Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Limbaugh Conservatives or McCarthy Conservatives

Neal Gabler has written an interesting article over at the LA Times about the Origin of modern Conservatism, in which he argues that it's real patron saint is Tailgunner Joe McCarthy, not Ronald Reagan.
But there is another rendition of the story of modern conservatism, one that doesn't begin with Goldwater and doesn't celebrate his libertarian orientation. It is a less heroic story, and one that may go a much longer way toward really explaining the Republican Party's past electoral fortunes and its future. In this tale, the real father of modern Republicanism is Sen. Joe McCarthy, and the line doesn't run from Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush; it runs from McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and possibly now to Sarah Palin. It centralizes what one might call the McCarthy gene, something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office, and because it is genetic, it isn't likely to be expunged any time soon.
It's a pretty convincing argument, actually.

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