Have you heard about this? A group of conservative “reformers” are issuing a “Conservative Manifesto” today to try to reconnect with middle-class voters — you know, the 47 percent that Willard “Mittens” Romney spoke of so disparagingly in 2012.
Do you know who else had a manifesto? The Communist Manifesto. (The reason for this jab will become apparent).
Right out of the “new” box I find a glaring problem with this latest effort at GOP rebranding. The editor of this tome is none other than Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of the right-wing National Review Online.
Goldberg is best known for his ignorant “lefty-bashing” polemics in “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning,” and “The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.” He is also a syndicated columnist who writes some of the worst opinion columns I have ever read (our sad small town newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star, actually publishes this crap on Saturdays).
Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal Blog is also unimpressed. Reformish Conservatives Watch Their Backs:
I’m going to have to wait until the Memorial Day Weekend to give any serious attention to the new 121-page “policy manifesto” released today by conservative “reform” thinkers (the hardy band Ryan Cooper described in the May/June issue of Washington Monthly as “reformish conservatives”) on a wide range of domestic issues (not including “divisive” items like immigration policy, of course).
Media accounts are treating the manifesto as something of a rescue mission to a Republican Party so addicted to pure obstruction and scandal-mongering, and so hostile to any positive role for government, that it has the policy chops of a hammerhead shark. And the authors are feeding that perception. Here’s an excerpt from Jonathan Martin’s piece in the New York Times on the effort:
“We have to do more than ‘Stand athwart history, yelling stop,’ ” said Pete Wehner, a conservative scholar, referring to William F. Buckley Jr.’s vision for National Review, the conservative magazine he founded.
“Sometimes you have to do that and then try to bend history in a different direction,” said Mr. Wehner, one of the contributors to the manifesto.
A group of right-leaning writers and policy analysts, calling themselves “reform conservatives,” have been all but pleading with Republican leaders since the 2012 presidential election to move from the Reagan-era’s small government bromides and a mere opposition to liberalism to address voters’ everyday challenges.
But there has been little appetite for embracing such an expansive agenda among Republicans, many of whom see more benefits in their confrontations with Mr. Obama over issues like the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“Building a post-Obama conservatism is more important than still trying to beat Obama,” Ramesh Ponnuru, a conservative writer and the author of one of the book’s essays, said, explaining his frustration.
Interestingly enough, though, when you actually go to the website of the YG network (I’m guessing that stands for “Young Guns,” Eric Cantor’s brand) to gaze at Room To Grow, the book version of the manifesto, the first thing you see is this quote from the renowned lefty-baiter Jonah Goldberg:
You constantly hear about how conservatives have no ideas. The best thing about this book is you can slap the people who say such things with it. A close second: They can read it to discover how wrong they are.
That tells you a lot about the political fears of these “reformers.” A tome intended to convince their big dumb party to be smarter is marketed to its audience as an insult to liberals and a confirmation that conservatives have been brainy all along. Guess that’s the sweetener to help make the castor oil of positive governing ideas go down a bit more easily.
Wingnut welfare from billionaire patrons keeps otherwise unemployable conservative writers like Jonah Goldberg working.