Conservatives and the Government

His conclusion is odd, but today's David Brooks column is pregnant with things to blog about. For example:

Conservatives are supposed to distrust government, but Bush clearly loves the presidency. Or to be more precise, he loves leadership. He’s convinced leaders have the power to change societies. Even in a place as chaotic as Iraq, good leadership makes all the difference.

Now I suppose their must be some conservatives for him this "are supposed to distrust government" dictum applies, but for the past fifty or so years that's clearly not the case. The mainstream conservative belief is that the government needs to be given dramatically greater scope to gather information and to deploy force -- including deadly force -- and threats thereof. This isn't an innovation of the Torture and Arbitrary Detention administration, it's a longstanding pattern. Conservatives didn't like the Warren Court's criminal justice jurisprudence, they didn't like the Church Commission's inquiries into the CIA, they chafe at contemporary military reticence about civilian casualties, etc.

There are exceptions to this (as there are exceptions to everything), but the dominant view in post-war American conservatism has been of almost boundless faith in violence and in large government institutions like the military, the prison system, etc.