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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Dubious Prominence: Murray on Bush and the Decline of the Right

The pride of place George W. enjoys among many of my colleagues on the Right is frankly stunning, for he is not just tolerated or grudgingly accepted as the (slightly) better of two bad choices; on the contrary, Bush is readily identified with and enthusiastically endorsed. This raises some alarming issues: is the Right dead? Does it have no principles? Does it not realize when those principles are violated? Is it really all about hating the Democrats after all (a worthwhile endeavor to be sure, were it not for the fact that the Republicans increasingly resemble their putative enemies)?

Judging from his recent contribution to NR, Charles Murray must be similarly bewildered. The following excerpt appeared in the 50th anniversary issue, in the very the heart of what has become the "Courtier Right" (I imagine only someone with Murray’s longstanding credentials could have pulled it off):

"From the founding of Nationa Review—an opening date that I nominate without fear or favor—through the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the intellectual vigor of the [conservative vision] grew. Then, during the 1990s, we discovered how much the vigor of the [conservative vision] depended on competition. With the Left intellectually moribund, politicians of the Right began to take the easy way out. It is understandable, because advocating the policies of limited government is psychologically uncomfortable. It requires a politician to say he wants to do things that will cause pain—cut benefits for young women with babies, scrub regulations that putatively protect the environment, or end affirmative action… In the aftermath of the Reagan ascendancy, when running and winning as a Republican became so much easier, we got more and more Republicans who wanted to be nice guys. George W. Bush is their leader. And so we have watched a Republican-controlled government take a giant step toward federalizing public education through No Child Left Behind; add a major new unfunded entitlement to Medicare; and last summer, demonstrate that Republicans in power love pork as much as the Democrats ever did. We are watching what happens when Republicans have forgotten the constrained vision of the nature of man and replaced it with a fuzzy desire to do good.”

Prescinding from the question of the war, I note that Murray, as a libertarian-conservative, omits two other violations which readers of this page would normally find egregious: Bush’s endorsement of gay civil unions and his heralding of a Greater Hispania. But hey, what’s the hurt in a little man love or some gangland violence?