Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 29, 2009

RNC PURITY TEST = SUICIDE PACT?.... Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker has been encouraged of late by what she sees as good signs for Republicans. She sees the leading political issues of the day -- health care, KSM trial, and global warming -- as "unpopular Democratic ideas," which in turn gives the GOP hope.

But that was before the "purity test" for the Republican National Committee came up. Parker sees it as a "suicide pact" to help "weed out undesirables from their ever-shrinking party."

In fact, the 10-point checklist proffered by Bopp and others is the antithesis of conservatism. As Kirk wrote in his own "Ten Conservative Principles," conservatism "possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata . . . conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order."

Each of Bopp's bullets is so overly broad and general that no thoughtful person could endorse it in good conscience. Some are so simplistic as to be meaningless. As just one example: "We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges." What does that mean? Do we support all troop surges no matter what other considerations might be taken into account? Do we take nothing else into account? Does disagreement mean one doesn't support victory?

Whatever the intent of the authors, the message is clear: Thinking people need not apply. The formerly elite party of nuanced conservatism might do well to revisit its nonideological roots.

Noting what a departure the proposed litmus test is from intellectual seriousness, Parker added, "When did thinking go out of style?"

I don't share Parker's policy preferences, but I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

Kathleen Parker is a wingnut, so this is very interesting.

Posted by: msmolly on November 29, 2009 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Because thinking has become tribally identified with everything and everyone the Teabaggers hate. As someone pointed out recently, the teabaggers don't even know what they're for particularly, and many of them have conflicting priorities. But what unifies them solidly is their hatred of liberals. Not liberalism, not liberal principles----liberals.

Scary and sick.

Posted by: jprichva on November 29, 2009 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't share Parker's policy preferences, but I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles."

FUNNY!! That would require THINKING!

Posted by: Mark-NC on November 29, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Because they are authoritarians and they just want to take (or give) orders.

Posted by: martin on November 29, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, looney or not, it will further unify the base and bring out the vote.

Posted by: Saint Zak on November 29, 2009 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

since she used the word "nuance" she'll always have the opportunity to say it was a satire.

i dont mind kathleen ragging on her tribe's most stoopid sociopaths, but i more appreciate the nausea she provokes when she does her own little, racist wingnut schtick and harps on obama's "blood" and all her other miasmatic mythos of the, er, "conservative character" and its perspective on the "social order..."

Posted by: neill on November 29, 2009 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Kathleen Parker is a wingnut, so this is very interesting.

She may be a wingnut, but I think she is genuinely appalled by the rise of Sarah Palin and the Know/No Nothing wing of conservatism. It may be a little jealousy - here is Kathleen Parker, who can articulate a point of view eloquently, a woman in a party that is actively hostile toward women, watching a blithering idiot destroy the GOP with pronouncements that are outright lies or only barely comprehensible after much parsing and filtering through multiple layers of wingnut ideology/eschatology.

Posted by: calipygian on November 29, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I guess we have to hope that the Republicans' campaign toward doctrinal purity will drive them and their ideas into political irrelevance.

Lord knows the Democrats aren't going to do anything to help.


Posted by: SteveT on November 29, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

i dont mind kathleen ragging on her tribe's most stoopid sociopaths, but i more appreciate the nausea she provokes when she does her own little, racist wingnut schtick and harps on obama's "blood" and all her other miasmatic mythos of the, er, "conservative character" and its perspective on the "social order..."

I'm still expecting Kathleen Parker to recant that whole "blood equity"/Blut und Boden racist bullshit with a column that can be boiled down to, "Holy Shit! Did I actually write that?"

But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: calipygian on November 29, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

I hate comparisons with 1994, but of course back then all villagers thought that the Contract with America suicide as well.

Posted by: treetop on November 29, 2009 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't share Parker's policy preferences, but I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles."

For the same reason that "thinking" is discouraged in the Southern Baptist Convention under Richard Land and the "traditionalist," read fundamentalist, Roman Catholic Church which Bopp represents. Voters, candidates and office holders are to believe and obey. Thinking will be done for you. The fools don't realize this is why their party was turned out of power in 2006.

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on November 29, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Whereas the word conservative, when properly used, implies caution and prudence above all things, in its modern perversion it has become a mantra by which people are magically entitled to give in to ignorance and prejudice. By self-identifying as conservative, one nowadays gives oneself a kind of cultural clearance to deny empirical facts about the world, to set dogma above realistic forethought, and to wash one's hands of one's less fortunate fellow-citizens.

Posted by: davidp on November 29, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, health care and global warming - unpopular democratic ideas!!!!!
To me that says it all regarding a bankrupt GOP.

Posted by: JS on November 29, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

since when is this new? 25 years ago I had a bumper sticker on my car that said "vote Republican-it's easier than thinking." the only thing different is that it's a right wing ideologue saying it.

Today's Republican Party: Ignorant and proud of it."

Posted by: susan on November 29, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

...conservatism "possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata..."

What????

since when?

Posted by: jefft452 on November 29, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles.
They don't think, therefore they are Republicans.
What I find interesting is that if The Democratic Party had the same thing, the cries of fascism from those on the right would increase ten-fold.

Posted by: LewScannon on November 29, 2009 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles.

This is ridiculous. I have been around these morons for 50 years, and "thinking" has never been part of their repertoire. They have always parroted the talking points that demonstrate the worst side of human nature: white supremacy, militarism, bigotry in general. It's why I came up with the term homo sap to describe them.

Posted by: TCinLA on November 29, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans' worries are unjustified. Obama and his advisers are working very hard to ensure that GOP comes back to power.

Posted by: gregor on November 29, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles.

Because it might lead to dancing?

Posted by: jhe on November 29, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Glancing over the 10 Commandments of the GOP, I noticed that seven of the 10 contain the word "oppose." These folks have taken the phrase opposition party entirely too much to heart. They need to do something besides object.

Posted by: Mandy Cat on November 29, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles.

the non-thinking are so much easier to manipulate.

Posted by: pluege on November 29, 2009 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Treetop, you stopped the Wayback Machine 30 years too early. For this kind of Stalinist rigidity in the (People's) Republic Party, you need to go back to '64 when "Extremism in pursuit of Ideological Purity" was no vice and "Moderation in pursuit of Political Power" was no virtue.

Hell, you might even want to go back another 110 years past that to the earliest roots of the party when it was called the Know Nothing Party. The more things change...

Posted by: Larry McD on November 29, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just watched 'Face the Nation'.

Dick Armey is delusional.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Joe Friday on November 29, 2009 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

when did thinking among conservatives go out of style? good question. was it when they began deifying reagan or was it in 1999 when they began to push gwb for president?

as for comparisons with the '94 contract with america, was it the contract that lead to the republican surge or was it an ossified democratic party that did itself in?

oh and yeah, dick armey is delusional. i think its the result of hangin' with the bug man all those years. the fumes got to his brain.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on November 29, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Over at Lester & Charlie's blog, there's a poll asking what items were left off of the GOP's purity test. Things they all believe in but didn't write down, like "God put the hole in the ozone so he can watch you."

Check it out here: http://bit.ly/llPZg

Posted by: bondwooley on November 29, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

"When did thinking go out of style?"
Lots of great answers here, but another possibility in our current context: August 29, 2008.

Posted by: along on November 29, 2009 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans would like it very much if the government were run like a branch of the military or like the Catholic Church -- authoritarian, top-down rule, no dissent or you're out, no gays, no family planning, charity and candy bars instead of social services and health care, unfettered free markets with large tax deductible contributions to the church (which echoes right-wing conservative positions from the pulpit). It has always been like this.

So when did Republican thinking stop? I liken it to the political, mirror opposite devolution of rock music since the 1950s. Over the last 50 years rock & roll has devolved from meaningful, musical, emotionally engaging story-telling into a nihilistic shoutfest. Since WWII conservatism has devolved from adding an important, personal responsibility perspective into discussions about national security, economics and regulation into a rigid, nativist, militaristic, unilateral, anti-scientific screed. Each new generation of rock fans and conservatives have tried to outdo the previous ones until they are left with nothing but meanness and ugliness, neither art nor statesmanship.

I realize I'm probably over-generalizing about modern rock (apologies to Bono, etc.) but there is very little played on the radio these days that I care to listen to. And listening to Republican posturing on C-SPAN spikes my blood pressure.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on November 29, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK
"When did thinking go out of style?"

Nice to see Ms. Parker has come out of the coma. Here's hoping what she finds out in the course of catching up doesn't put her back in.

Twit.

Posted by: The Answer Was Orange on November 29, 2009 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see you back, TAIO/TAWO. And both: "twit" *and* "twat" apply, when it comes to describing the un-delectable Ms Parker (tough I appreciate your masculine sensibilities in refraining to do so)

Posted by: exlibra on November 29, 2009 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

conservatism "possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata..."

Wealth of Nations (simplistically/conveniently interpreted, of course), the Bible (ditto), Atlas Shrugged, and any of a thousand hack "books" by Coulter, Beck, and their ilk.

In other words, Parker is so full of shit it's coming out her ears.

Posted by: DH Walker on November 29, 2009 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK
I would love to see prominent Republican leaders ponder why thinking is discouraged in contemporary conservative circles.

Thinking being discouraged is not something new to conservatism.

30-some-odd years ago, I read someone's shared realization somewhere in what is now called the Main Stream Media. It was about conservatism. Paraphrasing, it went more or less like this:

"People these days tend to think of conservatives as people who are appeal to us to be thoughtful, who want us to be careful about what we do - but I am here to tell you that this idea is completely wrong. Conservatives, I have found out, aim straight for the emotional response, go for the knee-jerk reaction. It is the Liberals who encourage people to be logical and thoughtful and take the time to educate themselves before taking action on an issue."

That was sometime in the mid-'70s.

For all their bellyaching these days about "their party" (the Republican Party) being hijacked by fundamentalists and ultra-right-wingers, the fact remains that the conservatives always were like the fundies we see today - it is just that today it is a more pure brand of illogical, emotional, knee-jerk jerks. This is exactly what they were pushing, all those years when we thought they were just quiet old white men.

This is no different from McCarthyism - which the GOP didn't bat an eye at, until the sheit hit the fan, at which they all backed away, essentially saying, "Why WE'RE not like him!" And for a generation they were too intimidated to push the pure brand of conservatism again - the knee-jerk, go for the gut, Manichaean black-and-white world view. When they got to feeling their oats in the '90s, with the Equal Time broadcasting law rescinded, they decided to push it to crazier and crazier levels. And we got to where we were a year or two ago.

Things are slowly ebbing the opposite direction now, now that there are sane people running the Congress AND the White House (even if we can't agree with everything they are doing). And now we are seeing a slow version of that '50s bailout from Tailgunner Joe's plane tailspinning out of control.

Within 10 years or so, the quieter version will have returned, like a cold war sleeper, ready to pounce again some day, when another generation has forgotten Bush II, Palin, Huckabee, neocons, Limbaugh, Beck, and all the other certifiables... and torture, renditions, "macacas," and Atwater and Rove.

But conservatism won't ever change. It's degree goes up and down, but the go-for-the-gut approach will always be too much part of their universe.

The universe is logic versus knee-jerk. Until someone clearly spells out to them that knee-jerk reaction is not conscious thought, we will have to deal with them. Sometimes we will be scared to death of them, as in recent years. And other times we will just feel sorry for them and their retarded mental capacities.

(Apologies to special people, for using the term "retarded." I use it in the clinical sense, as in their thinking abilities have had the brakes put on. I do not intend it as comparing them to any other group.)


Posted by: SteveGinIL on November 30, 2009 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

posted by along:

"When did thinking go out of style?"

Lots of great answers here, but another possibility in our current context: August 29, 2008.

GREAT GET! I bow to you for a good chuckle...

For those who don't get it, see "Palin, nomination, Republican Party, Vice President."

Unfortunately, though, see my comment just previous to this one... It was not new then.

But a great answer, nonetheless...

Posted by: SteveGinIL on November 30, 2009 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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