It’s been days since the election and the transition proceeds apace, though some rightbloggers are still hoping for a miracle (“Constitutional Crisis: The Real Question of Obama’s Citizenship Grows”). Now is the time for reflection — or, if one is not of a reflective turn of mind, recriminations.
In the mainstream press, “wet” conservatives like David Brooks and Christie Todd Whitman suggested that “Traditionalist” conservatism of the Rush Limbaugh/Sarah Palin stamp should give way to a fresher approach if the right wished to return to power. But we saw what rightbloggers thought of such moderates just before the election, and defeat has not made them more forgiving.
“Perhaps Christine Todd Whitman can explain,” said Ace of Spades, “why a born-again Christian and declared social conservative won easily in 2004 and yet McCain… lost so badly.” “Which group” — the Reformers or the Traditionalists — “draws bigger crowds, sells more books, and has more influence?” asked Right Wing News. “Purge the social conservatives from the GOP” and “enjoy minority status for a long, long, long time,” warned The Right to Bear Arms.
For the most part rightbloggers felt their cause was betrayed, within and without, and if there was any reforming to be done, it would have to be done by, or to, somebody else.
Flopping Aces, for example, explained the Obama victory was caused by a “relentless media drumbeat” against the Bush Administration, through which conservatism “has been allowed to be defined by the opposition as a movement of racists, bigots, religious zealots, close-mindedness, selfish, for the rich and against the poor.” So, the author asserted, “I don’t believe the American public rejected conservatism.” How then to get the American people to actually vote for the cause they did not reject? He defers to Matt Lewis, who counsels better use of the internet, and that “The GOP must become the Party of science and math.”
“THE GOP MUST WIN OVER URBAN AMERICA,” shouted The Astute Bloggers, but not by making policy changes — the job will be done with vouchers and other traditional GOP talking points, comprising “AN AGENDA WHICH DOESN’T MAKE APPEALS TO IDENTITY GROUPS (RACE OR IMMIGRANTS OR COLLEGE EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS OR THE URBAN-UNDERCLASS),” which doesn’t seem to leave a lot of city folk to effect that renaissance.
National Review‘s Yuval Levin reverted to nostalgia: Conservatives must “offer concrete conservative proposals for reforming our governing institutions,” he said, which “need to be extensions of conservative successes in the past, like tax and welfare reform.”
At The Next Right, Patrick Ruffini thought the GOP should “stick to its traditional principles, while distancing itself from examples of Bush’s botched execution.” He also advised better use of the internet, and “fielding younger, more inspiring candidates.”
Protein Wisdom agrees that “we need the proper pitchmen,” but also a change in nomenclature. “Make clear the distinctions” between classical liberals and other kinds, he advised: “Take back the terms (why call progressives ‘liberals,’ even derisively? Call them what they are, progressives, and tie them to their historical predecessors, including the New Left of Ayers and SDS).” Because it worked so well the last time.
Not that all the rightblogger chatter was constructive. There remained a lot of blame to assign.
Some turned on their old friend George W. Bush. “I still think people believe in cutting taxes and limiting government,” said Patterico. “They just want a party that is actually going to do it.”
Some blamed McCain: “A strange sense of ‘honor,'” reported Ace of Spades from an alternate universe, “prevented him from attacking Democrats.” The candidate was also alleged to suffer “residual guilt over voting against the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday which caused him again and again to play the race card on himself.” (McCain also won a rightblogger poll for “Least Favorite Person on the Right.”)
Some, not content to blame their politicians, sought new enemies. Say Anything turned on a traditional GOP constituency, Big Business. “These big-money interests representing American big business aren’t lining up for a seat at Obama’s table because they’re free market capitalists,” said SA. “They’re lining up because they want a big-government politician, Obama in this instance, to use the power of government to line their politics… It’s the socialists (or, more accurately for this instance, economic fascists) who are the crony capitalists.” One wonders why they bothered, since the Republicans were already giving them everything they wanted.
The geniuses at RedState who had previously established “Operation Leper” to purge conservative apostates continued to fiddle with their RedState Channels: “When I first posted on Operation Leper, I put Steve Schmidt on the list… I can no longer say that Steve Schmidt was one of the smear artists out to harm Palin in order to protect his reputation.” A movement that can show this kind of generosity is bound to attract new adherents.
Don’t worry, they haven’t forgotten Obama. Commentary‘s Abe Greenwald was angry that the President-Elect was putting up YouTubes addresses, describing them as an opportunity “for President Obama to recreate himself on every last surface and sound wave that hasn’t yet been ‘changed’ in his image.” J. G. Thayer is incensed that Obama’s transition team has so many lawyers, because lawyers are incompetent to understand the terrorist mindset — unlike, say, a hockey mom from Alaska. And of course the President-Elect remains responsible for declines on Wall Street during his pre-tenure.
But there’ll be time enough to get to him. (TigerHawk was even relatively gentle about Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview: “So far, he’s not letting the inner lefty sneak out. Much.”) Right now the rightbloggers are busy in their own kitchen; they’ve got their knives out, and now that the election’s over, the Democrats are heading to the White House and the cupboard is bare, the only thing they have to cut is each other.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 17, 2008