Posted on | January 22, 2013 | 28 Comments
If only more people had listened to Rush Limbaugh . . .
My post this morning about how to hate Democrats reminded Andrew J. Patrick of the bitter debate between Jeff Goldstein and Patterico, and Andrew makes a good point:
The Democrats did not respond to getting their teeth kicked in by George Bush in 2004 by embracing civility, by congratulating the President on his re-election. They doubled down on outrage. They fought the President on his second-term agenda tooth-and-nail.
That worked out rather well for them, all things considered.
This is exactly right. You must know your antagonist. You must study his successes, and you must also study your own failures.
One of the great blunders of the Republican Party is that as soon as the 2004 election was over, they began looking ahead to 2008 when they were sure that they would be running against Hillary Clinton. How many anti-Hillary books were published in 2005-2007? So many Republicans bought into the Hillary-as-Antichrist message that in March 2008, when Rush Limbaugh launched “Operation Chaos” — aiming to turn the Democrat nomination fight into an absolute deadlock — his phone lines lit up with dimwit callers who had let themselves be convinced that Barack Obama was actually the lesser of two evils.
Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
I remember it well: I saw exactly what Rush was doing. It was pure genius, and if enough Republican voters had listened to him — especially in Indiana and North Carolina — “Operation Chaos” may have resulted in such a vicious bloodletting within the Democrat Party that they never would have recovered from it. For want of a nail . . .
Well, there’s no point recounting the history of everything that went wrong the past five years. But it exposed a fundamental problem of the conservative blogosphere: It developed during the Bush years, amid the Global War on Terror, and its accustomed task was to defend the president and the war effort against the Left. As far as fighting elections, conservative bloggers had 2004 as their basic model — the patriotic Republican incumbent vs. the treacherous Democrat challenger — and this proved a poor template for future conflicts.
In general, by 2009, too many Republicans didn’t have any useful memory of how to be the Opposition Party. The experiences of 1964 and 1974 were remembered only by a graying generation of Elder Statesmen types who, unfortunately, were neither tech-savvy nor culturally attuned to the 21st century. The long 12-year Reagan-Bush ascendancy had been followed by a brief two-year loss of power after the 1992 election, but then the latent vigor of the Party Reagan Built came bouncing back with the 1994 “Republican Revolution.” Dole predictably lost in 1996, and the Lewinsky-inspired impeachment drama of 1998 threw the GOP off its game, but by 2003, they were back on top, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress.
Accustomed to success, to acting in defense of power, Republicans (and by extension, many conservative spokemen, including bloggers) were unaccustomed to the task that faced them after Democrats won Congress in 2006 and captured the White House in 2008.
Ah, but Rush Limbaugh knew what he was doing! Rush had risen to talk-radio superstar status during the low ebb of Republican fortunes in the wake of Bill Clinton’s 1992 defeat of George H. W. Bush. In fact, it is now often forgotten that Limbaugh supported Pat Buchanan’s challenge to Bush in the 1992 primaries. Limbaugh knew that Bush was doomed to defeat in 1992, and that the key was to give conservatives a cause worth fighting for. After Bush lost, Limbaugh’s show became the focal point for the Republican opposition that triumphed in 1994.
It should be pointed out, by the way, that Limbaugh is old enough to remember the true Wilderness Years of the GOP, the post-Watergate era of 1974-78, when such eminent figures as William Rusher, publisher of National Review, thought the Republican Party was done for and were ready for Ronald Reagan to lead a third-party movement.
Too many have forgotten that history — if they ever bothered to learn it in the first place — and no one under 40 has any real direct memory of it, so that there is a sort of “Generation Gap” within the conservative movement. If you don’t remember where you were when Saigon fell (I was a sophomore at Lithia Springs High School) or the Berlin Wall came down (I was a 30-year-old sports editor for the Calhoun [Ga.] Times), it’s impossible for you to understand the Cold War mentality, the petri dish within which the post-WWII conservative movement was incubated.
Conservatism was originally and fundamentally about foreign policy: Are we going to stand up to these godless Commies, or not?
Trying to get Americans to listen to conservative ideas on domestic policy has always been much more difficult, and we are really now back to an era that precedes my own birth, which I know only from history books and from tales of old-timers like M. Stanton Evans. We’re back to the Truman era, when the godless Commies who threatened America were clandestine subversives who called themselves “liberals.”
Really, it’s in some ways much worse now. Julius Rosenberg and Alger Hiss were traitorous stooges of Moscow, but today’s “liberals” pursue a Bolshevik agenda of strictly domestic origin. The disciples of Howard Zinn, Saul Alinksy, Bill Ayers and Frank Marshall Davis are most certainly Marxists, and we should not be afraid to call them what they are. Hell, “neo-Marxism” is the fashionable style for young hipsters.
The Sovietization of America is an agenda every patriot should oppose, and when Rush Limbaugh famously said, “I hope he fails,” he was right. That’s why I sided with Jeff Goldstein in his fight with Patterico four years ago. Jeff’s essay “How I learned to stop worrying and love the f-bomb” is worth re-reading today, as we begin the final 1,460 days of this catastrophic Reign of Error.
Are we going to stand up to these godless Commies, or not?
UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein reacts to Andrew J. Patrick, describing Obama’s agenda as “a malicious attack on our individual sovereignty and an intentional plan to undermine our constitutional republic and replace it with an beneficent police state peopled by industrious worker bees, helpfully directed and nudged toward happiness by a permanent ruling elite.” Basically, Sweden, with better weather and uglier people.