by David Beilstein
‘CONSERVATIVE’ hot bag of air, Anne Coulter has done a fine job embarrassing herself and conservatism of late, but her open hostility toward late senator and presidential nominee, circa, 1964, Barry Goldwater—what she deems a purest libertarian candidate, and its ideological, electoral irrelevance—is awful illustrious of pop conservatism’s vacuous position in our time.
Needless to say, Ms Coulter was at it again—this time against John Stossel—on national television. I wrote about her lavish decent into madness, here.
But what kindles my animus toward Ms Coulter, now, is her routine need (usually on Howie Carr’s radio show out of Boston) to malign and dismiss the great conservative, the late great Senator Barry Goldwater.
Regardless, a need to dispel some of Ms Coulter’s nonsense is warranted. In terms of Barry Goldwater being too “purest”, thus unelectable, a candidate, William F Buckley Jr., in his literary autobiography, “Miles Gone By” renounced such thinking, postulating that only 16 years after Sen. Goldwater’s landslide defeat at the hands of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, California Governor, Ronald Reagan, was elected 40th president of the U.S. by landslide, on an indistinguishable platform from that of Mr Goldwater’s 1964 effort.
Why? Late great controversialist, William F Buckley, Jr had his theories—and over and against the nonsense of Ms Coulter, it was not that Mr Goldwater’s positions were too purest. Readers would do well to donate to amazon.com or someplace else to read Mr Buckley’s explanation at the end of “Miles Gone By”—an explanation, to be sure, worth the price of the book.
A hint might suffice. It has to do with a concerted effort, by way of an endowment upon prominent wealthy conservative, putting money in the hands of intellectual efforts to spread classical liberal ideas across the fruited plains. That effort, then, was spearheaded by a committee overseeing such funding by folks like Mr.’s Goldwater and Buckley, to name but a few.
Needless to say, a conservatism that belittles and maligns Barry Goldwater is not altogether conservative. For Goldwater’s conservatism, though imperfect, was the beginning of nationally electable conservatism [see Ronald Reagan] that was not only a conservation of classical liberal formulations, thus animating individual liberty, but also importantly, because of its electoral success, attenuating statist control over individual life.
All such ingredients are missing from this new so-called conservatism of our increasingly tabescent times, conjured up and promoted by folks like Anne Coulter. There is no debating this anymore. Such pop conservatism is “strangely” not electable, despite violent compromise; it’s oppositions to failed policies of the progressive left—see John McCain and Mitt Romney—and its idea of “conservatism” as compassionate conservatism; another way of saying Big Government Conservatism, an oxymoron at best.
With such compassionate conservatism, the state gets bigger, its control more severe, and these pop conservatives did not have a huge problem with this highly non-conservative gyration, until, it seems, it became likely a radical progressive like Barry Obama was going to become president over such a state of affairs.
When Democratic nominee Obama became president, big government became bad. Spending became bad; national debt worse; and a government lording over individual life and legislating “moralism” upon the nation at large in a cultural uniformity takeover—too, was also beyond the pale to pop conservatives.
When Obama was president.
One must ask, do conservatives of the Anne Coulter stripe realise how surface-level and arbitrary that appears?
Sure, consistent conservative and libertarian voices were screaming about GOP/conservative congressional spending way back in 2002; but I’m not talking about those folks. They were, in hindsight, the reasonable ones—the consistent ones. The people who no matter who was in government power, foresaw a government confined to its Constitutional enumerated powers, as wonderfully good—all the time. An ideal, and the direction all classical liberals should be aiming for when it comes to national political discourse and policy.
Yet, we are supposed to accord Ms Coulter a kind of pomp and noise of conservative celebrity status—even though, awfully, she attacks the very pillars of a past conservative movement that not only dismantled government control of [not enough of course], but was also kicking progressive ass on a regular basis in national and local elections.
A far cry from the outcomes of not only George W Bush’s two elections, but more so McCain and Romney.
There’s a lot of hype and noise in the Anne Coulter’s of the pop, celebrity conservative movement. But very little substance. And very little expression of liberalism—its cogency and beauty—in the classical sense, animating that movement.