Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Big Government Conservatism, Part II

Tom Coburn has an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal today that makes the case against so-called "compassionate conservatism" and, believe it or not, against spending increases for Iraq and Afghanistan. The piece argues, correctly, that Republicans are in denial that what ails the Republican Party is that Republicans over the last 8 years have ceased to act like Republicans but are instead trying to be big-government liberals. As any of the millions of libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives who have abandoned the GOP over the last 8 years will tell you, this is exactly correct.

The response to Coburn's piece from the Right is particularly telling in demonstrating just how much the Right has ceased to care about limited government.

Self-described "libertarian (HA!)" Karl from Protein Wisdom argues that in fact it is Coburn who is in denial, noting that "The 2006 exit poll data suggests that the GOP lost control of Congress because: (a) about half of the electorate had a bad opinion of the economy; (b) the Iraq mission was unpopular; and (c) voters did not see the GOP as particularly ethical. " Of course, all three of these things are symptoms of big-government conservatism, but Karl is unwilling to admit that.

AJStrata: "But that is a minor problem, the bigger problem with Coburn is his whining finger pointing. I have numerous examples of compassionate conservatism which were wholly conservatism and were low to no cost, proving that his rants against the impure are fiction. " Strata goes on to claim that Coburn is a hypocrite since as a Senator he played a part in all of this. This ignores the fact that Coburn has been perhaps the single most steadfast opponent of the growth of government spending in the Senate.

These arguments are not about effective governance, which is what conservatism was once about. Instead, they are arguments about how to gain power. But by focusing for the last 8 years on how to gain and maintain power, Republicans have inevitably governed poorly. Which is why they now stand on the verge of losing all the power they had gained, with virtually no conservative accomplishments to be proud of.