Monday, March 24, 2008

A blog post from Bizarro World

Andrew Sullivan believes that Barack Obama is the conservative candidate of the 2008 presidential election:
Conservatism, at its core, is about the frailty of human goodness, the limits of human knowledge, the virtue of self-doubt when that is required, restraint on government executive power, and the correction and admission of error when necessary. What has happened to conservatism under Bush is that it has become a messianic, ruthless, totally certain imposition of ideology (fused even more lethally with theology). Obama is not the answer to this conservative predicament. He is a "progressive" liberal - but his liberalism contains more conservative elements of reason and prudence and restraint than the current Republican party. And although I admire John McCain immensely, and he is far and away one of the more principled and decent conservatives around, I fear that doubt, complexity, restraint and an understanding of the need for government to do less rather than more at times are not the strongest impulses in his make-up. To put it mildly.
Actually, Andrew Sullivan is an example of a well-known character in the conservative movement. As Russell Kirk explains in "The Conservative Mind", page 231 (my boldface):
During recent years, several liberal or radical writers kindly recommended the formation of a true conservative party in the United States. Harold Laski, for instance, declared it would raise the tone of American politics; and Arthur Sclesinger, Jr., had a similar opinion. No doubt they were right. But these gentlemen did not wish conservatism to succeed: they approved it merely to furnish loyal opposition against innovation -- an opposition ineffectual except for offering genteel criticism. Mr. Schlesinger approved John Quincy Adams as a model for twentieth-century conservatives. The left-wing advocates of conservative reorganization with to see a conservative party which, like the English Liberal Party in the twentieth century, would be a medium for transforming existing society into a new collectivist state, an interim party. They approve a conservatism which distrusts its own postulates. John Quincy Adams was the talented representative of such conservative opinion.
The so-called "conservatism of doubt" appears to be just another left-wing battle tactic, and a political loser, as far as Russell Kirk is concerned.

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