Friday, June 8, 2007

Ron Paul and "principled" conservatives

Hi, I'm Ron Paul, and I'm a flaming rightwinger

Have "principled" conservatives gone the way of "moderate Republicans", i.e., effectively out of existence?
Digby isn't exaggerating much when she writes of the Rep Presidential candidates:

Looking at what these bloodthirsty id ticklers are selling, I have to say that I think we ware going to look back at the swift-boaters with a sort of warm and fuzzy nostalgia. These guys are making George W. Bush look positively subtle. They aren't even trying to present themselves as sane, much less "compassionate." There are no paeans to freedom and democracy and with the exception of Brownback and Huckabee, they aren't even pushing zygote worship very much. It's pure lizard brain.

But Glenn Greenwald is trying hard to find those fabled "principled conservatives". But he's apparently getting exhausted by the effort:

When I first began blogging, I wrote frequently about the handful of conservatives who were vigorously arguing that Bush's lawlessness and extremism were intolerable regardless of political ideology and that it contravened the allegedly defining conservative "principles" - the Bruce Feins, Bob Barrs, even George Wills. I even devoted a substantial bulk of a chapter in How Would a Patriot Act? to those conservatives, in order to demonstrate that objections to Bush's radical executive power theories and outright lawbreaking were compelled not by a belief in liberal or conservative political ideology, but by a belief in the most fundamental and defining American political principles, really just by a basic belief in the rule of law.

... There was a time when I, at least, expected far more conservatives to object meaningfully to the endless series of decisions which so plainly contravened the storied, theoretical "conservative principles," yet it never happened - until Bush's popularity collapsed and his presidency widely viewed as a failure of historic proportions.

He delivers a harsh judgment on the so-called "movement conservatives". But he has good grounds for it:

One cannot say - and I never have said - that there are no conservatives who dissented from the Bush worldview, but their numbers are so tiny as to be irrelevant. That is because this movement's belief in its ostensible political principles is plainly illusory, just a crass political prop. And they simply do not believe in the basic constitutional values which have defined the country since its inception, nor do they believe in the rule of law (hence the virtual consensus that convicted felon Lewis Libby should be pardoned). What else do they need to embrace in order to eliminate all doubts about that? ...

The "Republican base" has become virtually monolithic and easily recognizable - it is the swooning crowds cheering for torture and a doubling of Guantanamo, threatening war with Iran, urging still more surveillance and limitless government power in the name of the All-Consuming, All-Important Glorious War with the Scary, Dangerous, Never-Before-Seen Muslim Terrorists. Anyone who opposes that vision - The Bush Vision - is not considered to be a Republican at all, let alone a "conservative." Just ask the tax-opposing, spending-hating, small-government-advocating Ron Paul. Or Bruce Fein. Or Andrew Sullivan.

Ron Paul has also received praise from other war critics for speaking against Bush's War in Iraq during the Republican debates.

I also pay attention to conservative antiwar arguments. But it's important to understand that the rightwing opposition to the Iraq War has mostly come from an old-fashioned "isolationist" viewpoint. Andrew Bacevich - who describes himself as a conservative Catholic - has rightly pointed out that the often-heard warnings about the alleged dangers of "isolationism" are largely based on a straw man. There aren't that many actual isolationists around. And the ones that are there don't have major influence in either of the two major parties. Ron Paul's isolation (pardon the pun) within the Republican Presidential field illustrates that.

But real isolationists have been prominent among war critics. Pat Buchanan is one. You can find plenty of actual isolationist writing at the neo-Confederate and at Ron Paul, whose positions have been close to the Liberatarian Party's during his Congressional career, is another.

And we got a glimpse in Tuesday's debate of what lies behind that kind of real, old-fashioned isolationism when
Paul said in criticism of the Iraq War:

So we're not making progress there, and we should come home. The weapons weren't there, and we went in under U.N. resolutions, and our national security was not threatened. (my emphasis)

For rightwing isolationists, the United Nations is a major bogeyman. So what he was saying here was that the war is illegitimate because "we went in under U.N. resolutions". Of course, the United Nations did not authorize the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. So, ironically, by making this point he's actually giving a boost to one of the phony prowar arguments.

Rightwing isolationism and aggressive unilateralism are at least first cousins. Maybe even siblings. Narrow nationalism and nativism can lead to either, or both.

Sara at the Orcinus blog has been writing about
The Trouble with Ron [Paul] 06/06/07:

As a libertarian leftist, I understand viscerally the charm of Paul's message. Who wouldn't be charmed? He's anti-war, anti-torture, anti-drug war, and anti-corporation - a real progressive dream date. Until you reflect on the fact that he's also anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-environment, anti-sane immigration policy, and apparently, anti-separation of church and state as well[.]

From other material she quotes, it seems that Ron Paul has expressed his approval for state secession, his broad-minded admiration for cross-burning, and and his compassion for the bomber of an IRS building. She also writes:

Then, there's the 100% legislative ranking Paul got from Cannabis Culture magazine - a fact that lifts liberal spirits everywhere, and is very consistent with his libertarian views. But we shouldn't let that blind us to the fact that he also got 100% rankings from both the Christian Coalition and the John Birch Society - two entities far more powerful and serious than Cannabis Culture,, and which actively wish ill on people like us. Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson actively helped midwife Paul's budding political career: according to the New York Times, his political teams were circulating campaign letters promoting Paul over Bush I as a presidential candidate all the way back in 1988. (my emphasis)

Then there's his buddy-buddy relationship with the "patriot militia" groups.

A video of Ron Paul emphasizing his antiwar stance to Tucker Carlson

Geez, wouldn't you know it? The only antiwar Republican candidate is a fascist-minded loon. More from Sara in
Man of the Hour 06/02/07 and Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast 06/04/07, in which she mocks Paul's excuse for what she calls his "decade of anti-black/anti-semitic/patriot whackadoodle writings."

The John Birch Society, a far-right hate group which was the mothership of a lot of the ideology that dominate the Republican Party today, has also been against the Iraq War. Here's an article from the Bircher Web site expressing solidarity with Paul,
Ron Paul Ready To Drop the Next Bomb? by Jim Capo 06/05/07:

Being a non-interventionist of the Washington and Old-Right Taft variety it is of course unfair to suggest Paul would "drop a bomb" on his sumptuously paid detractors. However, while those in the "approved" media are undoubtedly staging for a second attempt to take down the upstart Congressman, perhaps Dr. Paul is keeping his garlic powder dry such that we might yet again enjoy watching the reaction caused by tossing it across the paths of the likes of Giuliani, Hannity and Malkin. (Forgive me if I admit to relishing watching members of that coven shriek in horror when having to react to the truth.) Can you imagine what the media vampires will say if someone gets on national TV and tells the American public that the "money" in their pocket represents the greatest bamboozlement in the history of mankind? It could get ugly. The Empire has no clothes — only debt!

I won't try to sort all that out. It's kind of like trying to unravel a neurotic symptom. But I think it has something to do with the Birchers wanting to be on the gold standard, because somehow the American dollar isn't worth anything.

The writer offers a teaser for his next commentary: "Sharia Law is not a threat to Western Civilization because of burkhas and the stoning of homosexuals."

That's some of Ron Paul's true believers! They may be against the Iraq War on the notion that it's a United Nations or it helps "the Jews". But they'd probably be all Yee-Haw! for a war against Mexico.



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