Sunday, November 30, 2008

LA Times Pinhead: Joe McCarthy Is the Father of Conservatism

Breathtakingly moronic analysis here, so naturally, it's Neal Gabler examining the problems facing the GOP. I'm so happy to know these liberals are so concerned with the fate of the Republicans that they're all lining up to offer advice as to how to right the ship. Where would be be without them? Coming from a guy who's so smitten with Obama, maybe this should be considered an outreach effort.
McCarthy, Wisconsin's junior senator, was the man who first energized conservatism and made it a force to reckon with. When he burst on the national scene in 1950 waving his list of alleged communists who had supposedly infiltrated Harry Truman's State Department, conservatism was as bland, temperate and feckless as its primary congressional proponent, Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, known fondly as "Mister Conservative." Taft was no flamethrower. Though he was an isolationist and a vehement opponent of FDR, he supported America's involvement in the war after Pearl Harbor and had even grudgingly come to accept the basic institutions of the New Deal. He was also no winner. He had contested and lost the Republican presidential nomination to Wendell Willkie in 1940, Thomas Dewey in 1948 and Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, three men who were regarded as much more moderate than he.

McCarthy was another thing entirely. What he lacked in ideology -- and he was no ideologue at all -- he made up for in aggression. Establishment Republicans, even conservatives, were disdainful of his tactics, but when those same conservatives saw the support he elicited from the grass-roots and the press attention he got, many of them were impressed. Taft, no slouch himself when it came to Red-baiting, decided to encourage McCarthy, secretly, sealing a Faustian bargain that would change conservatism and the Republican Party. Henceforth, conservatism would be as much about electoral slash-and-burn as it would be about a policy agenda.
Gabler must be using some particularly hardcore hallucinogens, as he quickly makes the leap of tying McCarthy to his modern-day incarnation: Sarah Palin, of course.
Republicans continue to push the idea that this is a center-right country and that Americans have swooned for GOP anti-government posturing all these years, but the real electoral bait has been anger, recrimination and scapegoating. That's why John McCain kept describing Barack Obama as some sort of alien and why Palin, taking a page right out of the McCarthy playbook, kept pushing Obama's relationship with onetime radical William Ayers.

And that is also why the Republican Party, despite the recent failure of McCarthyism, is likely to keep moving rightward, appeasing its more extreme elements and stoking their grievances for some time to come. There may be assorted intellectuals and ideologues in the party, maybe even a few centrists, but there is no longer an intellectual or even ideological wing. The party belongs to McCarthy and his heirs -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Palin. It's in the genes.
Stoking grievances? Excuse me, the the GOP is hardly the party of grievance. Pot, meet kettle. If there's anyone walking about perpetually aggrieved it's the left.

Maybe if Gabler wants to see some real anger, recrimination and scapegoating, he should take a look at liberals and a guy who once worked for Joe McCarthy: Robert F. Kennedy.
McCarthy established a bond with the powerful Kennedy family, which had high visibility among Catholics. McCarthy became a close friend of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., himself a fervent anti-Communist, and was a frequent guest at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. He dated two of Kennedy's daughters, Patricia and Eunice, and was godfather to Robert F. Kennedy's first child, Kathleen Kennedy -- Robert was chosen by McCarthy as a counsel for his investigatory committee. Joseph Kennedy had a national network of contacts and became a vocal supporter, building McCarthy's popularity among Catholics and making sizable contributions to McCarthy's campaigns. The Kennedy patriarch had high hopes that one of his sons would be president, and with the memory of fellow Catholic Al Smith's defeat for that office in 1928 largely because of anti-Catholic prejudice, Joseph Kennedy supported McCarthy as a national Catholic politician who might pave the way for a younger Kennedy's national candidacy.
So to use Gabler's logic, since McCarthy was practically an honorary Kennedy and the Kennedys are Democratic icons, then Democrats are the party of McCarthy!

See how easy this is? And I didn't even need hallucinogens to figure it all out.

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