Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Disgruntled Conservative Book Club

Maybe I am just noticing it more, but dissension in the Republican ranks seems to be getting more play in MSM. This morning on Meet the Press, it was a topic of the round table discussion wiht Bob Novak, Kate O'Beirne, Albert Hunt, and Eugene Robinson.

Novak focused on conservative dissatisfaction with spending and immigration:

"I don’t think it brings back the disaffected conservatives who may stay home on Election Day. That’s the real problem. Not that they’re going to vote for the Democrats, but they may stay home because all my reports indicate that there’s two issues. They’re still very unhappy with the president about immigration and government spending, and they see no improvement on those scores. And so, consequently, Tim, there’s enormous pessimism in Republican ranks about losing—definitely losing the House of Representatives and possibly losing the Senate."
Russert then brought the discussion back to shrinking conservative support for Iraq:
"MR. RUSSERT: Kate O’Beirne, hearing Bob Novak and looking at the cover of your magazine National Review, “Last Chance for Iraq,” and looking at the comments that the founder of your magazine, William F. Buckley Jr., who said, “One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.” And then listening to George Will, conservative commentator, who said, “It is not perverse to wonder whether the spectacle of America, currently learning a lesson - one that conservatives should not have to learn on the job - about the limits of power to subdue an unruly world, has emboldened many enemies.” This is remarkable. Conservatives saying that Iraq has failed and that perhaps it may be emboldening our enemies.

MS. KATE O’BEIRNE: Tim, it’s, it’s actually not so that there have been all these uncritical cheerleaders who support the war for years. We had at—National Review had an Iraq—a cover on Iraq before the November ‘04 elections called “What Went Wrong?” And most recently, of course, we have a collection of, of people, very sympathetic with the aims and goals in Iraq, answering the question of whether or not it’s lost. The administration hasn’t done a very good job of addressing those concerns on the part of conservative supporters of the war. The symposium we have in this, in this issue, the first thing they reject, unanimously, is the administration line that things are better than they look. They’re not buying that argument, and yet the administration keeps making it...

MR. HUNT: Kate, the problem, however, is that look, Bob, I, I somewhat disagree. You can make the McCain case—we might agree or disagree—but you can make the case that we need to really escalate over there. We need to send more troops, not just take troops from Mosul and send them to Baghdad, but really go and, and, and cut off the Iranians, and, and make a full-fledged effort, and say, “We’re going to be there for years, folks.” Or you can say we’re going to be in a staged withdrawal. We’re going to go to an enclave period and try to create some kind of partition in that unnaturally created country. The one thing that’s not credible, as the National Review pointed out, is stay the course. Bush’s policy is the one policy that’s absolutely not credible. So I think that makes it very tough for Republicans today."

As further evidence of this phenomena, I offer this list of book titles, by, for, and about disgruntled conservatives. You won't find these books on the President's summer reading list, but perhaps they should be. These are relatively recent titles, and taken in aggregate, even just the titles are revealing of the depth of dissatisfaction felt by old-school conservatives for this Republican administration.

If the mid-terms are close, voters on the margin will be the difference in determining majority control in congress. Disgruntled conservatives, by either staying home, or voting for divided government, could be those voters. As we have repeatedly pointed out on this blog, for conservatives that put their "limited government" principles before party loyalty, divided government is a very good thing.

Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big GovernmentTitle: Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government
Author: Stephen Slivinski, Director of Budget Studies at the Cato Institue.

Comment: "A scathing look at how the Republican Party, once the paragon of fiscal conservativism, has embraced Big Government and become even more irresponsible with taxpayer money than the Democrats."- James Pinkerton (White House domestic policy aide under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush)

Excerpt: "Cutting government spending now runs contrary to Republican political aims... Today the GOP is so closely aligned with the mechanisms of Big Government that it finds itself unable and unwilling to shut the contraption down.... The corruption scandals that have afflicted the Republican Party ... are a natural by-product. "Republicans have actually become more promiscuous than Democrats when it comes to earmarks... They've become cogs in the Big Government machine."

Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan LegacyTitle: Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy
Author: Bruce Bartlett - Conservative economist and Reagan administration official

Comment: "Bartlett's attack boils down to one key premise: Bush is a shallow opportunist who has cast aside the principles of the "Reagan Revolution" for short-term political gains that may wind up hurting the American economy as badly as, if not worse than, Nixon's did."- Publisher's Weekly

Excerpt: "My main concern is with Bush’s economic policy because that is my field of expertise. But it doesn’t mean that I am content with the rest of his program. I am deeply concerned about the Iraq operation, which has more in common with Woodrow Wilson’s policy of making the world safe for democracy than with traditional conservative foreign policy, which is based on defending the American homeland and avoiding unnecessary political and military entanglements with other countries–a view best expressed in George Washington’s Farewell Address. I am also concerned with Bush’s cavalier attitude toward federalism and his insistence on absolute, unquestioning loyalty, which stifles honest criticism and creates a cult of personality around him that I find disturbing."

Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative CauseTitle: Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause
Author: Richard A. Viguerie has been recognized as a founder of the modern conservativemovement... he first became involved in national politics as executive secretary of Young Americans for Freedom, the conservative youth group founded at the home of William F. Buckley Jr.

Comment: "Massive deficits. Out-of-control spending. Amnesty. Nation building. Cronyism. Lies. Pandering. Arrogance of power. Corruption. Influence peddling. According to outspoken conservative Richard A. Viguerie, often referred to as the funding father of the New Right, these outrages depict both the Bush White House and the Republican controlled Congress." - Amazon Book Description

Excerpt: "Now it has become apparent, however, that the Republican leadership in the White House and Congress is conservative in name only. They have used the popularity of the word "conservative" to cloak their big government, big business agenda ... the growth of the federal government and intrusiveness of the federal government have exploded under all-Republican control. It is far worse today than during the divided government of the 1990's."

The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican PartyTitle: The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party
Author: Ryan Sager is a columnist for the New York Post and His writing has also appeared in Reason magazine, National Review, City Journal, Wired News, TCS Daily and the Wall Street Journal.

Comment: "Two feisty American factions are at daggers drawn. No, the fight is not conservatives versus liberals. Rather, it is libertarian conservatives versus 'social issues' conservatives. In this illuminating examination of the changing ideological geography of American politics, Ryan Sager suggests that the conservatives must choose between Southern and Western flavors of conservatism. He prefers the latter." - George F. Will

Excerpt: "The Bush administration, steered by the thinking of Karl Rove, has adopted a philosophy of big-government conservatism, which joins unrestrained government spending to an aggressive appeal to religious conservatives. It is a philosophy that has led Bush and the Republican Congress to create a $1.2 trillion Medicare prescription drug benefit, making Bush the first president in a generation to create a new federal entitlement program. It is a philosophy that has led the president to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would override the decisions of several state governments on a matter that has traditionally been left to the states... And ultimately it is a philosophy that has the Republican Party running hard and fast away from the ideas that have been the underpinning of the conservative movement since before Goldwater."

Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush PresidencyTitle: Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency
Author: Patrick J. Buchanan, America’s leading populist conservative, was a senior adviser to three American presidents, ran twice for the Republican presidential nomination, in 1992 and 1996, and was the Reform Party candidate in 2000.

Comment: In his indictment of the current Bush administration and its "neoconservative"policies, pundit and occasional presidential candidate Buchanan likens the American condition to that of Rome before the fall, citing "ominous analogies" such as "the decline of religion and morality, corruption of the commercial class, and a debased and decadent culture." According to Buchanan, the blame for this state of affairs rests squarely in the lap of "neoconservatives," who are mere liberals in sheep’s clothing. These neocons, the author contends, have wrestled control of the Republican party out of the hands of true conservatives such as himself, Barry Goldwater and, of course, Ronald Reagan—with disastrous results.- Publishers Weekly

Excerpt: "Since the Cold War's end,all the blunders of Britain's ruling class in its march to folly have beenreplicated by our elites, from the arrogance of power to the alientation of allies to the waging of imperial wars where no vitalU.S. interests were at risk... In 2003 the United States invaded a country that did not threaten us, did not attack us, and did not want war with us, to disarm it of weapons we have since discovered it did not have. By attacking and occupying an Arab nation that had no role in 9/11, no plans to attack us, and no weapons of mass destruction, we played into bin Laden’s hand... It is called "the Bush Doctrine". It is a prescription for permanent war for permanent peace, though wars are the death of republics. "No nation", warned Madison, can "preserve its freedon in the midst of continual warfare."

The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How To Get It Back On TrackTitle: The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How To Get It Back On Track
Author: Thomas E. Mann, the Senior Fellow in Government Studies at the Brookings Institute, and Norman J. Ornstein, a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

Comment: Their book argues persuasively that relentless partisanship and a disregard for institutional procedures have led Congress to be more dysfunctional than at any time in recent memory. Looking back to the arbitrary and sometimes authoritarian leadership of Democratic speaker Jim Wright and the Abscam scandals of the 1980s, the authors demonstrate how they presage the much worse abuses of power committed by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. - Publishers Weekly

Excerpt: "The arrival of unified Republican government in 2001 transformed the aggressive and active GOP-led Congress of the Clinton years into a deferential and supine body, one extremely reluctant to demand information, scrub presidential proposals, or oversee the executive... The uncompromising assertion ofexecutive authority by President Bush and Vice President Cheney was metwith a whimper, not a principled fight, by the Republican Congress."

I posted this same list on a couple of other blogs and I'm getting some interesting comments. I'll let them percolate a while, then compile and update here in a few days.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Just Vote Divided.

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