Get Up, Stand Up

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg takes to the pages of USA Today and asks where, oh where, the real conservative is in the GOP presidential field.

It’s worth reading, if you’re curious. But he touches on another matter that is really far more important:

The 2000 GOP convention’s theme was “Prosperity with a Purpose,” and in Bush’s acceptance speech he insisted that “American government was made for great purposes.” In some ways, Bush was ripping off Sen. John McCain of Arizona, whose campaign was a homage to Teddy Roosevelt and the need for Americans to unite in a “cause greater than themselves.”

And while the war gets most of the attention, it has hardly escaped notice that the president is a proud “big government conservative” championing everything from government-funded marriage counseling to a new prescription drug entitlement to the federal government’s intrusion into education.

In 2003, Bush declared that “when somebody hurts, government has to move.” More recently, he explicitly rejected William F. Buckley’s dictum that conservatives should yell “Stop” to ever-expanding government, saying instead that he believes conservatives must “lead.” This makes for an interesting prologue to the 2008 election.

Yes it does. More than the war, I think, the 2008 race will (or ought to be) a referendum on oxymoronic big government conservatism. In some ways, the seeds of that referendum are already sprouting. Some of the right are looking to bolt the GOP and focus their resources on changing the culture (good luck with that). The economic conservatives (and libertarians), too, are discontented. The explosive growth of the entitlement state under Bush, his surrender on the “Ownership Society” and the logrolling, pork barreling habits of the congressional wing of the party are making it more and more difficult for some of them to continue to lend their time, money and votes to the edifice George has built. Not a small portion of the GOP’s congressional losses could be placed on the doorsteps of these disillusioned factions.

So far, the top tier choices in 2008 are, as Jim would say, a dog’s breakfast of would-be authoritarians, wing nuts (Tom Tancredo, call your office), and horses so dark they don’t even show up on radar.

Some say the bold choice, the “dangerous” choice, is Newt. Yes, yes it would be dangerous. But the nation has probably had its fill of cads in the Oval Office, so he’s not exactly a wise choice.

Fred Thompson? Okay, sure, he’d be a telegenic candidate. But is there anything inside that suit? I don’t know.

My preferred candidate is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. But he’s not running. That leaves…just about no one.

Maybe it’s time to go fishing.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


4 responses to “Get Up, Stand Up”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    oh fer crissakes. One entertaining part of the current political game is watching small-government conservatives grope around for reasons why nobody is in the parade they think they’re leading.

    watch, in the coming months, more of this pose: if we true conservatives can only find the right candidate/express our views more clearly/get past the liberal media, etc., then the masses will join us.

    may i suggest that the masses heard the message, and don’t like it. wring her hands in despair if you like.

  2. nova_middle_man Avatar

    Upfront Bias as McCain supporter not withstanding :-p

    He has been a champion against pork-barrel spending for a long time

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Bringing home Norm’s comments to Virginia, which is the normal focus of this blog, I would say that the GOP’s problems locally mirror its problems nationally. The General Assembly is full of what I would describe as “big government conservatives.” Just look at the expanding size and scope of Virginia’s government during the period in which the GOP had its hands on the purse strings. “Small government conservatives” are just as distressed with the Republican Party locally as they are nationally.

    That’s why I no longer consider myself a Republican, even though I lean towards the GOP on a preponderance of issues. The fact is, Democrats sometimes come up with good ideas for addressing Virginia’s challenges. As much as I opposed Mark Warner’s 2004 tax increase, I think he did an excellent job controlling expenses and modernizing the apparatus of state government while he was in office. As much as I have problems with Tim Kaine’s pre-K initiative, I have to give him credit for promoting individual responsibility and transparent markets in the health care arena.

    I get the sense that, on a local level at least, large elements of the Republican Party have unmoored themselves from the principles that I once identified as Republican and have aligned themselves with various demographic and special-interest constituencies.

    Speaking personally, I don’t believe it is useful to align myself on a partisan basis with either the Donkey tribe or the Elephant tribe. I will align with either party issue-by-issue on the basis of the merits of their positions.

  4. Groveton Avatar

    Jim Bacon:

    Mark Warner = Jimmy Carter with a better haircut.

    His 2004 tax hike was just another way of screwing Northern Virginia to subsidize people elsewhere in the state.

    Please see the following analysis entitled Withdrawals From the Bank of Northern Virginia

    Of course, he had the usual local politicians misrepresenting this as a tax that would increase aid to education.

    Stop the Robbery – vote out all incumbents regardless of party.

Leave a Reply