Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fwd: It's Always 'Old News'

The Goldberg File
By Jonah Goldberg
May 10, 2013
Dear Reader (Note: This parenthetical's original jokes were revised twelve times by the State Department, removing all references to readers, dear or otherwise),
I'm pressed for time this morning as I'm in Kansas (actually Missouri at the moment). I'm speaking to the Americans for Prosperity chapter in Topeka at lunch.
Since you brought up Americans for Prosperity ("They didn't" -- The Couch) allow myself to repeat uh, myself. Two weeks ago, I wrote in this less than hallowed space:
I bring this up because as conservatives struggle to figure out how to navigate themselves out of the current rough patch, it's worth keeping a simple fact in mind. Whichever faction of conservatism comes to define the Right in the years to come, that is precisely the faction that liberals will decide is the most evil. I guarantee it. In the 1990s, neoconservatives were very popular among liberals because they were seen as the good outsiders pushing back against the eeeeeeeeevil Christians. When, all of a sudden, the neocons went from being the perceived outsiders to the perceived insiders in the Bush White House, the neocons suddenly became the most evil Republicans ever.
For the last couple of years, libertarianism has been the new form of "good rightwinger" for many liberals. I promise you, if Rand Paul or some other libertarian becomes the leader of the GOP, suddenly libertarianism will go from being an admirably unthreatening philosophy to a creed of Randian greed and cruelty. Liberals are always capable of finding something appealing in conservative factions that are out of power (see just about everything Sam Tanenhaus has ever written about conservatism; "if only conservatives went back to being quirky cape-wearing defenders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire!"). It is only when a faction of the Right threatens to take the reins of power from the Left that they become terrifying. In other words, it is not conservative ideas that are scary and "antagonizing," it is the idea of not being in charge anymore that really frightens liberals.
I bring this up because, well, because it lets me get the word count up when I'm pressed for time. But also because Americans for Prosperity and the alleged bogeymen who help fund it -- i.e. the Kochs -- are a perfect example of what I am -- or was -- talking about. Suffice it to say the Left hates the Koch brothers. The New York Times is almost at the point of referring to them as Die Koch BrĂ¼der to really force the crypto-Nazi-moneybags insinuations.
But here's the funny thing. If you asked the typical liberal to describe what they think conservatives should be like -- and after you got the non-starter responses Michael Bloomberg, Meghan McCain, Lowell Weicker, the Gimp in Pulp Fiction -- the description you'd likely get back would look a lot like, well, David Koch. Highly educated? Check. Supporter of the arts? Check. Cosmopolitan? Check. Pro-immigration? Check. Libertarian? Check. Not much invested in social issues? Check. In fact if you imagine the New York Times editorial board personified as Andie MacDowell in Groundhog Day describing her ideal guy and Koch as Bill Murray's character, the conversation would go something like this. "Boy, I'm really close on this one," Koch would say.
Except, of course, there's one hitch: The problem with the Koch brothers is that they actually want their side to win, to persuade, to govern. And that's why they are eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. They are working against the liberal gleichshaltung. They won't pull their oars in the right direction. If they spent the exact same amount of money on politics, but only on liberals, all of the liberals bleating about the corrupting power of their money would be asking for some of it. Do you know what you call a left-wing Koch? George Soros.
Something similar goes for Grover Norquist. Norquist is receiving some strange new respect from liberals because he's in favor of their preferred immigration reforms. But liberals should have always liked Norquist. He's extremely libertarian on social issues. He's very dovish on foreign policy. His great crime? He's effective on the issues where he really disagrees with the Left.

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