The Lamentations of Lowry – Chapter 3
Hear ye, hear ye. Reaganism is dead.
So say the pundits, politicos, and pollsters. So say the columnists, commentators, and canaries of calumny. I didn’t know it until a few weeks ago (when they told me so), but the coalition of willing, strong, and intelligent conservatives has dissolved.
What is a Reagan Republican to do? As a child, there were two men that I wanted to meet- Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan. The former had passed on, but the Gipper was still there, smiling in that picture on my grandfather’s wall, shaking hands with that successful Cuban-American banker. I grew up in awe of both of those men. They would be pleased to know that the coaltion, created by one and inhabited by the other, IS NOT DEAD.
What is Reagan Conservatism? A healthy distrust of government. A belief in the punitive effect of high taxation on the economy. The commitment to defend this county without apology.
It is American Exceptionalism– the belief that the United States of America is the best, most worthy nation on the planet, despite her deficiencies. It is the belief that the average citizen has more right to determine the course and conduct of their lives than the Government. It is the reality of self-improvement and economic mobility, replayed thousands of times in front of our eyes.
Do these beliefs continue today? Do they inspire today? Do they imbue each and every aspirant to a sense of purpose? To a voluntary inclusion in a whole that is united by a belief in the righteousness of merit and hard work?
Yes. I feel it. You may feel it. We’re not dead yet.
So who has written the Reaganite post-mortem? Unfortunately, some of the people that used to carry the banner. A pathetic mixture of nostaligia and weariness enshrouds some of these old stalwarts. Unsatisfied with the way the Bush administration has applied conservative principles, many write their remembrances and bemoan a golden age that was largely unappreciated until it was over.
To those people I say thank you. You may step back. We’ll take over. It is too early for obituaries.
I don’t think John McCain is the worst thing that could happen to the party. It would not advance conservative issues (and I’m not talking about abortion or gay marriage). But is it better than the alternative? I have no problem saying that it is.
What is so distasteful about John McCain is the inevitability that he has attached to his candidacy. I have respect for his experience and sacrifice, but years of torture and imprisonment are not qualifications for the presidency. He doesn’t “deserve” it. Nor does Mitt or Obama or anyone else. The problem is that McCain doesn’t seem to think so.
Peggy Noonan ended her last column beautifully. Sometimes I fear she is slipping into the trap I mentioned above, but she’s hanging on. The excerpt:
Mr. McCain seems to me to have two immediate problems, both of which he might address. One is that he doesn’t seem to much like conservatives, and never has. They can’t help admire him, but they’ve disagreed with him on so many issues, and when they bring this up his demeanor tends to morph into the second problem: He radiates, he telegraphs, a certain indignation at being questioned by people who’ve never had to vote in Congress and make a deal. He’s like Moe Greene in “The Godfather,” when Michael Corleone tells him he’s going to buy him out. “Do you know who I am? I’m Moe Greene. I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders.” I’ve been on the firing line, punk. I am the voice of surviving conservatism.
This doesn’t always go over so well. Mr. Giuliani seems to know Mr. McCain is Moe Greene. Mr. Huckabee probably thought “The Godfather” was kinda violent. Mr. Romney may be thinking to himself, But Michael Corleone won in the end, and had better suits.