Between the Lines

Dialoguing With Douthat

Surely, the defining characteristic of the paleoconservative temperament is disgust—with the current state of the country, the culture, and (most of all) the “official” conservative movement.  On this last point, there can be no compromise: Eight long years of Bushism, with a foreign policy energized by neoconservative democratism, has bankrupted the country financially and bankrupted the ostensibly conservative movement intellectually.  On every issue of importance, the “official” cons have become the right wing of the possible—to borrow and invert Michael Harrington’s phrase—capitulating to the left-liberal consensus on every issue of importance, from the Iraq war to “gay marriage.”  The apotheosis of the party line was and is the oxymoronic “big government conservatism,” a phrase coined by Weekly Standard senior editor Fred Barnes to describe the “right-wing” adaptation to the spirit of the age—a modification paleocons reject in its entirety.

During the Bush years, we remained outside the official conservative/Republican big tent, which was never big enough to include principled opponents of the Welfare-Warfare State and specifically excluded anti-interventionists.  Now, suddenly, with the coming of Obamaism, we are “in”—or, to be more exact, we are no longer being ignored.  The liberal media is full...

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