Feeling Lucky Socially Liberal, Fiscal Conservatives?

by Jonah Goldberg

Longtime readers know that one of my great peeves is the liberal dodge “I’m socially liberal but fiscally conservative” (it’s a big theme in The Tyranny of Cliches as well). I meet people all of the time who tell me they’re socially liberal but fiscally conservative as if this is both A) true and B) impressive. Here’s how I put it in the Corner back in aught-six:

What bothers me about the  SLBFC thing is not the actual political position of being socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Indeed, it’s a sign of how meaningless the term is on the merits that it could in fact be a description of libertarianism (as well as the position of various New Democrats and the like). My peeve is that people who say they are socially liberal but fiscally conservative are generally full of it. They are simply liberals who like to sound tough-minded, when in fact the only fiscal conservatism they have is about their property values and income taxes.  It’s like liberals who say “I don’t believe in labels.” It’s an unserious dodge — much of the time in my experience — by conventional liberals desperate to sound like they’re not conventional liberals. 

It is entirely possible that there are legions of people who use the term to describe themselves who are brimming with ideological rigor and consistency. But in my experience, they are the exceptions.  

I still believe that. But I think it’s worth pointing out that the SLBFC crowd has a new leader, if they’re serious: Clint Eastwood.

I meant to note this a while back but events got in the way. This is from the first interview Eastwood gave (to the Carmel Pine Cone!):

Eastwood is a liberal on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, but he has strongly conservative opinions about the colossal national debt that has accumulated while Obama has been president, his failure to get unemployment below 6 percent, and a host of other economic issues. 

I’m just throwing it out there. The next time you hear someone lamenting how nobody’s speaking for the socially liberal fiscal conservatives, feel free to reply, “Well, there’s Clint Eastwood — and he’s voting for Romney.”

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