Saturday, September 02, 2006

Neo-Con vs. Paleo Con or Why I disagree with President Bush

I have to admit that Donald Rumsfeld got me a little angry when he claimed that those who disagree with his policy are Nazis appeasers. There is an old adage that whoever references the Nazis first in an argument loses the argument. Although technically Senator Durbin referenced them first, so I guess everybody loses. Anyway, what is worse than Rumsfeld’s argument is the fact that people think President Bush is a conservative. He is not by any traditional meaning of the word. He truly is a Neo-con, and I worry that his brand of ‘conservatism’ will be the standard for the Republicans in this next century.

I did some digging about Paleo-con and the neo-cons to see what really happened to the Republican Party. Was the Republican Revolution in ’94 a true conservative revolution or a neo-con revolution? Here is my arm chair politician assessment. We know that Barry Goldwater in ’64 was a Paleo-conservative, but his loss set off a mini-revolution within the Republican Party. Men like Donald Rumsfeld, who is a neo-con and had voted against Goldwater on bills like the Civil Rights Bill and the Voting Rights Act (both of which increase power to the Central Government away from the states), and led a charge to push Gerald Ford up through party leadership. Ford was also closer to neo-con than paleo-con. The Ford Administration had some neo-con influence, but it was doomed to failure from the start because of Nixon. The Reagan Administration was, in my opinion, a battle between paleo and neo conservatives. Perhaps it is one of the reasons most Republicans hail Reagan as a great President. He was aggressive in foreign policy, very hawkish, including backing Contra rebels to create democracies (neo-con), but he never actually invaded any countries and did begin a process of disarmament (paleo). He opposed Centralization in many respects like the Department of Education (paleo); yet, he also had an amnesty program for illegal aliens (neo). Perhaps that is why his Supreme Court nominees were all across the board in political philosophy. George Bush Sr., was obviously a neo-con despite his failing to overthrow Iraq. His ‘New World Order’ harkened back to Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, both of which squarely put Bush Sr., as a neo-con. He also supported centralization going against his own party platform to accept the Department of Education. Thus, the major players in the last portion of the 20th century were Neo-cons.

But what about the Republican Revolution? I do believe that it was a paleo revolution. Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America was very paleo in its wording. They were against nation building in foreign policy, they were for a balanced budget, and they advocated Federalism over centralization of power. Of course not all of the people swept into power in 1994 were paleo-cons. Take Bill Frist for example. He won election that year, and is clearly a neo-con. The problem for the Republican Revolution of 1994 is that it was really never a revolution. The Contract with America passed the Paleo controlled house, but died in the Neo controlled Senate. Men like newly elected Bill Frist, and older leaders like John McCain helped Democrats kill the Contract with America. The Senate today is even more controlled by Neo conservatives than it was in 94. Paleo conservatives like Jessie Helms and Strom Thurmund have gone, and been replaced by Neo conservatives like Lindsey Graham. Neo conservative President George Bush helped Neo conservative Bill Frist oust Paleo conservative Trent Lott as leader of the Republican Senate.

All this is a long lead up to say that President Bush and his Neo con Senate have done a lot of things wrong. The spending is out of control, Campaign Finance, No Child Left Behind, federal funding for existing stem cell lines, amnesty for illegals, and other such nonsense. However the worst mistake is their rhetoric. There is no need to treat paleo-conservatives like Rep. Tom Tancredo like a persona non grata. Nor is it necessary to accuse opponents of the neo-foreign policy of being 'morally confused'. It is possible to be against terrorism and against pre-emptive war in Iraq. It is possible to be against dictators and against the idea that the American military can build new democracies. Not only is it possible, it is possible to be these things and be conservative.


Andrew Duggan said...

Nice analysis. Neo-Con in my opinion is the political equivalent of Christian neo-orthodoxy.

One troubling aspect of how the neo-cons run things is that they are all hawkish the Iraq war, but seem to be pretty good at appeasing Iran. It's like as if the British had gone after Italy in the 1930's because of the danger posed by Mussolini, but gave Hitler the rest of Europe, and chided anyone who differed as fascist appeasers. History, of course, was different and British did nothing at all, but at least that was more honest than what comes out of Washington these days.

Fortunately, Christ is King, and he rules the world according to the will of God.

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)

The president's religion is really neo-orthodoxy, so it makes sense that his politics are neo-con. He demonstrates no evidence of really embracing Jesus Christ, so he has to work with little he has. That is all the more reason to pray for him.

Bret said...

Interesting analysis. I liked it all the way until the end, as you had thorough documentation with great conclusions.

However, your final analysis was extremely rhetorical. While I do believe that conservatives can disagree with some of the neo beliefs and some of the paleo ones, as well - some specific examples would be even more compelling; as such, without them, your ending falls to rhetoric.

Lee said...

Good point about the contrasting approaches to Iraq and Iran. Especially since when President Bush proclaimed his Axis of Evil, I would have ranked Iraq 3rd and North Korea 1st. Recent history has proved we invaded the least dangerous country and now seemed forced into other options with Iran and North Korea.

Sorry, I thought the post was getting long. Allow me to demonstrate with President Reagan. Reagan did not try to 'roll back'(neo con) the Soviet Union as had Eisenhower. Instead he went for protecting our boarders (paleo con) with the Star Wars program and military spending. A legitmate differnce of approach. Lest one think that Terrorism has no other approach, then Israel should serve as the example. When they were attacked in the 1972 Olympics they did not invade a country, they simply hunted down their attacks. One could argue it is the most effective model. At the very least one could argue it is a model that does not require nation building and it is conservative. Perhaps a small sword approach is better to take out those who hide in holes. The military is a broad sword in general. I believe it is also a legitmate debate as to whether Iraq was part of the War on Terror at all. It is also an important debate as to whether creating two Islamic Republics actually makes America safer from terrorism. These things are all legitimate debate points, even within the world of Conservatism. However, President Bush thinks those who hold these ideas and others are Nazis accomadators. Such an attitude makes the President and his men not conservatives, but neo con revolutionaries.

Anonymous said...

The argument between Neo-Cons and Paleos is interesting, but what I find even more interesting is public perceptions, or worse the public ignorance about issues. For instance see the following Pew survey. Note the stats of "evangalicals" regarding the modern state of Isreal.


Anonymous said...

Take this survey. Where do you fit?


Anonymous said...

And you think Neo-cons are bad?
Check this!