November 8, 2004


GOP DEFEATS DEMS, CONSERVATIVES (Thomas Fleming, 11/03/04, Chronicles)

Many of my conservative colleagues and friends were hoping that a Kerry victory would revivify the paleoconservative political cause, but Mr. Buchanan, as a politician, is even more dead than the late Ralph Nader who committed political suicide by running in 2004. It is time to wake up and smell the enemy’s napalm. There is no paleoconservative political movement of any size; there is no middle American revolution; the left wing of the Republican party, calling itself conservative, has triumphed because Republican leftism is the American mainstream.

If paleoconservatives wish to play a constructive role in politics, they are going to have to drop some of their (and my) apocalyptic rhetoric, denying all legitimacy to the state and insisting on a simon-pure anti-abortion litmus test. There are important issues on which we have something to say, but so long as we content ourselves with repudiating the income tax as unconstitutional (which it is) and rhetorically opposing all abortion as murder (which it is), we shall be unable to play a part in reforming the tax system or giving the American people the abortion law they actually want—a ban on all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the mother’s life.

This is not Plato’s Republic or the New Jerusalem we live in, but socialist America, and those who want to enter the political arena had better strip off their prophetic robes and pick up the net and trident of the gladiator. If that means working within the Republican Party as a disciplined faction, then let their be no illusions about the virtues of the party hacks who run the GOP. They listen only to the jingle of coins and the hum of the voting machines. The conservatives who supported Reagan and the two Bushes have little to show for their money and effort. In the future, let them demand some very specific rewards: Cabinet positions, the directorship of the NEH and the NEA, and a hardball approach to the issues that most trouble all conservatives. All the smoke-and-mirrors proposals for constitutional amendments on “gay marriage” and abortion should be swept away and replaced by moderate and pragmatic proposals that would win the support of the American people and justify a President in defying Congress. If nothing is possible, then stay out of politics and pay more attention to your grandchildren and your church parish.

Conservatives who abstained from voting or supported Peroutka or Nader should be generous in congratulating their Republican friends on the success of their party. Whining about the Bush victory—which some of us saw as inevitable even before the Kerry nomination—will put us in the same category with the Democrats who are still complaining of how they were robbed of the White House in 2000. In politics, you have to fish or cut bait, and if you are going to fish for the next four years it will probably have to be on a boat owned by the Republicans.

Welcome home, paleos.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 8, 2004 8:24 PM

Boy, I guess Mr. Fleming is referring to people like me when he mentions the "left wing" of the Republican party. One small problem: Among my friends, I'm generally considered to be, as Florence King has put it, "slightly to the right of Vlad the Impaler." I'd hate to see what the author thinks a true conservative looks like.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at November 9, 2004 2:33 AM

This article is based on a misconception about conservatives and conservatism. The idea of "paleo-" conservatism is somehow mixed up with ideal types of 19th Century social Darwinism and vested-interest Tory-ism.

We are going to neither of those places. The Left would like us to, because those ideas are easy to fight. What are conserving are the unbroken traditions of our civilizations, which we held long before this or that economic system, and which, God willing, we shall continue to hold.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 9, 2004 2:57 AM

The so-called Paleoconservatives are nothing more than a group of Nazis, Klansmen, Arch-Catholics and other professional haters who pine for the days when they could put Jews in ovens, lynch Blacks for looking at a White woman or burn heretics at the stake. To treat their 'movement'(it is a movement only in the sense that the excretion of solid bodily waste can be called a 'movement') as having any legitimacy at all is a disastrous mistake for the GOP. They have no votes and they exemplify all the worst traits of Western culture.

The GOP should tell these clowns that they are as welcome as boreworms on a wooden ship. They are a pestilence and should perhaps be rounded up and shipped to Molokai or Carville, Louisiana with the other lepers.

Posted by: Bart at November 9, 2004 6:47 AM

Bart, Bart, Bart. You obviously have no idea what a Nazi is, or a Klansman, or, least of all, an "Arch-Catholic." You need to read up on what the Nazis and the Catholics really thought about each other, and what Catholics think about things like race and state.

You may be p.o.'d because because Pacelli deftly played the Nazis and the Communists against each other, as deftly as JPII finished off the Reds a half-century later. Whatever your beef, lumping Catholics with our worst culture-enemies is simply ignoring history.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 9, 2004 7:02 AM

Tell that one to the Jews of Slovakia who were rounded up by Msgr. Tizo, or the Jews of Croatia whose extermination was ordered by Cardinal Stepinac, or the Jews who lived in the Papal States who were treated to cruel discrimination including Popes who felt free to kidnap their children.

Don't waste my time. I'll stick with Goldhagen and Cornwell.

Posted by: Bart at November 9, 2004 7:12 AM


Perhaps you should get better acquainted with the more-strident Catholics.

I can't remember the name of the periodical--Crisis, perhaps?--that feels a civil war in the US is required in order to reshape the US according to their lights.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 9, 2004 7:12 AM


It could obviously come to that, though demographics suggest we'll win without war.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 7:21 AM

So, Bart, as proof that *American* Paleocons are the kinds of people you claim them to be, you cite incidents that happened in EUROPE MORE THAN 4 DECADES AGO?

Gawd, that is SO STUPID.

And now it's immortalized in electronic amber...

Posted by: Ptah at November 9, 2004 7:51 AM

Amazing. He's advocating that half a loaf of bread is better than none. I wouldn't have thought I'd see that much sense.

Posted by: Mikey at November 9, 2004 8:06 AM

"I'll stick with Goldhagen and Cornwell."

Of course you will. Forever and ever and ever.

Posted by: Peter B at November 9, 2004 8:23 AM

"I'd hate to see what the author thinks a true conservative looks like."

How about a person who doesn't launch into hysterical, excrement laced attacks on the Roman Catholic Church -the bulwark and the dynamo that has propelled western culture for the past two thousand years.

"Tell that one to the Jews of Slovakia who were rounded up by Msgr. Tizo"

The Slovakia that -against heavy Nazi oppisition-refused to deport Jews? That was a last resort for Jewish refugees in the region? Tiso was no hero, but he was better than most of the men who ruled in Nazi occupied Europe. The only reason to single him out is his affiliation with the Catholic church.

"or the Jews of Croatia whose extermination was ordered by Cardinal Stepinac"

That is simply discredited communist propaganda. Tito could have used a man like you.

"or the Jews who lived in the Papal States who were treated to cruel discrimination including Popes who felt free to kidnap their children."

The Papal States who sheltered some 5000 Jewish refugees in (the utterly miniscule) Vatican property? The pope who was, after the war, was celebrated by Golda Meir and the chief rabbi of Rome? The Catholic church that caused Einstein to make the following remark:

"Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty."

Posted by: Nate B. at November 9, 2004 10:41 AM

Some history that is always interesting is seeing how the Big Lie transformed the view that Pius XII and his Papacy were moral champions who helped the Jews to the idea held now that they were Hitler's henchmen.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at November 9, 2004 11:20 AM

On of America's most outspoken, pro-nazi Roman Catholic priests, Father Coughlin, "served" at the Shrine of the Little Flower in my hometown of Royal Oak, Michigan.

Posted by: Dave at November 9, 2004 1:34 PM


"It could obviously come to that, though demographics suggest we'll win without war."

At first glance, that seems plausible. However, civil wars are never avoided due to some state of affairs representing an unreachable foreign shore to mortal litigants.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 9, 2004 2:05 PM

Pope Pius XII succomed to indifference (as per another article posted on this site) and intolorance. He was afraid of the Nazis. He could have become a shining example of what it means to stand up in faith, no matter the cost, and carry the cross of Christ!

At any rate, Thomas Fleming ought to get together with Barbara Strisand, that way they could make each other miserabe about the same things, though for different reasons. It might be therapeutic for them both.

Posted by: DP at November 9, 2004 2:06 PM


They're almost always avoided--we didn't have one over labor issues for example.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 2:51 PM