Cassandra argues that conservatives have been reduced to cheap smears against Sonia Sotomayor, that our arguments have lost their punch:
Politics is the art of persuasion. The problem with conservative arguments is that although we're quite good at telling the public what's wrong with what we oppose, we are not so adept at articulating what it is we support. It's not enough to run down the competition. A good salesman highlights the positive attributes of his product as well as distinguishing it from the competition. For as long as I can remember our opponents have successfully (and all too often with our enthusiastic help) characterized conservatism as a negative political philosophy. We are painted as a party full of fearful and reflexively authoritarian killjoys, out to harsh the national mellow and steal everyone else's corn flakes. Unfortunately, our response to this inaccurate portrayal often does more to confirm than refute that flawed premise ....There's more at the link.
In watching the debate over the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, I've found myself returning again and again to an ancient legal maxim: Venire contra factum proprium non valet. Loosely translated, it means "Arguments which contradict one's prior actions will fall on deaf ears." For as long as I can remember conservatives have decried the Borking of judicial nominees on ideological grounds. But more than this, we have vigorously defended the right of a sitting President to nominate jurists whose views are compatible with that of the party in power ....
There are principled arguments to be made here. Not against Barack Obama's absolute right to nominate a judge whose views he finds compatible with his own, but against the views themselves. That places the responsibility for appointing Constitutionally faithful judges back where it belongs - at the top. It also makes it a lot harder for our opponents to mischaracterize our arguments as mean spirited or bigoted. It's hard to see how employing the very tactics we've derided in our opponents does anything to strengthen the Republican brand (unless of course our message is "Do as we say - not as we do!").
I love Cassandra, and my comments are directed at her arguments, not her. We need less personal infighting on the right (got that Rod Dreher?).
Cassandra notes that it's perfectly fine to hammer Sotomayor on her "wise Latina" statements, as long as we focus on ideas and avoid "over the top personal attacks."
Well, yeah ... I only disagree to the extent that I don't think hammering Sotomayor on her race-consciousness is "over the top." So what, don't call her a racist? Fine, we can then just sit back and oppose her on ideas while THE LEFT ATTACKS US as racist. Yep, that ought to work! That's what it's all about nowadays, you know?. Racist this, racist that ... pretty soon we're all racists!
The truth is, as we've seen in everyday interactions, as well as in academic research, conservatives are nicer, more compassionate people than liberals. Yet, we stand on clear moral principles, and especially on traditional values, and we're thus attacked as "haters," "bigots," and "racists."
Look at what happened to Carrie Prejean. She wasn't being mean or nasty. She called no one names, nor did she turn up her nose in contempt for gay oppositional values. All she did is say she was raised to believe that marriage was between a man and a woman. The knives came out immediately, from all angles. Perez Hilton called Prejean a dumb bitch. Keith Lewis and Shanna Moakler attacked Prejean as violating the values of the Miss California pageant, as if honesty and integrity weren't values worth emulating.
But why stop there?
I've been called "racist" so many times for supporting merit in university admissions that I've lost count. Conservatives are excoriated simply for standing up for values that the progressive-left has labeled "archaic" and "Neanderthal." It's kind of sick, when you think about it.
Cassandra basically places herself along with moderate Republicans who pride themselves in the use of "reason and logic informed by an objective approach to the facts."
Actually, so do I. I backed John McCain in last year's GOP primaries. I took a lot of flak for it too. But I don't regret it. I've learned from it. McCain's moment passed him up. His success was in supporting a winning war strategy that paid no political dividends by the end of 2008. The progessive mindset that wars are automatically bad had taken hold after eight years of Democratic betrayal and disinformation (and we were winning, in any case). All Barack Obama had to do was tack with the wind of Bush fatigue and war weariness. In turn, McCain had little in his policy quiver to offer voters besides "fight with me." Well, when people weren't so worried about the fight overseas, when the guts were being sucked out of the American financial system, and when the housing debacle sucked everything under with it, McCain was left stumbling along the campaign trail like a dumb mule.
The funny thing is that conservative ideas are there. In education, in economic policy, in deregulation, in energy. The list goes on. The problem is that ideas such as reliance on personal initiative and self-reliance, on school choice, vouchers, and market competition in service delivery, on domestic energy exploration and production, on downsizing government, on compellence in international relations ... all of these ideas are reviled by progressives, unions, and the liberal media establishment. Conservatives have ideas. They haven't been tried. George Bush managed the war on terror. He fought for American national security in Iraq and the broader Middle East. The conflict was not a "disaster." But we've been told that so many times it's become the conventional wisdom. Young people's minds have been turned off to the realities of market choice at home and the deployment of power abroad. People have been led to believe that spending trillions of dollars, and preparing for Democratic budgets as far as the eye can see, won't cost them anything. The "rich" will pay for it! Let's raise taxes! Make them pay their fair share! And then as soon as hundreds of thousands of Americans take to the streets and the plazas to protest the loss of liberties on April 15th what happened? We were all attacked as ... wait for it ... tea-baggers and racists!
Perhaps Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrinch lack the style and grace of a Ronald Reagan. But who does? Where is our glamorous man (or woman) on horseback to lead us from the political wilderness? Are we even ready for a leader? We don't even have a Republican vision anymore. Governor Taxinator? He didn't even campaign for his own tax increases in California when the voters were about to say, "enough is enough"! And you know where he was ... with Jennifer Granholm in Washington, visiting President Barack "Infanticide" Obama and his tax-cheat adminstration! Now we've got people like John Cornyn saying forget about atttactive young up-and-coming Hispanic conservatives. We need to go with GOP moderate in Charlie Crist, who just Wednesday broke his no-taxes pledge in signing a Flordia state budget that raises $2.2 billion in new fees and taxes!
Is this the kind of policy conservatives are supposed to argue in favor of? Is this something in which we need to articulate our "support"?
I can't help but think this is a disaster for conservatism. Moderation? Well, sometimes you just have to say no. Reagan did. Reagan said no. Why can't we? Reagan said forget about it brother, "cut taxes, spending, and regulation, and got government out of the way and let free people create new jobs and businesses."
In any case, back to Sotomayor ...
What's the meme right now, against the "evil" conservatives? Well, "G. Gordon Liddy On Sotomayor: ‘Let’s Hope That The Key Conferences Aren’t When She’s Menstruating’." Wow, Liddy? Oh he's a real spokesman for the party!
And this, "GOP Hispanic Strategists Stunned, Outraged By Sotomayor Attacks." Stunned? Who says? The Huffington Post? Of course they're going to say that.
Meanwhile, the news is out that Sonia Sotomayor attacked Princeton University as an institution of bigotry: "Sotomayor, as Student, Attacked Princeton as Anti-Latino."
Well, there's that race-consciousness I mentioned! But conservatives will be attacked as "racist" just for pointing it out ...
Now where was that "moment" we're looking for? Will we get another "moment" if we play nice on Sotomayor? Who knows? Maybe we'll get another "taxable-moment" with people like tax-hike Charlie down in Florida!
Now that's the way to eviscerate the Reagan legacy!
Back to you, Cassandra!