March 2, 2007

1986 ALL OVER AGAIN (via Kevin Whited):

Far right feeling left out (JULIE MASON, 3/02/07, Houston Chronicle)

Leading American conservatives are fed up with President Bush and the Republican establishment, and they don't give a toss for the party's 2008 presidential front-runners, either.

At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual, three-day gathering of the far right and its leaders, the mood is feisty and disgusted -- but not just at Hillary Clinton, this time.

"We as conservatives need new leaders," Richard Viguerie, the conservative father of political direct mail told hundreds of cheering conservatives in a Washington ballroom. "Just because the Republican Party has a death wish doesn't mean we have to go down with them."

1981, Reagan, O'Connor, Viguerie & Bill Moyers (The American View)
Richard's new book written with David Franke is titled "America's Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New And Alternative Media To Take Power." At the national level, however, conservatives -- by re-electing Mr. Bush --have not taken power, as Richard says, accurately, in his memos to conservative leaders. The temptation is to say that Republicans have taken power, not conservatives. But, even this is not true because Mr. Bush's government with its huge deficits and un-Constitutional programs has not been Republican -- at least not Republican as this tradition was originally in modern times starting with Barry Goldwater.

In his talk with Moyers, Richard said that since Ronald Reagan, "we've not had a president who governed as a conservative." He predicted that after the 2004 election, there would be "a war" for the heart and soul of the GOP and this war would be between traditional conservatives, like himself and Reagan, and the "big government Republicans."


But, if this is true -- if there is such a war -- why did Richard vote for George Bush, who is the biggest of all Big Government Republicans? Why didn't he wage this war before this year's election by refusing to vote for Mr. Bush?

And Richard's memory is playing tricks on him regarding Reagan's alleged conservative governance. As previously noted, when I was the Editor of his "Conservative Digest" magazine in the early 1980s, we were constantly criticizing Reagan because he was naming to top Administration jobs scores of people who were not conservative Reaganites. In fact, we devoted at least two entire issues of the magazine to this topic.

In an "Open Letter" to Reagan in the July, 1982, issue Richard accused the President of "d├ętente with Liberals" and said "most of your major appointments are not conservatives." Another issue of our magazine, as I have said, made the case against Reagan Supreme Court appointee Sandra Day O'Connor who has proven to be anything but a solid conservative. And we failed miserably in getting Reagan and his administration to focus on the so-called "social issues" which included abortion.

Mr. Reagan was no traditional small-government conservative. He only talked about reducing the size of the Federal Government. Among other things, in 1982, he signed into law the biggest tax increase in American history up to that time. When Reagan left office, the Federal Government was the biggest and most debt-ridden national government up to that time.

Richard, and many other Christian conservatives, need to wake up. "The war," at the national level, between traditional conservatives and Big Government Republicans is over. The Big Government Republicans won.

Some of you may be too young to recall that conservatives hated President Reagan then just as much as they hate W and McCain today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2007 8:34 AM

I am too young. Thankfully, I can read what people were saying back then.

For the record, I think it's basically the case that OJ, Wilfred McClay, and Jay Nordlinger are the only GOP political commentators who talk sense on the matter of Reagan vs. Bush.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 2, 2007 9:29 AM

Reagan gave the Bush family entry to Presidential politics, so conservatives will either have to blame Reagan or accept Bush as a conservative.

Posted by: h-man at March 2, 2007 10:10 AM

I remember, but I would also say that Richard Viguerie is not really a representative conservative. He is like the addled uncle who can't figure out who the family members are.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 2, 2007 10:34 AM

I remember, but I would also say that Richard Viguerie is not really a representative conservative. He is like the addled uncle who can't figure out who the family members are.

Ah, but one who sells books and maintains some semblance of relevance as a speaker by criticizing the relatives. :)

He started spamming me some time ago promoting his book.

Posted by: kevin whited at March 2, 2007 11:17 AM

Richard Viguerie was relevant in 1978 - today, not.

He is best thought of as a petulant version of Bob Shrum.

Posted by: ratbert at March 2, 2007 11:43 AM

I was young; but I remember. It was his viciousness towards President Reagan in some of his comments on the House floor that turned me sour on Gingrich. Took me a long time to get over that.

For those who wonder if McCain was smart or stupid to duck CPAC--I found these gems from that article interesting:

"Conservative writer John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, hosting one of the conference forums, noted that this is the first year in memory in which the organization didn't invite the chairman of the Republican Party (Sen. Mel Martinez) to speak -- a remark that drew a huge round of applause."

"A CPAC poll asked conference goers, if Rudy Giuliani was the Republican nominee, would they vote Democrat, Libertarian, or not vote at all?"

Posted by: cornetofhorse at March 2, 2007 12:01 PM

The only Hispanics allowed were the waiters....

Posted by: oj at March 2, 2007 3:00 PM