The Corner

Bainbridge Says I’m Wrong, I Think

Prof Bainbridge questions my suggestion that Cheney is the more authentic conservative. He writes:

What I don’t understand is why Jonah thinks these two aspects of Cheney’s ideology are the “more pure” version of Republicanism. To be sure, the small-l libertarian side of Cheney no doubt appeals to many bloggers and their ilk in electronic MSM outlets like NRO. Yet, popularity among such groups standing alone cannot be enough to privilege a particular subset of a widely diverse political philosophy. What about social conservatives? Anti-government populists? Supply-siders? War liberals? Or, even. the dreaded neocons? In this big a tent, it is very hard to decide who is the most pure.

Me: he makes a perfectly fine point — and one I would not quibble with — that there are different, equally “pure,” brands of conservatism/Republicanism out there (whatever “pure” means in a philosophy largely opposed to the purifying impulse). But, so what?

In the end I think his whole argument is fundamentally gratuitous. In fact, he provides my own answer for me. I wasn’t trying to “privilege” Cheney-ism above other isms. Indeed, I try not to use the word “privilege” as a verb at all. But, as he notes, bloggers and “MSM” conservative journalists are more likely to be sympathetic to Cheney’s point of view than Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.” Which was exactly my point. Bainbridge makes a fair point that I spoke too broadly of “conservatives” rather than explicitly about the conservative pundits and bloggers scoring the debate. But since it was obviously implicit that I was doing precisely that, I think he protests too much.

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