Monday, December 1, 2008

Is Sean Hackbarth Completely Oblivious to his own Ideology?

Here's a breathless piece of advice that Wiscosnin's favorite DC-wanna-be Sean Hackbarth dispensed this evening:
When was the last time he [i.e. Neil Gabler] wandered through wide stretches of the conservative blogosphere?
The same can be asked about Hackbarth himself, who would do well to do some catch up at one conservative clearinghouse: Human Events magazine.

While it's never had the reputation for being as erudite as the National Review, Human Events is still is a home for some of the bigger, or maybe louder, names in the conservative firmament. Here's how the publication describes itself:
HUMAN EVENTS is the news source President Reagan called his "favorite newspaper" and we still hold high the Reaganesque principles of free enterprise, limited government and, above all, a staunch, unwavering defense of American freedom.
Personally, I think HE is shit and many of my conservative friends are quick to agree with me (the word "tabloid" is frequently used to describe it). So far as any of us can tell, HE operates in one of two modes: 1.) putative bomb-throwing or 2.) hard-line orthodoxy enforcement -- both of which get really old really quickly ... but, hay, The Reagan says it's his "favorite newspaper" so it must have been doing something correctly, right?

What makes the Reagan endorsement so odd is that HE's most prominent and long-standing editorial positions has been a spirited and staunch defense of -- whom else? -- Joseph McCarthy!

Here's an editorial from back in 2004:
The style section of the Washington Post last week included a brief smear against Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R.-Wis.), the patriotic anti-Communist senator who first warned about Communist subversion in the U.S. government 54 years ago in a series of political speeches. In drawing attention to the coverage of Sen. McCarthy's famous Wheeling, W.Va., speech in the Wheeling Intelligencer, the Post noted that "Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy . . . inaugurated an era of ruinous gossip and innuendo." The brief one-paragraph item in the Post noted in closing, "A Senate committee later found no basis for McCarthy's claims." Despite the campaign of misinformation that liberal journalists and historians continue to wage against McCarthy, HUMAN EVENTS contributing editor M. Stanton Evans, author of several articles in HUMAN EVENTS over the years, and Ann Coulter in her book Treason, have exposed the distortions, fallacies and misrepresentations that continue to tarnish McCarthy's reputation.

These kinds of demands for a correction by any media organization that criticizes McCarthy are de rigeur for HE.

Here's Pat Buchanan valiantly defending the legacy of McCarthy in 2003... and again here.

The Coulter doing the same in 2007 ...

And if that weren't enough, here's a lovely picture:

Here's what Phyllis Shlafley has to say about Old Joe from a piece written in 2003:
The easiest way to check out the biases of a history textbook is to look at its treatment of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Standards, for example, which didn’t include a single word about Paul Revere, Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, Albert Einstein, or Gen. Douglas MacArthur, inflicted 19 unfavorable mentions on McCarthy. Almost everything the current generation "knows" about McCarthy is false. Students and adults who want to learn the history that has been censored out of their textbooks should read Ann Coulter’s current bestseller, Treason. Her book does an awesome job of describing the widespread infiltration of the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Truman Administrations by a vast network of Soviet spies and agents. The official release in 1995 of the Venona Papers proves there is no longer any doubt about the massive penetration of important positions by men who served the interests of the Soviet Union. Coulter shows there is no longer any doubt about the willful, partisan coverup of this treason by the Democrats whose strategy was to target "McCarthyism" as the enemy and thereby deflect blame from FDR, who called Stalin "Uncle Joe," Harry Truman who said "I like old Joe; Joe’s a decent fellow," and Vice President Henry Wallace who was a blatant Soviet apologist.
There are numerous other examples from other conservatives of varying degrees of celebrity -- none of whom, to the best of my knowledge are members of the John Birch Society -- available online, and if you're lucky enough to have access to a LexusNexus search you can sift through the entire archives to your heart's content.

So, no, Bill Buckley did not kick the McCarthyites out of the conservative movement -- he merely kicked them off the pages of the National Review.

This isn't just an academic issue. During the last presidential campaign John McCain and co. used several variations on the McCarthyism theme. First they sought to hate on the media elites and culture of celebrity (of which Obama was adored by both), then it was the Ayers thing, but the one that finished the campaign and appeared to resonate the most with the GOP base was "Obama is a," wait for it, "socialist!"

So it's safe to say that this "phenomenon" that Gabler has merely "attach[ed] a nefarious character" to may be a little more than that -- though I'm happy to see that Hackbarth believes McCarthy to be "nefarious." Gabler suggests that it's the default position of the conservative movement -- and given the tiny amount of real estate in the L.A. Times he was given to make his point I think he makes a pretty compelling case.

Hackbarth thinks otherwise. He makes a few points contra Gabler, but none are pursuasive. Hackbarth is at his silliest when he points out the mutation in Gabler descent of conservative man -- Ronald Reagan:
He recalls the Reagan optimism yet declares that unique to the 40th President. However he fails to acknowledge Republicans from all wings of the party seek it.
So are Republicans to recieve points for simply trying to be optimistic? As long as they -- or even Democrats, for that matter -- mean well can they still resort to McCarthyism? As long as Republicans "seek" the Reagan optimism the party's good to go? The problem with that line of thinking is that thus far the only person to have actually found the Reagan optimism has been Ronald Reagan while just about every other GOP standard-bearer seems to have gone immediately for McCarthy-esque divide-and-conquer.

After a while people pick up on this.

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