Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waylaid Conservatives

Not only liberals say stupid things. In the 9/21 issue of National Review, Florence King laments the lack of decorum among the Grassroots Right with its spirited opposition to the Democrats' socialist agenda.

King believes in the demure approach to debating issues. She cites

the 18th-century Whig salon, the cradle of classic conservatism, whose dictum was "Demolish your enemies without raising your voice.”

Then she goes on to relate the following anecdote,

In 1945, when Churchill lost the post of prime minister to Labourite Clement Attlee, the two spent the transition time in close quarters. They had to use the same men’s room, but if Attlee came in while Churchill was there, Churchill left immediately, not returning until he was sure he would be alone. The socialist Attlee was amused, interpreting it as a social snub from the grandson of a duke, and asked him, “Why so modest, Winston?” Whereupon Churchill, without raising his voice, demolished him with: “Because whenever you see something big, you want to nationalize it.”

Attlee was so devastated by Churchill's bon mot that he and his fellow Laborites proceeded to nationalize the coal, steel, electric and rail industries and create Britain's dysfunctional National Health Service (NHS). (For some insight into why the British electorate tolerates its welfare state system check out Mark Steyn's entry in the same NR issue).

Sorry, Florence. Sometimes it's necessary to stand up and shout, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!"

I'm generally a big fan of John Derbyshire's witty, erudite musings on NRO's "Radio Derb", (broadcast from the 95th floor of Buckley Tower in NYC). Being a paleoconservative, however, Derbyshire supports an isolationist foreign policy, dangerous as that stance is. During last Friday's broadcast he voiced approval ("while biting down hard on a pencil") of President Obama's decision to suspend development of a missile shield in Eastern Europe. Derbyshire believes that the danger of irritating the Russians more than counterbalances the possible advantage of defending Europe from a potential Iranian missile attack.
This attitude was certainly not one held by President Reagan when he said in the 1980s, "Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose." Reagan wasn't fearful of the Soviets' response when he deployed Pershing intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe. (And he certainly didn't concern himself with the millions protesting the deployment). The success of Reagan's policy of standing firm in response to the threats and provocations of a tyrannical superpower speaks for itself. So why cringe before Russia today when it retains only a vestige of its once formidable military and strategic strength?

Mark Helprin, that expert gadfly of all aspects of military and foreign policy, has an op-ed in the WSJ today excoriating Obama's latest shameful concession. Obligatory reading for Mr. Derbyshire (and others) reluctant to support the projection of America's benevolent power.

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