The Corner

Politics & Policy

It Takes All Kinds

“Within every conservative is a streak of libertarianism,” said WFB. How wide is your streak? Mine is like an accordion. It expands and contracts, depending. I’ll see something and think, “Don’t tread on me!” I’ll see something else and think, “There oughta be a law!”

These strains, I think, are natural in any conservative.

In today’s Impromptus, I talk about an issue that makes “my libertarian juices flow.” How many U.S. marshals is enough to send to an asylum seeker’s home? Must they have guns slung across their chests?

Must raids be pre-dawn? Can some take place at, like, 9? When Andrés Felipe Arias appears in court — he is the Colombian I wrote about last week — must his hands and ankles be shackled? He is a modestly built intellectual. Are the shackles meant to prevent him from doing harm to others? Or to humiliate him?

Within every conservative, there is also a streak of populism, I think. Mona Charen and I discuss this on our latest Need to Know. We discuss a slew of other issues, too (as usual).

Back to Impromptus. I cite Kelli Ward, the Arizona Republican, who was responding to another Arizona Republican, John McCain. Accepting the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center, McCain unleashed a corker of a sentence:

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems, is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

For her part, Ward vowed to Make America Great Again by serving “as a conservative, as a populist, as an Americanist, as a scurrilous nationalist.”

A scurrilous nationalist. Sounds like truth-in-advertising, to me.

What is an “Americanist,” by the way? Is Kelli Ward, or anyone else, more American than John McCain? McCain is almost definitionally American: bold, independent, cranky, cussed, maddening, cocky, patriotic, world-minded, freedom-loving, and brave. Brave as hell.

Anyway, Ward’s self-definition as a “scurrilous nationalist” reminded me of the lore about a 1950 race in Florida. Senator Claude Pepper and Representative George Smathers were competing for the Democratic Senate nomination. And Smathers — again, according to lore — would stir up rural voters with something like the following:

“Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.”

I end Impromptus with some observations about Miami — and about the American story. At the very end you get a dose of music and a dose of language. Just for kicks.

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