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Friday, November 21, 2008

Kathleen Parker to GOP: Get rid of the "oogedy-boogedy"

Kathleen Parker was one of the first conservative pundits to turn against Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin (she counsels Palin to drop out here.) This didn't really endear her to the other conservatives.

Her recent column in the Washington Post might get her excommunicated.

The title: "Giving Up on God."

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.


Michelle Malkin's response to Parker's column was concise: "Don't feed the troll. It is an abject waste of time, energy, and capital to do otherwise." At National Review's Corner blog, Jonah Goldberg pleaded with Parker:

Please stop bragging about how courageous you are for weathering a storm of nasty email you invite on yourself by dancing to a liberal tune. You aren't special for getting nasty email, from the right or the left. You aren't a martyr smoking your last cigarette. You're just another columnist, talented and charming to be sure, but just another columnist. You are not Joan of the Op-Ed Page.


Parker's claim is basically that, as long as the Republicans cater to the religious right, they're going to lose the support they need to get from other groups. The three legged stool has turned into a choir that is "absurdly off-key."

Even shorter: the oogedy-boogedy wing of the Republican party is scaring off everyone else.

Strangely enough, the Economist recently published a piece with a similar theme. If anything, the article in the Economist is even harsher than Parker's.

The GOP, according to the article, has willingly, even gleefully, become the "stupid party." In the past, the party was able to unite "brawn"  -- the working class, I think -- with the "brains" of people like William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and so on (these are my examples of conservative intellectuals, or those usually perceived to be such.)

Now, unfortunately:

Conservative brawn has lost patience with brains of all kinds, conservative or liberal. Many conservatives—particularly lower-income ones—are consumed with elemental fury about everything from immigration to liberal do-gooders. They take their opinions from talk-radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and the deeply unsubtle Sean Hannity. And they regard Mrs Palin’s apparent ignorance not as a problem but as a badge of honour.

I told you the Economist piece was harsher than Kathleen Parker's column.

Okay, so here's one piece of good news: assume that the economic policies of an Obama administration and an overwhelming Democratic Congress fail in spectacular fashion. This is what most of us are predicting anyway, right?

But we do need to keep track. Force the Democrats to offer clear benchmarks for success. When the whole thing blows up in their faces, people should get the message.

They'll turn back to the free market. Eventually. Will they also reverse course on gay marriage and other social issues, becoming more conservative? Maybe not. Probably not. Why would they?

So what do you call a socially liberal person who favors free market solutions over big government?

Why yes, indeed, there is a name for such a person:


Or people could just decide they like welfare statism. That wouldn't surprise me, either.

Posted by Terrence Watson on November 21, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink


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Name me one Party leader / Presidential candidate of any party within a generation of electoral success that can stand up and announce his or her atheism. I guess that's another reason I can't become the President of the US.

Until that great trans-formative moment when significant numbers of reasonable people embrace libertarianism you are stuck with the coalition of social, fiscal, and hawk-conservatives that stumble forward and have been responsible for any periodic governmental retreats in the advance of leviathan. They have also unfortunately been responsible for some major advances.

In the game of politics you're stuck with having to get along. Hell, libertarians might have to interact with people (with mystical beliefs) rather than acting offended that the world has not fallen into place as it should. I recall Murray Rothbard once telling a group of us at a conference in the eighties that the libertarianism has progressed in the last few decades, "many libertarians now even have jobs!".

I much prefer the company of Christians and Jews to the left lib Giai worshipers because I prefer a human-centered outlook to the pantheism that underlies the Greens. This is where In-Your-Face libertarians who embrace the left and social liberals aren't building any libertarian support but engaging in a zero sum game.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2008-11-21 12:34:01 PM

Well, what does one expect from the E-Communist - it took me reading 2 issues to realize it was the "Economic" magazine for Fabian socialists.

Posted by: Faramir | 2008-11-21 9:46:21 PM

Turn away from the religious right? Obviously a coward on the issue. It is those who believe in ultimate right and wrong who are the strength of the GOP. They are exactly who should be played to.

Posted by: Charles Martin Cosgriff | 2008-11-22 12:19:42 AM

"So what do you call a socially liberal person who favors free market solutions over big government?"

Although I generally consider myself to be libertarian, I have a little bit of trouble with the "social liberal" label, and wouldn't say that it describes all libertarians.

"Social liberals" and libertarians tend to agree that the government shouldn't legislate against victimless crimes, and should be held accountable for civil liberties violations.

On the issue of abortion, however, social liberals tend to be dogmatic, saying that abortion should be not only legal, but taxpayer-funded and sheltered from protest. Anything else is an offense against "women's rights." Libertarians have been known to take either side on the legality of abortion, but should be strongly opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion and "bubble zone" laws against peaceful anti-abortion protest.

On issues of sexuality, meanwhile, social liberals tend to advocate re-moralization of students through sex-ex classes, while strongly discouraging private schools and home schooling. Parenting which emphasizes sexual morality is deemed "old fashioned," or even "discriminatory" towards children. Libertarians, on the other hand, should be strongly opposed to a state interest in moralizing and re-educating its citizens, while promoting the independence of Conjugal Society from government.

Social liberals tend to see "separation of church and state" as a one-sided coin where the church has no interest in the affairs of the state, but the state has an interest in slowly taking on the moral functions of a gradually dying church. (If you don't believe me, talk to a liberal for five minutes about the relationship between church, morality, and government.)

As a believer in liberty, I would argue that the church (or some institution(s) like it) is necessary to provide moral grounding, for which many people will otherwise look to the state. Religion, at least, is not a monopoly. The state is, by definition, a monopoly.

A truly libertarian state would be morally neutral, not seeking to forcibly impose a certain version of morality on the people, while benevolently preserving life, liberty, and property for all people.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 2008-11-22 3:37:43 AM

A truly libertarian state would be morally neutral, not seeking to forcibly impose a certain version of morality on the people, while benevolently preserving life, liberty, and property for all people.

Posted by: Jeremy Maddock | 22-Nov-08 3:37:43 AM

Well said, Jeremy.
Live and let live...a liberal comment...is also a Libertarian concept. Truly free markets with no governemnt involvement...is a Libertarian concept.
The rights to choose without coercion and the right to self defense (guns) are a Libertarian concepts. Its tough for people who have identified solely with the left or right to understand...its the best of both sides.

Posted by: JC | 2008-11-22 7:54:27 AM


Can a state be morally neutral? Every action of a government is effectively a moral judgment; even such trivialities as making us drive on the right side of the road is a moral judgment that order is required on the highways. I cannot see where a state, as a moral person, can disregard certain moral imperatives.

That said, I would agree that the bulk of ethical and moral judgments ought to be made by the individuals involved. As Aquinas taught, only those things so vile and depraved that a civil society could not function without their prohibition should be legislated upon. That can, that must mean, regulating seriously offensive human behaviors. We may debate as to where the line should be drawn, but we cannot deny that the line exists.

Posted by: Charles Martin Cosgriff | 2008-11-22 9:35:41 AM

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