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October 2005   sean scallion
Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Perutka, Conservatives Get Their Come-Uppance By Sean Scallion


By: Sean Scallon

Finally, the revolt has begun.

Harriet Miers was the last straw.

Conservative pundits and columnists and other assorted talking heads and bloggers have finally had enough of the Bush II administration's ideological heresies when it comes to their true faith.

The nomination of Miss Miers, the President's personal lawyer, to the Supreme Court has triggered a fire fight of criticism from leading conservatives in Washington over her qualifications to serve on the high court as well as her lack of any concrete statements of her views on such issues like abortion, the so-called "paper trail."

These conservatives were all geared up for a fight to see one of their own, an intellectual and legal giant of conservative judicial philosophy, make his or her case to the Senate Judiciary Committee and make the Democrats and liberal Republicans on that committee like it.

But when Miers was announced, they were all dressed up with no place to fight.

Very disappointing.

Not to mention the fact that an administration accused of cronyism in the wake of the Katrina disaster would pick someone whose best qualification to sit on the highest court of the land seems to be the effusive praise she has given Bush II ever since they've known each other.

That's all they can stand and they can't stand anymore.

After putting up with year upon year of such degradation of conservatism from this administration, whether it is the No Child Left Behind Act, prescription drug benefits (secured in Congress by a Republican House leadership that stretched a 40 minute vote to three hours), guest-worker amnesty proposals, runaway spending and big-government growth and an unconservative war on terrorism, such conservatives say they've finally had it and won't mute or couch or downplay their criticism of the administration any longer.

Too little, too late.

It really doesn't matter anymore. Perhaps if such opposition had been offered when it counted, like Bush II's first term instead of his second, maybe Bush II would have nominated someone conservatives wanted for the court instead of a lick-spittle.

But since they all acted like lick-spittles for four years, what they say now is interesting for public consumption, but irrelevant in the course of public outcome.

It's wishful thinking to believe that the critiques of Bill Kristol or David Frum or Peggy Noonan is going to make this administration change course and ask Miers to withdraw.

To do so in the face of criticism from a bunch of Beltway talking heads and keyboard strokers would be the ultimate act of weakness and this is an administration unable to admit even the tiniest of mistakes.

No, she will be confirmed (with plenty of Democratic support I predict) and Roe v. Wade will still remain the law of the land thanks to the help of another Republican Party reptile, as P.J. O' Rourke would probably call her. To those of us who, right from the start, were criticizing this administration for its policies or understood that "compassionate conservatism" was nothing more than warmed over Jack Kemp rhetoric and policies stolen from a washed up political figure and GOP faction and given a new shine by Bush II and his reptile base of support, whether it was in the pages of Chronicles or the American Conservative or from Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex), or on web pages like Etherzone, Lew Rockwell, or, I suppose we can gloat some, puff out our chests and say we were right all along, or say we were first or, more bluntly, say "see, I told you so." But what would be the point?

Whatever satisfaction to being right in the end is more than outweighed by the fact that we have to suffer along with the rest of the country such misbegotten policies. Jeremiah could have bragged he was right to the Jews that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed by the Babylonians as he predicted, but only amidst the same destruction.

The chickens are coming home to roost for conservatives who now realize that what Bush II and the Republicans are now peddling is not conservatism at all or even remotely close to it.

But like the prophets of old they seem to be whistling past the graveyard. Who's going to care? The people who are most outraged by the Miers' nomination are those within the Beltway and the secular members of the conservative establishment in the centers of power in the east and west coasts.

They feel cheated of what they thought was rightfully theirs, a Supreme Court nomination of an intellectual conservative (Roberts is more of a Republican functionary than a movement conservative) along the lines of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Not someone who went to SMU law school and who worked on the Texas State Lottery Commission. But the remainder of the conservative establishment: the big time radio talk show hosts, preachers and religious leaders and special interest activists, don't mind Miss Miers at all.

As long as the President likes her, that's good enough for them. Who the hell cares what Charles Krauthammer thinks about her or George Will? They're "elitist" and "sexist." In other words, they're not with the program anymore or have realized how things have changed.

Indeed, big government, politically correct conservatism has a constituency now out there in the heartland and so long as they support Miers and support things like deficit spending and the war and the Patriot Act, the President is secure in his base of support. The mixing of neoconservative ideology and Wallaceite voters (or better yet, the Jacksonian Scot-Irish bloc) has produced the right-wing social democracy that was prominent in the Democratic Party of the 1940s and is now the governing ideology of the GOP because that's where this constituency has found a home. It has nothing to do with the conservative movement because that particular movement died in 1995 with the failure of the government shutdown. Right-wing social democracy is its replacement because it is what sells to the voting public or at least enough voting blocs to help the GOP stay in power. A "movement" is an organic thing; it starts all by itself, is under no one or one thing's control and moves steadily on its own. One cannot be a part of a movement when one is in a ruling establishment.

Paul Weyrich, who helped to revive the conservative movement in the mid-1970s by forming the Moral Majority, has been writing a series of articles calling for a new conservative movement and laying down a series of principals he thinks can be the foundation of that movement. Perhaps he hopes a GOP candidate in the 2008 will pick up on such themes and run with them. I wish him luck, but it's certain the GOP candidates won't knock on his door anytime soon until they suffer defeat at the ballot box after their ideas are fully discredited. Politicians follow success like flies follow horses and right now right-wing social democracy is in the drivers seat, which is why Bush picked Miers to begin with. It's why the GOP Congress spends money like drunken sailors and then turns around and says with a straight face that there's no government left to cut. It's why the party is awash in cronyism and scandal like European and third-world social democracies are. What won the election of 2004 and is the mandate that Bush II claims is social democracy, not conservatism.

All conservatism had was Mike Peroutka of the Constitution Party and his 135,000 plus voters like me, nothing more. Don't blame us for what comes next.

"Published originally at : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Sean Scallon is a freelance writer and newspaper reporter who lives in Arkansaw, Wisconsin. His work has appeared in Chronicles: A magazine of American Culture. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

Sean Scallon can be reached at:

Published in the October 18, 2005 issue of Ether Zone. Copyright 1997 - 2005 Ether Zone.