Monday, February 13, 2012

The conscience of a severe conservative..

WHAT IS A CONSERVATIVE? Painful though it may be, let me count the themes and variations, with considerable help from those profoundly committed fellows seeking the GOP presidential nod.

Let's begin with McMitt Romney. Funny how he always manages to engage our attention with things he is forced to explain later. Successfully groveling before the Conservative Political Action Conference (he did manage to win the straw vote!) McMitt weirdly referred to himself as a "severe" conservative. That got everybody's attention, Readers, in and out of the ideological fray. Today's Paul Krugman column in the New York Times, for example, was headed "Severe Conservative Syndrome," a hint of the medically-inspired terminology commonly attached to "severe": disabled, depressed, ill, etc. ...

If nothing else, Romney appears to have broken new ground for the word that Republicans have snagged to convince other Republicans that they are just as conservative as, say, Ronald Reagan. But Reagan, of course, is merely a convenient ad hoc throwback inasmuch it can be easily shown that the GOP icon presided over raised taxes, debt ceilings and budget deficits with the best of, eh, severe Democrats.

Still, Romney has revived Orwellian Duckspeak, which, you know, refers to people who talk without thinking.

Meantime, Romney's opponents have found other adjectives to repeat when they are in the company of two or more voters. McRick Santorum argues that he is the only "true" conservative in the crowd, shifting the focus from McNewt Gingrich, who also calls himself authentically tried and true, even more so than Santorum, if you really want to believe that.
Not to confuse you, but there are numerous other references to conservatism that show up regularly, depending on the audience in the hall. To wit: economic, social, ultra-right, Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, post-modern (Probably from George Will) and Neo-

For now, however, Romney has at least won the linguistic honors, Duckspeak be damned.

Or as Krugman concludes: " have to wonder whether it was a Freudian slip. For something has clearly gone very wrong with modern American conservatism."

Modern American? That's a new one on me.


PJJinOregon said...

I assumed "severe conservative" was a code for "severe budget cuts". This was a conservative event, was it not? Where no candidate can admit to being a "moderate" anything?

I do miss Goldwater and his severe clarity.

David Hess said...

Funny, but I thought all conservatives were "severe," particularly in their determination to dismantle the safety net, undo the health care reform that aims to cover millions of uninsured, preserve tax cuts for the affluent while cutting education and vo-ed programs for the young and unemployed, repeal the new regulations curbing the excesses of the Wall Street moguls, block the life-saving efforts of the EPA and other federal health-care agencies to clean the air and water, to mention a few. As for McMitt's supposed slips of the tongue, perhaps his handlers should break out the teleprompters. Or at least furnish him with some of Reagan's index cards. I, too, was stumped by Krugman's reference to "modern American conservatives." As far as I can tell, today's conservatives are pre-modern, striving mightily to move us backward into the 19th Century, when the robber barons ruled the Earth, when the old and sick and disabled were left to suffer or die, and when miners, construction laborers and industrial workers were exploited, impoverished and replaced by scabs (or arrested or shot by private security thugs) if they complained. Nowadays, the "severe conservatives" resort to such repression to the courts and legislatures, lobbying for laws or rules to undercut collective bargaining rights and the right to organize. High on their agenda, too, is to slash government spending for food stamps, health care for the aged and poor, pensions, and environmental protection and preservation. Up to this point, by his own words, McMitt has signed on to virtually every one of these conservative objectives in his frantic quest to nail down the right-wing of his party in order to secure its nomination. That was no Freudian slip at the C-PAC convention when he described himself as a "severe conservative."

Mencken said...

Back in day, I sat through a Baptist preacher's rant, er... sermon one Sunday morning. He seemed to take great pleasure in admonishing the congregation that not only are a lot of people in this country not going to heaven, a lot of the faithful sitting in his pews weren't going to meet St. Peter either.

There's never a shortage of pious assholes, regardless of ideology. who feel they know the absolute truth, and the absolute standards by which
their flock must adhere or face excommunication.

Personally I'd like to watch the debating Republicans adopt the Pentecostal snake handler's rules. Grab the rattlesnake and if you get bit and die, well then you just weren't a strong enough believer.

Newt would probably benefit from professional courtesy by the snakes though. Ron Paul would say the snake's too big. Romney would wait for the others to go first. Santorum would ask if he could just talk to the snake, because you know, some snakes speak.