OK, let’s try again: Just cuz they’re not absolutely the same as certain religious kooks doesn’t mean they’re moderates

Kilgore: Yes, Perry And Bachmann Are Religious Radicals | The New Republic


[A]ll the recent carping about liberal alarm over the religious underpinnings of contemporary conservatism seems to miss the big picture rather dramatically. Both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have conspicuously offered themselves as leaders to religio-political activists who, whatever their theological differences, largely share a belief that God’s Will on Earth requires the repeal of abortion rights and same-sex relationship rights, radical curtailment of government involvement in education or welfare, assertion of Christian nationhood in both domestic and international relations, and a host of other controversial initiatives. Does it ultimately matter, then, whether these activists consider themselves “dominionists” or “reconstructionists,” or subscribe to Bill Bright’s Seven Mountains theory of Christian influence over civic and cultural life? I don’t think so.

Similarly, the frequent mainstream media and conservative recasting of the Tea Party as just a spontaneous salt-of-the-earth expression of common-sense attitudes towards fiscal profligacy is hard to sustain in light of the almost-constant espousal of “constitutional conservative” ideology by Tea Party leaders and the politicians most closely associated with them. Perhaps Rick Perry, just like his Tea Party fans, really is personally angry about the stimulus legislation of 2009 or the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and that’s fine. But no mainstream conservative leader since Goldwater has published a book challenging the constitutionality and morality of the entire policy legacy of the New Deal and (with the marginal exception of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) the Great Society. Ronald Reagan, to cite just one prominent example, justified his own conservative ideology as the reaction of a pure-bred New Deal Democrat to the later excesses of liberalism. Reagan also largely refrained from promoting his policy ideas as reflecting a mandate from God or the Founders, and he treated Democrats with at least minimal respect. 

In that sense, major presidential candidates like Perry and Bachmann really are something new under the sun. They embody a newly ascendant strain of conservatism that is indeed radical or extremist in its claims to represent not just good economics or good governance, but eternal verities that popular majorities can help implement but can never overturn. They deserve all the scrutiny they have attracted, and more.  


18 comments on “OK, let’s try again: Just cuz they’re not absolutely the same as certain religious kooks doesn’t mean they’re moderates

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  1. The ideas I’m about to express irritate, depress, and dismay all except one of my liberal friends. They don’t affect him negatively because he’s willing to face facts in the way I’m facing facts. Even if Perry and Bachmann both go down in flames, the game as we have known it is over. Not only do “they deserve all the scrutiny they have attracted,” and not only are “they something new under the sun,” they are something new under the sun right now because of what’s happening under the sun right now. Because of our present relationship to the sun, the game as we have known it is over. We lost. These new folks are the embodiment of the failure. They express as our biggest nightmares and there is no point in trying to play with them. The game is over. It’s time to face facts, so we can lose well. I actually find losing much more interesting than winning. I have written that “real art, real love, and real yoga” all fail. I’ve explained the idea many times, and I won’t bother doing that here. Metaphorically, I’m just going to sit here on the bench after the game with a towel over my head. Then I’m going to do my best to sympathize with whatever my teammates are feeling, try not to just go out and get drunk, and stay present with Reality.

  2. Well this is Kilgore’s version of an apology, we’re sorry we compared you to terrorists that blow up trains, fly into buildings, and decapitate
    journalist, but you just don’t fit into our little club, it’s so declasse.

    (Stylistically, I find both Bachmann and Perry over the top, as if they dialed ‘right up to 11’, any valuable critique of QE 2, or the need to
    responsibly drill (but not in the Fracking Everglades)

  3. miguel cervantes wrote:

    we’re sorry we compared you to terrorists that blow up trains, fly into buildings, and decapitate
    journalist, but you just don’t fit into our little club, it’s so declasse.

    When did Kilgore do any of that? What does he have to apologize for? By the way, when have you ever hesitated to hold anyone to the left of the far right responsible for anything ever done by anyone to the left of the far right?

  4. @ Scott Miller:
    Not sure exactly which game we ever were authentically playing we’re not playing anymore. The appearance of these folks may turn out to be a good sign, of just the sharpening of contradictions that Yogic Eco-Communists should be hoping for, see as a necessary swing prior to the next counter-swing.

  5. I understand what Kilgore is addressing, though his point is that the responses to the work of Goldberg et al are not “refutations” at all. More to the point, he’s not apologizing for anything, has no need to apologize, and is taking the position that, speaking generally, those who have gone into the Rushdoony depths have nothing to apologize for.

  6. @ CK MacLeod:
    Thanks for doing the explaining on that one and yes, in my moments of optimism I think of it all as “a sharpening of contradictions” that is the necessary swing prior to the next counter-swing. The problem is that the swing is so wide this time, I’m not sure it will hold for a next counter-swing. Hence, my since that we have lost. But you never know, and my giving into defeat might just be a Scorpionic maneuver that I’m not even letting myself be in on.
    In any case, it’s funny because the part I meant to get to in my comment but didn’t had to do with my liberal friend. He’s teaching “Slaughter House Five” to his college students right now, and he tells me they’re connecting it to the whole Bachmann, Perry, Overdrive thing. SHF was definitely Mr. V’s darkest piece. Did you ever try to watch the movie. The greatest thing about it was that it was appropriately unwatchable. It’s so CK I can’t imagine you turning away from it as I did. Any thoughts on the book that I can relay to my friend?

  7. @ Scott Miller:
    Don’t remember SH5 well enough, but wouldn’t confidently agree it was V’s darkest piece. He wrote a lotter stuff, most of it at brightest pretty dim. I’m pretty sure he used an interpretation of the Dresden fire-bombing that even liberal historians consider excessively one-sided, but there’s a “fake but accurate” argument for it: It was dubious enough, and the indictment might stand well enough for a number of less often indicted acts of war. What I’m more confident about is that my teenage Vonnegut-loving friend, the one who first introduced me to Vonnegut, would have agreed with teenage me that any movie featuring Valerie Perrine could never be called un-watchable.

  8. five individuals – Frank Gaffney, David Yerushalmi, Robert Spencer, Steven Emerson, and myself.

    I’m not really familiar with David or Steven……

    but the other three qualify as individuals that folks should be warned away from.

  9. You don’t know Stevenslam Emerson, he uncovered the first one of these Islamist conferences in Oklahoma City in ’92, yes like Cannistraro, he got the bombing wrong, Yerushalmi is kind of a junior
    player in this.

    Soros, is just getting rid of the competition, this is how the game is played.

  10. @ miguel cervantes:

    I read Pipes’ stuff for years back when I read the NYPost opinion page every day…..he knows a lot and misunderstands most everything.

    First he was saying that Iraq, if we gave Saddam big bunches of weapons, would be a great buddy and would learn to get along with all our friends even Israel ….then he decided that we shouldn’t invade Iraq after we threw them out of Kuwait….then he decided that we HAD to invade Iraq when Cheney said so because Pipes KNEW that Iraq was a horrible and imminent danger to the US.

    when the Europeans didn’t like the invasion, Popes declared that NATO was dead, that our entire alliance with Europe was dead and that we were no longer going to have common interests and could not work with the Europeans in the future.

    When the Egyptians told us that if we invaded iraq, we were gonna see a big increase in terrorism, Pipes said that was completely wrong and that toppling Saddam will result in a quick reduction of terrorism.

    Emerson is the guy that said that Oklahoma City bombing was Islamist, right? Was he the guy that Pipes said was right about that ?

  11. I admitted that point up front, although Scowcroft, Eagleburger, Kissinger, folks with much higher pay grades, groveled before the Baathist clique, the Serbian camarilla, the Chinese gerontocracy, he doesn’t sup with the long spoon at the Sauds table.

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