I just finished my Sunday morning, after church ritual of checking out, for free, the various magazines of opinion at the Starbucks section of our local Barnes and Noble. I perused THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, to find, once again, that it’s full of imprudent and otherwise self-indulgent culural or promiscuously anticapitalist literary politics. But the lead article, by the distinguished student of international relations James Kurth of Swarthmore, I found harder to dismiss. He seems to echo the right-wing populism of Buchanan about the growing gap between rich and poor both in our country and across the globe. But Kurth’s analysis was more pointed--focusing on the burgeoning class of rich homeowners who eschew manual labor as the faction most supportive of illegal immigration, Bush’s "regressive" tax reforms, and Islamic radicalism as most basically fueled by egalitarian resentment. I didn’t agree with most of the article, although it would be unfair to take time to refute it until it shows up on-line. But there was enough said well there that I walked away convinced that there’s something, at least, to worry about--either that some of Kurth’s facts and analysis are right or that an increasing number of smart conservatives with some political astuteness believe that they are.
I also read the symposium on Iraq by various hawkish and very astute authors in THE NATIONAL REVIEW (also not available right now on-line). I found some agreement with Mark Steyn’s conclusion that our present policy, considered as a powerful example of our aggressive resolve to deter our enemies, is "a flop." But then there was a disconcerting amount of disagreement about what we should do now. I stink at matters relating to military strategy, and so I’m not offering an opinion. But I’m still bothered that experts I respect are so divided themselves.
Finally, I read that Republicans should campaign on this issue: Democrats hate Wal-Mart. It’s true enough that they at least pretend to, and most Americans appreciate the savings and convenience of a superstore.
But it’s also true, as I suggested above, that more and more conservatives--Crunchy and otherwise--are becoming anti-Wal-Mart. I rarely go to Wal-Mart, but am always amazed when I do. There are costs and benefits when the store comes to town, but I differ from the Crunchies and the Buchananites in thinking that the benefits for most people outweigh the costs. (And so the anti-WM position really is elitist.) Here’s hoping that our country doesn’t really divide into Wal-Mart and anti-Wal-Mart parties (and I say that while thinking that we should unite against some of the more creepy features of the creeping libertarianism of our time--I’m pro-choice on WM but not on everything).