Jennifer Rubin has taken to quoting conservatives like Bill Buckley in her quest to make the argument that conservatism is exactly the opposite of what most conservatives believe. In her “Conservative in style, reformist in action” article, she cites Buckley,
“That, unfortunately, is far from the tone and the positioning adopted by many conservatives, who want to compete with the left in coarseness and extremism. For those that see themselves as heirs to William F. Buckley, Jr., they should recall his admonition that he’d rather be governed by the first 400 names in the Boston phone book than the faculty of Harvard University. That was both a warning against leftwing academics and a tribute to the common sense of the American people. It is a reminder that all-or-nothing politics expressed by public temper tantrums and constant threats is not conservatism as Buckley (or Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk) defined it.”
But Rubin’s summation of the Buckley quote is quite wrong. The tea party that Rubin mortally hates, is actually the call that Buckley made. The common sense of the American people is what she disavows every time she writes, and if public temper tantrums are at all equally measured, her recent column cheering the resignation of Jim DeMint is surely one of the most ignorant screeds of small-minded drivel that can be found in modern punditry.
It is in fact the tea party that caused all of those Republicans Rubin deems ‘purists’ in the House to get to DC.
After the election, someone made the point that you could drive from the northern border to the southern border in this nation without once going through a county that voted for the Democrat. Those counties, as well as counties all over the familiar red map of the nation are represented by Republicans, and the DC pundit circuit can’t stand it. I have taken to researching every Republican in the House that is not a member of the tea party caucus, and found that they all sought tea party blessings, in one form or another.
I’m not through with my research, but it was clear that the tea party had a large presence in every single district. How can that be? How can this ‘small cabal’ of people be everywhere at once, and all asking the same thing, cut spending and no tax hikes? How are they moving from district to district from Oklahoma to New Jersey, Oregon to Alabama? Hasn’t anyone been documenting their mobility?
Of course it is because they are the “first 400 names in” Buckley’s phone book, and get routinely slammed by Rubin and others in the DC bubble.
Rubin shares a quote from Kirk, and an interview with Mansfield, both of which she cites feebly to promote her world view, and like her quote from Buckley, misinterprets the meaning and context of the quote. This is a hazard to many writers of opinion, and in Rubin’s case, with a background of being a Hollywood liberal turned ‘trusted journalist’ in 2005, it deserves great scrutiny.
If it is the ‘thing’ to drop names in defense of conservative credentials, I would cite Montesquieu, Locke and Adam Smith as well as Burke. Has Rubin read their writings? No, but she may be able to pull a quote from James Madison, who wrote, “you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Perhaps Rubin would like to trumpet that quote as a reason that conservatives must give in to “ferociously reasonable” controls as far-reaching as forcing all Americans to purchase that which is sanctioned by government.
Of course Madison would be against such a thing, and anyone who is able to distinguish between red and yellow can see it.
Mark Levin reminds in Liberty And Tyranny that Burke wrote, “ I knew that there is a manifest, marked distinction, which ill men with ill designs, or weak men incapable of any design, will constantly be confounding, that is, a marked distinction between change and reformation. The former alters the substance of the objects themselves; and gets rid of all their essential good, as well as of all the accidental evil, annexed to them. Change is novelty; and whether it is to operate any one of the effects of reformation at all, or whether it may not contradict the very principle upon which reformation is desired, cannot be certainly known beforehand. Reform is, not a change in the substance, or in the primary modification, of the object, but, a direct application of a remedy to the grievance complained of. So far as that is removed, all is sure. It stops there; and, if it fails, the substance which underwent the operation, at the very worst, is but where it was.”
But Rubin says that Republicans should change rather than reform, “In our current political environment it means reasoned bargaining should be encouraged. Say yes to more revenue if the president gets serious on entitlement reform. Support immigration reform if there is real border security. Allow states to do what they prefer on gay marriage if it is democratically agreed upon, not imposed by judicial fiat.”
Her approach is of course not prudent. More revenue applied to out of control spending by both parties does not directly remedy the problem, therefore is not Burkean or, ’ferociously reasonable,’ a phrase in league with ‘violently milquetoast’ or ‘exceedingly limited.’ The 10th Amendment to the Constitution provides, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution
Would the great thinkers mentioned ever allow for an exception to the rule of law? The rule of law, or the civil society, cannot abide such flourishes as, “Texas Republicans are regarded as conservative stalwarts. And yet on immigration they have embraced their Hispanic populace, eschewed inflammatory rhetoric and adopted policies that recognize Hispanics, both legal immigrants and undocumented ones, are integral to the Texan economy and body politic.” Labeling those who are in line with the thinkers she misinterprets as ‘purists,’ Rubin ditches all attempts at prudence by refusing to stop at the word, ‘illegal,’ or the more politically correct version, ‘undocumented.’ The rule of law is a very strict phrase. A rule is an absolute, with consequences for disobedience, and law is as well. How people like Rubin can twist the thoughts of her audience by disavowing the basis upon which the civil society is based, is truly evil.
It is upon that article that Rubin stakes her conservative credentials. In that she has pulled errant quotes from conservative thinkers, she continued her new-found conservative street-cred in , “Does the ‘no’ crowd matter?”
the all-or-nothing radicals are not conservatives if we take William F. Buckley Jr., Russell Kirk and other conservative thinkers seriously. But those folks don’t. It is good business running the loony express. Whatever damage the screechers do to the GOP is besides the point from their perspective.
That angry quote is in response to conservatives like Jim DeMint who refused to allow for higher taxes, a practice rooted in prudence, in Burkean reform, because raising taxes when there is a spending problem is a non-remedy to a very real problem.
Rubin continues her label of ‘screechy’ ‘screechers’ when discussing DeMint’s new post at Heritage. In all of the world, you could not find one person who ever heard Jim DeMint screech, and her ramblings are getting more emotional and incoherent, and as a result, less convincing. Unless you consider her writing of late as now completely convincing most level-headed people that she is unstable.
In, “Good riddance, Mr. DeMint” Rubin blames the good senator from South Carolina for causing havoc in the Senate, backing challengers to his colleagues, and tells of the vast difficulties a DeMint leadership to the Heritage Foundation would cause. The anger in her piece is palpable, and it is interesting to note that just a few hours after her commentary, the current president of Heritage appeared with DeMint on the Rush Limbaugh show to sing DeMint’s praises and tell of his plan to work closely with DeMint in the near future. A smooth, well-thought out transition. Nothing at all like the extreme over-blown rhetoric of Rubin.
It suffices to say that Rubin is arrogant and ignorant, using cliff notes to lash at conservatives to weaken us. If she is willing to stand by Reagan to attack DeMint, as she does in, “DeMint and Heritage: The odd couple of necessity,” saying that with the addition of DeMint, the foundation should drop the idea that it’s a ‘think-tank,’ she attacks the very core of the Republican party. Ronald Reagan stood with Heritage and was the most popular President of our time, winning two landslides. She diminishes Heritage’s hard working thinkers and DeMint because she has no idea what she is saying, and frankly, is not intelligent enough to stop digging.
If Buckley was right, the tea party is the future. If Burke was right, then DeMint and Heritage is the future. There is no conservative cited by Rubin that would agree with her ramblings, and there is much to be said for brevity.