Saturday, August 14, 2010

The paleocon (common-sense) approach

By Rick Morris

Our FDH LOUNGE (Wednesdays, 7-10 PM EDT on prides itself on covering the widest array of topics anywhere. Having said that, unless we are in the middle of a presidential election, we may go a few weeks here and there without talking politics and public policy. I love the subjects, but it’s business-first at FDH and in my role as executive producer of the show, I refuse to get too far out in front of the public’s appetite for the subjects. So it’s always fun when I allow us to indulge on these matters – much less what we’ve got lined up this week, which I believe will really deliver some answers at a time when the American public seems desperate for them.

Because our show is geared to a national or international audience, we rarely get to have guests in-studio. There’s not too many who are within driving distance of our headquarters city of Cleveland who we know are going to have stories that resonate to our wider viewership. Of our several dozen guests on 100+ shows, we’ve actually only had two in-studio: Ziggy cartoonist Tom Wilson and the head of one of the finest new media/social media operations in all of professional sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Mike Maleski (who is due back sometime in the next two months, incidentally). Now, we’re not complaining about this: it’s not like we told Bob Barker, Tommy Lasorda and our other great guests, “Hey, either show up here or it’s no-go!” We took them over the phone, gratefully.

But it’s outstanding to have somebody who can appear with us and deliver on a great level in terms of content. The man joining us in-studio this week can do just that. Tom Piatak is a Cleveland-based writer who is a contributing editor to Chronicles Magazine and is also published in Taki’s Magazine, The American Conservative and other fine outlets. But it gets even better. He is uniquely positioned, because he writes about it all the time, to help break down the philosophy of paleoconservatism.

Now, I have discussed very often my subscription to this very same philosophy and my belief that it is going to become an ascendant force to contend with left-liberalism and the neoconservatism that marginalized it in the Republican/conservative ranks once the unifying force of Ronald Reagan had faded from the scene. After all, while the American people are gagging on the stale statist porridge of Barack Obama, only the fools and knaves calling the shots in the Republican Party could possibly think that the American people have already forgotten the pain and disappointment of the Bush/Cheney neocon adventurism. It may seem biased for me to believe that my philosophy represents the future … but it does represent the future. What, do you want me to lie? :-)

So at a time when the Tweedledumbs and Tweedledumbers of the world are lining up to push their false choices and dueling idiocies on the American people, it’s going to be great to have the reinforcement of an authority like Tom as we dissect real, substantive policy alternatives to those that the Demo-publicans are shoving down our throats. Additionally, for a program like ours that tries to be different in its approach whenever possible (without being hacky in doing so), it’s certainly a plus for us to be covering a school of thought that is so criminally underrepresented in the rest of the media.

I developed these bullet points to sum up the paleocon philosophy and I will be asking Tom where he agrees and disagrees with my characterizations:

^ Foreign policy: Neither the pansy pacifism of the post-Sixties left nor the reflexive militarism of the neocons (best exemplified by William Kristol calling for the United States to invade Iran as a means of settling the Israel-Hezbollah war of ’06) – instead, a common-sense non-interventionism that calls for (overwhelming) force only in those rare instances in which America’s vital national interest is truly at stake.

^ Trade: Neither the trade-wars-be-damned protectionism of the ivory-tower left nor the unrestricted free trade of the neocons that leads to unilateral economic surrender – but a fair-trade policy that seeks a level playing field with our trading partners around the world.

^ Economics: Neither the Marx-inspired hate-for-the-sake-of-hate approach to Big Business of the left nor the blind worship of all things demanded by the Fortune 500 on the neocon side - but the knowledge that Big Business is a force that operates solely according to what is best for it (for good or for ill), often eager to co-opt Big Government to crush the real backbone of America, small business.

^ Border security and national sovereignty: The commitment to preserving the sanctity of the nation’s borders that the neocons have been dragged to kicking and screaming but have never advanced an inch.

^ Social issues such as defense of traditional marriage, protection of innocent unborn life, respect for religious holidays and institutions, etc.: Commitment (stemming from respect for the historic successes of Western Civilization) to carry out the positions that the neocons mouth half-heartedly but do not implement.

^ Opposition to Big Government and respect for the Tenth Amendment: See social issues.

Additionally, the paleocon philosophy allows for a great deal of bridge-building with libertarians. While they are not simpatico on social issues (and may, in fact, be a few degrees closer to liberals on non-Big Government matters), they share a large part of the liberal/neocon critique with what has been referred to as the Old School Right.

How do the paleos get from here to there in terms of amassing the political power to implement smart policies? Well, fortunately, there is an opening right now in terms of the most motivated force in politics, the Tea Party. The reenergized voters under the auspices of this movement need to be convinced that the Republican Party self-destruction that led to Obama’s rise happened because the neocon death grip on the GOP made it inevitable. We will know that the proper positioning of the Tea Party movement is in the process of succeeding when the following counterintuitive take becomes mainstream: “Barack Obama’s biggest mistakes have come from doubling down on the ones made by George W. Bush.” And of course, we will know this because it will mean that the feeble Bush-rehabilitation clowns like Karl Rove and Sean Hannity have been shouted down as they deserve to be.

There are three more links that could lead to a better understanding of the paleocon philosophy:

^ One of the first columns we ever ran at The FDH Lounge: the definitive deconstruction of George W. Bush from the right.

^ An outstanding explanation by the very smart Southern Avenger Jack Hunter about how reflexive anti-Obama partisanship hurts real conservatism.

^ The Wikipedia page on paleoconservatism, which breaks it down in exquisite detail.

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