The era of William F. Buckley long ago vanished from the conservative landscape. Republicans no longer welcoming deep thinkers who can strut their intellectual stuff by challenging the status quo. Go along, or move along little doggies. So, so long David Frum.
The only thing left from the intellectual high bar of Buckley’s musings is the no-ism. Mr. Buckley long ago nailed what conservatism is all about. Conservatives are defined by what they’re against. That’s the fight they always wage. Against government. Against taxes. Against women’s right to self-determination. … and on and on.. Now they’re against Obamacare.
Without the intellectuals signing on, however, Republicans have become more and more dependent on their base, which now extends to the farthest tilt of the right.
In fact, the GOP is so desperate they finally began to reach out to women in 2008. It’s one reason why Sarah Palin’s pick for vice president in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid should have been expected. Matthew Continetti explains this in his book “The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star,” which if you can get over the overwrought title has some interesting admissions.
“If you were looking to disrupt the election narrative as Team McCain was, and were also interested in reaching out to a group the GOP normally doesn’t pay much attention to (women), then picking Palin wasn’t an absurd course of action at all. Quite the opposite. The ranks of conservative women are relatively thin, and the ranks of pro-life conservative women with executive experience are even thinner. …” – Matthew Continetti – “The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star,” (p. 39)
There was nothing that appealed to the right-wing base and a new set of donors more than Mrs. Palin. She was a right-wing, gun toting governor with sex appeal at a time when John McCain had lost Bubba. In her latest reincarnation, it hardly matters if Palin runs for president in 2012, as she’s as visible as ever after inking her rumored stunning $1 million an episode reality show for TLC. Sarah Palin the very definition of donor power.
With Palin and Huckabee so close in recent polls, chasing Mitt Romney, it makes the closeness of Obamacare-Romneycare even more dangerous for Mitt. But none of these three candidates are conservative icon material in the vein of William F. Buckley. Of course, the evangelical base is likely thrilled with Palin and Huckabee, even if businessman Romney has more reach, or at least he did until Romneycare went national with Pres. Obama’s plan.
However, this is what Buckley’s conservatism has come to at this point in Tea Party time.
It now includes being against David Frum-ism, which evidently includes ignoring that under Nixon Republicans looked to do their own health care reform, which is basically what Obamacare is today.
Couple this reality with the fact that Rush, Sean and the right-wing radio crew don’t like the Republican intelligentsia. So imagine their delight when American Enterprise Institute canned David Frum. Rush has been wailing on radio since the health care bill passed that Republicans can run on repealing Obamacare, but “they’d better mean it,” never mind that there is no real practical way to actually do it.
From Mike Allen we get Frum’s two cents on institutional reality in the era of Tea Party venom:
EXCLUSIVE: David Frum told us last night that he believes his axing from his $100,000-a-year “resident scholar” gig at the conservative American Enterprise Institute was related to DONOR PRESSURE following his viral blog post arguing Republicans had suffered a devastating, generational “Waterloo” in their loss to President Obama on health reform. “There’s a lot about the story I don’t really understand,” Frum said from his iPhone. “But the core of the story is the kind of economic pressure that intellectual conservatives are under. AEI represents the best of the conservative world. [AEI President] Arthur Brooks is a brilliant man, and his books are fantastic. But the elite isn’t leading anymore. It’s trapped. Partly because of the desperate economic situation in the country, what were once the leading institutions of conservatism are constrained. I think Arthur took no pleasure in this. I think he was embarrassed. I think he would have avoided it if he possibly could, but he couldn’t.”
It may have taken twenty years, the death of the conservative philosopher William F. Buckley, as well as the rise of an African American president, but right-wing radio has finally metastasized into its own grass-roots movement.
Intellectuals, thinkers, and policy gurus need not apply. The sunny side of Reaganism, the fantasy once hailed has historic, has left the landscape.