Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rubber Biscuit Conservatism

Reform Conservatism's Biggest Challenge in 2015

In 2008, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, two young conservative writers, argued in their book Grand New Party that the Republican Party needed a new agenda that focused on working class Americans. With that, reform conservatism, as it has become known, was born.

Since then Douthat, now at the New York Times, and Salam, the executive editor of the National Review, have been joined by dozens of conservative writers, including Ramesh Ponnuru and James Pethokoukis. These so-called reformocons have gained influence both within the GOP and in the national media. The fact that, over the past two months, they have been repeatedly attacked from the left and right over their conservatism is a testament to that growing influence. But while they have made substantial progress over the past six years, their toughest challenge is yet to come...
Have you ever heard of a wish sandwich?
On Monday, The Week's Jeff Spross offered the latest advice to the reformocons: Join the Democratic Party. “Pushing changes through the legislature and past the presidential veto pen requires log-rolling and compromises, which gets to the bedrock problem: the reformicons have nothing to offer other Republican constituencies,” he writes. “From the standpoint of a well-heeled evangelical or an oil business professional or a Wall Street trader, reformicon proposals are all costs, no benefits. In their current home, the reformicons have no room to maneuver.” Spross’s piece followed up one earlier this month from Salon’s Elias Isquith, who argued that the reformocons lacked “a dedicated constituency.”
A wish sandwich is the kind of a sandwich where you have two slices of bread and you wish you had some meat.

Bow bow bow...
Reform conservatism does not have a clear constituency that will put money and manpower behind their ideas to turn them into laws. But that is far too static an analysis of reform conservatism. Instead, consider how far Douthat, Salam and their fellow reformocons have come in a short time. Along with having positions at top media organizations, they have developed a policy institute called the YG Network...
The other day I had a ricochet biscuit.
To be clear, the reformocons have a long way to go. They’ve made it onto the national stage and have convinced some key Republican figures that their ideas are best. But it’s a whole different game to convince the base of that—the Tea Party, specifically.
A ricochet biscuit is the kind of a biscuit thats supposed to bounce back off the wall into your mouth. If it don't bounce back...you go hungry!

Bow bow bow...
While Needham’s essay demonstrates how the Tea Party’s interests can be closely aligned with those of reform conservatives, it also reveals the reformocons’ biggest challenge: governing responsibly without endangering that Tea Party support. If the Tea Party has proven anything during the Obama presidency, it is that they cannot govern responsibly. Needham’s essay reinforces that.
Like the Escher or Dali, reformicons make their living painting pictures of fantastical lands where the laws of time and space and physics do not apply.

Unlike Escher or Dali, reformicons then try to sell their dreamscapes as architectural diagrams.  

To people who live in caves.

And insulate their walls with their own shit.

And are terrified of fire.

The reason reformicons have "positions at top media organizations" has nothing to do with the quality of their thinking and everything to do with the long "Both Sides" con being run by the people who lead those organizations.

So while influential Conservative con men like David Brooks -- who have dedicated the back nine of their careers to shoveling vast stretches of recent history down the memory hole and replacing it with Whig fan fiction -- might proudly hang an original Douthat or Salam on the walls of their own castles in the sky, it is a simple fact that the problem with American Conservatism is American Conservatives.

And no quantity of white papers about melting clocks and circular waterfalls is going to change that.

Bow bow bow...


gocart mozart said...

Well done sir.

Bow, bow, bow.

Unknown said...

By and large, the ReformoCONs are just peddling the same afflict the afflicted/comfort the comfortable Reaganite bullshit, just in a less offensive shade of turd polish. Still stinks something awful. And any time they put an article in a widely read periodical, they have to preface their entire spiel with some variation of:

"To be sure, we think Obama is just a big of a poopy face meanie jerk as you God-fearin' teabaggers do and his policies are sucky."

...which is just pathetic.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

I prefer the term "Tea Birchers"--it highlights their intellectual ancestry, if "intellectual" is the operative word here.

n1ck said...

Brilliant as usual. Why you aren't being paid for this is a fucking mystery, and a public charity.


steeve said...

Flavor it how you like, but the taste test is very simple:

"Do you think tax cuts for the rich create jobs?"

If no, you're a democrat. If yes, you're insane.

Jerry B said...

I take seriously anybody who keeps their harmonica in a locked briefcase handcuffed to their wrist.

bow bow bow