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Headlines You’ll Never See

October 4, 2009

The Washington Post has a piece titled “Is Conservatism Brain-Dead?” by Steven Hayward and I realized that there will never be a title called “Is Liberalism Brain-Dead?” For one thing, if a conservative wrote that piece, they would probably be charged with insulting people in vegetative states. But the main reason is just general hypocrisy- everything Hayward mentions in his article about the conservative movement has an equal and opposite force on the left wing of the spectrum, but they get nary a mention anywhere. Which means it must be up to me to show that conservatism is no more brain-dead than liberalism.

Hayward goes after the favorite target of the intellectual conservative and the liberal alike, that of right wing talk radio. Hayward targets the radio hosts, particularly Michael Savage and “Mancow” for dumbing down the conservative movement to “Happy Meal Conservatism.” This is the main difference between conservatism and liberalism- while conservatives fight over whether we should listen to these radio hosts or not, liberals elect theirs to the Senate. Yet intellectual conservatives still try to fit in with their liberal friends by bashing Limbaugh and Savage, while accepting a world in which Al Franken is on Capitol Hill, and not just as a tourist. Hayward then makes the obligatory attack on Fox News, where Sean Hannity seems “unremittingly angry” and Glenn Beck is “weepy, unmanly, loopy, and counterproductive.” At the same time, Chris Matthews continues to feel “a thrill going up his leg,” Anderson Cooper is still laughing about the “teabagging” jokes he has made, and Keith Olbermann remains the smarmy, self-righteous, and pompous host who somehow made it from ESPN to MSNBC.

Then Hayward goes after the “tea party” movement, saying it lacks a concrete ideology? Is opposition to big government no longer a concrete ideology? Or should conservatives give the streets to Code Pink, ACORN, La Raza, MoveOn.org and every other liberal grassroots movement, while we write scathing, intellectual pieces in the Washington Post and go on to lose the next ten elections? A worse sin still is that Hayward lumps together the “tea party” movement with the “birthers” who are a fringe movement no conservative is willing to claim- just as no liberal is going to claim the “truthers” who have been around for a lot longer than the “birthers.”

Lastly, Hayward attacks Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck (again) because they have bestselling books, and tied into that is surely Malkin and Coulter’s newspaper columns. Yet, the liberal movement has the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post, which are, at the very least, as polemic as anything Malkin or Coulter have wrote.

Yet do we see intellectual liberals coming out and condemning Al Franken, or MoveOn, or “truthers” or the Daily Kos? No, they make no apologies for those on the liberal end of things, and instead bash the conservatives- and the “intellectual” conservatives go over and join them. It is absurd- Coulter, Beck, and Limbaugh have just as much a place in the conservative political movement as Kristol, Buckley, and Friedman. Rather than focus on Sean Hannity’s rhetoric, let’s focus on the rhetoric of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and the rest of the Democratic Party. I agree with Hayward that intellectual conservatism needs to be an important part of the process if conservatism is going to win out in the next upcoming elections, but for that to happen, intellectual conservatives need to stop attacking the populist movements on the right-wing, and focus their intellect on debating the positions of intellectual liberals. If intellectual conservatives instead continue to focus their critique on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, then conservatism really is brain-dead.

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