Monday, May 24

Why Do We Need This, Again?

Ross Douthat, "The Principles of Rand Paul". May 23 or so

IT'S almost Summer Vacation! What th' hell, let's read Douthat; he might not have a paper to work at by the time the thing's over.

Which would be a shame, especially since it's precisely the sort of internet savvy that allows Young Ross to comment on last week's news even though it's only Monday of the next week which the newspaper business so sorely needs.

Okay, okay, so you can't rush craftsmanship:
No ideology survives the collision with real-world politics perfectly intact. General principles have to bend to accommodate the complexities of history, and justice is sometimes better served by compromise than by zealous intellectual consistency.

Are you sure the Pope is okay with you saying that?
This was all that Rand Paul needed to admit, after his victory in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, when NPR and Rachel Maddow asked about his views of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “As a principled critic of federal power,” he could have said, “I oppose efforts to impose Washington’s will on states and private institutions. As a student of the history of segregation and slavery, however, I would have made an exception for the Civil Rights Act.”

In other words, Paul should have told his supporters and his principles to Suck It, now that he had the nomination, lest Ross Douthat be reminded of the post-1964 pedigree of the party he shills for. Assuming he knows what that is.
But Paul just couldn’t help himself. He had to play Hamlet, to hem and haw about the distinction between public and private discrimination, to insist on his sympathy for the civil rights movement while conspicuously avoiding saying that he would have voted for the bill that outlawed segregation.

By the weekend (and under duress), he finally said it. But the tap-dancing route he took to get there was offensive, tone deaf and politically crazy.

In other words, it was a prime example of how facile glibertarians have been allowed to be, and how quickly they turn tail when they collide with real world consequences.

And not even "real" world consequences; all that happened to Paul was he was asked a legitimate question, one he's had at least thirty years to prepare for, and he not only proved unprepared, he then proved to be a political coward to boot. If he'd said, instead, "Y'know, Rachel, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an exception to the rule I claim should guide every other public action" he might've avoided a public outcry, but he'd'a been just as big a liar and just as much a coward. The reason you wish for this, Ross, has nothing to do with ethics and everything to do with electing Republicans so they can hope that someday there'll be enough cover that they don't have to scurry off every time someone unfurls the Stars and Bars.
It was also sadly typical of the political persuasion that Rand Paul represents.

It might be, if anyone had been in the habit of asking them pointed questions since Reagan's States Rights speech, and if they'd been in the habit of answering honestly, not ducking the way enlightened Republicans such as yourself prefer.
This persuasion shouldn’t be confused with the Tea Party movement, whose inchoate antideficit enthusiasms Paul rode to victory last Tuesday.

Just because Teabaggers openly clasped him to their prodigious man bosoms is no reason to tar them with the same oil spill. Especially when you'll be needing their votes in five months.
Nor is it just libertarianism in general, a label that gets slapped on everyone from Idaho milita members to Silicon Valley utopians to pro-choice Republicans in Greenwich.

Unlike the care and precision with which the Right has hurled "Commie", "Traitor", and "Baby Killer".

Who th' fuck devalued "libertarian" exactly, if not the very people who claim the label, the very people who are little more than Reagan Republicans who smoke dope? Libertarianism--small L--has come to mean "anti-taxation, pro-gun rights, or gun lobby, and opposed to all government regulation of business", while large-L Libertarianism has been essentially taken over by 2nd Amendment types who've kept a DIY approach to Federal Narcotics schedules around as a sort of political equivalent of Marilyn Monroe's beauty mark. If these are not the same ideas which have been driving the Republican party--or at least its election-year sloganizing--for thirty years, then what has?
Paul is a libertarian, certainly, but more importantly he’s a particular kind of a libertarian. He’s culturally conservative (opposing both abortion and illegal immigration), radically noninterventionist (he’s against the Iraq war and the United Nations), and so stringently constitutionalist that he views nearly everything today’s federal government does as a violation of the founding fathers’ vision.

This worldview goes by many names, including “paleoconservatism,” “the old right” and “paleolibertarianism.” But its adherents — Paul and his father, Ron, included — view themselves as America’s only true conservatives, arguing that the modern conservative movement has sold out to both big government and the military-industrial complex.

Let's hie ourselves over to the Paul for Senate website, shall we? Whadda we see on the home page? "On the Issues" with subheads for "Taxes and Debt", "Health Care", "Federal Reserve", "Privacy & Liberty", "Energy Innovation", and "(I'm Pro-) Life". Nothing there about "The Military-Industrial Complex" or "Ending the War in Afghanistan Now", or much of anything that wouldn't appear on a Douthat for Congress site, god help us all, except maybe the business about De-fluoridating the Fed. Even "Privacy and Liberty" pays the required homage to national security threats, but is a little light on the Wall of Separation. Clicking the "MORE" button gives you "National Defense" (he's for it, the "most important function of government"; that must have the boys at Boeing quaking in their loafers), "Bailouts", "Term Limits" (when it comes to comedy, you can't beat the classics), "Homeschooling", and "Campaign Finance". Find the brave, iconoclastic stance that doesn't come straight from a GOP platform from the last forty years and win a prize. But lose a primary.

Look, short answer, except, as always, it's too late for that: nobody who uses "paleoliberal" without cracking up has any right to complain there's been some semantic drift in political labeling.
In an age of lockstep partisanship, there’s a lot to admire about this unusual constellation of ideas, and its sweeping critique of American politics as usual.

Yeah, so long as you don't bring it into focus.
Like many outside-the-box thinkers, they’re good at applying their principles more consistently than your average partisan, but lousy at knowing when to stop. (Hence the tendency to see civil rights legislation as just another unjustified expansion of federal power.)

Here's today's pop political quiz: The last Republican to run for national office as a political pragmatist, rather than a raging ideologue, died how many years before Ross Douthat was born (within five)? ____


nanute said...

If the pragmatist is Eisenhower, the answer is 10. Otherwise, I would have to research Teddy R.'s date of death.

The Sailor said...

What's he mean 'outside the box thinker', 'I've got mine, FU' has been around forever.

It sure helps to have a rich daddy and make 1/2 your income from medicare/caid patients, also, too.

BillCinSD said...

It's a trick question. The correct answer is Bill Clinton

Augustus Mulliner said...

@Nanute: Ike fits the bill, but I think you could even make a case for Nixon, as long as you're going by the First Rule of GOP Pragmatism: Whomever or Whatever I Have to Fuck Over. Nixon was the all-time Hall of Famer, but certainly Ike was no slouch. As soon as McCarthy started snarling "Traitor" at the guy who made Ike's career, Ike leaped into the fray with a resounding "Marshall? Marshall? Don't believe I recall the fellow."

loretta said...

I haven't read the comments beneath Douthat's latest (and I hope to find some paint-peeling criticism), but I hope someone in the MSM points out that the problem with this "ideology" is that it's anti-social.

Rand Paul's biggest problem is that he's a sociopath that can't fake caring about anyone, unlike some of his more successful peers who can at least BS their way into a spot in Washington.

And it's scary to see such blatant, if not depraved, indifference.

R. Porrofatto said...

It's a comfort to know that Douthat and Brooks will be so hilariously sliced, skewered, and grilled at your place. You've saved countless monitors from being destroyed by flying objects.

I think it's admirable that Rand Paul's father named him after his own favorite philosopher, a visionary whose ideals have infused every aspect of his life. I have followed this practice, and I hope that one day, suffused with the high principles of his eponym, little Cheech Porrofatto will make me as proud.

heydave said...

Paul is a libertarian, certainly, but more importantly he’s a particular kind of a libertarian. = What? No, it's raining on your leg.

Anonymous said...

@ R Porrofatto, I think he was named Randall but had it legally changed to Rand because of his admiration for Ayn Rand. Which makes him even more insane.

arletadwd said...

"prodigious man bosoms" - u r my hero doghouse

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the pop quiz be harder to answer if you included primary elections, which are, after all, for national office within the meaning of the act?

Harder to google, too - I tried.

I took my all-American courage in both hands and stumbled trembling to Dr. (DR.!)Paul's campaign site. Presuming the prose there honestly reflects the man's stances, I wonder why he thinks energy companies and health insurance companies are not also "special interests" in Washington.

It's an interesting historical fact that organized professional lobbying in DC dates from the push for the Prohibition Amendment and its accompanying legislation. I got that from a book, a hard cover one at that.

Li'l Innocent