Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


Old comments migrated to Disqus, currently working outtechnical issues

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fisking Brad DeLong

On March 11 he posted a little video bloggage titled The Five Factions of the Republican Party. I'm not entirely sure how much of this is a joke and how much is serious - surely he must be aware that there are socially and fiscally liberal Republicans who don't fit the profile of any of these factions. But what he says about Republicans reflect common misperceptions about conservatives, and deserves to be addressed.

The first [faction} is those who genuinely fear the foreign enemy, which used to be the Communists, and is now the Muslims.

The Communists that remain still are a foreign enemy - Cuba and North Korea haven't disappeared from the radar. Nominally Communist China has made a slight evolutionary advance from Marxism to fascism, and only time will tell if this leads to future reforms, or if the Chinese government will cease to be a threat to the United States.

As for the bit about would be hard-pressed to find an elected official who regards Muslims in general as "the enemy." The amount of support we have from Iraqis, especially Sunni Muslim Kurds, is enough to undermine that portion of DeLong's claim.

There are conservatives who do see Islam as an ideology, as taught by the Koran and the Hadiths, as an enemy of civilization. Mohammed appears to call for universal jihad against all non-Muslims for all eternity - see this site for a fairly exhaustive list of often-cited suras supporting this claim. I have maintained that if there is any hope for true Islam to coexist peacefully with civilization, it must be demonstrated that Mohammed's commands to war referred to specific conflict(s) and were not standing orders for all future Muslim/infidel relations. Still, most members of this group recognize that most Muslims do not practice jihad and are thus not a civil threat.

The second faction is those who don't especially fear the foreign enemy, but believe that saying they fear the foreign enemy is politically convenient - those who seek to, um, disturb giddy minds with foreign quarrels. And the foreign enemy used to be the Communists, then this faction thought in the late 1990s that it oughta be the Chinese, and now they say it is the Muslims.

Can DeLong provide any concrete examples of politicians who did not believe that the Soviets or the Chinese were threats (despite the fact that both aimed nukes at us, and both stole nuke tech from us) but said so anyway? Or any such two-facedness regarding Muslims?

Third, those who fear the domestic enemy, which used to be Jews and blacks...

Jews and blacks, huh? So who did this alleged faction root for during the Crown Heights Riot?

The claim that antisemitism and racism are inherent to Republicans or conservatives is sheer bigotry. I never fully understood the antisemitism charges; I suppose part of it is the whackball equivocation of criticizing ADL with being anti-Jew, as if ADL defines real Jews (and Dr. Laura and Michael Medved define fake Jews). The charge of Republican racism stems largely from the assumption that the only explanation for opposing leftist prescriptions for benefiting blacks is not a belief that there are better plans for such, but antipathy toward the very notion of helping blacks.

...and is now a bizarre combination of homosexuals...

Read this (starting from the sentence "This points to the two great ironies of Lawrence).

...a ghetto-bound underclass...

They're not the enemy - they're the victims of liberalism. Education policy keeps them undereducated. (You forgot to add educrats to the enemies list, Brad. And unions in general, for that matter.) Out-of-control welfare policy breeds a permanent dependent class. Liberal tax and regulatory makes the cost of living more than it should be.

...Mexicans living here...

Lawbreakers are lawbreakers. That Mexicans are fleeing a nation whose oppressive economic policy makes Canada look like a libertarian paradise doesn't make them less criminal.

I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to use the word "enemy" to refer to threats of a nature greater than that posed by illegal aliens. Some illegal aliens vote in our elections, some gain taxpayer-funded welfare assistance, and all violate immigration laws. All those actions are wrong, but there's even worse stuff out there that doesn't trigger kneejerk use of the word "enemy."

...Hollywood actors...

People who are vocal about their leftism tend to not get ignored by conservatives. Do liberals ignore highly vocal right-wingers?

...and Hungarian liberal financier George Soros. How George Soros attained his current role in the demonology is not something I understand.

He's the wealthiest Democratic donor, and a fairly visible one - what's hard to understand?

Fourth, those who want low taxes because they think the government is inherently a lousy steward with their money, that public purposes and all purposes can be accomplished much more efficiently with a smaller government.

He misses the true crux of fiscal conservatism. DeLong makes the mistake of projecting a leftist assumption on conservatives - that assumption being that the prime focus of tax policy should be government. To conservatives and libertarians, the key issue is individual freedom; the inefficiencies of bloated government is secondary.

Fifth and last, those who want low taxes because they are too rich to value anything the government does other than the function, government's function of protecting their properties.

This is a common stereotype of the corporate rich (excepting George Soros, evidently), and a convenient ad hominem attack for people who don't want to discuss real issues.

DeLong goes on to paint imaginary conflicts between these factions. He claims that a "mighty war arsenal...loses groups 4 and 5" unless it is paid for by drastic cuts to "social insurance programs...thus losing elections" - forgetting the history of the past three decades. Republicans made gains in and eventually won Congress in part by promising to curtail the nanny state, and lost Congress when Bush and Congress expanded it. Scarcely any fiscal conservatives blame the war machine for overtaxation - liberals do.

His other conflict scenario involves "stag[ing] a phony war" involving troop numbers insufficient to pacify Iraq, which runs afoul of Faction 1; apparently he has in mind this faction's desire for a) fighting real threats and b) using enough force to win them. On the "phony war" charge, read Bush's 2002 speech on the Iraqi threat and tell me if you can find anything insincere about his assessment. Faction 1 does have a beef with the way the war is fought, but the issue isn't troop count - it's the amount of deadly force implemented. Many hawks complain that the administration is trying too hard to avoid collateral damage, even when the only noncombatants in the line of fire are corpses.

Update: Tammy Bruce sheds some light on George Soros. She's not a Republican, though.


Site Meter