moment when he said something literally meaningless in order to appease and whip up hysteria on the far-right. How exactly, after all, does one "double Gitmo"? Go out to the Muslim world and round people up? Rudy's proud authoritarianism is worn on his sleeve. Romney's tailored cuffs are far harder to discern, but just as troubling.