Why Doesn’t Somebody Fire Mel Martinez?

The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors’ rebellion over President Bush’s immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Friday in The Washington Times.

Read on…


Goldwater II

Following on my post from the other day, here is the Book TV video (real media) of a Sean Wilentz-moderated panel discussion on the first two offerings from Princeton UP’s James Madison Library series. John Patrick Diggins (author of That Reagan Book, among other things), RFK Jr., Sam Tanenhaus discuss Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative.  Other panelists discuss a book by John Kenneth Galbraith; I skipped right over those segments, to tell the truth.

Goldwater turns into Nelson Rockefeller in RFK Jr.’s telling, which noticeably irks Tanenhaus, who actually knows a thing or two about the history of the conservative movement. The panel is worth a look for three takes on who Goldwater was and what he stood for.


Princeton University Press has published a new edition of Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative (ghosted by L. Brent Bozell) as part of the James Madison Library in American Politics series curated by Sean Wilentz. The new edition includes a new foreword by George Will and a new afterword by RFK Jr. Both are pretty interesting. Will’s foreword doesn’t so much break new ground as state surprisingly forthrightly what some of the tensions were, even from the beginning, between Goldwater and much of the conservative intellectual movement:

Goldwater was a conservative from, and formed by, a place with precious little past to conserve. Westerners have no inclination to go through life with cricks in their necks from looking backward. When Goldwater became the embodiment of American conservatism–partly by his own efforts, and partly because he was conscripted by others for the role–that guaranteed that the mainstream of American conservatism would be utterly American. The growing conservative intelligentsia would savor many flavors of conservatism, from Edmund Burke’s to T.S. Eliot’s, conservatisms grounded on religious reverence, nostalgia, and resistance to the permanent revolution of conditions in a capitalist, market society. Such conservatisms would have been unintelligible, even repellent, to Goldwater, if he had taken time to notice them.

Of course, Bozell was, if anything, even more of a traditionalist than the Burke-Eliot brigades, yet he was the one who wrote the book for Goldwater, a point which both Will and RFK downplay. The book actually does serve as an example of “fusionism,” then, though ironically both Bozell and Goldwater, for different reasons, came to be quite disaffected with the conservative movement.

He Lost His Son to a War He Opposes

Andrew Bacevich has a wrenching piece in today’s Washington Post on the death of his son in Iraq. He relates what a few great patrioteers had to say to him about his son’s death:

Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son’s death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.

This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war.

But it’s the lip-service from politicians like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, who listen politely but heedlessly to Professor Bacevich’s criticisms of the war, who have really driven him to reconsider just how well the Republic is holding up these days. To whom do the Bushes, Kerrys, and Kennedys listen? Lobbyists, of course:

Money buys access and influence. Money greases the process that will yield us a new president in 2008. When it comes to Iraq, money ensures that the concerns of big business, big oil, bellicose evangelicals and Middle East allies gain a hearing. By comparison, the lives of U.S. soldiers figure as an afterthought.

Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.’s life is priceless. Don’t believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier’s life: I’ve been handed the check. It’s roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.

Bacevich ends on a note of near despair for the country; he thinks his own efforts have been wasted. They haven’t been. His 2001 book, American Empire, is still the most important single foreign-policy book to have been published this decade, and his later New American Militarism is up there as well. It will take a long, long time before the American public, or really its leadership class, absorbs the lessons of this war and long half-century and more of misguided foreign-policy. But if they learn the lesson at all I suspect it will be in large part to the efforts of Andrew Bacevich and others like him.

Ron Paul on Bill Maher — and on Chocolate-Chip Cookies…

Lew Rockwell has posted the video clip of Ron Paul’s second visit to the Bill Maher show; this time the host let Paul talk seriously about foreign policy. Maher even half-apologizes for his flippant attitude the first time around a few weeks back.

Speaking of flippant… here we have a WaPo gossip columnist (I take it) asking Paul about pot, prostitution, and chocolate-chip cookies. And also his OB/GYN practice. Sound answers from Paul all around, of course.

And, for good measure, here’s the video of Ron Paul and Michael Scheuer attempting to get Rudy Giuliani to read something about 9/11 rather than just blustering about it.

Romney Loves No Child Left Behind

He’s fallen for a question about whether there are any areas on which he’s changed his position in a direction that doesn’t help him with the conservative base. Yes, he says, he used to want to abolish the federal department of education, but now he loves it and supports NCLB, too. Another good reason not to vote for him — as if more were needed! (And of course, while it’s not something that helps him with the base, it does help him overall. Hardly a punishing, principled stand.)

Now the debate is over and the neocons are going to chatter away on Fox News. I’m sure we’ll hear more G.I. Joe. All the candidates are talking to Hannity and Colmes, so Paul will have a chance to tell it straight once again — and hopefully he’ll tell it better this time.