Two Juice-Boxes and a John Wayne Movie


Co-Authors think alike in rival publications. Both Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam refuse to mourn the loss of one Arlen Specter. Douthat thinks the party needs better moderates, Salam thinks the party needs to change it’s “frame of mind.”

And what does the blogosphere think of Douthat and Salam’s arguments?

First, Douthat.

We got your James Poulos reaction right here:

“I welcome such an efflorescence of policy innovation among practicing politicians — much as I have welcomed it from practicing commentators like Ross and Reihan themselves. But I am pessimistic about the ability of Bold New Innovators to skirt a reckoning within the Republican party about how officially to manage the shifting intersection of public policy and sexual ethics. (For, as I have said elsewhere, the ‘culture war’ is almost exclusively a fight over sex as an ideal.) And one reason I am so pessimistic is that I am unsure how such Bold New Innovators are going to emerge organically from a party distracted by the real question about its identity.

But now let me reverse this pessimism by keying it to pessimism somewhere else. The Jack Kemps of the world did not rise up in the GOP because of an existential crisis brought on by Rockefeller Republicanism — though to be sure, a real struggle for primacy transpired on the right between the RRs and the supply-siders. The Kemps arose because the Democratic approach to political economy was a big loser. Some of this can be pinned on the RockRep stylings of Nixon and Ford, but the catharsis was Carter; and Carter meant a Republican landslide, not on account of the decisive defeat of Freak Power by Orthogonians Everywhere but because the political economy was crumbling and crumbling on a Dem’s Beltway-centric watch. Reagan did not win on a Law and Order platform. He won on the Anti-Declinist ticket, and Anti-Declinist in 1980 meant Anti-Government.”

Larison‘s response to Douthat and Larison‘s response to Poulos.

UPDATE #2: Balloon Juice not impressed all the way around. John Cole:

“No political party can be effective without a center, now watch me crap all over the two remaining centrists in the GOP and then pretend that solid conservatives like Huntsman and Jindal are centrists.”

UPDATE #6: Noah Millman

UPDATE #7: Reihan comments on Ross.

Reacts to Reihan:

Sully applauds:

“Take yours truly. I’m not a Democrat and if pushed, I’d have to say right now I’m a libertarian independent. I’m uneasy about Obama’s long-term debt, to say the least, but I’m intelligent enough to know it’s not Obama’s as such, but mainly Bush’s, and I’m also cognizant that the time to cut back may not be in the middle (or beginning) of a brutal depression. On most issues, I side with what used to be the center-right, but the GOP is poison to me and many others. Why?

Their abandonment of limited government, their absurd spending under Bush, their contempt for civil liberties, their rigid mindset, their hostility to others, their worship of the executive branch, their contempt for judicial checks, their cluelessness with racial minorities and immigrants, their endorsement of torture as an American value, their homophobia, their know-nothing Christianism, and the sheer vileness of their leaders – from the dumb-as-a-post Steele to the brittle, money-grubbing cynic, Coulter and hollow, partisan neo-fascist Hannity.”

DougJ does not approve of Salam’s conclusions. Brenden Steinhauser has a post up.

UPDATE #3: Larison on Salam’s piece.

Too old for a juicebox is David Brooks, who thinks that the GOP may be getting the wrong lessons from those Western movies they love. He suggests the GOP needs to talk less about individual freedom and more about civic order. And what does the blogosphere think of that suggestion?

It seems the right is none-to-taken with it. We check in on the Corner:

Jonah Goldberg:

“What is left out here is that most Republican talk of untrammeled freedom (which, I confess to hearing less of than David does) is in relation to the federal government. One of the binding convictions of conservatism and the Republican Party generally is the idea that the federal government is too intrusive on civic order and community norms. Certainly, one can add big government and high taxation to that long list of challenges to the family and local community without becoming a radical invidualist.”

Andy McCarthy

Jonah Goldberg gets an e-mail.

Jay Nordlinger

Ramesh Ponnuru defends Brooks.

Jonah responds to Ramesh.

Will Wilkinson‘s post in it’s entirety:

“What in tarnation is this man talking about? Where is this Republican Party of “untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice”? Did Ron Paul just become House minority leader or take Michael Steele’s job or something? Have the Republicans put up the white flag in the War on Drugs? Are GOP Senators stumping to end the legislation of morality? How did I miss this? It’s like Brooks was kidnapped by a Romulan and is sending us op-eds from an alternative timeline.”

Rod Dreher shares his thoughts.

When there’s more, I’ll post it.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum on Brooks, agreeing.

UPDATE #4: James Forsyth in The Spectator. Alex Massie:

“Furthermore, Brooks’ analysis of westerns also seems slightly dubious. That is in as much as it features pioneers who organise their communities – and their customs – with the minimum interference from the state the western seems a particularly libertarian genre. Talk about spontaneous order!”

UPDATE #5: On both Douthat and Brooks, Dennis Sanders at Moderate Voice.

UPDATE #8: Sanders again, talking about the Millman post.


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Filed under Conservative Movement, Mainstream, New Media

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