Friday, September 15, 2006

Burke, Bush, & "conservatism"

This statement by the conservative thinker Jeffrey Hart (quoted by Andrew Sullivan) captures a key point about our current political situation--one that has also been made by others, but rarely so succinctly. Whatever one thinks about the political orientation of the Bush/Cheney administration and its Congressional allies, even if one happens to support and applaud this orientation, it is hard to imagine how it can be called "conservative" in any intellectually or historically serious sense of the term. It is more accurately described as a version of right-wing radicalism (combined, in practice, with tactical political opportunism, partisan fanaticism, corporate welfare, and spectacular fiscal irresponsibility).

(I also concur with the rest of Hart's compact assessment of the "astonishingly feckless" Bush administration in this quoted passage--and with most of what Hart says in the piece from which Sullivan is quoting, though definitely not with all of it. For a similar assessment, still a bit more hedged and less straightforward than Hart's, see George Will jumps ship .. almost.)

--Jeff Weintraub
====================
Andrew Sullivan (Daily Dish)
September 15, 2006
Quote for the Day

"The United States has seen political swings and produced its share of extremists, but its political character, whether liberals or conservatives have been in charge, has always remained fundamentally Burkean. The Constitution itself is a Burkean document, one that slows down decisions to allow for 'deliberate sense' and checks and balances. President Bush has nearly upended that tradition, abandoning traditional realism in favor of a warped and incoherent brand of idealism. (No wonder Bush supporter Fred Barnes has praised him as a radical.) At this dangerous point in history, we must depend on the decisions of an astonishingly feckless chief executive: an empty vessel filled with equal parts Rove and Rousseau," - Jeffrey Hart, one of the true intellectual architects of American conservatism in the modern era, calling this president what he is: a dangerous, reckless, ideological incompetent.

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