By ROBERT CAPEHERT
W. JAMES ANTLE III of The American Conservative website, has served up clarification on American conservatism before. Typical of the pugilistic paleo-con, he recently penned another great column about the animus toward libertarianism wafting in the air of old guard of G.O.P. senators like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
But what caught my attention this time – among other things – was a comment posted in the comment box below the article Antle wrote.
The basic point the commenter made was that Lindsey Graham, despite being almost in lock-step with big government progressive aims, is considered conservative because he’s a hawk on issues of national security.
It’s a good point and ought to be unpacked some.
I am myself attuned to some acuity here and there, God permitting. First, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (especially after Sep. 9/11) was and is a national security hawk – yet no conservative ever mistook him for a classical liberal when it came to the role of government or its intended constitutional scope. And it might be considered (Oh Lord, please) that Pres. Franklin Roosevelt was a national security hawk – especially after Pearl Harbor – yet to call FDR a classical liberal in the face of admiration for former Pres. Woodrow Wilson – and Italian fascism – is a hard pill to swallow.
It should be stated that Sen. Lieberman, was, to be sure, less “progressive” on social issues than some progressive Democrat clowns, and one can probably point to his Judaism and fealty to the Torah for such a stance.
And this makes sense. The difference between the City of God and the city of man is not quite as spelled out if one is just using the Torah for religious instruction – though I must claim ignorance as to the type of Judaism the senator from Michigan practices.
It’s a mute point, really.
More importantly however, is how such an animus to classical liberalism from people like Lindsey Graham and Sen. John McCain could have ever pulled off respect and honour among conservatives. And become some sort of rallying cry.
Pres. Barack Obama is bad news; yet so aren’t McCain and Lindsey Graham. And this is where old media conservatives like Mark R Levin and Rush Limbaugh lost a lot of support (and stuck their appendages in the dirt) over the last five years in conservative circles.
It is not that their conservatism in and of itself is all that bad – especially Mr Levin’s constitutional knowledge.
What is strikingly bad is the shuck and jive support for men and women who are not conservative so that “we may take back the reigns of power.” Meanwhile, government grows ever larger under the type of leadership people like Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain mount – and all have or do claim to be prestigious conservative “happy warriors.”
I am myself calling such statements verses real actions as a bunch of horse
shit. And stronger words could be used. Let us see what Mr Antle has to say,
Graham is here again following in the footsteps of his predecessor. Thurmond, who glided onto the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion at age 42, served in the reserves as a sitting senator. He chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee in his 90s.
So it is remarkable that two of Graham’s three challengers in next year’s Republican primary seem prepared to take the senator’s hawkishness head-on. State Sen. Lee Bright, a lawmaker from Greer, endorsed Ron Paul for president in the Palmetto State’s pivotal primary. Bright’s campaign website blasts the slogan, “For Senate, for liberty.”
Bright is joined by Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace. When Graham suggested that Rand Paul was soft on national defense, Mace decided to stand with Rand. She argued that instead of endorsing “President Obama’s intrusive arm of big brother regarding the collection of data and phone records,” we might instead revisit Graham’s policies of foreign aid and intervention.
“Most would agree with Senator Graham that radical Islam is the foremost threat to our nation’s security,” Mace continued. “However, if we are truly protecting Americans from this grave threat, then how does it make sense to supply arms and aid to countries who support radical Islam, bring harm to our allies, burn our flag, hate our culture and allow terrorists to plot against the United States and her friends?”
Bright went a step further. “I think the federal government is a lot more dangerous to our liberties and our freedoms than some radical Islamist coming in,” he told a conservative website, saying that vigilance was required but Graham has “got more faith and trust in the federal government than I do” regarding national surveillance.
In years past, this would seem an improbable path to unseating a sitting GOP senator in South Carolina. But the political terrain has shifted somewhat under Graham’s feet. The entire state House delegation, Republican and Democrat, voted with Justin Amash—and thus Bright and Mace—on the NSA surveillance program.
One can hardly contain oneself from screaming, “Atta boy!” to Mr Antle. I have tried my best to explain a more constitutional attitude toward the use of force – passed down by the founders and protected in the U.S. Constitution – by separating the power to declare war from the power to wage it. Needless to say, the imbibing of hawkish attitudes on the so-called “right” whilst at the same time supporting a ginormous state in which citizens serve the ever growing needs of that state are neither conservative in the American political parlance of that word, nor prudent.
Sen. Graham – and those like him – should at least be denounced as part of the problem with big government. At best – horah! – they ought to be thrown out the window of any party which considers itself loyal to constitutional authority in these United States.