by Jack Hunter
I could not have said it better myself. Writes Paul Mulshine:
"Every conservative in America seems to be commenting in on William Kristol's recent "Small Isn't Beautiful" column in the New York Times.
I figured I ought to weigh in. I suspect I spend more time than any other conservative pundit actually watching small government at work and defending it. If I'm not in Trenton watching the knuckleheads screw up local government, then I'm usually out on the road writing about someone who is the victim of the aforementioned knuckleheads.
Thus when Kristol writes that "conservatives should think twice before charging into battle against Obama under the banner of 'small-government conservatism,'" I find myself scratching my head. "Small-government conservatism" is a redundancy. There isn't and cannot be any such thing as its putative opposite, "big-government conservatism." That's an oxymoron. If government is big, then it's by definition not conservative.
It's true that the framers of the Constitution did create one power of the federal government that could be very big indeed, the power to make war. But because they understood just how unconservative such power could be, they warned repeatedly against using military force in all but the most limited of circumstances. That's why Washington in his farewell address warned against "those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty."
As for a giant federal welfare state, it's true that we're stuck with it. But we don't have to like it. Yet Kristol goes on to say that "It's also true that modern conservatism has to include a strong commitment to limited (though energetic) government and to constitutional (though not necessarily small or weak) government."
That sounds nice. But he goes on to defend the Bush administration's prescription-drug benefit plan as an example of what is presumably an energetic but conservative program. That giveaway may have been politically successful, but it was adopted without a source of taxation to fund it. The Bush propensity for implementing new social programs, both foreign and domestic, without raising taxes is the very opposite of conservative. To again quote from Washington's farewell address on public debt, "One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible...avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt....it is essential that you...bear in mind, that towards the payments of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not...inconvenient and unpleasant..."
It may be true that there is a bipartisan consensus inside the Beltway that this way of thinking is outmoded and that multi-trillion-dollar deficit spending plans are perfectly fine. But that merely shows the similarity between Republicans and Democrats and the difference between Republicans and conservatives.
As for Kristol, he may be the former but he is in no way the latter. His main claim to "conservatism" is the liberal internationalist foreign policy that is the direct ideological descendant of the Trotskyism once espoused by his parents, who met at a Marxist meeting in New York. Radio talker Curtis Sliwa jokingly says of liberal partner Ron Kuby, "His mommy was a commie." But Kristol's mommy really was a commie, as was his daddy.
Call me an old right-wing curmudgeon, but I think this is a strange family background for the man who gets picked to be the "conservative" voice of the Times. It's not as though the Kristols ever repudiated the Trotskyite world-view of their youthful days in New York City. They simply subjected it to dialectical revision in the area of foreign policy.
As for their son, only in Manhattan or Washington could such a character be conceived of as a conservative. If Kristol were to show up in small-town New Jersey saying things like "It turns out, in the real world of Republican governance, that there aren't a whole lot of small-government Republicans," as he did in this column, he'd get laughed out of the county. Virtually every Republican in the real world is a small-government Republican.
From my admittedly parochial perspective, I fail to see much conservatism in Kristol's writings. How did such a leftie come to be writing what is supposed to be the right-wing column for the Times?
I suspect the editors don't get out much. There are many advantages to living in New York City. Unlike many conservatives, I have no dislike for the place whatsoever. I greatly enjoy my visits there.
But I think it's safe to say that the typical Manhattan intellectual barely realizes that that people like me and you exist. The issues of which I write most often - high property taxes, stupid affordable-housing laws, etc. - would be dismissed as trivialities by the Times crowd. They think big. And so when they cast about looking for a "conservative" columnist their eyes naturally light on someone else who thinks big. It would never occur to them that a big-thinker is by definition not a conservative.
So they end up with a guy like Kristol."