Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Unlibertarian Santorum

I’m sure you all have noticed that David Brooks wrote a column on Senator Santorum as THE compassionate conservative--a man most of all animated by alleviating poverty in any effective way. Santorum doesn’t shy away from sponsoring expensive government initiatives with leading Democrats, but his most fundamental conclusion is the best way to improve people’s condition is to think of them, first of all, not as individuals but as members of families. More of an individualist, Brooks disagrees with Santorum on same-sex marriage and abortion, but he still strongly admires the senator’s thoughtful, unlibertarian, and often unfashionable activism. Santorum’s book, complete with reflections on Alasdair MacIntrye, is, Brooks tells us, at least as good as Obama’s.

Brooks lets us see Santorum as a sort of a early 1960s northern, Catholic Democrat, or something like his opponent’s (Casey’s) pro-life father. And if his article gets around, it may well help the senator with Catholic moderates, union members, people devoted to the "helping professions," and soccer moms or just moms in general. But will it hurt him with Republicans? In any case, Brooks reminds us that Santorum is the genuine article, serious almost to a fault and willing to lose rather than compromise his principles.

This article is being discussed on NRO. Among the fine points made is that Santorum and Ford share the same position on same-sex marriage, although Ford is making a much bigger campaign deal about his opposition. Ford’s strong stand is often praised as shrewd tactics, Santorum’s often dismissed as homophobia.

Discussions - 12 Comments

Bush’s governing style, his studied refusal to communicate with the American people, his equally studied refusal to engage in what he derides as political "small ball" has destroyed the career of one of the best Republicans we have in the country, id est, Rick Santorum. This is what ya get when you have an Andy Card as Chief of Staff, this is what ya get when you have a good chunk of the White House staff think that nominating Harriet Meirs is a good idea, this is what ya get when you refused to remove Clinton holdovers from your government, this is what ya get when you dispirit the American people by running to the UN constantly "referring" problems that you don’t have the imagination, or the will to tackle.

We are on the verge of a Bush sponsored meltdown.

Remember all those times when the President, a politician, the leader of the GOP, was asked about his dwindling support amongst his base, or dwindling support amongst the wider electorate, remember all those times, and the President just got some dopey look on his face, and with a wave of his hand he scoffed: "That’s all politics." Well, we’re about to get an object lesson of what "just politics" means.

The Democrats have for the last four years, so poisoned the political atmosphere that a level of rancour and bitterness makes it almost impossible for the White House to be heard. And while that atmosphere was being created, where was the President, where was the White House communicative team, where were the President’s political advisers. AWOL, that’s where.

GW has scoured the countryside looking for every second rate Republican, and he found them, and appointed them to positions they never should have been considered for. Paul O’Neill, succeeded by who, oh yea, that great voice of the American economy, John Snow. We could just go on, and on, and on about the personnel decisions of this administration.

I had no idea that ANY Republican administration could have been so fricken incompetent.

And how they’ve handled Iraq doesn’t even bare mentioning. Ever since the second inaugural, this administration has been in an incompetent free fall, and their foreign policy is channelling the damn Democrats. Bush mocked Kerry for his "global test," but what has been the gist of GW’s second term foreign policy, but the pathetic attempt to prove that various states such as North and Iran haven’t passed a "global test," and that some action, some consequence should thus befall them. This isn’t what we voted for in ’04, this isn’t what we campaigned for, this isn’t the victory we celebrated. This has been a flat out disaster.

And the only groups that GW could actually find the gumption to take on, were members of his own political base. People who were so upset about the non-enforcement of our border laws, who actually went out there to patrol themselves, were branded "vigilantes." People who’ve spent the last few decades in the trenches of the judicial wars, and who were properly livid over the selection of an utter incompetent, were branded "sexists," and then "elitists." But Democrats who’ve been marginally treasonous, and a media who’ve been openly gleeful about American casualties, never receive any rebuke from this administration.

The Bush family has done their level best to exhume from the grave Rockefeller Republicanism, is it any wonder that our majority status is at risk for their efforts....

But blame shouldn’t entirely attach to the Bush family ethos alone, it should attach as well to a GOP leadership that simply refused to get in the face of George Walker Bush, and flat out dictate to him that he will govern consistent with the principles laid out in the Republican Party Platform, or he will find himself politically isolated, without any allies up on Capitol Hill.

When a party tosses aside men like Gingrich, men like Delay, when a party prefers a man like Frist instead of a man like Don Nickles for majority leader, this is what ya get. This was all in the wind over a year ago. And even if, even if by some wonder of gerrymandering, the GOP holds on to majority status, it will still emerge even more politically hamstrung than it is today.

The GOP is suffering from political AIDS, and we’re but a pale, lifeless and listless reflection of the once vibrant party we were. This is a damn disgrace.

I would change a few words, Dan, but basically you’ve nailed it good.

Dan, you’re pretty far out here. Bush has not been perfect, but no one is. Santorum certainly is not either. He’s hardly the best the conservatives have; in fact some of his recent moves have smacked of totalitarianism.

Claiming DeLay was the man is certainly grasping at straws. He was a power broker, not a man of principle. Newt and Dick Armey were the best for the GOP, and when DeLay ousted Armey the House got off the rails. DeLay stood side by side with Bush in overspending, which is Bush’s biggest faults. You can point out problems, but I would prefer to list some of the many good things from Bush:

No new terror attacks, tax cuts, strong economy, partial-birth abortion ban, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice...compare this to anything you would have gotten from John Kerry or even another GOPer.

Clint, I’m not expecting perfection. Reagan promised to abolish the Energy Department created by Carter, as well as the Education Department. He abolished neither.

I’m not expecting perfection, I’m simply expecting a politician not to demonstrate scorn for the nuts and bolts of politicking. I’m expecting a man to preserve as much as humanly possible his poll ratings, WITHOUT endangering the advance of his foreign policy goals, as well as his domestic agenda. Here is a for instance, why did this administration place the privation of social security BEFORE the advancement of a genuine reform of our energy situation. A real energy bill passed, that made provision for the energy demands of a growing economy, that utilized our vast natural reserves of coal, which built up our energy infrastructure, would have provided a pop to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. That surge in the market would have provided additional attractiveness to a social security privatization proposal. Bush and his staff however allowed Karen Hughes, {yes, KAREN HUGHES...!!!...???} to meddle with the proposals of Cheney and his group in the first term. And haven’t returned to that topic in the second. What rocket scientist allowed a non-entity like Karen Hughes a place at the White House in the first place, but more, allowed such a creature to hinder the needed reforms for America’s energy needs.

I’ll tell ya who, the junior varsity in the White House. The very same group that allowed Harriet Meirs to rise to White House Counsel. The very same that hasn’t found a place for Rudy, for a Gingrich, for a Bill Bennett.

There’s simply NO excuse for this level, this noxious, nauseating level of incompetence. And it’s probably cost Rick Santorum his job. Way to go GW. But hey, "that’s all politics...."

Something is seriously wrong if I am the one defending Bush...but here goes. Bush is a man of principle if any Republican is a man of principle. We may wish he had different principles...(I do) but if he says something he tries his best to put meat on the bones.

I guess this Santorum guy is a man of principles...but I would say those are democrat principles. Hell, he is running on the wrong ticket. As Dr. Lawler points out...as a Democrat Santorum would be seen as shrewd instead of homophobic. The GOP may or may not need a libertarian litmus test...but I guess it would be easier on my categories if we could say Daniel Bell=Democrat...instead of socially conservative/big government/ welfare/crunchy/compassionate conservative. Kind of begs the question...what the hell is a democrat? Is the only difference that one is socially conservative and the other isn’t? If that is the case... then why is Ford going out of the way to oppose gay marriage? Looks like 2 Daniel Bells running in Pennsylvania.

Bush is a man of principle, but he is also a man of very poor political instincts. He has pushed solid allies out (e.g., Trent Lott), failed to restore solid allies (e.g., Newt Gingrich), and has been insular to the point of insanity (e.g., Harriet Miers). There is something missing in the Bush family character...commonsense, perhaps? I’ve never been able to put my finger on it, but they all seem to create this kind of Greek tragedy.

Tancredo in ’08!

Dain--you say Bush has poor political instincts while you say "Tancredo in ’08" I hope that was sarcasm

Nope, I meant every word. I’m not sure what you are getting at...are you saying Tancredo also has poor political instincts? I’m not sure we’ve seen enough of him to know that yet. I do know that immigration policy is a winner, and he’s the man to bring it to the forefront.

I’d say that supporting Tancredo undermines any claim that you have to good political instinct. He’s a one issue candidate, and the issue he is running on can’t get traction. The biggest non-story of this campaign has been immigration. His highest office ever is where he is now, congressman in a conservative CO district.

Meanwhile, the man you claim has "poor political instincts" has only won the governorship of Texas twice and the Presidency twice.

Clint, had the Democrats nominated just about anybody else in 2000, other than one of the greatest stiffs in American political history, they would have clobbered George Walker Bush. And Bush almost lost to Kerry, after squandering a good 5 to 8 point lead through his woeful debate performances. Bush has had the incredible fortune of running against two Democrats who were weird, creepy, and stiffs. That needs to be taken account of when assessing GW’s political skills. I do grant his victory over Ann Richards demonstrated an unusual level of political savvy. But where that savvy has been of late, beats the hell out of me.

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