Right on

John Derbyshire in The American Conservative: Limbaugh and company certainly entertain. But a steady diet of ideological comfort food is no substitute for hearty intellectual fare.


  Taking the conservative project as a whole — limited government, fiscal prudence, equality under law, personal liberty, patriotism, realism abroad — has talk radio helped or hurt? All those good things are plainly off the table for the next four years at least, a prospect that conservatives can only view with anguish. Did the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Savages, and Ingrahams lead us to this sorry state of affairs?
  They surely did. At the very least, by yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration, they helped create the great debt bubble that has now burst so spectacularly. The big names, too, were all uncritical of the decade-long (at least) efforts to “build democracy” in no-account nations with politically primitive populations.

I was raised by, and as, a Republican. I moved left of the whole Democratic party in college (’65-’69, during the Vietnam war, which I opposed absolutely), and stayed there for another decade or more. When I moved to California in 1985 I realized that I had become an Independent, and I’ve registered that way ever since. Voted that way too.

But I never lost my interest in the well-being of the Republican party. What Derbyshire outlines as the “conservative project” sounds right to me. Not fighting abortion and immigration. Not bringing religion into government. Not meddling in people’s lives. Not spending out the wazoo. Not military adventures abroad. Not hating “Liberals” as if they were a disease.

Anyway, good piece. Hope it helps.

7 responses to “Right on”

  1. I’ll agree on Hannity – he’s about as dumb as a box of rocks. Limbaugh though? Add Derbyshire to the long list of critics who don’t actually listen to him. Limbaugh was one of the earliest conservative critics of Bush’s (and the Republican Congress’) levels of spending. I think you would be hard pressed to have called him uncritical over the last few years, especially since 2006.

    The real tragedy is that Obama and the current Congress are like Bush squared. Foreign wars? You bet, only in a more remote place with no secure supply lines (Afghanistan) (not to mention that the plan is to leave at least 50k in Iraq). Bust the budget? You bet, just on different interest groups.

    There was very little to like to the Bush administration’s response to the bank solvency issue – which is why I dislike Obama’s approach so much. It’s the same thing, with even bigger dollar signs attached….

  2. I feel your pain. I think 1968 was a watershed year for the Democratic Party. Could have gone with McCarthy (my candidate) but went Kennedy then Humphrey. Triumph of the optimists who believed that government could solve all problems. Didn’t realize that bureaucracies can’t solve problems. This bred an entitlement culture (both givers and receivers of gifts).

    I still remember conservatives as the police state people, as well as either overtly or subtly racist. I remain Democrat out of the habit of social justice, but I remain skeptical that either party really is a justice party. Everyone (conservatives as well) have their hands out when the government wants to give money away. The difference in the parties is merely who gets the money.

    I could be libertarian, except I’m not sanguine about big business. We need the power of the government to balance big business tendencies toward monopoly and exploitation. I’d like a Jeffersonian vision of small business/artisans and small government, but I don’t think it’s in our near term future.

    We should look at Obama not so much for the stimulus package as for his “leadership” which essentially means his speaking ability. His ability to inspire.

  3. “What Derbyshire outlines as the “conservative project” sounds right to me. Not fighting abortion and immigration.”


    there is a huge difference between legal “immigration” that is a key part of how the USA has evolved, and “Illegal immigration” that rewards criminal behavior, lowers wages, spreads disease, and imposes a huge cost to the U.S. taxpayer and society.

    Treating legal “immigration” as equal to “Illegal immigration” is the favorite propaganda “TOOL” of the pro-Illegal immigration lobbies, advocate groups, big business (that want slave labor), the Democratic Party (that want to trade “free programs” and “amnesty” for votes), the “open borders” groups, and the ninety some percent liberal media.

    Interesting how the drug cartel killings on the U.S. Southern Border and the abductions in Arizona don’t get any real coverage in our liberal media. These activities are a direct result of “ILLEGAL immigration” .

    If we are to continue as a civil country ruled by law, the morons in charge had better stop picking and choosing which laws they favor to enforce, and which laws they choose to overlook. When the citizens decide to pick and choose which laws they choose to abide by, it will be too late. There is not enough law enforcement to turn it back to a country of “rule by law”. Our system depends on people doing the right thing.

    We now have 20 million “Illegal immigrants” here being rewarded for breaking the immigration laws and stealing identities just for starters.

    E-Verify is a very efficient tool to control “Illegal immigrants” from stealing jobs from Legal U.S. Citizens but the funding is threatened by the Pro Illegal Alien Movements. The next strategy is to tie E-Verify funding to Amnesty later this year.



    “Immigration” is when applicants follow the law and wait their turn in line.

    “Illegal Immigration” is when CRIMINALS jump ahead of legal immigration applicants, “cut in line”, thumb their nose at our country, demand rights and benefits, rant and rave on TV, act like victims, march like third world mobs in the streets, lower wages and steal jobs from Legal U.S. Citizens that are already being crushed by globalization.

    In effect, in this time of huge unemployment, “Illegal immigrants” are stealing the American Dream from under-employed and unemployed Legal U.S. Citizens.

    But, those Legal U.S. Citizens are just “throw aways”, right?

    Legal U.S. Citizens , future, family, children don’t matter, right ?

    Legal U.S. Citizens, just obey the law and pay their taxes.

    This country is going straight down the “third world” toilet.


    Makes you proud to be an American , huh…

  4. […] Right on (blogs.law.harvard.edu)   […]

  5. Frankly, Obama’s ability to “inspire” means little to me. I take the same approach now that I did before the election – I assume his actions speak louder than his words.

    When he says he doesn’t believe in big government, I look at his plans to expand the bureacracy.

    When he talks about “irresponsible spending” in during the Bush administration, I look at his proposals to massively increase spending (including 1 trillion or so in new entitlements, which will increase every subsequent year). And please don’t claim all that spending is somehow going to boost the economy – little of it truly qualifies as “stimulus”, and economists recognize that massive public spending didn’t help Japan in the 90s, or the US in the 30s.

    When he decries the “Bush deficits”, I look at Obama’s plan to quadruple that deficit this year.

    And when he predicts the economy will turn around, I look at the wisdom of the crowds (i.e., the stock market), and how the crowds react negatively to almost every new Obama speech or proposal for government action.

    As far as “yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration”, many conservative commentators criticized that spending, while supporting Bush in the war on Islamofascism.

    I’m kinda surprised that Derb doesn’t know the ultimate origin of the crash – the housing bubble which was fueled by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other Federal types who forced banks to give home loans to people who were unlikely to repay them. The Wall Street types who used faulty formulae to determine financial risk wouldn’t have had the opportunity to participate in this if the so-called “affordable housing” proponents hadn’t started the bubble in the first place. And it was Bush (and other Republicans) who at least TRIED to reign in Fannie Mae, while it was primarily Democrats (like the House member whose sex partner for years was a bigwig at Fannie Mae, or the Fannie Mae board member who is now Obama’s chief of staff) who blocked those efforts (aided by a few clueless Republicans like Bennett).

    As for you, Doc, your supposed reasons for rejection of the Republican Party simply don’t mesh with the facts – especially that comment about “spending out the wazoo” (and it’s simply silly for you to suggest that Democrats don’t want to “meddle in people’s lives”, or “bring religion into government”).

  6. Calvin, neither party’s proclivities and practices appeal to me. As an independent I’ve rejected both of them. Or at least membership with either of them.

    I think the Obama budget is bloated and dangerous, and that the country remains hellbound in a handbasket. I also think there are levels of openness, sanity and competence present in the Obama administration that was absent in the Bush administration. Those levels are uneven, and nothing new disconnects the flywheels of Business As Usual that continue to spin regardless of who’s in power.

    So I’m a realist, and I’m hopeful. For now.

  7. Doc,

    I heard this song today on the radio and I thought you would appreciate it.

    It is titled, “Shuttin Detroit Down” by John Rich.

    Here you go…


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