Another Reason to Like Webb

He’s not much inclined to take b.s. from Bush, reports Roll Call:

At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.

A bit more at the Washington Post.


More Unpatriotic Conservatives

From The Political Principles of Robert A. Taft, by Russell Kirk and James McClellan:

War, Taft perceived, was the enemy of constitution, liberty, economic security, and the cake of custom. His natural conservatism made him a man of peace. He never had served in the army himself, and he did not relish the prospect of compelling others to serve. Though he was no theoretical pacifist, he insisted that every other possibility must be exhausted before resort to military action. War would make the American President a virtual dictator, diminish the constitutional powers of Congress, contract civil liberties, injure the habitual self-reliance and self-government of the American people, distort the economy, sink the federal govenrmetn in debt, break in upon private and public morality. The constitutions of government in America were not made for prolonged emergencies; and it might require generations for the nation to recover from a war of a few years’ duration.

If these would be the consequences of war to America — even though no hostilities should occur within American territory — the damage inflicted elsewhere in the world would be graver still. Even thoguh war might be inveitable in the last resort, men must not expect large benefits to result from victory. From the Second World War, as from the First, no increase of liberty and democracy would come: on the contrary, in most of the world a host of squalid oligarchs must be the principal beneficiaries, whatever side might win. For the United States, then, war was preferable to conquest or to economic ruin; but if those calamities were not in prospect, America should remain aloof. The blood of man should be shed only to redeem the blood of man, Taft might have said with Burke: “the rest is vanity; the rest is crime.”

Taft’s prejudice in favor of peace was equaled in strength by his prejudice against empire. Quite as the Romans had acquired an empire in a fit of absence of mind, he feared that America might make herself an imperial power with the best of intentions — and the worst of results. He foresaw the grim possibility of American garrisons in distant corners of the world, a vast permanent military establishment, an intolerant “democratism” imposed in the name of the American way of life, neglect of America’s domestic concerns in the pursuit of transoceanic power, squandering of American resources upon amorphous international designs, the decay of liberty at home in proportion as America presumed to govern the world: that is, the “garrison state,” a term he employed more than once. The record of the United States as administrator of territories overseas had not been heartening, and the American constitution made no provision for a widespread and enduring imperial government. Aspiring to redeem the world from all the ills to which flesh is heir, Americans might descend, instead, into a leaden imperial domination and corruption.

I wonder what the folks at National Review and would make of that. The book was published in 1967, by the way.

Changing of the Guard

Congratulations are in order for Michael Brendan Dougherty, who is The American Conservative‘s new assistant editor. He’ll be joined by another new face shortly. My own time on staff with the magazine, however, has come to an end. You should still find plenty of my work within TAC‘s pages, though: the new issue includes my review of American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, and sometime early in the new year expect to see a longer piece from me on some of the more unusual recent developments on the intellectual Right.

A few months into 2007 I’ll be involved with a new project that should interest regular readers of this blog — and, I hope, not-so-regular readers, too. I can’t say too much about it right now, other than that I’ll post details here when the time is right. In the last few months of this year, meanwhile, I have some traveling to do, which may make blogging even more sporadic than usual (at least for the next week or so).

On the Scene With Jim Webb

David Weigel reports on the Jim Webb victory rally, where he ran into me and TAC editor in chief Scott McConnell. Webb isn’t much of a public speaker, unfortunately, but what was worse than his delivery was the emphasis of his remarks. Atrios relates the bit that has me worried:

There were a lot of misperceptions about why I got into this race. I was watching on election night some of the analysts and one of the frequent things that was being said about this campaign was that I came to the Democratic party purely on issues regarding the Iraq war.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I think I and a lot of people like me had aligned themselves with the Republican party on national security issues but were always concerned about issues of economic fairness and social justice.

That was followed by a commitment from the senator-elect to push for a minimum-wage hike as soon as he’s sworn in. Webb’s economic populism — or simply liberalism — was well known before his election. What was disappointing, though, was to hear him downplay the importance of his anti-war credentials to his candidacy (and victory). I much prefer the foreign-policy Jim Webb to the domestic Jim Webb and hope the latter doesn’t overshadow the former. We’ll see.

Is Austin Bramwell the New Peter Viereck?

Daniel Larison wonders whatever became of my promised defense of Viereck. I’ll take a crack at that, and post some thoughts on the Austin Bramwell article that Larison discusses, sometime over the weekend. Meanwhile, TAC duties call: we’re scrambling to put together timely election coverage. By way of a sneak preview, I’ll mention that the books department for next issue contains another long-awaited piece of mine, my review of American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, plus historian Gregory Schneider on Barry Goldwater and Ralph de Toledano on Bach. It prints tomorrow — subscribers and stores should have it in a week to ten days or so.

2008 Wide Open

It’ll be the first year in my lifetime — and for some time before that — in which there’s no incumbent president or VP in the race for the White House and control of both the House and Senate will be at stake. Whatever the outcomes of the Senate races in Virginia and Missouri (it’s beginning to look like McCaskill and Webb may both pull through), that chamber will be divided either 49-51 or 50-50 going in to 2008 (barring any sudden deaths, retirmeents, or party switches) and the Democrats will hold a narrow majority in the House. Some of the House Dems who did surprisingly well this year won’t be able to survive in 2008, barring a similarly Democratic tide of discontent, so control of the lower chamber will be very much in play.

My guess is that 2004 will come to be seen as the high tide of “conservative’ Republicanism. And just look how it turned out.

Addendum: Talent has just conceded defeat in Missouri! This is a doubly happy day not only in that I’m glad Bush at last might be held accountable (which is going to be much easier if the Dems control both chambers than otherwise), but also because the state in which I presently live (Virginia) and those to which I have the strongest familial ties (Missouri and Pennsylvania) all repudiated Bushbots.  Foolishly, I voted for Talent in ’02 — I’m glad to see I won’t have to live with that mistake for much longer.