Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pragmatic vs Principled Conservatism

For those of you interested in the roots of today's conservative party, take a look at a paper recently presented by Rick Perlstein at "The Conservative Movement: it's past, present and future," a conservative conference hosted by Princeton University. Perlstein traces present-day conservatives back not to Goldwater, as so many of them claim, but to Nixon. The difference between the two is striking. In a 1965 pamphlet put out by the Young Americans for Freedom in support of Goldwater, the conservative group criticized those...

who abuse the truth, who resort to violence and engage in slander, [and] who seek victory at any price without regard for the broken lives...incurred by those who stand in the way.

Contrast this principled political philosophy with the morally ambiguous dogma of then President Nixon:

Just remember you're doing the right thing. That's what I used to think when I killed some innocent children in Hanoi.

This vague "right thing" sounds uncomfortably similar to the governing philosophy of the current President - who sees the Lord governing his hand in Iraq - than the principled approach of Goldwater. Could Rove and Goldwater have survived in the same room? This administration not only has no relation to Goldwater, they have redefined Nixonian pragmatism by stating that reality is not something to acknowledge but something to create, taking a page out of the ultra-liberal playbook they are so quick to criticize.

But I digress, the article is there for your reading pleasure. It carries the measured tone of a guest politely criticizing his host.


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