Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Well, Paul demands a report on what happened in Chicago. The worst news: Instead of centering on the beautiful and historic Palmer House, most convention activity was found in hotels that are very generic, ugly, full of clip joints, and endlessly confusing--a Hyatt and a Sheraton. The book room--the social center, obviously--really was a cave beneath the cave.

The best news, from an NLT perspective, is that most of the best and most hugely attended panels were Claremont roundtables. Many APSA panels had more participants than audience in a big room. The Claremont people were often overflow crowds packed into small rooms. I reject all paranoid theories about marginalization and blame bureaucratic incompetence for this ridiculous injustice.

Because everything is finally all about me, let me say a few words about the roundtable I was on, which concerned whether social conservatism is good for conservatism. The panelists agreed that nobody knew what social conservatism was, and the phrase was vulgar and trivialized genuine political concerns shared by lots of Americans.

Hadley Arkes insisted that politics and law couldn’t be separated from the truth about morality human beings share in common, and that even the Bush administration must be criticized for doing so little to protect unborn life. Hadley was particularly hard on the libertarians, while admitting that he agreed with them about 85% of the time. His most memorable comment was something like it is better to lose honorably with Romney that sacrifice our souls for success with Giuliani.

The nice-guy head of the libertarian Cato Institute--David Boaz--said something like the problem with Republicans today is that they’re no longer led by freedom- loving men from the West like Goldwater but moralistic religious extremists from the South. They want to use big government to impose their moral views on every individual in the country, and they don’t even care that government under Republican leadership continues to bloat in all sorts of ways. He also said that same-sex marriage will soon become as uncontroversial as interracial marriage, and implicitly that those who opposed it will rightly be placed in the same boat as the racists. He admitted that the abortion controversy might be particularly tough--given the conflicting rights claims.

On the basis of that understanding of the abortion controversy, I got Mr. Boaz to admit that ROE v. WADE was probably judicial imperialism. (He should call Giuliani and explain why.) Because so many have made the point that the injustice of ROE is what brought the so-called social conservatism movement into being, we might be tempted to call even our libertarian friend a social conservative. The problem with that conclusion is that he clearly would have no trouble at all with the Court declaring a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

More generally, Mr. Boaz contended that a genuine conservative would accept the social/cultural revolution of the Sixties and the economic/market revolution of the Eighties as part of our heritage that can’t and shouldn’t be rolled back. So a genuine conservative is a "Do your own thing" individual in every area of life.

Natural-law man Chris Wolfe, from the floor, made clear that his difference with Boaz had to do with the naturalness of marriage as an institution. A free society should be understood as much as a nation of families as a nation of individuals. Boaz made it clear enough that for all public purposes marriage could be captured by the individualistic principles of contract and consent, or is fundamentally no different from any other social relationship in his libertarian eyes.

I haven’t talked about the presentations by Heritage’s Matt Spalding and myself, but that’s because I’m out of time for now.

Discussions - 58 Comments

I was in the audience at the panel summarized here by Peter, and it is on the mark in its essentials, except that Peter leaves out that his own talk showed how anti-Darwinian "social conservatives" (whatever that is) are better "Darwinians" than libertarian Darwinians. That is, it is our evangelical and religious conservatives who act as if they act as if they believe the truth of Darwin's species theory - they have children and teach them, generally, that life isn't all about self-seeking. I don't think all that many people in the room really "got" what Peter was saying, but his was the deeper refutation of Boaz's ideological defense of unlimited individual choice. And, it was funnier too.

Also, no one really pointed out the complete absurdity of the panel title, "Is Social Conservatism Good for Conservatism?" The title was an effort by its organizers to make their concern appear more intellectual than it may be. The real title should have been, "Are Religious Conservatives Good for the Republican Party?" Boaz basically argued that the Republicans could - and should - try to win elections without religious conservatives. There is also now a thesis by Democratic party operatives that the Democrats could and should win without carrying any states in the South. If we do end up with a HRC v. Giuliani election, could we be seeing the start of a re-alignment, or possibly de-alignment? It's hard to imagine that a third party candidate wouldn't attempt to appeal to this part of the electorate, and more importantly, that such a candidacy could have the effect of moving these voters away from allegiance to the Republican Party (though, of course, not to the Democrats).

One can't help but suspect that a Giuliani candidacy might have the effect of "proving" the Thomas Frank thesis, i.e., that social conservatism was never really at the heart of the Republican party's beliefs (a possibility that my friends here at NLT are loath to recognize, and why everyone is holding their breath for Fred). A Giuliani candidacy would prove that what the Republicans always cared more about was winning, and not issues like abortion. Other than a few judicial appointments, no Republican Presidents have had much to say or do about the broader culture that fosters the kinds of beliefs held by Boaz and Hillary and Giuliani. Anyway, should such an election come to pass, more people should have attended the roundtable I organized, on the legacy of William Jennings Bryan. Its themes could turn out to be of more than mere historical interest.

Dr. Pat, as usual, makes some penetrating points, including the important one I left out about the libertarian view of what should be the new Republican electoral strategy and how it could conceivably be "proven" right by a Giuliani victory. I also agree that there has to be a populist, in addition to a constitutionalist, element in conservatism today, and so there's something to be learned from Bryan. (And it's my populism, among other things, that actually separates from certain conservative leanings in the direction of Canadian Red Tories and Kirkian Tory Bohemianism and so forth. I did praise, in a way, a moderately bohemian relative indifference to the bottom line in my talk though.) Although I'm not a breath-holder for Fred, I have noticed the phenomenon on our pages, among other places. And I accept the judgment that I was amusing (got more laughs than all the other speakers together) but incomprehensible (except to those already sympathetic to my views). I will get around to summarizing them, but I will say for now that they were just as critical of the Heritage as they were of the Cato positions, and that may be why the think-tanks and candidates aren't calling me for my sage advice. My position is stuck-with-virtue conservatism, and it's in a long-winded and so accessible version as a chapter in my HOMELESS AND AT HOME IN AMERICA.

Thanks, Peter,and thanks, Patrick, for the initial summary and the further-the report comment. In absentia I declare the panel a resounding success.
And how 'bout the books on Strauss-and-Straussianism-and Straussians panel?

Paul, Someone who was actually at said panel should comment. All I have is hearsay evidence, because there was no way latecomers could get in the room or even hear for ourselves perched well outside the room.

In general, I declare the season open for commenting on any and all conference panels, lectures, and other activities. Sample general observation: The APSA is the most intellectually diverse academic conference in the world. A thousand flowers really do bloom--including some too strange and fragile to flourish in any other intellectual environment. Why is that? The transgendered and the Voegelinians and perhaps the transgendered Voegelinians are all there, although it can't be said they really bond with each other. The APSA, as the say, is a huge high school cafeteria where everyone feels safe and loved only at his or her own table.

It's rank hyperbole to suggest we're on the verge of "losing our souls" if we win with Giuliani.

We went with Bush pere, Dole then Bush fils, three Rockefeller Republicans, one of whom Gingrich said was the "tax collector for the welfare state."

Let's get a few things straight here. Who was it that named Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy to the high court? Who was it that appointed Blackmun? Was it Rudy Giuliani who placed Warren and Brennan up there? Did Giuliani name Souter? It wasn't Rudy who suggested Harriet Meirs, now was it? Did Giuliani name a demonstrable incompetent to the AG position, to the post of White House Counsel?

It wasn't Giuliani who went native on Capitol Hill, embracing one spending spree after another, making peace with corporate agri-subsidies. It wasn't Giuliani who allowed the foreign policy establishment to call the play once more, after their clear failure evidenced on September 11th, now was it?

Is there anyone out there who can make the case that what Giuliani did for New York City, on the whole, in an aggregate sense, was liberal, was progressive, was socialistic, and NOT Conservative, not capitalistic and not distinctly American.

Lastly, after the long Clinton tenure, after all of the political correctness that was mainstreamed, not to mention the social pathology, it's somewhat bizarre that any Conservative could still utter that line about "selling our souls" if we vote for so-and-so.

There are those whose take of politics is that it's akin to strutting the social catwalk, displaying the radiant spotlessness of their positions. Whereas in reality, politics is the realm where absolute values grapple with the grim and grimy business of hammer and anvil electioneering.

Mr. Boaz contended that a genuine conservative would accept the social/cultural revolution of the Sixties and the economic/market revolution of the Eighties as part of our heritage that can’t and shouldn’t be rolled back. So a genuine conservative is a "Do your own thing" individual in every area of life.

So the difference between Mr. Boaz and a modern liberal is what?

The striking thing about the modern libertarian movement is that it no longer cares much about the size of government. It has made its peace with Leviathan. An obsessive dislike of Christianity as the source of all ills has taken the place of big government as the source of all problems.

they’re no longer led by freedom- loving men from the West like Goldwater but moralistic religious extremists from the South.

According to CATO's own rankings, the Southern states are led by far more libertarian governors than those in the supposedly freedom loving West. Likewise for Southern Senators. But Boaz can't allow details like that to get in the way of his preferred narrative.

OK, here's another report from the APSA. (I was only there Thu night- Sat afternoon, which proved enough.)

First: the second funniest thing at the APSA (after Peter's already reported witticisms). This one has no intellectual content: Just after I took my leave from Peter and the convention and entered the elevator at the Hyatt to get my bag and leave, a 30-ish woman, very tall and slim but not so pretty, got on with me. There were just the two of us. She was cheerful and a little chatty, so I ventured the light remark that, given her notable height (she said she was 6'), she hardly needed her 4" heels. True, she said, but I like them ... and then, as the door opened and she exited, she added, as matter-of-factly as could be: "anyway, they're supposed to be good for business." There was no time to answer, which was fine, because I was speechless. I've been in Provo too long (thank Heaven).

On the narrow (but very important!) point Peter described, looks to me like it was Chris Wolf, 1; David Boaz, -1. (Not merely "0", but "negative 1", because Boaz doesn't want us {yahoos} to merely tolerate, but embrace, same sex marriage.)
Difference between Mr. Boaz and a modern liberal? Fiscal policy (taxes and spending). Isn't that all that's left to their ilk?
Bravo, as usual, for Prof. Arkes. How *does* he Amherst???

Is there anyone out there who can make the case that what Giuliani did for New York City, on the whole, in an aggregate sense, was liberal, was progressive, was socialistic, and NOT Conservative, not capitalistic and not distinctly American.

I don't know. What is it that you think Giuliani did for New York City? It was, and remains, one of the most liberal spots in the country.

The Cato Governors report card for 2006.

The top four spots go to the GOP governors of those horrible moralistic religious extremists from the South, in Missouri, Texas, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The freedom loving states of the Mountain West do rather poorly. Mountana, Arizona, and Nevada all score an F. Wyoming, California, and Colorado get D's.

The next time you encounter Boaz, run these scores by him.

Now a bit of real intellectual reporting: The panel on new books on Strauss (panelists: the Zuckerts, T. Pangle, J. Yarbrough, D. Mahoney), was completely packed, and every Straussian or post-Straussian who is anyone was either in the room or in the overflow in the hallway. The Zuckerts gave a fair, appropriately undefensive account of how their book was intended more to address the public "noise" about Strauss and thus rhetorically different from Pangle's. There was a very funny moment when, after Michael had spoken and exhibited his high regard for Locke, Catherine was sure to mention in passing that she "is not a Lockean." "Now you tell me!" was Michael's instantaneous reply. Beyond that, both Daniel and Jean pointed up Pangle's tin ear re. a Christian understanding of transcendence. (Responding to Mahoney, he accused him of being more scholastic than the scholastics -- blurring the line between revelation and reason more than they.) In the Q&A, C. Orwin quite poignantly remarked that after 25 years he still had no idea of Pangle's position on the theological question. Pangle was, as usual, very articulate but not necessarily very helpful in responding. Hadley Arkes and I (and others, no doubt), tried to press the question further from the peanut gallery. I remember best my approach (unsurprisingly): I asked Pangle directly: "Is philosophy noble?" He answered, disarmingly, with one word: "Yes." (OK, that was too easy. But if you look at my exegesis of Pangle in PSR you will see that I don't believe his answer here is candid.) I gathered myself and pursued: can philosophy fully grasp and master it's own nobility? If it can't, I tried to explain, then the philosophic life's claims to self-sufficiency are not credible, and the openness of the revelation-reason question complicates, even undermines the claims of the philosophic life more than Pangle admits. Or, addressing the Zuckerts: the philosopher's serene confidence in the goodness of his own activity is not really compatible, after the claims of biblical revelation, with the recognition of the irredeemably "zetetic" character of philosophy. I find in both books (Pangle's and Zuckerts') an attempt to combine a certain absolutism and a certain zetecism that strikes me as incoherent.
I think time elapsed at about this point, so at least I had had my say. The High-Straussian position may be most fruitfully questioned, I think, not by insisting on the reasonable content of revelation (as important as this is), but by pointing up the self-transcendence of philosophy, and therefore its insuperable dependence on moral and religious intimations it shares with non-philosohers.

Ralph: Sounds to me that you've written the first line to a VERY promising country-western song: "I've been in Provo too long (thank Heaven). Career change?

Difference between Mr. Boaz and a modern liberal? Fiscal policy (taxes and spending).

The modern libertarian movement seems rather disinterested in things like fiscal policy and taxes and spending. What gets their motor running is talk of drug legalization and same sex marriage.

Esoteric interpreters of the blog medium will notice the seemingly innocuous encounter with the High Heeler placed prior to the encounter with the High Straussian.

But seriously, Ralph and co., thanks for the report and thoughts for those of us who preferred not to listen from the hallway. Whether or not high heels are noble, which I believe I once maintained on this site, it does matters a great deal to the intra(?) Straussian debates whether or not philosophy is.

Social conservatism can't be defined? Huh?

The panelists agreed that nobody knew what social conservatism was

That does not speak well of the panelists. The words "social" and "conservatism" have well understood meanings. Is it the two combined which threw them for a loop?

The opposite of social conservative is wallflower conservative, which, of course, I am. If there ever was a dignified philosopher, it would be Ralph. In a manly way, I would reject even speaking of the dignity of philosphy and only focus on the dignity of the philosopher, the real guy.

Ralph is undoubtedly right that it is best to point out the limitations of High Straussianism(i.e. the position that insists on the radical "autonomy" of philosophic reason) by highlighting the philosopher's "dependence on moral and religious intimations" that he "shares with non-philosophers." I tried to make that same point in my own way. But I was struck by Pangle's inability and unwillingness to engage an "idiom" other than his own and by his hostility to any suggestion that those intimations might provide some evidence for the truth--or possible truth-- of "revelation." His instinct is to 'circle the wagons' even when faced by friendly criticism. This radical defensiness does not augur well for the future of the Straussian project. In any case, I gave as well as I got and articulated the multiple grounds for thinking that "reason" and not just blind faith or decision is integral to religious faith. More fundamentally, the philosopher is never truly autonomous becuse he too must defer to what Aurel Kolnai suggestively called the "sovereignty of the object." There is something higher than the human will and that fact is knowable in principle by both reason and revelation.

John, you made my point. New York City was and is a Liberal metropolis.

Giuliani took over that liberal Mecca, took over a city most had written off and saved it. Saved it from itself. That's Conservatism. He cut the welfare rolls. He solved the huge city debt problem. He streamlined governance. He purged the sex trade from Lower Manhattan and marginalized strip joints. He cracked down on the "squeegee men" as well as other crime. Whereas before New York City residents lived in fear, Giuliani once more made it a city fit to live in. And New York City residents know it. Listen To Dennis Miller, he'll often spout off on what New York City was like before Giuliani's tenure. Not to mention he broke the back of the Mafia Commission. That too hadn't been done before. And that case was brought by him, on his insistence, and it easily could have gone against him.

Within his 8 year tenure he didn't manage to completely unravel decades of ingrained liberalism. But what of that? Was that his task? Do we now ask ourselves if a politician performed the impossible in the face of impossible odds?

Well even if we did, Giuliani passed the test, for what he did for New York City was nothing short of miraculous. Not all that we would like to see, but miraculous nonetheless

But this all begs a question: Since when have "conservatives" become so unworldly? Since when have "conservatives" lost touch with political and cultural reality?

We didn't hold Reagan to such a standard, before his nomination or even now, long after his Presidency. So why extend such a threshold determination to Giuliani?

Giuliani did the best he could with the situation he had. Giuliani is a Conservative success story. Some prefer to deny it, because they've made a fetish of political purity. But prudence is a virtue, a CARDINAL virtue. And in the election coming up, we would all do well to be mindful of that. We forgot that in '92, some went off on some weird frenzy for Perot, or just stayed home. And the damage of that fit of pique hasn't fully played itself out yet. For Hillary's candidacy is impossible to foresee in the absence of her husband's Presidency. Thus the fruit of '92 continues to this day.

We should fall down and thank our lucky stars if we somehow manage to win '08. With Giuliani or not!

Thanks for the after-action reports. I almost feel like I'm in a bar somewhere near the convention hotels.

Giuliani took over that liberal Mecca, took over a city most had written off and saved it. Saved it from itself.

Sodom on the Hudson has not been saved.

He purged the sex trade from Lower Manhattan and marginalized strip joints.

I take it that you don't live in Manhattan. I can take you to a large number of strip joints there.

The demographics of NYC changed significantly during the ninties as the entire city was gentrified. Crime declined rapidly as the poor exited for cheaper locales, such as Albany, Philly, or New Jersey.

We didn't hold Reagan to such a standard, before his nomination or even now, long after his Presidency.

In order for this to be true, Reagan would have had to run for office while proclaiming his pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-gay, anti-borders, anti-welfare reform agenda. We both know he did no such thing. The analogy would also be helped if Reagan had endorsed Jerry Brown for California governor, as Rudy endorsed Mario Coumo.

Dan: You make a convincing case for Rudy to be re-elected Mayor of New York.
Your question about "...conservatives....losing touch with political and cultural reality" is so full of circular presumption that even a non-academic (moi!) hardly knows where to begin to unpack it.
Rudy has donated money to enable the destruction of innocent human life. NARAL itself has whispered that he's "better on abortion than Hillary." He's reneged on two marriage vows. He's hired, and harbored in his employ, a defrocked priest who negotiated "hush-hush" settlements with victims of priestly pedophilia. In short, he's shown repeatedly, in matters that deeply reveal his character, that he's unfit to be President of these United States. But let's give the man his due: He cleaned up the squeegee mess in Manhattan.

"Unfit to be President?" Right now, the only man out there who has demonstrated by accomplishment that he's worthy of the office is Giuliani. Rudy's earned it DESPITE the many problems that you listed.

Was Rudy cheek by jowl with the defrocked priest while he was negotiating settlements? No. There were civil actions, it's common during such suits that settlement offers be made and entertained. That's not unusual. It's also customary that the privacy of the victim and his family be protected by placing such settlements under seal. Again, that's not unusual. Now the particulars of this defrocked priest I don't know. You say "he" hired this priest. How do you know that? Do you think that Giuliani made every personnel decision he's been remotely involved in of late? I don't. Romney distanced himself from Craig pretty quick recently, if you haven't noticed. But which of us would suggest that Romney knew of Craig's creepy penchant for signal sending in restrooms?

I never implied that Rudy completely banished strip joints out of the city. He didn't have the authority to do that. He wasn't a rogue agent purging such institutions from the confines of his jurisdiction. But he closed many down, and so say New Yorkers who noticed. And many of those clubs you decry today were closed during his tenure, but have reopened under Bloomberg. Bloomberg is letting lapse many of the advances made by Giuliani. But regardless, he got them out of view, he moved 'em, he marginalized them. By doing so, he RESTIGMATIZED them, which again, is a "CONSERVATIVE" action. He, alone, on his initiative, his grit, he made Lower Manhattan a different place from what he found it. Nobody denies that. And if somebody does, then that person is playing fast and loose with the facts. When Rudy took over that city, crime and the sex trade were rampant throughout Lower Manhattan, driving business out. You can mock his purge of the ""squeegee men," but it wasn't a thing for mockery to New Yorkers who were getting shaken down two, three times a day. It was another form of taxation, this time imposed by a criminal element. Who was it that started cracking down on parole violations? Who was it that removed many violent criminals from the streets of the Big Apple. Who would mock the accomplishments of a man who made New York City, formerly a crime mecca, the safest large city on the planet? How can that be mocked? That can only be trivialized by those who refuse to examine his record in good faith.

Is New York City perfect? Of course not. He was an elected official. He wasn't Jonah preaching to Nineveh. But then again, was it ever within his ability to make it completely perfect? Again, NO! Your damnation of Giuliani flows from a world where the impossible is possible. Giuliani is mortal, he's not a demigod. Rudy was straitjacketed by a body of laws that made what he accomplished miraculous. That's a fact.

Rudy may have contributed money to NARAL. I don't know that. So what if he did. Do you really think GHWB was all that pro-life? Do you really think that GW is all that pro-life? Father and son went with people like Souter, Gonzales and Meirs. That was their game. They wanted the issue of abortion, but they never intended to do much about it? Rudy NEVER played us for fools. But both Bush men did, and what's more, GW continues to do so. Rudy NEVER would have been able to save New York City had he not adopted a pro-choice position. Rudy of a time was pro-life. But New York City was not hospitable to any politician that was pro-life. So Rudy tacked in accordance with the prevailing winds of his city. A city he had to save. And he knew that he could do it, and what's more, if it wasn't him, it would never have gotten done.

I prefer the open Giuliani to the faux sincerity of a Thompson and a Romney.

But again, did Rudy alone create the permissive sexual environment that we now live in? Did Rudy rule in concurrence with the majority in Roe? Did Rudy publish Playboy? Did Rudy have a Playboy mansion? Has Rudy been a voice for a sexuality no longer tethered to intimacy and morality? Is that what he's been stumping for of late?

Rudy was a member of the Reagan Justice Department, he didn't get there by being a closeted liberal. He was a law and order Conservative and he still is. When he told the petrosheik what he could do with his ten million, did he demonstrate "unfitness" for the Presidency? When he kept out Arafat from a public function, despite official pressure that Arafat get in, again, did he demonstrate "unfitness" for office? When he broke the hold of the Mafia Commission, was that just another moment in time where he clearly demonstrated his "unfitness" for office? When was the last time a Republican was elected Mayor of New York City? Rudy became Mayor by promising to be a law and order official, again, did he then demonstrate his "unfitness" for office by winning?

Reagan was divorced. Did we hold that against him? If Reagan was divorced twice, would we have held that against him? Rudy isn't running to be a force for strict observance of marital vows. We're in the midst of a shooting war. If you're looking for examples of marital bliss, look elsewhere. We don't need Ozzy and Harriet, we need a kick-ass, take charge, competent, articulate, law and order Conservative. Who else fits the bill? Which other candidate has demonstrated the ability to manage, as had Rudy. Who else fought tooth and nail against a liberal establishment, against a Democrat controlled city council, against a liberal media eager to portray him as Hitler incarnate. Day in and day out, that was the battle he waged. We all live in a society where divorce is rampant. Why pretend otherwise? What good is there in maintaining the pretense of a shattered marriage in a society where divorce is prevalent? What we see with his divorces is a man who never aspired to the Presidency. I don't know about you, but after Clinton, Gore and Kerry, AND ESPECIALLY HILLARY, I PREFER someone who went out and racked up an impressive string of accomplishments, over someone who maintained a fraudulent marriage, just to preserve his chance for a nomination. Again, it's not something that overly troubles the electorate. So why make a fetish of it? Most people know of divorces within their own family. This isn't' the '30s. Just about every American is acquainted with divorce. My only problem is that he selected Donna Hanover, a woman so classless as to star in The Vagina Monologues, a woman so classless as to insert herself in the press coverage of the funeral of John Cardinal O'Connor, late Cardinal of New York City. His marital status doesn't bother me. I'd much prefer him with his open divorces and open remarriages, then Hillary and Bill, with their longstanding fraudulent arrangement.

And that's the choice we've got. We've a SINGLE candidate with the star appeal to contest with Hillary for The White House. We've as much chance with a creepy Brownback as we would with a Romney, or a Thompson, whose shtick is already getting stale, FAST! It's Rudy or nobody.

I want to win. I'm not interested in losing gracefully. The Hell with that!

John, the issue isn't whether he personally is what you described. Giuliani isn't going to waste political capital pushing homosexualism. He's not brain dead. Come on. He won't waste an hour pushing gun control. He'll have other issues to handle, rest assured. And as for the borders, he's already said we've got to get control of the borders. Over the last few years, his position has moved, as has mine on that issue. And many another American. He's more in sync with the views of the ordinary voter. He hasn't demonstrated himself to be a hammerhead about it, as has McCain and Brownback.

Since McCain blew himself up, the GOP has three choices. Thompson, Romney and Giuliani. Thompson has never run anything. Certainly nothing like a single federal department, let alone the entirety of the federal government. Moreover, Thompson has NEVER had to weather the hailstorm of criticism as Giuliani has. The office DEMANDS tested resolve. We can't have someone like Bush who folds fast. Romney has managerial experience, extensive experience. Romney is competent, smooth, affable. But Romney has a track record of flip-flopping a country mile wide. There's hardly a single issue under the sun that Romney hasn't been on both sides of.

Selecting Romney would enable Hillary's little minions to leak endless stories of the intricacies of Mormonism. If we pick Romney, we'll end up learning more about Mormonism than we ever cared to. The election would rapidly devolve into Romney defending the esoterica of Mormonism, instead of pushing his agenda and exposing Hillary's. I want the race to be about national security, the judiciary and the Republican platform. Not Mormonism. Moreover Hillary would be able to run the same campaign against Romney as we ran against Kerry, all because of the flip-flopping. Romney is a chance we needn't take; he's a reckless throw of the dice. Not to mention, Romney brings NOTHING to the table. There isn't a SINGLE blue state that Romney could carry. NOT ONE! Lastly, he enjoyed the support of what some term "the Bushies." Right now, if a Bush is for you, or was for you, I'm against you. Romney is tainted. Giuliani isn't. Giuliani is an American hero. Giuliani can win.

Dan, does somebody pay you to write these endless off-topic rants?

More on the myth of the libertarian West.

Most of the dwindled contingent of Republican governors have abandoned conservative principles to embrace the Democratic-sponsored extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program to people who are neither children nor poor. Only three -- Indiana's Mitch Daniels, Mississippi's Haley Barbour and South Carolina's Mark Sanford -- resist the lure of federal dollars.

Darn those religious Southerners and their love of big government!

Here's a comment I got on my socially conservative presentation: Your comment that darwinists should become Mormons was a big hit. People were talking about it all night.

Dan Mahoney is definitely right that Mr. Pangle is notably lacking in any ability or inclination to attend to idioms other than his familiar "classical rationalist" tongue.
Now, to extend the reportage on the APSA just a bit (at the risk of interrupting the Giuliani/anti-Giuliani fesitivities):
The Voegelinian sponsored panel on Voegelin-Strauss-Arendt was very good, and notably irenic between Straussians and Voegelinians (probably no Arendtians were there). Michael Zuckert's discussion of Plato and Aristotle in Strauss was very acute, venturesome -- this man has some range, for a Lockean! Tim Fuller offered a wide-ranging and seasoned meditation on the three authors. Jim Stoner presented a most judicious parcing of the disparities and convergences between Catholicism and Strauss, emphasizing, most prudently, the grounds of an ongoing alliance. Thus an excellent panel - all three presentations full of insight and even some wisdom.

Off to APSA's Proceedings website to print up those papers Ralph recommends, but before I go, I'd wonder if Gary Seaton could tip us to the source of that NARAL quote on Giuliani being better than HRC.

And John, count me as one who enjoys intelligent rants. As far as rants go, Dan's are pretty politically astute, even if I confess to major skimming and often to disagreement(for example, he's WAY too hard on Romney here). It is a pleasantly bizarre experience to read him between comments by philosophic titans like Ralph and Dan Mahoney. NLT keepin' one eye on the presidency, the other on the long-term Straussian project.

I was one of those who heard talk about Peter's advice to libertarians to become Mormons--almost everyone (excluding some libertarians) found that happily repeatable. Also, Peter's presenatation at the social conservative panel was one of the highlights for me (as was Arkes' presentation).
I think Mahoney is right to point out that Pangle stubbornly refuses to abandon his peculiar idiom--that stubborness seems to be born out of a not entirely dogmatic committment to the view that the rational alternative is superior to the revelatory one. On some level it struck me as odd that Pangle ever wrote that book given that he famously argues elsewhere that the Jewish question for Strauss is not a special case of the tension between reason and revelation; in other words, he argues that the Hebrew Scriptures are just one instantiation of the central tension and one could understand the tension without particular reference to it. While all of Pangle's book is impressive and much of it is very insightful, a lot of the interpretation suffers from his characteristic rationalism, meaning that he begins with a conclusion somewhat forgone given the overly rationalistic interpretation of the biblical experience of revelation.

Good advice indeed - but not only for libertarians!

Voegelin is interesting in "From Enlightenment to Revolution." August de Comte and Banukin are overcome with the desire to become Lawgivers...and they are smart enough(or stupid enough) to know that if they are to do this they will need to change the ontological rework from the very foundations all that should hence-forth be praised or blamed. As Hume says "commit them then to the flames for they can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."(which is the birth of logical positivism!)

You come down from Mount Sinai...make the people drink the golden calf...and then deliver the 10 commandments.

The APSA=Law givers fighting for dominion over the minds and hearts of men, what else is universal?

If Machiavelli is right I suppose nothing else could be universal.

It's Rudy or nobody.

Shoot, I vote for Lincoln before I vote for Rudy....;)

Christopher, if you want to talk like this, be a man and admit that a Hillary Clinton presidency is OK with you. If you can't, don't hide behind a mindless, nihilistic, "screw them all" dodge. There will be a president whether you want one or not. If you don't find Shrillary acceptable, it is your duty to support the alternative, meaning the Repubolican -- and ask others to support him. It's that simple. And how you feel about Lincoln has absolutely nothing to do with this election.

It's asinine to suggest that the alternative to Hillary is Rudy, and vice versa. We have not seen a single ballot cast in the primaries yet.

If you don't find Shrillary acceptable, it is your duty to support the alternative, meaning the Repubolican

What if you don't find the Republican acceptable either? None of these candidates are at all popular. It's a reflection of how bad our system is that we get stuck with these wretched choices.

I have a friend who is a Dem activist. She threw a party recently to raise money for Hillary. She told me she can't stand Hillary, or the Clintons. Everyone is working hard to elect people they hate because they hate the other guy even more.

The Europeans handle this far better than we do. They have a sort of "instant runoff" process.


Give me Hillary over Rudy any day. This idea that Republican's are ALWAYS better than Dem's, simply is not true (from a conservative perspective). I am a Conservative first, a Republican second. Give me an honest liberal (i.e. Hillary) over a dishonest one (i.e. Rudy) any time, any place, any year.

Perhaps the Republican failure of the last years (going back to 94 at least) will prompt Conservatives to stop being the sheep of these (country club) Republicans (Bush 1&2, Newt - yes Newt, Rudy, etc.). As someone here mentioned, maybe we are in the beginning of a serious realignment. I can live with voting for some no-name-no-chance-on-earth party for 20 or 30 years if it means a REAL conservative party in the end. I consider THAT my duty, not voting for whoever the Republicans throw up because of the big, bad, scary Hillary...;)

And how you feel about Lincoln has absolutely nothing to do with this election.

Have you not noticed, this is Ashbrook, where one's Lincoln fetish goes a long, long ways...:) :) ;)

There are other candidates on the GOP ballot than Rudy. But none has the stature or the name recognition to compete.

McCain could have, but he went over the top on amnesty. Who in the party would be content with him? And as for Thompson, he has NO executive experience. And the last place we want on the job training is The White House. Romney has a track record of saying anything to get elected. That's a fact.

Which leaves us the savior of New York City. Rudy Giuliani. Who also happens to be the Italian American who places New Jersey and Pennsylvania in play, big time.

There are some who rail against that hard electoral calculus. That's unfortunate for them. But it doesn't change the bleak assessment.

If we want to win, we'll choose Rudy.

If we want to embark on some political fantasy, we'll go for someone else, who will lose, and deliver over The White House, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to the Democrats, to Leahy at the Judiciary, to Biden at Foreign Affairs, and overseeing them all, the unreconstructed radical from the '60s, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And John, there isn't some Sergeant at Arms enforcing thread discipline. Nor is there some threshold determination of relevance and materiality to the original post.

My first comment to the thread was triggered by the statement that one of the panelists said defeat was better than to "lose our souls" with Giuliani. Which I deemed "rank hyperbole." Which it is.

And Carl, thanks for that backhanded compliment. I must confess I'm not keen on going off about the Straussian project, or the Civil War for that matter. Though if a thread takes a decided military turn on the Civil War, I might be prevailed upon to offer a thought, or two, ......... or three or four, depending on my mood.

Of the bunch running for president I have decided that Hillary is the better Machiavellian Princess.

And yet...Ron Paul is running a campaign that is the most unconservative of all...or rather I should say that it is the most blantant about the need to overturn and reshape the dominant manners mores and perspectives that have infected Washington and the establishment. Ron Paul is appealing to the Christophers...Ron Paul is speaking passionately along very Misesian grounds. In the current climate his fiscal conservatism is radical. In order to win Ron Paul is actively refocusing the discussion upon the grounds of praise and blame. For an old man he is quite impetuous willing to dare all. Ron Paul is actually winning on UTube! Ron Paul is running a campaign on winning over hearts and minds to a different in this regard Ron Paul in presenting his presidency as an answer to "the exhortation to Liberate America(Italy) from the Barbarians"(welfare state politicians/foreign policy hawks).

So in a slightly different sense Ron Paul is also Machiavellian, and if there is such a thing as a Libertarian center, that is if the present conditions are ripe for his messsage...he has a great shot.

Of course, can you trust Ron Paul any more than Romney on the holocaust of the unborn? I do not even want to find out - I am tired of waiting to see if a "conservative" will do the slightest thing that might be conservative. Ron's links to libertarians are obviously too strong for a conservative to trust him, even in 'realistic calculus'. I will throw my vote away on the Constitution Party before I vote for a libertarian (even if he displays a few conservative instincts).

GOP supporters will are going to HAVE to come to grips with the fact that the GOP has been a failure when it comes to conservative governance. The "It's worse with the Dem's" just does not cut it anymore (the central reason for 06 is the conservatives staying home, NOT Iraq or libertarian dissatisfaction or all the other reasons proffered). I will take worse over "better" GOP no problem, at least the Dem's are honest about who and what they are. A "conservative revolution" going along with Bush 2's Prescription Drug Giveaway (led by Newt behind the scenes)??? With "conservatives" like these, who needs liberals?

Christopher, I take your point about the possibility that the GOP MIGHT eventually become more conservative if we insist on it and withhold our votes. But it's highly theoretical, and therefore a most irrsponsible bet you are making. In the first place, the causes of ideological weakness in the GOP run extremely deep. This weakness won't be fixed by losing a few elections. In the second place, John Maynard Keynes' observation applies: "In the long run, we are all dead." Think of the tremendous damage Shrillary can do, especially with a Democratic Congress, but even without one. You say Shrillary is an "honest" liberal and that this is better than a phony conservative who doesn't mean it. Nonsense. Radical misgovernment is no better just because the subjective character of the governors, in this case the possible president, seems "honest." And that's even without getting into the scenario you actually propose: A whole generation of Democratic rule, if that's what is needed to eventually bring about a conservative party. Your whole approach to this is unreal. It is irresponsible to speak so casually of "20 or 30 years" of Republican defeat, which means 20 or 30 years of Democratic government. The country would be unrecognizable.

37: John, your Democratic friend is politically serious and should be commended for this if nothing else. Willingness to support people you personally dislike, even personally detest, because you prefer what they would do in office or detest the other candidate even more is of the essence of adult democratic politics. People who expect happiness and fulfillment from politics are, frankly, childish. Your friend who is backing Shrillary despite her dislike for the Clintons is misguided in the sense that all support for the Democratic candidate is misguided. But she's right to go with what she mistakenly considers the lesser of two evils, keeping her personal emotions out of it. That's how you win. The kind of narcissism and stubborn price that so many people indulge in at NLT when presidential politics comes up is how you lose.

46, amended: not "stubborn price," but "stubborn pride," which goeth before a fall.

Your whole approach to this is unreal. It is irresponsible to speak so casually of "20 or 30 years" of Republican defeat,

Again, your premise is that the GOP is significantly better. I don't measure it that way, thus I am not wasting my time with either. The GOP has lost my "support" in that I support them now only if the conservative happens to be GOP, where as before (before 06) I supported them for exactly the reasons you describe, because I believed they were "better" than Dem. Now I know that not to be true. 20 or 30 years of GOP governance will not be significantly better.

For example, the coming socialization of medicine will be led by the GOP, NOT the Dem's, because the GOP has the clout (still a significant # of folks who think they are more fiscally responsible than the Dem's, such as yourself) and have something "real" as you would say, something more than ideology, namely the business interests who want to move medical insurance costs off their books and onto their employees through taxes.

No, the future does not look all that different with either, thus now I support (vote for) conservatives, NOT GOP...

Let's see if you're singing this tune two years into a Shrillary administration.

David Frisk

Willingness to support people you personally dislike, even personally detest, because you prefer what they would do in office or detest the other candidate even more is of the essence of adult democratic politics.

Well, no. It is an indication of a broken electoral system and of compulsive factionalism.

In a proper electoral system, nobody would have to vote for somebody they detest simply to spite somebody they detest more. That's the way it works in grown-up, adult countries. And the level of factionalism in the US today is starting to sound like the battles between the greens and the blues in Rome.

You sound, in describing HRC, like certain other people do in describing George Bush. What unspeakable horror do you imagine she will visit on the Republic if elected?

"Compulsive factionalism"? No, resisting to the left's agenda. If you don't want to be part of that, by all means, live in your fantasy world. You're only one vote and you won't be missed.

As for your contention that Hillary won't do any serious damage, maybe you should read get your news from something other than the morning TV shows.

You're right that the American political system is broken. You're wrong to think that wishing for a better system is more productive than fighting those who have broken the system. And no, both parties are NOT equally to blame. Not even close, bud.

The Europeans handle this far better than we do. They have a sort of "instant runoff" process.

Yeah, that's exactly what the Founders intended.

What do you think "the left's agenda" is? How do you think it differs from the agenda of the people running the GOP?

That you are even asking this dimwitted question means it would take quite a while to educate you. I wouldn't bother -- even if I had time. As I said before, why don't you read more than you apparently do? If you managed to do this, you might eventually qualify to discuss politics intelligently.

Carl: I'm just back from a business trip. I'll try to find the link to the NARAL comment. It was linked to in a combox comment here at NLT. Village Voice article.....

I too used to be very confident that there was not a sort of moral or political equivalency between the GOP and the Dem's. After all, look at men like Brownback and Toomey and all the others who are conservative. But when you look the facts of governance, you see there is not so much to seperate them. Really, only certain "bones" (important they may be) like the supremes have even fallen our way. Mr. Frisk boldly asserts it is "dimwitted" to ask, so he has not really asked himself apparently. When you do ask, you can't but help to see the failure of the GOP when it concerns conservativism. I understand his loyalty, I just wish he was loyal to the proper thing (conservativism) and not the GOP. The facts are, they are not synonymous...

56: No, they're not synonymous and I never said they were. However, there is little conservatism among Democratic elected officials. There is a great deal more of it among
Republican elected officials. In addition, the latter group (though not, I hope it goes without saying, every last one) is subject to a great deal more conservative pressure than are the Democrats, due to enormous differences in the views of each party's voters. Damn it, why does this even need to be explained on a website for alleged political sophisticates?

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