Conservatives Will Be Hacks

by Brien Jackson

I’ve been interested for a while now in the “new conservatives,” the center-right, relatively young conservatives who are supposed to be more serious, sensible, less outrageous, and all around better than Jonah Goldberg. Guys like Ramesh Ponnuru, David Brooks, Yuval Levin, Ross Douthat, Patrick Ruffini, etc. So one thing I’ve been wondering is how the Obama era will impact their future directions, and whether or not they’ll be able to maintain a sense of seriousness, or whether being a total minority under a popular, liberal President will push them to embrace the broader right. If the first couple of weeks are any indication, it’s not looking good for the prospects of a “serious opposition.”

Patrick Ruffini actually suggested, with a straight face I assume, that the New York Times replace Bill Kristol with Rush Limbaugh on their Op-Ed page. David Brooks criticized the economic stimulus package by citing a non-existant CBO report, and despite writing two Times columns since, including another one about the stimulus bill, has not retracted this citation. And now Yuval Levin expects us to believe that the fact that Republicans voted against a popular bill supported by a popular President is bad news, for Democrats:

When they manage to unify the entire House Republican caucus with David Brooks and Peggy Noonan, you know the Democrats have seriously botched something up. And boy, they really have. The more you look at the stimulus bill the clearer it becomes that it is the Congressional Democrats, not the opponents of this bill, who have failed to see that we are in a genuine and exceptional crisis. They’re working to use the moment as an opportunity to advance the same agenda they haven’t been able to move (with good reason) for a decade and more, and in the process are showing that agenda to be what we always knew it was: a massively wasteful, reckless, profligate, slovenly, higgledy-piggledy mess of interest group troughs and technocratic fantasies devoid of any economic thinking or sense of proportion.

There’s just nothing you can say at this point. There’s always been a cocoon on the right, but the hope was that people like Brooks and Levin would help to open that up a bit, or at least marginalize its members. Instead, it looks like they’re creeping ever closer to the cocoon themselves, preferring to live in the rights alternate reality than the real world. Which is unfortunate, but not something we should really be surprised about.