05/05/2005: Thought for the Day:
The problem with special-interest conservatives is not that such agenda items violate their greater principles on any given point, any more than the policies promoted by Democratic interests violate liberal principles. Rather, it's that the entire enterprise of running Washington as a special-interest spoils system breeds a bloated, ineffective government—which does very much go against conservative principle. Ten years ago, conservatives defined themselves in large measure by their belief in less government. Many still view themselves that way, but the self-conception no longer has anything to do with reality. A recent Cato Institute study points out that for the 101 biggest programs that the Contract With America Republicans proposed to eliminate as unnecessary in 1995, spending has now risen 27 percent under a continuously Republican Congress. Likewise, the conservative notion of deregulation has been supplanted by a demand for moralistic regulation, while the demand for judicial restraint has been replaced by pressure for right-wing judicial activism.
Over time, the kind of special-interest politics practiced by President Bush and the Republicans in Congress becomes not just hypocritical, but corrupt and ridiculous. The year has been rich in embarrassing episodes: the Department of Education, an agency that many true conservatives believe should not exist, paying right-wing para-journalist Armstrong Williams to promote an expanded federal role in education; former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, a moral opponent of legalized gambling, collecting $4 million via Jack Abramoff to help Indians with a casino fight off other Indians with casinos; the new chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, another institution antithetical to conservative principle, demanding more PBS slots for conservatives in the name of "balance." Reagan and Gingrich wanted to cleanse the Augean stables. Bush, Frist, and DeLay merely demand that the patronage now go to their hacks.
--Jacob Weisberg, on "Interest-Group Conservatism"
Len on 05.05.05 @ 05:40 AM CST