Wednesday, March 13

That's Lovely. Can We Carve It On Your Memorial? Starting Now?

GEORGE Eff Will, the man whose affirmative action hire on This Week thirty years ago proved the harbinger of what public affairs programming was about to become (entertainment, and not much of that), riffing on the Paul filibuster, last weekend's Inside the Beltway Beatlemania:
This really was a revival from the new guys in the Senate….who are rediscovering the roots of modern conservatism, which were in the critique of executive power under Franklin Roosevelt and then Lyndon Johnson. Traditional conservatism goes right back to the Thirties when conservatism was born in reaction against the New Deal has been [sic] Congressionally oriented, and a deep suspicion [sic]--going back as far as the American Revolution--against executive prerogatives and George III, deep suspicion of executive power generally.

Okay, I'm willing to accept the idea of modern "Conservatism" being born in reaction to the New Deal (though not of modern "conservatives" having only this past week regained that thread). But isn't it time to acknowledge that in the intervening eighty years the more commonly seen First Principle of "conservatism" is the acrobatic flexibility of its principles, on display here?

And, briefly: while it is true that State governments proved rather suspicious of executive powers after the Revolution, the gang that hammered out our governing Federal document (the present subject of debate) was a bit more varied in opinion; much of the compromise was reached in an effort to prevent encroachment of executive power by the legislative branch, and in particular the Senate.


Anonymous said...

So, obviously the unitary executive is a great threat to freedom--unless it's a Republican executive who wants warrantless wiretapping and the ability to simply do away with habeas corpus.

And clearly the federal debt is a threat to the continued existence of the republican, unless it's Republicans running up that debt.

I think conservatism only has one principle to which it adheres: Do whatever makes liberals mad.

Unknown said...

That is weirdly true. They are like schoolyard bullies picking on the smart kid because they feel threatened by his potential for success contrasted against their own inadequacies.

It sure is easier than coming up with substantive policy solutions.