Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Bush as conservative

Unlike some, Jonah Goldberg is not quite ready to read George W. Bush out of the conservative movement. One wishes--O.K., I wish--Goldberg had more to say about how GWB’s evangelicalism interacts with his conservatism. Bush is clearly not a libertarian (not even a quasi- or proto-libertarian), nor is he a Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, or Anglican Tory traditionalist. So he doesn’t fit the categories with which libertarians or Kirkians--or fusionists, for that matter--are most comfortable. And he’s not simply a neo-conservative (to the extent that that category is reserved either for ex-liberals, Jews, and/or largely secular intellectuals who respect religion).

Many--not all, as Jim Wallis keeps telling us--evangelicals are socially and morally "traditionalist," but their emphasis on the individual believer’s encounter with Scripture cuts against the grain of traditional authority structures, whether religious or "secular." And while there is an emphasis on personal responsibility, it often (albeit not always) looks toward a community in ways that libertarianism does not.

Does anyone have a convenient label for this?

Update: Jonah says he’ll think about it and post over the weekend. Stay tuned, both here and at NRO’s The Corner.

Discussions - 35 Comments

Evangelical conservatism?Evangelical conservatism

Tom’s label will do for GW’s politics. Joe, I think your analysis is right and you have made clear why others in the conservative party are uncomfortable with him--for the same reason, I suspect, that they would be uncomfortable attending an evangelical church service. But Bush feels no condescension in attending church with such spirited folk, because he does not have an exalted opinion of himself. Bush was not an entirely unknown quantity and we are getting what we were promised. That is, we get agreement on the issues of national security and public morality, tax cuts and economic growth. Isn’t that better than the only real alternatives--Democratic appeasement, libertinism, socialism and malaise or McCain quirkiness that may or may not light upon the right policy?

Well, we could call it Busheois, I suppose.

Contrarian, anti-science, Jesus-freak warmonger wackaloons?

Hey, and a big shout-out to my bud Alexander Patton, who had his birthday yesterday, and I forgot about it. Happy Birthday, dude!!

How hard is this? He’s a Republican - in the tradition of Lincoln, TR, Eisenhower, and Reagan. A governing party has to cover half the country, plus a little, and Bush is somewhere in the middle of our half. He is sound on national security, a supply sider, moderate-to-conservative "socially," and someone who understands you have to govern. Not everyone can be defined by a one-word ideology, and that is a good thing.

Why reinvent the wheel? You’re all missing the one label that explains everything about Bush, and the current Republican party: Plutocrat. Surely that appelation explains virtually all of this administration’s domestic policy.

Bush is a pre-socialism Liberal. Think Lincoln, Gladstone, etc...

To achieve a consistent fit between behavior and label, you need consistent behavior. Some of us have been suggesting all along that Bush is a liar with no integrity. That is perhaps the one shoe that keeps on fitting.

He’s not a Tory Anarchist, either. How we pine for Calvin Coolidge...

Good to see you back, Fung! Things have been pretty boring here for the most part lately, what with the circular firing squad developing over the Miers nomination. Ok to watch from time to time, but it gets old. Anyway, I hope to see some more of your posts soon.

Thanks, J! I must say, I feel a bit sheepish, coming back. I left in a very angry mood over the politicization of human misery after Katrina. But, like a nice micro-brew, or an itchy scab, it is hard to leave this place alone!

Would it be impolite to ask whether labels like libertarian, traditionalist, or neo-conservative mean anything to anyone who is not an intellectual? I think we tend to put a value on ideological consistency that the average person does not share.

Don’t feel sheepish, Fung. You were right to call me on my rather tacky reference to donations, although I do stand by the rest of my argument.

Bush 41 and Bush 44 are both "country club Republicans." The only difference is that 41 belongs to a New England type country club and 44 is a western style country club.

Neither is, or ever was, a Conservative (unfortunately) and hence, their domestic policies.

I’d say Conservative Democrat is the best description -- JFK-like.

A "purist". He sees the world in black and white. Conservatives live in shades of gray.


Bush is a Christian socialist.

The exact opposite of a libertarian. Gooey left on economic issues (racial preferences, spending, "government helping", etc) and right-of-center on social issues (abortion, gay marriage, etc.)

First, I did NOT write #4...who the hell is Alexander Patton?

As for Fung, of course he’s back. Once you understand Mr. Freud+Jung, you expect odd and contradictory behavior from him. But please, Fung, no more temper tantrums and wild mood swings! Respect the blog...this isn’t a place to vent your moonbattiness, nor a place to sh.. on the conservatives you hate.

Who are you to lecture Fung about mood swings, Dain? You flip out all the time, often over minor issues, such as someone using a name similar to your (apparently copyrighted) moniker.

I take it back...that was unfair, Dain. It’s perfectly obvious why borrowing someone’s blog-name is rude and counterproductive. I’m such an idiot sometimes...please forgive me.

So Bush is a Democrat? A socialist? (The Corporation also known as George W. Bush, POTUS, thinks that capitalism is a source of problems?? That’s new to me! He and Cheney sure hide their socialist tendencies well!) Moser picks on T. Moore’s straightforward observation, but lets those other characterizations pass without comment. This really isn’t a reality-based community here, is it?

Also, what’s the deal with comment 15 - "Conservatives live in shades of gray." Huh?? Since when?!!?? And here I thought conservatives were the ones who are always fretting about relativism and the breakdown of moral, ethical and cultural absolutes. And haven’t they done a lot of scoffing at nuance the last few years as well?

And for God’s sake, Dain, quit getting your panties in a twist over your precious name. Have you still not noticed that the "imposter"’s name is spelled differently than yours? And I doubt anyone would think that his/her comment is yours. And warning Fung to "respect the blog" and instructing him on how and what to post? Get over yourself already!

Thanks, John. That’s very decent of you. I am not sure about your question regarding the labels being slung about, and their relevance to non-intellectuals. I get a sense, rather, that most of us are fluent in relatively restricted areas, or perspectives. Those restricted, but varied perspectives (frames of reference?) determine both our views of Bush and our favorite labels for him.

To the extent that my frame of reference is different from (and more limited than) yours, your labels will not work for me.

As for you, Dain, old friend: My behavior is variable, but not unreasonably so. I make jokes when a position strikes me as worthy of ridicule or sarcasm, and I get angry when another’s behavior strikes me as callous or dangerous.

Your behavior is similar. For instance, you fawn all over the administrators of this blog, and yet you attack "hypocricy" with all the oversensitivity of an abused child.

So, when I suggest that Bush’s behavior reflects a lack of integrity, it is because I think that he does not do what he promised to do (heal divisional wounds, act in the best interests of the people who elected him, protect the constitution.... stuff like that.) But, I would still expect him (or a person of integrity) to get angry at injustice and laugh at a joke!

Speaking of jokes, I thought Ed’s comment #3 was very funny!

Chris...Daln, common on, tell me that’s not an attempt to mimic me. BS

Fung...enjoy all this while you’s not likely to last long. You’ll be suffering the depressive side of bipolarity very soon laugh away.

How exactly is comment 4 mimicking you? That looks nothing whatsoever like one of your comments, does it? The anti-Bush nature of the comment, combined with the fact that the commenter’s "name" is spelled differently than yours should make it clear to everyone that comment 4 wasn’t you. As for the name, I much prefer the M.E.S.-coined "Dain Bramaged" over "Daln."

Dain, I have never used your name, so using mine (comment 19) is a nasty little trick. And no matter how mad you want to get about it, "Daln" is not the same as "Dain."

Moser picks on T. Moore’s straightforward observation, but lets those other characterizations pass without comment. This really isn’t a reality-based community here, is it?

I don’t know why I feel compelled to respond to this, but I responded to T. Moore’s "straightforward observation" because it sounded serious. Nobody in his right mind thinks Bush is a "socialist." In fact, I’ve said before on this blog that there are virtually no socialists around anymore. When was the last time you heard anyone call for economic planning? This was the big debate that we (by which I mean conservatives) won. Today’s left is far more along the lines of midwestern progressives from the 1920s and 1930s--anti-big-business and vaguely isolationist. Arguably today’s neo-cons are far closer to the Democratic Party of Truman and JFK.

Of course, I understand that there are some who scream "socialism" every time the government does anything aside from defend the country and keep law and order. If that’s true, then we’ve been a socialist country ever since the U.S. Postal Service was created.

Accusing me of using your name, Phil? You got the wrong guy. Nonetheless, why does it bother you?

Well John, I do’nt know if what you said is "impolite" but it does sound pretty snobbish and kind of elitist to me. Where does one get their Intellectual Membership Card? I may not run my own blog and I have’nt had the money to get an advanced degree, but I do pay attention to idealogical consistency! I would call Bush a principled, compassionnate conservative with many neo-conservative tendencies. But like anyboyd he is a complex person. I do’nt think he has studied enough to call him a "Jaffanese American" or anything like that. But let’s face it, Bush is a man of faith who is comitted to destroying terror and terrorism. He does need to put more energy into sealing up our borders though. I have some experience in masonry (2 years in high school) if he ever wants to put up a security wall!

Ok now Dain and Phil - break it up you two!! You guys need to be kicked out to the curb for a couple hours so that you can settle this and so you can sober up! Dain allmost always has better arguments but this spat is sounding childish. Come back in when your ready for serious discusion!

It’s obvious "you two" are the same person...look how quickly Dain jumped all over Fung when he "returned" to NLT! Admit it!

I hate feeding the trolls, however, the thing that bothers me more are passionate "I’m out of here posts" with a "I’m back" post shortly there after...

"I will no longer read or write in this blog, not because you are worse than the people that you ridicule, but because you pretend to be better." FUNG 9-5-2005

Fung, maybe you ought to just stay away. And on other blogs, please be certain to watch your words carefully.


It’s a free country, John. Does it REALLY bother you that much that an anonymous person temporarily swears off NLT and then changes his mind? Just skip Fung’s posts if they offend you so much.


Of course it is a free country, where actions have consequences.

More importantly, however, I’m in a bit of a funk due to both the Huskers and Broncos losing this weekend.


If anything, John, I’d say that the "trolls" (in other words, all whom you disagree with) have fed you. I know this is hard to believe, but this is JUST A BLOG. It’s not some secret honor society where people’s words are equivalent to a blood pact. If someone goes and they come back, so what? You take this blog, and perhaps yourself, much too seriously.

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