Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

President Barack Obama, and former presidents, from second from left, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter arrive for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center ,Thursday, April 25, 2013, in Dallas. AP Photo/David J. Phillip.

George W. Bush Presidential Center Dedication, April 25, 2013. Video. George W. Bush Presidential Center.

For Bush, a Day to Bask in Texas Sun. By Peter Baker. New York Times, April 25, 2013.

All five living presidents share stage to honor President Bush, dedicate his library., April 25, 2013.

George W. Bush Is Smarter Than You. By Keith Hennessey. Real Clear Politics, April 25, 2013. Also find it here.

Watch George W. Bush Speak at the Dedication of His Presidential Library. Video. PBSNewsHour, April 25, 2013. YouTube. Speeches by Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Arrival of the 5 Living Presidents. PBS News Hour Story.

Battle Hymn of the Republic Performed by the US Army Chorus. Video PBSNewsHour, April 25, 2013. YouTube.

Biden: Tsarnaev Brothers Are “Twisted, Perverted, Knock-Off Jihadis.”

Biden: Boston Suspects “Twisted, Perverted, Knock-Off Jihadis.” By Mary Bruce. ABC News, April 24, 2013.

Joe Biden, White House Id. By Garance Franke-Ruta. The Atlantic, April 24, 2013.

“Knock-Off Jihadis” and Other Pests. By Abe Greenwald. Commentary, April 25, 2013.

Biden Calls Boston Terror Suspects “Twisted,Perverted, Knock-Off Jihadis.” Video. thebcast, April 24, 2013. YouTube.

“GOP” Pollster Frank Luntz Denounced Limbaugh, Levin as “Problematic” for GOP Future.

“GOP” Pollster Frank Luntz Denounced Limbaugh, Levin as “Problematic” for GOP Future. By Tim Graham. NewsBusters, April 25, 2013.

Secret Tape: Top GOP Consultant Luntz Calls Limbaugh “Problematic.” By David Corn. Mother Jones, April 25, 2013.

Corn on MSNBC: Luntz’s Gripe with Rush Limbaugh. Video. Mother Jones, April 25, 2013.

Frank Luntz, Rush Limbaugh, and the “Secret Tape” Addiction. By David Weigel. Slate, April 25, 2013.

Frank Luntz’s Secret Tape Reveals the Right-Wing Media’s True Cruise Control. By Elspeth Reeve. The Atlantic, April 25, 2013.

A nation tired of paranoia and lies. Frank Luntz spoke the truth. By Stanley Crouch. New York Daily News, April 29, 2013.

Frank Luntz on Rush Limbaugh. Video. Mother Jones Video, April 25, 2013. YouTube.

Culture War in Israel Targets Ultra-Orthodox Jews. By Daniel Estrin.

Culture War in Israel Targets Ultra-Orthodox Jews. By Daniel Estrin. Associated Press, April 25, 2013. Also find it here.

Why the GOP Has to Get Over Ronald Reagan. By Jennifer Rubin.

Tear down this icon: Why the GOP has to get over Ronald Reagan. By Jennifer Rubin. Washington Post, April 25, 2013.

It Won’t Be Your Father’s GOP. By Jennifer Rubin. NJBR, March 24, 2013, with related articles.

Republicans Recognize Their Party in Peril. By Peter Wehner. NJBR, March 24, 2013, with related articles.


The unfailing reverence on the American right for Ronald Reagan is understandable. He was the only exemplar of modern conservatism to win the White House, and unlike liberal icons such as Roosevelt or Johnson or Obama, he presided over an economic boom and became beloved by voters not normally drawn to his party. No wonder that Reagan, long before his death in 2004, attained mythical status in the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

But that myth has become a burden for the modern GOP. It has bound Reagan’s followers on the right to policies and positions that were time-specific. The old guard has become convinced that Reagan’s solutions to the problems of his time were the essence of conservatism — not simply conservative ideas appropriate for that era.

Today’s Republican Party, however, faces legions of voters and candidates who came of age politically after Reagan’s eight years in office. An entire generation recalls him vaguely as a genial, optimistic president who stood up for America in the Cold War.

The Republican Party can remain a Ronald Reagan historical society, or it can try to endure as a force in national politics. But it can’t do both. The choice matters greatly, for there is no guarantee that the GOP will retain its ability to win national elections or that conservatism has a future as a national governing philosophy.

The Republican Party may survive, but only if its politicians, activists, donors and intellectuals rethink modern conservatism and find new issues to defend and new arguments with which to defend them. The public face of the GOP can no longer be aging, ill-tempered Reaganites such as John McCain and Jim DeMint but must give way to a diverse, media-savvy generation that understands the America we actually live in. Only then can the essence of conservatism — the promotion of personal liberty — survive, and the GOP along with it.

“We’re winning everything imaginable in off-years,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told me recently. “The governors are still going strong. We’re winning the war in issue-driven races.” However, he conceded that Republicans have lost their ability to connect with average Americans in the wider electorate: “We are not relating to people at an emotional level.”

The 2012 presidential election should have been an opportunity to make that connection. The party seemed to have everything it needed in its nominee: an intelligent and experienced candidate with a tax-cutting agenda, a defense of traditional values, a commitment to maintain U.S. supremacy in the world — and an adoring wife, too. Unfortunately, Mitt Romney seemed to be campaigning for the 1980 election, with attacks on welfare recipients and promises of greater defense spending and getting government off our backs.

In the months since Romney’s defeat, there has been a great deal of angst about the party’s future. Some Republicans, such as Karl Rove and his American Crossroads super PAC, are certain that the GOP has a personnel problem and are determined to weed out self-destructive candidates. But the problems are more serious than simply who is winning primary races. This is not a matter of individually competent candidates but of the GOP’s outdated worldview.

Even after Obama’s reelection, Reagan-era conservatives have scorned any challenge to the party’s status quo, conducting search-and-destroy missions against ideological deviations from the Reagan playbook.

After the top sliver of the Bush-era tax cuts expired, tax increases could not be part of a budget because, as we know, Republicans are opposed to taxes. Same-sex marriage must be opposed, because Republicans defend “traditional marriage.” And despite Reagan’s spearheading of immigration reform in 1986, Republicans have to oppose that, too, because they were the party of law and order.

In fact, these “conservative” positions are not necessarily conservative; they are part of an effort to avert the party’s eyes from the dramatic economic, social, demographic and cultural changes that have taken place over the past 30 years. They confuse the Reagan-era expression of conservatism with conservatism itself. In clinging to it three decades later, the Republican Party has become not conservative but reactionary.

When Sen. DeMint (R-S.C.)decamped in January from Congress to a venerated conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, it was not to foster intellectual dialogue, innovation or self-examination. It was to be louder and more resolute on principles that voters had rejected in two national elections. Now DeMint fights innovation on immigration reform, same-sex marriage, economic policy and anything else that could propel the party out of the 1980s. He insists that the GOP’s problem is simply bad marketing. “Conservative policies have proved their worth time and time again,” he wrote in The Washington Post in January. “If we’re not communicating in a way that makes that clear, we are doing a disservice to our fellow citizens. We need to test the market and our message to communicate more effectively.”

The irony could not be greater. In the 1980s, Heritage sought to adapt conservative philosophy into a template for governing, fortifying the Reagan administration with an ideological framework and policy directives. It also cast conservative think tanks not merely as idea factories for Republican administrations but as critics of and commentators on GOP policies. Today, by contrast, Heritage is helping insulate the party from heretics and cement an agenda it advanced 30 years ago.

During Obama’s first term, defenders of the traditional GOP — tea party leaders, conservative PACs, right-wing blogs, radio talk-show hosts and the candidates they inspired and supported — generated enormous excitement and emphasized the party’s roots in fiscal conservatism. However, together with veterans of the Reagan years, they also popularized more strident language (vilifying same-sex marriage and labeling the president a “socialist”) and inflexible commitments (balance the budget in 10 years, or how about five!), making it tougher for even skilled candidates to win outside of staunchly conservative states.

Fortunately, not all Republicans are trapped in a time warp. On the other side of this battle within conservatism is a generation of leaders who emerged decades after Reagan left office: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

They are problem-solvers and party-builders, not groundskeepers for a Reagan monument. They go back to conservatism’s pre-Reagan roots — to the writings of Edmund Burke, to the domestic neoconservative reformers of the 1960s and to Jack Kemp, who saw impoverished Americans as the property owners of tomorrow and capitalism as the great poverty antidote of modern times.

But they are not having an easy time of it. McDonnell, a conservative favorite for his first three years in office, has been under siege in recent months for what national conservatives label heresy: a plan to solve Virginia’s historic transportation problems by, among other things, raising the sales tax. The plan and the governor remain popular in the Old Dominion. But outside Virginia, bastions of conservative orthodoxy recoiled in horror, the right-wing blog Red State dubbed him “pathetic” and “the worst kind of Republican,” and a host of others declared that McDonnell had blown his 2016 prospects.

Shortly after being blasted by the old guard, McDonnell would tell the audience at a National Review Institute gathering that Republicans needed to not merely “talk about abstract principles ... [but] to connect our principles to policies that improve voters daily lives. That attitude put him on the “do not invite” list for the creakiest of conservative gaggles, the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The battle for conservatism is not some theoretical exercise; it has already been joined. On the defeated gun legislation, immigration reform and same-sex marriage, and in the aftermath of the Boston bombing, defenders of Republican orthodoxy have fought advocates of innovative conservative governance. On immigration, we see Rubio taking on DeMint, his former mentor. We see Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) endorsing gay marriage while social conservatives threaten to bolt the party. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) fought back against hard-liners deploring any deal on the fiscal cliff.

The fate of the party will be decided in the fight between those few who are determined to revive and rejuvenate conservatism and those who see such efforts as “selling out,” between those who would drag the party into the 21st century and those who would pull it back into the older, white, conservative enclaves that don’t care much for modernity. The new vanguard’s effort to redefine their party is the real story of the post-2012 GOP, and its only hope for survival.

And while leadership must first be sober and defend conservative principles, it must also be relatable. Conservatives have come to deplore the role of personality in politics, scoffing at celebrity candidates. This is deeply misguided. Of course, we don’t want blank-slate politicians, but we do need standard-bearers who can instigate a conservative revival. Policy without a politician is a dissertation. Conservatism without a candidate of character, charm and intelligence is reduced to a debating society.

America is no longer Reagan’s America, and the world is no longer fighting the Cold War. A successful political party must not just acknowledge new realities but adjust to them, even embrace them.

Reagan spoke admiringly of our federalist system — no doubt because of his experience running California as a fiscal conservative — but as president, he never managed to devolve significant power to the states, in part because state leadership was not always up to the task. Today, the states are among our best-run political entities, in large part because a majority are run by Republican governors. Leaders such as Christie, Jindal, McDonnell and Walker have implemented school reform, made innovations in health care and restructured pensions while making their states more business-friendly.

A conservative movement that embraces federalism on everything from Medicaid reform — in the form of block grants — to marriage is one that can both address the federal government’s fiscal woes and sidestep the conflict between social conservatives and libertarians. For those who fancy themselves constitutional conservatives and for those who want to pursue a social agenda out of tune with the country as a whole, federalism is more than a safety valve — it is an essential component of good governance.

In addition, if the GOP is to have a raison d’etre, it must be to offer a vision in which the American economy is not crushed by debt, regulation and the other dead weight of the liberal welfare state. Whether it is school choice or functioning health-care markets (in lieu of Obamacare), Republicans who offer a good dose of free-market discipline and personal choice in education, retirement planning and health care provide an alternative to the Western European dilemma — a feeble economy weighed down by an obese public sector.

However, in this endeavor Republicans should recognize that America will not return to the pre-New Deal era. Limited government, not small government, must be the aim. That requires low taxes, not taxes that never increase. It requires modest regulation, but some regulation. And it acknowledges that the electorate expects government to solve problems, not merely stand aside.

Even George W. Bush, so roundly criticized by conservatives as he left office, is instructive here. His compassionate conservatism, success in attracting Hispanic voters and education and Medicare reforms are akin to the approaches that the new generation of conservatives favor. No wonder Bush is making something of a comeback — after two presidential defeats, a softer-edge conservatism with concern for the middle class and the poor is coming back into fashion.

A modern GOP must also incorporate the national security lessons of the past 30 years, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring. That means adapting to the new face of jihadism — often radicalized individuals rather than al-Qaeda leaders. It means showing some common sense in intelligence-gathering but understanding that we cannot label every American who goes astray as an enemy combatant. In forging a worldview that is economically and politically sustainable, Republicans must align foreign policy with America’s self-interest, demonstrating that a world devoid of U.S. leadership is more dangerous, less prosperous and more repellant in its disregard for human rights.

The building blocks of a 21st-century recovery for the right — federalism, free markets to create prosperity and preserve the safety net, and an updated foreign policy based on our experience of the past three decades — are at their core conservative. They embrace liberty as the highest value and aim to constrain federal power to promote and enhance freedom. Conservatism by its very nature must be empirical, informed by experience and respectful of mediating institutions, including local governments, religious institutions and civic associations.

If they succeed, the leaders of this New Right — more eclectic, more contemporary on cultural debates and more confident in their ability to redefine conservatism, more willing to step away from the Reagan hymnal — will shape the movement for the near future. And in so doing, they can demonstrate that conservatism is not bound to a single place or time or challenge but, like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is timeless and the highest expression of political liberty.

Here’s Inspire, the Jihadist Magazine That Taught the Boston Bombers to Kill.

Here’s the Jihadist Magazine That Taught the Boston Bombers to Kill. By Cord Jefferson. Gawker, April 23, 2013.

“Quiet, Shy, Like Us.” Classmates Describe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. By Cenk Uygur.

“Quiet, Shy, Like Us.” Classmates Describe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. By Cenk Uygur. Video. The Young Turks, April 19, 2013. YouTube.

Former Classmate of Boston Bombing Suspect Speaks Out. Video. The Huffington Post, April 19, 2013.

Discussion of Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 4: “And Now His Watch Is Ended.”

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) with her army of the Unsullied.

Discussion of Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 4: “And Now His Watch Is Ended.” Panel with Ben Mankiewicz, John Iadarola, and Cenk Uygur. Video. What the Flick, April 22, 2013. YouTube.

On Game of Thrones, Two Savage, Spectacular Game Changers. By Ross Douthat, Spencer Kornhaber, and Christopher Orr. The Atlantic, April 21, 2013.

More on Game of Thrones here, here, and here.

Don’t Mess with Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen. Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 4. Video. twopointohhh, April 21, 2013. YouTube. Also find it here, here, here, here, and here.

Boston Bombers’ Next Target: Times Square, New York.

Boston Bombing Suspects Talked of Times Square as Next Target, New York Officials Say. By J. David Goodman. New York Times, April 25, 2013.

Times Square Targeted By Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects, FBI Says. By Michael McLaughlin. The Huffington Post, April 25, 2013.

Bloomberg and Kelly Speak on Boston Bombers. Video. New York Times, April 25, 2013. YouTube.

Boston Bomber Read His Miranda Rights, Immediately Clams Up. Fox Nation, April 25, 2013.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev vowed to die for Islam; judge may have prematurely stopped brother’s interrogation, sources say. By Megyn Kelly. Fox News, April 25, 2013.

Bombing Suspect Immediately Stops Talking After Government Reads Him His Miranda Rights. By Lara Jakes. AP. Business Insider, April 25, 2013.

Rush Limbaugh on Trading Freedom for Security.

Mayor Doomberg: We Must Reinterpret the Constitution in Wake of Boston Bombing. By Rush Limbaugh., April 23, 2013.


You know what Ben Franklin said about this.  This is one of my all-time favorite quotes.  Benjamin Franklin once said: “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”  Benjamin Franklin, and that’s exactly right.  People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.  People willing to trade their freedom for economic security, people willing to give up their dreams, people willing to trade the hard rigors of success in exchange for a modicum of existence will never know success, and their modicum sustenance hangs by a thread based on the good intentions of a government.

In other words, if you give up the right to provide for yourself, if you trade the hard work and the ambition of success, attempted success, for the guarantees of a government that you’ll always have a phone, cable TV, and McNuggets, you’re gonna be disappointed over both decisions.  And, by the way, when you trade your freedom for temporary security, when you’re not in charge of your security, when you have no control over your security, when you have no control over your economic circumstances, what kind of a thin thread are you hanging by?  You’re depending on the performance of other people that don’t even know you.  Politicians in a distant capital who, on a whim, could cancel whatever program that you depend on. Maybe cancel the McNuggets program, cancel the Obama phone program.  It may happen.  What if that’s all you know?  You depend on Santa Claus instead of yourself.  It’s exactly right.  Glad you called, Charles.

Petraeus to Continue Public Service at CUNY. By Walter Russell Mead.

Petraeus to Continue Public Service at CUNY. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, April 25, 2013.

Is Tourism Destroying the World? By Elizabeth Becker.

Is Tourism Destroying the World? By Elizabeth Becker. Real Clear World, April 24, 2013.

The Ugly Choice in the Middle East. By David Rothkopf.

The Ugly Choice in the Middle East. By David Rothkopf. Foreign Policy, April 23, 2013.

The Seven Faces of Vladimir Putin. By Ivan Kratsev.

The seven faces of Putin. By Ivan Kratsev. Prospect Blog, April 24, 2013.