Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Response, Please

Gary Kamiya, in today's Salon.com, has a must-read article on how George W. Bush has ruined conservatism for those who would call themselves conservatives. Honestly, I would love for my conservative friends to read this through -- really read it, objectively and without rancor -- and respond to the many points he makes. I've wondered the same thing for years now -- virtually all through the Bush presidency -- and I have never gotten anything close to a satisfactory answer from even my closest and most trusted conservative friends.

Some excerpts (but I truly urge you to read the article in its entirety):

...The real question is: After seven years of George W. Bush, why would any genuine conservative still support his party?

Bush's presidency has made a shambles of real conservatism. Let's leave aside the issues on which liberals and conservatives can be expected to disagree, like his tax cuts for the rich, expansion of Medicare or his position on immigration, and focus solely on ones that should be above partisan rancor -- ones involving the Constitution and all-American values. On issue after Mom-and-apple-pie issue, from authorizing torture to approving illegal wiretapping to launching a self-destructive war, Bush has done incalculable damage to conservative principles -- far more, in fact, than any recent Democratic president. And he has been supported every step of the way by Republicans in Congress, who have voted in lockstep for his radical policies. None of the major Republican candidates running for office have repudiated any of Bush's policies. They simply promise to execute them better.


If it happened under Bush, Iran-Contra wouldn't even make Page A-18. Reagan covertly funded a guerrilla operation in an inconsequential Central American country. Bush covertly and duplicitously laid the groundwork for one of the longest and most expensive wars in American history. Bush declared that habeas corpus, a magnificent cornerstone of Western law, did not apply to those he designated, without judicial review, "enemy combatants." He claimed the right to lock those individuals up forever, without allowing them to bring their case before a jury. He made torture official U.S. policy, and was directly responsible for the American-run torture factory at Abu Ghraib. His approval of warrantless wiretapping constitutes perhaps the most serious frontal attack on the right of privacy enshrined in the Fourth Amendment in American history. He has made unprecedented use of "signing statements" to disobey laws he disagrees with, marginalizing Congress in the process. His radical theory of the "unitary executive" runs roughshod over the balance-of-powers doctrine that has guided American governance since the Founders.

These Bush policies all represent a direct assault on the U.S. Constitution, long-established legal and political traditions, and accepted American values -- in short, on the heart and soul of American civic life. If American conservatism will not take its stand in defense of these things, what will it take a stand for?

The answer, sadly, is nothing -- or rather, nothing except power. But power devoid of moral content is precisely what genuine conservatism should reject.

Really, these are just a few of the salient points made. Again, I urge my conservative friends and readers (you know who you are) to read the entire article and respond in some fashion, even if it's just a private email to me. I am genuinely interested in your take on this.

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