The Corner

Why Is This Man Called a Conservative?

I find Michael Gerson less appealing every time I read something by him. Today, the Washington Post is managing the rollout of his book, with not only his regular column, but also a p. A4 “news” story about the book, plus a blurb in In the Loop. Maybe the front-page Style section profile is scheduled for tomorrow, with the lead review coming Sunday in Book World.

Aside from professional jealousy (man, I’ve got to hire this guy’s publicity firm), what kind of “conservative” is lionized like this my the MSM? Why, the kind who criticizes other conservatives for not being liberal enough! My first reaction to his criticisms of Cheney are “thank God he’s vice president.” Gerson even makes me sympathize with libertarianism, something that’s hard to accomplish. Ignoring the real, long-term divide in the Republican Party — between nationalists and post-Americans — he sets up a conflict between libertarianism (“If everyone is treated fairly and equally, the state has done its job”) and Roman Catholic social thought (“the justice of society is measured by its treatment of the helpless and poor”). Identifying with the second, he assures us that he supports limited government, but defines that as “asserting the existence of a world of families, congregations and community institutions where government should rarely tread.” That’s a pretty low bar for “limited government,” excluding only totalitarianism.

I’m a relatively big-tent kind of guy, but Gerson’s not even within sight of the tent. He seems to be a morally serious man who has useful things to say, and we need more people like him — but we’ll need them in the coming Rodham Administration, not masquerading as a Republican.

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