Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Give Me that Old Time Conservatism!

Sometimes I can't tell if people are serious or not. Bruce Bartlett's latest article is about the Conservative woes, but more to the point, it's about how current Republican policies don't have much to do with old time Conservatism.
On conservative grounds, Hart faults Bush for his positions on Iraq, Social Security, stem-cell research and tax policy. Their failure, Hart argues, lies in Bush's view of such issues in abstract terms that are not anchored in the traditional conservative concern for prudence, informed by the study of history and human nature. Hart concludes that Bush "doesn't have a conservative bone in his body."
Interestingly enough, Bartlett points to a book that suggests that President Bush's specific brand of religion might be part of the problem.
. . . evangelism emphasizes the personal relationship between man and God, disconnected from doctrine and tradition. In short, it is diametrically opposed to the Catholic vision of Christianity, which many conservatives view as being much more compatible with the nature of philosophical conservatism because it is anchored in doctrine and tradition.

Consequently, Bush is too easily able to invoke God in support of whatever he has decided to do. To evangelicals, his understanding of God's word is as good as anyone else's, and so he is perfectly entitled to do so. They view the depth of his belief as the principal determinant of the genuineness of his vision, not whether it is well grounded in a proper understanding of biblical principles, logic and history.
Old time Conservatism sounds just a little bit elitist, doesn't it? That is, I suspect, the tact that Rush and others of his ilk will take towards the arguments presented in this article (particularly the suggestion that evangelicalism isn't good for conservatives).

It's not clear what Bartlett thinks about these arguments as he does distance himself a bit from the argument. He's presenting other's arguments, but not commenting on them himself. He does underline the old timey-ness of these arguments, though, which does give him some wiggle room if he wants to walk away from them.

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