The Corner

About the Critics

Ross Douthat writes, in part: “Various folks have already gone round on this subject, but I think it’s worth saying something further about the way figures like Mark Levin, Mark Steyn, Victor Davis Hanson, and others have responded to those right-of-center pundits who have harshly criticized the McCain-Palin ticket and/or the GOP in general lately.”

I don’t know Douthat but apparently some notables here do. I am sure he is a good man. But I do find this introductory sentence to his longer comment here to be off the mark. Speaking for myself, I have been a long-time critic of John McCain. Ross may want to Google my name and McCain’s. The libs do it all the time. I was critical of McCain when Ross, Brooks, and others were praising him. I have been critical of the GOP often, including before Ross was born. I still am. But I am not sympathetic to those who are endorsing Barack Obama (Christopher Buckley and Doug Kmiec) as their arguments are barely coherent, or those who believe the Obama-McCain match-up is among the most spectacular of modern times (David Brooks) as this is preposterous especially from a conservative perspective. Prior to now I’ve said nothing of Kathleen Parker’s arguments respecting Sarah Palin, but I didn’t find them either compelling or unique (as I had already read them or some formulation of them in e-mails I receive from listeners who are Obama supporters). As for David Frum, he was among the first to condemn the Palin selection — perhaps within seconds of the announcement. He wins the prize for that. He has been quoted repeatedly by a media that now find him irresistible. Why the defensiveness? That is a fact. Congrats to Frum. As for the others listed by Ross, I haven’t followed them that closely to know what they’re up to “lately.” It is, however, a little odd to read admonitions from those who argued for the McCain or a McCain-like candidacy.

Of course, Steyn, Hanson, and I do not spend all our time criticizing the criticizers. We spend lots of time doing what Ross does — thinking, writing, and debating. But I have to say, if the era of Reagan is over, as I’ve been reading for a few years (especially in the writings of some of the early McCain supporters), I sense the Wal-Mart (or is it Wal-Mart these days?) voters-thing isn’t exactly working out in its first electoral introduction. It could be that McCain is just not explaining it the right way. But isn’t that always the case? Christopher Hitchens says that about Marxism.

In the last presidential debate, some old-fashioned talk about conservative principles might be what the doctor ordered.

“You know, Senator Obama, you’re just another tax-and-spend liberal … actually, let me amend that, you’re just another tax-and-spend socialist. Most Americans don’t think their government should be ’spreading around the wealth.’ They think hard-working people should get to keep most of what they earn. They’re willing to pay their fair share in taxes to do that which the government is supposed to do. But they are not willing to fund all the five year plans and scores of schemes and your favorite groups like ACORN. They don’t like the NEA destroying their school systems, ACLU-type judges running their country, and anarchy on their nation’s borders. They are also patriotic people, and they resent when your Senate leader declares a war lost when we have young Americans winning the war on the battlefield. And you could not bring yourself to stand up for those troops and distance yourself from your leader. Americans are a great people and while they may need a helping hand from time-to-time, they don’t want you running their lives. That’s not the way our country works.”

I dare say even most Wal-Mart shoppers would go for it.

Christopher Buckley was on MSNBC’s Hardball last night lamenting how McCain has changed in the last few months. McCain hasn’t changed in the last the few months or in the last two decades. Buckley is trying to distance himself from what he believes will be a train wreck. He is another flavor of the month for the MSNBC crowd.

David Brooks is an undisciplined thinker. Moreover, he can’t decide whether he’s a philosopher, scholar or political strategist. Maybe he’s all three and more. But his constant assault on the grassroots — which just isn’t smart enough to be what he wants them to be and do what he wants them to do — won’t get him far outside the editorial pages of the New York Times.

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