A reader writes:
Thanks for your post, "What Cheney Did to Conservatism"
I think is more appropriate to point out what conservativism has done to Cheney -- that is, a kind of conservatism. Your essay brought to mind Karl Rove's distinction between "those who make history" and those who study what the makers of history have done, "the reality-based community." Packed into Rove's distinction are hints of Hegelian and Nietzsche ideas. Indeed, modern Hegelian ideas have reemerged with Alexandre Kojeve, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss. I would guess that you are quite familiar with this.
I spent some time reading in Wikipedia and then went back to the website of Shadia Drury. And once again, I presume you have heard her name and probably read some of her material. In particular, I read her essay, Gurus of the Right, a review of Saul Bellow's Ravelstein. This quote caught my eye:
"What kind of politics does this sort of duplicity suggest? In my view, it is the basis of postmodern politics--a politics that dispenses with truth.
Hannah Arendt once said that totalitarianism was the triumph of politics over truth. But she never imagined that this sort of politics would become business as usual. She never imagined that postmodern thinkers such as Leo Strauss and Michel Foucault would see no conflict between truth and power. Truth, especially moral truth, or what is usually called values, is but a function of power. The powerful are those who are able to make their values triumph. They are the ones who decide what is to be admired and what is to be despised."
In short, I am suggesting that another kind of conservatism has supplanted and is even hostile to objective truth and the rule of law. Indeed, this strand of conservatism, I would argue, has deeply influenced Cheney and much of modern conservatism.
And so, why did no one resisting the White House? It was not a matter of conscience; it never occurred to them.
(Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty.)