We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Death of Reagan Republicanism?

Here is an excellent essay by George Will from Conservative Review:

The Tearing of the Conservative Fusion
By George Will

WASHINGTON - Like Job after losing his camels and acquir-
ing boils, the conservative movement is in distress. Mike
Huckabee shreds the compact that has held the movement's
two tendencies in sometimes uneasy equipoise. Social
conservatives, many of whom share Huckabee's desire to
"take back this nation for Christ," have collaborated with
limited-government, market-oriented, capitalism-defending
conservatives who want to take back the nation for James
Madison. Under the doctrine that conservatives call
"fusion," each faction has respected the other's agenda.
Huckabee aggressively repudiates the Madisonians.

He and John Edwards, flaunting their histrionic humility in
order to promote their curdled populism, hawked strikingly
similar messages in Iowa, encouraging self-pity and
economic hypochondria. Edwards and Huckabee lament a shrink-
ing middle class. Well.

Economist Stephen Rose, defining the middle class as house-
holds with annual incomes between $30,000 and $100,000,
says a smaller percentage of Americans are in that category
than in 1979 -- because the percentage of Americans earning
more than $100,000 has doubled from 12 to 24, while the
percentage earning less than $30,000 is unchanged. "So,"
Rose says, "the entire 'decline' of the middle class came
from people moving up the income ladder." Even as housing
values declined in 2007, the net worth of households

Huckabee told heavily subsidized Iowa -- Washington's
ethanol enthusiasm has farm values and incomes soaring --
that Americans striving to rise are "pushed down every
time they try by their own government." Edwards, synthetic
candidate of theatrical bitterness on behalf of America's
crushed, groaning majority, says the rich have an "iron-
fisted grip" on democracy and a "stranglehold" on the
economy. Strangely, these fists have imposed a tax code
that makes the top 1 percent of earners pay 39 percent of
all income tax revenues, the top 5 percent pay 60 percent,
and the bottom 50 percent pay only 3 percent.

According to Edwards, the North Carolina of his youth
resembled Chechnya today -- "I had to fight to survive.
I mean really. Literally." Huckabee, a compound of Uriah
Heep, Elmer Gantry and Richard Nixon, preens about his
humble background: "In my family, 'summer' was never a
verb." Nixon, who maundered about his parents' privations
and wife's cloth coat, followed Lyndon Johnson, another
miscast president whose festering resentments and status
anxieties colored his conduct of office. Here we go again?

Huckabee fancies himself persecuted by the Republican
"establishment," a creature already negligible by 1964,
when it failed to stop Barry Goldwater's nomination. The
establishment's voice, the New York Herald Tribune, expired
in 1966. Huckabee says "only one explanation" fits his Iowa
success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that
helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a
crowd of 5,000 people." God so loves Huckabee's politics
that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf? Should
someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?

Speaking of delusions, Edwards seems unaware that the world
market sets the price of oil. He says a $100-a-barrel price
is evidence of -- surging demand in India and China? unrest
in Nigeria's oil fields? No, "corporate greed." That is
Edwards' explanation of every unpleasantness. Mitt Romney's
versatility of conviction, although it repelled Iowans, has
been a modest makeover compared to Edwards' personality
transplant. The sunny Southerner of 2004 has become the
angry paladin of the suffering multitudes, to whom he
shouts: "Treat these people the way they treat you!" Pre-
sumably he means treat "the rich" badly -- an odious
exhortation to one portion of Americans, regarding another.

Although Huckabee and Edwards profess to loathe and vow to
change Washington's culture, each would aggravate its
toxicity. Each overflows with and wallows in the pugnacity
of the self-righteous who discern contemptible motives
behind all disagreements with them, and who therefore think
opponents are enemies and differences are unsplittable.

The way to achieve Edwards' and Huckabee's populist goal of
reducing the role of "special interests," meaning money, in
government is to reduce the role of government in distribut-
ing money. But populists want to sharply increase that role
by expanding the regulatory state's reach and enlarging
its agenda of determining the distribution of wealth.

Populists, who are slow learners, cannot comprehend this
iron law: Concentrate power in Washington and you increase
the power of interests whose representatives are concentrat-
ed there.

Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton
parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly
cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in
American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee --
an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an
adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic "fights" against
fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this

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