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October 25, 2005

Answering My Critics

Allow me to make a post answering a few of the criticisms some readers have leveled towards my opposition to Harriet Miers.

First, one can call himself a conservative, but the title must have meaning. The basic conservative principles are laid out by Russell Kirk. You can find them here. Disagree if you like, but for over fifty years, Kirk has been regarded as the father of modern conservatism in America. If one wants to dispute these principles, he shall quickly find himself at odds with practically every conservative of note in this country. At that point, he might begin to ask himself if in fact he is a conservative. And he should seek to find some ideological allies, and with a quickness.

Second, yes, there are a few conservative leaders supporting the Miers nomination. Chief among them are Hugh Hewitt and Newt Gingrich. Hewitt’s argument boils down to loyalty to the President and a fear that the withdrawal of Miers will be politically damaging to the GOP. I don’t believe that to be the case in any event, but it should be noted that a GOP unified around anything resembling most of the Bush spending proposals would be a giant waste of resources. As for Gingrich, the man is entitled to his opinion and certainly he is a valuable conservative, but I don’t believe he’s right in this case. A lot of other folks take that position as well.

Of course one can be a conservative and hold differing opinions on certain matters. One reader cited Pat Buchanan, George F. Will, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Buckley. One would be hard to find many issues wherein Buckley, Will and Limbaugh disagree and as for Buchanan, it has been almost a decade since the conservative moment took him seriously. No informed person outside the mainstream media considers him to be a credible spokesman for the conservative movement.

I never claimed that respect for tradition is the only definition of conservatism. I did in fact asset that it is an attribute of conservatism, one of its most defining characteristics. One reader suggested that by my definition abortion and the New Deal are conservative, but this reasoning is absurd. Conservatism has been defined, for over two centuries, by the value of prescription, as Kirk notes in the passage linked above. When I cite Buckley or Will, it is not so that I might receive a conservative merit badge. It is because the ideological fathers of the movement that supported Goldwater, Reagan and Bush find fault with this nominee. After evaluating her myself, I join them in their disapproval.

If that makes no sense to our readers, there is no more I can say. I did not apologize for these ideas have proven to be valuable for generations, from Burke to Wordsworth to Kirk to Limbaugh. I will not recant them, for I find them to be worthy ideals. As an orthodox (small o) Christian, I find them easily compatible with Scripture. If anyone chooses to support the Miers nomination on grounds of party loyalty, so be it. I find that misguided but well-intentioned. I cannot support this, though I welcome any reader to defend her nomination on grounds that do not evoke the threat of lost Senate seats or a fractured party during the 2006 and 2008 elections. A Supreme Court vacancy must be regarded beyond the upcoming elections, and no President should be afforded loyalty for a campaign promise that has been muddled, if not outright broken.

Posted by Matt at October 25, 2005 09:50 PM

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My comment was denied for questionable content?

What's that mean?

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 26, 2005 10:43 AM

I'll try this again.

Didn't work. Once again, then:

I had a question about Kirk's principles and Bush's current pledge to veto McCain's ban on inhumane treatment of prisoners (I'm avoiding the "T" word, because that's all I can figure is stopping this post from getting on?)

Kirk's first principle is that conservatives believe in an enduring moral order. I've yet to see any conservatives come out in support of McCain and in opposition to Bush's veto pledge.

Surely you agree with me?

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 26, 2005 10:59 AM

First off, this post was in regard to some readers questioning my definition of conservativism. It wasn't about specific policies.

I haven't read the details of McCain's bill, nor have I read much opinion either pro or con. Let me do that and I can get back to you.

Posted by: Matt at October 26, 2005 11:37 AM

Thanks Matt. I know this is a bit off topic, but I kept waiting to see the matter addressed at some conservative site and I haven't, so I thought I'd broach the matter with you all, since I trust you as honest moral reasoning agents - even if I disagree sometimes with your final thoughts.

I looked earlier and had a hard time finding an objective news report on the issue. Here's a washington post story:

Thanks again.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 26, 2005 01:38 PM

I loved the way they changed the phrasing on item five. Talk about language spin. But as a liberal I too would agree with most of Kirk's points, it is rather degree and not substance that matters. And when we say we respect some tradition what do we mean, is there not social progress. I think there is. It always seems to those of us on the left that the fundamental difference between con and lib is that conservatives think I - note number 5 - and liberals think we. Redsate has had a few interesting discussions on this topic.

Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.

Do they ?

Posted by: James at October 26, 2005 03:09 PM

Just a note: I had put the "T" word in the spam filter since we had some really wierd stuff showing up. I thought that it would only reject URLs with that word, not general entries. I've removed it for now.

Posted by: Doug Payton at October 26, 2005 03:26 PM

Is NO ONE going to come out against torture? (Can I say that now?)

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 28, 2005 10:48 AM

Hold your horses. Unless you'd care to write my seminar paper on Scottish nationalism.

Posted by: Matt at October 28, 2005 11:13 AM

A vote against the McCain bill was a vote against redundancy. There are already laws against it. Hopefully you recall the Abu Graib convictions.

Posted by: Doug Payton at October 28, 2005 11:39 AM

Sorry, Matt. I'll wait more patiently. I sure don't want to write a seminar paper on even so fascinating a subject as Scottish nationalism.

Doug, I think Mr. McCain's point is that there ARE laws/rules existing within the army for said purposes, but naught to prevent the CIA, for instance, using torture.

I haven't read too much on the topic so perhaps I'm wrong, but I believe that's the point: McCain's would be a universal law to be obeyed and a clarifier so no one could be confused.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 28, 2005 12:02 PM

Two weeks later and I'm still waiting. I know Matt's working on a paper but how about someone...ANYONE else coming out against torture?

Cheney and Bush were at it this weekend, playing good cop/bad cop. Cheney telling Congress not to pass a law outlawing torture. Bush saying that "We do NOT torture," (but then asking Congress not to tie their hands and leaving it as an option).

I thought conservatives loved Black and White issues and it doesn't seem like it could be more b/w to me: Torture is WRONG.

Tell me you agree with me please? This is rather embarassing for a self-titled "God Blog" to not be coming out strongly against torture...

Posted by: Dan Trabue at November 9, 2005 09:21 AM