"Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken"

Frum asks Charles Johnson to come back:

He offers 10 reasons, but they all boil down to the same one: His outrage at the bad characters found in right-wing media and blogosphere. And yes, there’s no shortage of bad characters. No shortage on the left-hand side either. Or the middle, for that matter. But why surrender to them? Why let them get away with their claim to define your movement? Why not stand up to them? That was Rudyard Kipling’s advice to those who felt as Johnson now feels:

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

These are days for stooping and building. So here’s my own hastily jotted counter-list of the reasons to keep right.

It’s the American right that will sustain the war in Afghanistan, the right that will fight the administration’s overspending, the right that will resist paying for the spending in ways that cramp the future growth of the American economy.

It’s the right that champions competition in education, and it is the right that will prevent the undoing of welfare reform. It’s the right that pushes for color-blind laws, and against the abuse of the legal system for attorney gain.

It’s the right that resists, sometimes blindly but still rightly, overbearing attempts by government to direct the economy. It’s the right that sounds the alarm when government neglects public security.

It’s the right that anchors American society against fads and social experiments, the right that favors immigration policies in the national interest, the right that better respects the freedom of ordinary people to live their own lives and make their own choices.

If only David were right. It is Obama who is sustaining the war in Afghanistan as the right neglected it. It's the right that did not fight overspending this year but voted against any stimulus at all, after spending and borrowing the US into oblivion for eight years. David is right about education, although again Obama is no stock left-liberal there either. He's right about tort reform, although Obama was open to it in the health reform bill. But I simply cannot see how you can reconcile a right interested in public security when it presided over 9/11 and Katrina in the last eight years. Fads and social experiments? Like feeding tube insanity as in the Schiavo case? Trying to ban any evolution on legal recognition of gay families by amending the fricking federal constitution? Jumping into an invasion of Iraq with no plan for occupation? Leaving people the freedom to live their own lives - while embracing the drug war and supporting anti-sodomy laws, as David once did?

I totally respect David's attempt to fight back within the existing institutions. But saving conservatism means acknowledging that these institutions no longer represent a conservatism recognizable as anything more than fundamentalist, populist, militarist nationalism. You cannot reform that until you have recognized it.