Skip to comments.Andrew Sullivan: Kerry: the right choice for conservatives (VOMIT TILL YOU DIE ALERT)
Posted on 07/24/2004 4:32:41 PM PDT by MadIvan
If you are a conservative, whom should you be rooting for in the American elections? I am not being entirely facetious here. The conservative movement in the United States is still firmly behind the re- election of President George W Bush. He uses conservative rhetoric taking the war to the enemy, upholding conservative social values, respecting religious faith, protecting the family and so on.
He is widely regarded as one of the most conservative presidents in recent history rivalling Reagan, eclipsing his own father in right-wing bona fides. And yet if you decouple the notion of being a conservative from being a Republican, nobody can doubt that the Bush administration has been pursuing some highly unconservative policies.
Start with the war. Almost overnight after 9/11 Bush junked decades of American policy in the Middle East, abandoning attempts to manage Arab autocracies for the sake of the oil supply and instead forging a policy of radical democratisation. He invaded two countries and is trying to convert them to modern democracies.
Nothing so liberal has been attempted in a long time. In the 2000 campaign, Bush mocked the idea of nation building as liberal claptrap. Now its the centrepiece of his administration. The fact that anti-American lefties despise the attempt to democratise foreign countries should not disguise the fact that Bush is, in this respect, indisputably a foreign policy liberal. He has shown none of his fathers caution, no interest in old-style realpolitik.
At home Bush has been just as radical. He has junked decades of conservative attempts to restrain government and pushed federal spending to record levels, dismissing the idea that this will have damaging consequences. He has poured money into agricultural subsidies, he famously put tariffs on foreign steel, he has expanded the healthcare programme and increased the role of central government in education.
He has little or no concern for the separation of church and state, funnelling public money to religious charities, and he has appointed some of the most radical jurists to the federal bench. Just try finding a coherent theme in Bush Republicanism. It is in fact one of the most ramshackle distillations of political expediency ever tarted up as an ism.
There has also been, its safe to say, a remarkable recklessness in Bushs approach. Was it really necessary to insist that the Geneva conventions do not apply to detainees in the war on terror?
When so many people warned that the hardest task in Iraq would be what happened after the fall of Baghdad, was it sensible to junk all the carefully written government reports for reconstruction and wing it? Was it wise to brag in the days after the first military victory in Iraq that it was mission accomplished? When the insurgency was growing, was it sensible to apply the methods of Guantanamo Bay to the hundreds of petty criminals and innocents hauled into Abu Ghraib?
At almost every juncture where prudence might have been called for, Bush opted for winging it. This approach can scarcely be called conservative.
So where is conservatism to be found? Maybe you should cast a glance at Boston, where this week the Democratic convention will anoint one John Forbes Kerry, a northeastern patrician who is fast becoming the eastern establishments favourite son.
Yes, Kerrys record on spending, defence and social policy has been liberal. But that is not the theme of his campaign. Kerry says he is as dedicated to seeing through nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan as Bush. But where Bush has scrapped Americas long-standing military doctrine of attacking only when attacked, Kerry prefers the old, strictly defensive doctrine.
Where Bush has clearly placed American national interest above international concerns, Kerry demands that the old alliances even with old Europe need to be strengthened. Kerry insists that he is a fiscal conservative, aiming to reduce the deficit by tax increases. He has argued that stability in some parts of the world should take precedence over democracy or human rights.
He opposes amending the constitution and supports legal abortion, the status quo that Bush wants to reverse. He has spent decades in the Senate building an undistinguished but nuanced record. He is a war veteran who plays up his record of public service. Hes a church-going Catholic who finds discussion of religious faith unseemly in public. In the primaries he was the safe establishment bore compared with radicals such as Howard Dean and the populist charmer John Edwards.
His basic message: lets return to normalcy. The radicalism of the past four years needs tempering. We need to consolidate nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan before any new adventures in, say, Iran. We need to return to the diplomatic obeisance to the United Nations. We should stop referring to a war on terror and return to pre-9/11 notions of terrorism, best dealt with by police work in co-ordination with our democratic allies.
At home we need to restrain the unruly religious right. We must balance the budget again. We need to redress some of the social and economic inequality that has so intensified during these past few years. Kerrys biggest proposal one sure to be modified by Congress is a large increase in the number of people with health insurance. Its far more modest than that proposed by Bill and Hillary Clinton a decade ago.
Does that make Kerry right and Bush wrong? On the most fundamental matter, ie the war, I think Bush has been basically right: right to see the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and the nexus of weapons of mass destruction and Islamist terror; right to realise that the French would never have acquiesced to ridding the world of Saddam; right to endorse the notion of pre-emption in a world of new and grave dangers.
Much of the hard work has now been done. Nobody seriously believes that Bush will start another war. And in some ways Kerry may be better suited to the difficult task of nation building than Bush.
At home Bush has done much to destroy the coherence of a conservative philosophy of American government and he has been almost criminally reckless in his conduct of the war. He and America will never live down the intelligence debacle of the missing WMDs. He and America will be hard put to regain the moral high ground after Abu Ghraib.
The argument that Kerry must make is that he can continue the war but without Bushs polarising recklessness. And at home he must reassure Americans that he is the centrist candidate, controlled neither by the foaming Michael Moore left nor by the vitriolic religious right.
Put all that together and I may not find myself the only conservative moving slowly and reluctantly towards the notion that Kerry may be the right man and the conservative choice for a difficult and perilous time.
re: ambrose's comment, "I think we can do without some of the other comments I am reading here, don't you?" I agree. The ugly comments on this board make me cringe. Can't you people stick to making valid points instead of pretending that homosexuals aren't human?
Your comments say more about who you are than who "they" are.
A man who is a pro-abortion (in all cases) supporter, UN worshiping, affirmative action loving, tax raising, gun controller, kowtower to Europe, with the ability to appoint the most liberal supreme court justices in the history of the republic, my dream candidate? Not in this lifetime.
hardly an individual. he is just parroting the HRC talking points.
I think that my comment says that I'm REALLY tired of so-called Republican or conservative commentators pretending that they've formed a well-grounded argument against re-electing Bush when they're really only forming that opinion based on a single issue, which they do not clarify.
In addition, I'm just tired of the gay/lesbian/whatever folks in general. Enough already. Getting the country to say that gay sex is just as socially functional as heterosexual sex won't make it true. The two babies I bore and raised prove that.
Absolutely true. Though its slightly deeper than that.
Andrew has never been a terribly conservative fellow in the first place. But he likes the image, so he's been trying his d*mnedest to redefine the word to suit his personal preferences. Witness his unintentionally hillarious effort at making the "conservative case for gay marriage."
Andrew is at best a fellow traveller with conservatives around basic fiscal issues and the War on Terror. He's a libertine on social issues, at least the extent of his personal wanton desires. And he has a history of trying to play both sides against the middle to best position his personal agenda - the largest item of which is homosexual advocacy.
When reading Sullivan, one must never forget that he's willing to bend any position for the sake of achieving homosexual political goals. Much like when reading Christopher Hitchens, one must never forget that his addiction to iconoclasm.
Sullivan's article is so easy to demolish on a logical and factual basis - it makes me wonder whom he thinks he is addressing.
Everything before and after this phrase is cosmetic. He wants to be able to marry another man, and that is the most important thing to him. He thinks we can't see that, but -perhaps to his credit, or not- he's not that nuanced.
Homosexuality is obnoxious and much worse, and the gay agenda being forced on all of us is way more than unfair. Sell it to someone else.
Well, since those decades of policy hadn't improved things, I guess the President realized it was time to try something new!
Then just let the damned issue go. It's easy enough to ignore gays. Harder to ignore liberals.
I'd prefer Bush to keep his religion out of politics, in the same manner I'd prefer everyone to keep their religion out of politics. But that would be a more perfect world, and we can't have that ;-)
hey Andrew - I respect your thoughts, but I also have to tell you that you want to re-write God's laws, and that - you are not only misguided, but also illminded. Being gay is a mindset - not a birthdefect! Being active in a gay lifestyle is not only wrong, but also a SIN. It is wrong, because you guys carry a high rate of Aids infection - again, that is why God says it is a Sin, and wrong. It must not be tolerated by anyone in any society, and I can only hope that you have enough respect for our desires as well. Go, and find an island - there you can do whatever you like to do!
Yes, Andrew, that policy was just SO EFFECTIVE, now wasn't it? What a dope.
Bush respects the First Amendment on religion which is why he DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE among groups who may receive such funds. Sullivan shows his ignorance, falsely believing that the Founders intended a SEPARATION, when they intended only to prohibit a PREFERENCE for one over another---a "Church of the United States". I really thought he was smarter than to fall into the Ralph Neas/Lawrence Tribe school of Constitution Studies.
The ironic thing is that I've never had any problem at all with gays as individual people-- in fact, I've always liked the ones I've known. What I have a problem with is the few activist gays trying to overturn 3000+ years of human history to re-define their relationships as "marriage". And, I've been generally annoyed at Andrew Sullivan for faking his positions. Reasonable people who follow his commentary would conclude that he has sold out to the far left wing of the Dems, and solely because of this issue. He's just not intellectually consistent.
The AIDS is going to Andrew's brain. It's very sad.
I have the same problem with Andrew that you do. Yes, it's dishonest b.s. he's spouting. I just don't see gays as a threat to our way of life or our constitution.
Whover it was upthread who spoke of voting for what's best for the country had it right.
Meanwhile, I'm leaving this thread. Hearing ignorant people talk about "mindsets" and "sin" makes me gag. So, adios.
"Was it really necessary to insist that the Geneva conventions do not apply to detainees in the war on terror?"
Yes, and it still is. Terrorists have no legal rights under the Geneva convention.
Poor little Andrew Sullivan. He doesn't realize that he is so last year.
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