Wait Til Daddy Gets Home
As I watch the conservative movement purge the Bushmen from the ranks and decrying their former idol's betrayal of conservatism, it's interesting that we see almost nothing about the constitutional degradation that's taken place. Instead, it's all about spending and how he "mismanaged" the war. Bush's reaction to 9/11 has yet to be challenged, and that says everything about their intellectual integrity.
They have often made the argument that the current circumstances are so unprecedented that nothing we have ever believed or done before applies. (I call it the "War of The Worlds" syndrome.) This is, of course, completely out of step with real conservatism, which assumes that mans nature is basically immutable and that only the institutions we have built up over centuries can be relied upon to keep society together and face new challenges. Still, the alleged conservatives fight on, often evoking the works of "the father of modern conservatism," Edmund Burke, even as they espouse arguments that are anything but conservative.
So, it was with some gladness that I read this article in Harper's by Scott Horton (via Nitpicker) that discusses the two dismissed Guantanamo cases this past week in light of Burke's “Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol.” It provides a nice concise riposte to the right wing radicals who still insist they are true conservatives even as they continue to endorse dictatorial executive powers and the abandoning of centuries old understanding of habeas corpus. One can only assume they do this because they are either frightened and stimulated by the idea of war --- or are complete hypocrites and tribal partisans without any intellectual grounding at all. (Or all of those things.)But Burkean conservatives, they ain't.
Read it all the way through to the end, print it out, and the next time one of your conservative friends starts droning on about Burke, take it out and slowly rub it in his smug face.
Oh, and be sure to send at least this quote from the piece to Jonah Goldberg and the rest of the chickenhawk crew over at NRO, just for kicks:
The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and man. But I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which in the depths of its wisdom tolerates all sorts of things) that is more truly odious and disgusting than an impotent, helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched.
Your philosophical Daddy