We're all conservatives now
Andrew points us to this article arguing that Obama is a conservative:
George Bush was not a conservative, but rather a curious hybrid of reactionary and progressive. He was a reactionary by temperament and conviction whose methods were borrowed from the most radical progressives. He besmirched the conservatism that he had forsaken and led it from the corridors of power into the political wilderness.
I count not a single issue mentioned there. Last time I checked, being pro-life, pro-war, pro-torture, and anti-stem cell was exactly how you appealed to actual, hardcore conservative voters. But Guantanamo is now laid at the feet of us.
Because progressive commentators depict Bush as an arch-conservative instead of the curious amalgam of reactionary and radical revolutionary that he actually was, they remain blind to Obama's conservatism. His senior appointments, the tenor of his inaugural address and his agenda during his first days in office bear the imprimatur of conservatism. Certainly, the cabinet is stocked with a bevy of Clinton administration veterans, many of whom lucratively wiled away the Bush nightmare in the bosom of the same financial institutions whose greed and mismanagement precipitated the present economic crisis. But perhaps more alarming are the appointments of Nancy Killefer to be chief performance officer and Cass Sunstein to run the office of information and regulatory affairs. Certainly the appointments of such exceptionally intelligent people could be embraced if they accompanied a new bold vision for America. But in their present incarnation they suggest that Obama's administration worships at the altar of efficiency and focuses on restoring confidence.
Yes. Yes. Because liberals love inefficiency and want the country to have confidence issues. In all seriousness, the piece offers a pretty interesting read of conservativism, but it also is hostage to a very static definition. A lot has been made of Obama's line, "These things are old. These things are true." I guess that's a conservative statement--if you think liberalism is simply the assertion of whatever is new is better. The truth is that, at some point these labels fail, and aren't much use. Martin Luther King argued for radical change, and thus was an anti-Burkean, and yet he drew his power from the old ways. (The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, The Bible) Was he a conservative? I understand the "conservative temperament" argument--but it's bullshit. It could apply to anyone who was thoughtful and deliberative. Let's talk in terms of tangibles--in terms of actual issues. If Obama is a conservative, who are those people out there pillorying him for shutting down Guantanamo?