Archive for November 2006

Another Reason to Like Webb

November 29, 2006

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

November 27, 2006

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.

Two Links

November 24, 2006

Over at the New Pantagruel’s Japery, Austin Bramwell responds to some of his traditionalist critics.

Take a look as well at Jeff Taylor’s article on imperialism and isolationism at LRC (an excerpt from his highly recommended book on the Jeffersonian tradition, Where Did the Party Go?)

Wonder-Working Power

November 21, 2006

My Reason review of Damon Linker’s Theocons and Patrick Hynes’s In Defense of the Religious Right is now on-line here.

Time for a Heavier Footprint in Iraq

November 18, 2006

David Gordon brought this Weekly Standard story by Kagan and Kristol to my attention. When war doesn’t work, what’s a neocon to do? Why, just escalate, of course…

Changing of the Guard

November 17, 2006

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).

Five Minutes With Two From TAC

November 11, 2006

David Weigel’s brief interview with Scott McConnell and me from the Webb rally the other day. (MP3)