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Finding Neo

Believing fairy tales...Poor Frummy. Necon apologist and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum is already out there trying to resuscitate the horribly damaged image of an utterly failed ideaology; not by defending its tenets but by pretending it was something else entirely. His Newsweek essay "How the Neocons Can Save America" is just sad, beyond the nonsense of the title.

Now, Frum admits early on that the brand is beat up and that the recent reaction on the right has been damaging to conservatism at best, and political suicide at worst. And he's right that simply being the opposition party isn't enough to get back to being the governing party:

The American right that has emerged since 2008, of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, is a movement of cultural protest. But protest is not enough. Americans won't reject even a badly damaged incumbent unless they see a credible alternative.

That's true, just ask John Kerry. The problem is that Frum doesn't lay blame squarely where it belongs: at the feet of neoconservatism itself and its best/worst practitioner, George W. Bush. He tries to pretend that the results of the 2006 and 2008 stompings the GOP took weren't so much a shift in political winds as a minor adjustment and a message to Republicans, who the populace would really rather have in office (despite subsequent drubbings by voters).

...that rejection did not mean they wanted to hand the keys to the car to an unchecked Democratic Party. Americans want balance in their politics.

No, they don't. They want competence in their government. Most Americans are only casually associated with a political party and most of them could barely tell you what their affiliated party's platform is. They don't are about balancing the parties and triangulation and political realignment. That's for dorks like us.

The silliest part of the essay though is when he tries to revise with a list of five bullets what constitutes American conservatism. Problem is that three of the five describe the antithesis of neoconservatism and George W. Bush.


First: They were practical. These neoconservatives persuaded Republicans like Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan to accept Social Security and Medicare. Now some conservative icons are denouncing the Federal Reserve (created in 1913!) as an unacceptable innovation. This is the route to the museum, not to government.

OK, maybe. I think these are more examples of how Ron Reagan and Jack Kemp were practical despite their conservative ideology, but I'll accept this for argument's sake. Just like Nixon establishing the EPA because the facts (like rivers bursting into flames) told him something needed to be done to clean up industry.

Second: They were scientific and details-oriented. They cared about getting the facts right. The reckless disregard of accuracy shown by those who invented the "death panels" charge was utterly alien to them. And they could admit when they were wrong.

If anyone was less concerned with science, disinterested in details and unable to admit wrong than George W. Bush...And let's not forget dopes like Don Rumsfeld, David Addington and Paul Wolfowitz, men who obstructed intelligence to arrive at predetermined ends.

Third: While expressing deep respect for the role of religion in society, they were firmly secular in their approach.

So how do we explain George W. Bush, a man who thought God had literally guided him to invade Iraq?

Fourth: They took for granted that politics demanded intelligence and substantial knowledge. They admired politicians like Sens. Henry Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. That's a far cry from this past year's dismissal of brains.

Again, nearly all accounts of the Bush administration point to the fact that diversity of opinion and facts, regardless of desired outcome, were universally shunned and discouraged. Today's hyperventilating is simply an extension of that.

Fifth: The original neoconservatives felt a deep optimism about the United States. They despised alienated radicals who flung epithets like "fascist" at U.S. institutions and leaders. Now similarly angry talk is being heard from an alienated right. In 1967, Ronald Reagan signed a law forbidding the carrying of loaded guns in public. Today guns are again reappearing at political rallies—and this time there is no Reagan to say no.

Granted. There's a genuine patriotism within all conservative circles but it sometimes manifests itself as pat jingoism and simple xenophobia. But we all get carried away sometimes and heaven knows there are lefties who embrace Marxism a little too comfortably to jive with my ideals of American individual freedoms, but I digress...

Funny thing is that the five bullets Frum mentions better describes the original conservatism, which is at least more intellectually defensible. As a tongue-in-cheek closer Frum asks if they should simply rename the movement "neoneoconservatism," but I think retroneoconservatism is more accurate.


I propose "revisioconservatism."

I like it.

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