The Conservative Civil War

A minor correction: I wrote yesterday that Manzi's latest post wasn't up at the Corner, when it was cross-posted. Meanwhile, Goldberg uses me to attack Manzi:

I remain mystified how he can make this myopic and tendentious case for maintaining a “tactical alliance” with Andrew Sullivan on the grounds that Sullivan (once?) opposed socialized medicine but be so enthusiastic for ripping into Mark Levin and a book that came out a year and a half ago. If tactical alliances in the name of beating back bad  policies are the order of the day, Mark Levin is a far more valuable ally in that cause than the Atlantic’s gynecological sleuth.

Oh, please. I still oppose socialized medicine - and the healthcare reform was not socialized medicine. I favor reforming the bill to expand its free market potential, but do not believe it was right to oppose the entire bill rather than engage and reform it. And there is no "tactical alliance." There is an intellectual overlap. That's all. Manzi persuaded me, for example, to oppose cap and trade and to be more skeptical even of a carbon tax. Because he offered reasoned arguments based on solid evidence.  E.D. Kain adds:

First of all, I can sympathize with Goldberg’s view of Sullivan – especially since Obama took office, Sullivan has moved increasingly to the left, to the point where much of his writing on conservatism these days really feels forced and – if not insincere – less meaningful than before. I have no problem with Sullivan tacking left whatsoever, but it’s fair to see why movement conservatives would not want any sort of alliance with him.

That, however, is all beside the point. Goldberg uses this to illustrate why an alliance with Levin makes far more sense than an alliance with Sullivan – as though they are mutually exclusive, or that one should be desirable simply because the other is not. While in the short term, the right’s alliance with an increasingly wide swath of political entertainers – Levin, Beck, Limbaugh, etc. etc. etc. – might make sense, in the long run I see this strategy as nothing more than self-destructive.

Me too. But please look at my record. I have never been a "movement conservative". I've always been a deficit hawk and prepared to raise some taxes if necessary. I backed Clinton in 1992 as the most effective candidate for the times we lived in. I loathed Clinton but defended him from the far right. I have always been opposed to the religious right's conflation of politics and religion. I've long favored the kind of immigration reform Bush II offered. I've always been a skeptic of executive power - from Iran-Contra on. I insist I haven't "moved left' at all. I have stayed where I always was. But the movement right has gone so far over the cliff I want nothing to do with them. And I don't regard Obama as an old-style leftist. I see him as a pragmatic centrist liberal - and talented and sincere as well. I may be wrong, but it's a sincere belief, held since the beginning of the campaign and, I believe, confirmed by his first fifteen months.

Jonah's second post has more meat on it:

I have to chuckle when I hear so much nostalgia for what Ross calls the  “lost early-1970s world of Commentary and The Public Interest.” Indeed, to listen to Sam Tanenhaus this was a golden age for conservatism. As someone who has a collection of old issues of the Public Interest and Commentary going back to around that time, I am as sympathetic to such nostalgia as anyone. But that’s what it is: nostalgia. For while conservative intellectuals were having a rip-roaring time back then, conservatism itself was at arguably its weakest point. The Republican Party had crushed the Goldwaterites, the Republican President loathed the Buckleyites and the Reagan-revival still seemed like a pipe dream. It seems to me that what many of these nostalgists really miss is a time when conservative intellectuals were more esteemed by liberal intellectuals and liberal institutions – a climate made possible solely by conservatism’s political impotence.