The Corner

Conservatives Are Brain Dead

Steve Hayward in the Washington Post. Much to discuss on the morrow, I suspect.

Today, however, the conservative movement has been thrown off balance, with the populists dominating and the intellectuals retreating and struggling to come up with new ideas. The leading conservative figures of our time are now drawn from mass media, from talk radio and cable TV news. We’ve traded in Buckley for Beck, Kristol for Coulter, and conservatism has been reduced to sound bites.

President Obama has done conservatives a great favor by delivering CPR to the movement with his program of government gigantism, but this resuscitation should not be confused with a return to political or intellectual health. The brainwaves of the American right continue to be erratic, when they are not flat-lining.

Consider the “tea party” phenomenon. Though authentic and laudatory, it is unfocused, lacking the connection to a concrete ideology that characterized the tax revolt of the 1970s, which was joined at the hip with insurgent supply-side economics. Meanwhile, the “birthers” have become the “grassy knollers” of the right; their obsession with Obama’s origins is reviving frivolous paranoia as the face of conservatism. (Does anyone really think that if evidence existed of Obama’s putative foreign birth, Hillary Rodham Clinton wouldn’t have found it 18 months ago?)

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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