My introduction to William F. Buckley Jr came through finding Rush Limbaugh’s radio show in August 1999 when I was a young 20 years old. Rush used to mention frequently the mighty intellectual foundations of Conservatism on his show, and Buckley was often mentioned with great reverence. Buckley is considered by many to be the “Patron Saint of Conservatism,” which is the title of a biography by John B. Judis who is no friend of the Right by any stretch of the imagination. Having collected numerous books written by Buckley over the years and been an avid reader of National Review over the years it has pained me to see how far from the original vision that magazine has gone since Buckley passed away in February 2008. Recently the GOP Establishment have been defended by three people under the banner of National Review, and it is not so much that these writers are now going to be put into the realm of RINO or statist Republican in my eyes, but that they will be used as examples of us, here at Red State, being more and more extreme in our views.
The point of contention brought up by Jonah Goldberg, Jay Nordlinger, and Charles C. W. Cooke is tactics. Simply put they do not approve of the tactics used by Tea Party Republicans in the House and Senate nor do they think the goals of Tea Party activists are prudent. Goldberg’s explanation in the 25 November 2013 issue boils down to him saying that it is the Tea Party who are the true RINOs because we do not understand the relationship between the Conservative movement and the Republican Party. Nordlinger, in the same November 2013 issue, explains that the GOP has been purged of its liberal and moderate politicians so thoroughly that former Reagan staffers and administration officials now wear the “scarlet E” for Establishment, which is his tongue-in-cheek way of saying that the Tea Party is slightly off the deep end. Cooke argues that the Tea Party should actually be applauding Boehner and McConnell for doing as much as they have with the little power that they have.
Well all of this is simply toro cacca, if you will excuse my language. Goldberg’s characterization of the relationship between Conservatives and the GOP is one of manufacturer of goods and the “retail middlemen.” He expands on this by saying that the Republican Party is a guild whose purpose is to get other Republicans elected, and that often times this includes purchasing Conservative ideas at a discount and selling them to the American public. All of this points to the Tea Party being upset with the GOP for being primarily focused on getting Republicans elected instead of selling Conservative ideas, and, as such, makes the Tea Party to be the true Republicans in name only. He ends his little piece by saying Republicans adopting Leftist ideas are useless to Conservatives, but that should not be sufficient to throw the Republican Party overboard or seek to take it over. It just means that we need to work harder to be part of these Republicans’ electoral success, meaning vote McConnell even though he is not doing anything to warrant it.
Nordlinger’s piece is full of much of the same BS sentiment as Goldberg’s, except it carries with it the added advantage of making the veiled assertion that the Tea Party would be against Reagan if it were around in the 80s. Nordlinger retells the history of Senator Bob Dole and how he used to be considered a staunch conservative who was turned into a weak-kneed RINO by the Tea Party, even before the Tea Party was even thought of. He explains how the old GOP had real Leftists in it and real moderates in it and there used to be a real conflict over the direction of the Party. Now? Today, according to Nordlinger, “much of the turbulence, or ‘agony,’ I think, has to do with style.” You see, the Tea Party is only up in arms about McConnell and Boehner because they do not call Obama a socialist enough. They do not smile broadly when the government shuts down because they would rather be re-elected and control the Senate after the next election.
Cooke’s assertions follow much of the same tack as the other two. Cooke focuses on the effects of the government shutdown on the GOP’s standing with the American people. And here is where it finally gets to pure insanity at National Review because the editors there allowed this to go out under their banner. The Tea Party is, according to Cooke, merely Republicans clad in their “Light Brigade” uniform ready to make an honorable, yet suicidal, charge. The Tea Party just does not understand tactics. They are more interested in being gunned down in pursuit of their policy goals than winning political battles. “Pretty much every single Republican agrees on the question of Obamacare. Pretty much every single Republican agrees on taxes and spending and the size of government. Pretty much every single Republican agrees on the debt. They disagree, however, on tactics. And tactics matter.” (Emphasis in the original.) The tactic Cooke points to as being suicidal and thus wrong was the government shutdown last September. “Insofar as last year’s shutdown served a purpose at all, it was to reveal how fragile is the GOP’s hand, how extraordinarily determined to stand firm was Harry Reid, and how tricky it is to play offense from a position of weakness.” But the biggest thing the government shutdown showed us was how eager, in the face of severe opposition by the Left, the GOP establishment is to prostrate themselves before the Left and beg forgiveness.
Let’s go back to Goldberg’s critique of the Tea Party and examine it through the current political battle in Washington DC. Goldberg stated that, simply put, the Conservatives are there only to sell ideas to the GOP so that they can in turn sell those ideas to the American people. Well the Tea Party is not upset with the GOP for not selling those ideas in the same way that the Tea Party would have them sold, but that they are not being sold in the first place. Why does the Tea Party want spending cut and the debt addressed? Is it because there is a fear of a debased currency and an economic collapse like no other, or is it because the increased rate at which the government grows and interjects itself into society the less and less freedom the individual has, and that this currency debasement coupled with this overbearing presence of government will result in government being the only entity available in society? Why is immigration reform so ardently opposed? Is it because there is no desire for any immigration into the United States, or is it because there is a sense that providing amnesty to nearly 15 million people from Central and South America could–and most likely would–have a damaging effect on American society? The point is that tactics are not the reason why the Tea Party is at odds with the GOP Establishment. The reason is, and if you go to any Tea Party website and read their own words, because the wares sold by the Conservative movement are not being advocated for by the GOP Establishment.
Fears of how certain tactics make the GOP look are unfounded and the people making those assertions know it. Go to Real Clear Politics and look at the polling history of, say, the opinion of the US Congress by the American People. At the height of the shutdown, disapproval of Congress was approximately 83 percent. An ABC/Washington Post poll at the time had the disapproval of Congress at 85 percent. Well this is nothing new. Over the course the year prior to the shutdown, Congress’ disapproval rating hovered around 75 percent. Using the government shutdown as an example puts on display the very hypocrisy of those defending the Establishment like the people at National Review. Tactics are not the main divide between the Tea Party and the GOP Establishment, ideology is. Think back to 2010 when the GOP strategists were complaining about new-comer political activists were propelling new-comer political candidates over GOP Establishment chosen candidates. I recall Limbaugh quoting Mike Schmidt, McCain’s presidential campaign strategist, saying basically, if the Tea Party thinks they can do better, then let them figure it out. He basically said that not one ounce of help from the GOP Establishment would be lent to Sharon Angle or Christine O’Donnell because they were not the candidates that McConnell wanted. And also take a look at the debate over at PJ Media over whether or not social conservatives should just shut up and vote for the GOP and not expect anything to be done on the complete destruction of our culture.
Regardless of the history of certain GOP Establishment politicians, there is little doubt that advancing the Conservative movement in American politics is not an item of importance to them. The Tea Party sought to change that. The Tea Party sought to stand athwart History yelling stop. The GOP Establishment has become more concerned with controlling chairmanships in the the Congress. They have become more concerned with how the editorial pages of the Leftist media view them. They do not want to be seen in the same light as the Tea Party. There used to be a time when they were more concerned with how National Review saw them, but in the Obama America, more and more allies in the Conservative movement are separating themselves from the “extremism” of the Tea Party not realizing that the “extremism” used to be characterized as mainstream. I do not think for a second that McConnell, Goldberg, or even Rich Lowery are seeking to “fundamentally change” the United States. But when it comes to standing with those in elected office who are doing everything in their power to yell stop at this fundamental change, National Review tends to be getting yelled at more frequently.