Over the years, John McCain has acquired a reputation as a maverick Republican. Independents and even some Democrats who loathe George W. Bush’s foreign-policy record seem to believe that McCain would be a significant improvement. In several GOP primaries earlier this year, most notably those in New Hampshire and Michigan, nearly one third of voters who stated that they oppose the Iraq war cast ballots for McCain. That seems to defy logic, since the Arizona senator has been the most vocal critic of Bush’s Iraq policy, arguing as far back as late 2003 that he should commit even more troops to the war.
Dean Olson, the chairman of Rockford Acromatic Products, an after-market auto-parts manufacturer, is a longtime supporter of Republican candidates. Still, he is not optimistic about the November election: “Even though the Democrats are in full rout, we’re not able to mount an effective challenge. I don’t see the leadership there.”
Modern American conservatism has been marked by a fascination with ideology. Despite arguments that conservatism is not an ideology or is opposed to all ideology, American conservatives have regularly attempted to systematize their own beliefs. Moreover, they have often attempted to define themselves by reference to ideologies they oppose. Opposition to Soviet communism played a major role in uniting conservatives of many different varieties throughout the Cold War. More recently, neoconservative apparatchiks such as Norman Podhoretz, Victor Davis Hanson, and Christopher Hitchens have sought to portray President George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” as part of a protracted global struggle against “Islamofascism,” and Jonah Goldberg has made a bid to become the conservative movement’s Mikhail Suslov by spending four years writing a book arguing that “fascism” is the intellectual taproot of American liberalism.
Somewhat overlooked in all of this has been the ideology that has enjoyed the most political success in the modern era: socialism, the object of this enjoyable study by Thomas Fleming.
A review of Iron Man (produced by Marvel Studios; directed by John Favreau; screenplay by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby; distributed by Paramount Pictures) and The Visitor (produced by Groundswell Productions; directed and written by Thomas McCarthy; distributed by Overture Films)