Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Eating Their Young

Remember (or maybe not) that 13 year old, Santorum-approved-sweater-vest-wearing conservative kid who wandered briefly through the media wasteland four years ago?  His name was Jonathan Krohn.

Anyway, he grew up and now he's a centrist with some liberal leanings who said if he could vote he'd vote for Obama.

What makes this interesting, as the article attests, is that the conservative punditry which lauded him four years ago is now ripping this poor kid apart.  Maybe Krohn and John Roberts can get together and compare notes.

This goes back to Digby's famous aphorism: "Conservatism never fails, it can only be failed."  In other words, it's not that George Bush was a failure, it's that he was not sufficiently conservative enough.  John Roberts was, in fact, being quite conservative with his ruling last week.  He was using a 19th century reading of the commerce clause and an 18th century reading of the taxing power.  I doubt Alexander Hamilton would've faulted his logic at all.

Roberts has been repaid by ruthless attacks from the Right.  Many of the Left are saying, "Thanks, but dude that commerce clause ruling is nuts.  And we still hate you for Citizen's United."  Personally, I respect Roberts for realizing that the long term legitimacy of the Supreme Court was worth more than a policy victory.  I still think his judicial philosophy is tragic and anathema to modern reality, but I'll give him his due.

Not the Right, who are moving to excommunicate him.  Just like young Mister Krohn, when you cross the central tenet of conservatism - which seems to be "Never Disagree With The Current Orthodoxy" - you are a non-person.  You have been expelled from the movement to wander in the wilderness without a sinecure at the Heritage Foundation to clothe your nakedness.

One wonders about the long term viability of this strategy.  What if, for instance, Roberts is so stung by the rebukes from the Right - including his fellow justices - that he begins to hang out with Breyer a bit more? Or finds himself agreeing with Kagan a bit more?  What are they going to do, impeach him?

Obviously, the loss of a 17 year old "white Jewish nerd" isn't going to doom the Republican party, but eventually they will leave themselves with a rump if they continue to purge those who don't toe the party line.

Similarly, those Firebaggers who HATE Obama for occasionally compromising on issues that are near and dear to them need to realize that purity is a prime recipe for electoral defeat.  If Europe had not screwed up its monetary and fiscal policy so profoundly, the global economy would likely be recovering and Obama would be cruising to a second term at least in part because of the current ugliness of the Republican "brand".  And while I realize that a ton of people simply vote the party, eventually you can alienate enough people where that is no longer viable.

That was where the Left was by the '80s and I think that's where the Right is headed now.

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