In the days leading up to (or just after) his “Road to Damascus” moment on February 24, 2004, Andrew Sullivan described himself as doubly disenchanted with the GOP. It was not just the then-President’s social conservatism (e. g., support of the Federal Marriage Amendment), Andrew also lambasted Republicans Republicans for failing to hold the line on domestic spending.
Given his then-opposition to ever increasing levels of federal spending, you’d think Andrew would welcome a movement protesting the spending policies of Bush’s successor. I mean, it seems Obama is playing poker with the former president using our tax dollars as chips, “I’ll see your spending and raise you 10 trillion.”
Now, Andrew, recalling his past principles, tries to cover for himself while faulting the rallies (which is what all the “cool” left-wing bloggers are doing these days):
As a fiscal conservative who actually believed in those principles when the Republicans were in power, I guess I should be happy at this phenomenon. And I would be if it had any intellectual honesty, any positive proposals, and any recognizable point. What it looks like to me is some kind of amorphous, generalized rage on the part of those who were used to running the country and now don’t feel part of the culture at all. But the only word for that is: tantrum.
(H/t: Legal Insurrection.)
Um, Andrew, trying to figure out that first sentence there because it may be key to defining those who faulted Bush for his spending, yet now fault those criticizing Obama for his. So, you believed in fiscal conservatism when Republicans were in power? But, now that they’re out of power, you’ve changed your mind?
As to the point of the protests, we want make it known that we oppose the President’s spendthrift policies. We hope the size of our gatherings will stir our elected representative to end federal bailouts and enact a more responsible budget than the one the President has opposed and the Democratic Congress has voted on.
Given your criticism of these protests, I have a question for you: once you changed your mind on then-President Bush’s Iraq policies, did you ask what was the point of the rallies against those policies? Did you fault them for a lack of positive proposals?
Like many who will be rallying Wednesday, I hope our movement draws attention to popular discontent with the levels of federal spending the President has proposed. Moreover, I hope it will spur the GOP to return to fiscal conservatism, possibly stirring Congressional leaders to write a new Contract with America to show they’ve learned the lesson from their past profligacy and subsequent electoral defeats.
And like many bloggers who have been promoting the tea parties, we’ve been criticizing the Republicans’ profligacy for about as long as we’ve had a web presence.
So, to dismiss it generalized rage is to ignore our* own past criticism of W and the GOP majorities — when they existed.
Dan Riehl thinks Andrew has become a “one trick pony,” concerned only with gay marriage: “But he might at least be a little bit honest and admit that anything pro the political party he sees as for it, or anything against the political party he sees as opposed to it, is just fine with him.”
If Andrew were truly committed to fiscal conservative principles, he would remove the conditional from the first sentence in the passage above and be pleased that those opposed to higher government spending are finally demonstrating their opposition to bloated federal budgets. Perhaps, he would fault us for not taking to to the streets to protest W’s (and the GOP’s) profligacy. And he’d have a point.
Maybe we should have done this sooner. Our rallies might have emboldened fiscal conservatives in the GOP to act more aggressively and to rally their more moderate colleagues to take a stand for fiscal discipline.
But, the point is that this is happening now. And instead of heralding a political movement, which I’ll grant is, as Andrew puts it, “kind of amorphous,” committed to principles which he once espoused “when Republicans were in power,” he joins the left side of the blogosphere in deriding it.
I guess he needs to prove to his new-found friends on the left that he really is one of them. Even as he calls himself a conservative.
*By “our,” I don’t just mean Bruce and myself, but all conservative & libertarian bloggers who support the rallies.