September 12, 2006

The Review's Godfather: Bush has poisoned Conservatism

How do you poison something noxious to begin with? I don't know, but Jeffrey Hart does.

My only question is, how do the other Reviewers feel about this? Especially those working for the current administration? Oh, the betrayal!

Anyway, here's some fun bits from Hart's piece:
Never before has a United States president consistently adhered to beliefs so disconnected from actuality. [...]

If this amounts to a worldview, it’s certainly not that of Burke. Indeed, Bush would probably be more at home among the revolutionary French, provided his taxes remained low, than among Burke’s Rockingham Whigs. (Burke would of course deny Bush admission to the Whigs in the first place, as Bush would be seen as an ideological comrade of the philosophes —if a singularly unreflective one. [Sure, like Voltaire would have had any more patience with him])[...]

The United States has seen political swings and produced its share of extremists, but its political character, whether liberals or conservatives have been in charge, has always remained fundamentally Burkean [I distinctly disagree. A nation so conceived and so dedicated as ours to the principle of its own superiority is going to be fundamentally radical]... At this dangerous point in history, we must depend on the decisions of an astonishingly feckless chief executive: an empty vessel filled with equal parts Rove and Rousseau. [In the latter's defense, I would like to say that No Child Left Behind is a singularly un-Rousseauvian program.]

Successful government by either Democrats or Republicans has always been, above all, realistic. FDR, Eisenhower, and Reagan were all reelected by landslides and rank as great presidents who responded to the world as it is, not the world as they would have it [Grenada, El Salvador, Nicaragua--those were responses to the world as it was, and not as we would have it, eh? Not to mention the fact that FDR and Reagan's popularity depended much more on the idealism they instilled in the country than the logic of their decisions. But I demur to the power of Professor Hart's rhetoric]. But ideological government deserves rejection, whatever its party affiliation. This November, the Republicans stand to face a tsunami of rejection. They’ve earned it.

I recall some speech Hart gave lauding Michael Ellis for working with Rove. Oh yeah, here.

Try 3:17-~4:00 in. Where's all that vitriol then, Professor?


  1. Anonymous11:22 AM

    I feel like working in the White House is impressive and deserves mention when listing some of the post-Review work of past staffers. Hart has had problems with President Bush for a long time before this article and the Review gala, and if I remember correctly made numerous negative assessments of the Bush administration at his BookTV signing/appearance in Dartmouth Bookstore.

  2. Anonymous4:52 PM

    Hart's antipathy for Bush is long on the record. He started a bit of tempest teapot at National Review over stem cells when Bush's decisions was first announced. And the Review has been publishing his anti-Bush material for several years.

    The crucial distinction, which you seem not to appreciate, is that Hart does not believe that everything is reducible to politics. It is entirely possible for two people to be friends while maintaining even strident political differences, and its sad, really, for those who cannot.

  3. I'm sorry, if you two think I'm going to give Professor Hart points for thinking Bush is a dumbass, well, just hold your breath and I'll get back to you on that.

    So, no, I don't appreciate the fact that Hart can be friends, or a role model or whatever, with someone who works with Karl Rove. There is a level at which I think politics should preclude friendship—that level is reached when someone is working avidly in a manner and for a purpose that I would (and Hart does) call not only misguided, but fundamentally detrimental to the welfare of our nation and its people.

  4. Anonymous3:32 PM

    There is more to life, thankfully, than just politics.

  5. Anonymous6:13 PM

    Sure, if you define politics narrowly enough.