Monday, October 03, 2005

Liberal-Conservative Scale: RIP

I guess I should write something about Harriet Miers but I have absolutely nothing to say. So instead I'll say something about "scales" - specifically, the scale which has liberal on one side and conservative on the other. It occurred to me, as I was reading about Andrew Sullivan being labelled a "prominent liberal", that Bush has rendered the liberal-conservative scale completely meaningless. As Andrew says:
As to the term "prominent liberal," well, I think it tells you more about what has happened to conservatism than what has happened to me. I am now and long have been for small government, low taxes, a balanced budget, welfare reform, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, a flat tax, states' rights, and an increase in defense spending. I believe abortion and affirmative action are immoral and would have voted in dissent on Roe vs Wade. I'm a believing Christian. Right now, that makes you a "prominent liberal."
I propose we forget about the whole liberal-conservative thing and judging politicians as either "idealistic" or "pragmatic", where idealistic means you want to improve things and pragmatic means you don't care about anything but your own survival and legacy. A staunchly anti-government Republican who wants to abolish K-street and a young Democrat who wants to end world hunger would both be idealists, whereas Bush, Rove and most corporate executives and business lobbyists would be pragmatists.

Of course, then you have people like candidate Rudy Giuliani who, unlike Bush, has a reputation for being competent. So maybe the pragmatist is really at the middle of the scale, and the incompetent and feudal-lord-ish Bush is really a crony capitalist at the extreme end of the scale.

Clearly this new scale needs some more work. But I really think I'm onto something here. You just know that Bush Jr. would never, ever, in a million years set up something like the Clinton Global Initiative. But Bush Sr., James Baker and John McCain might. So what is the quality that separates people like Bush Jr., Karl Rove and Tom DeLay from people like Clinton, Bush Sr. and James Baker? It is certainly much more important than whether somebody is liberal or conservative. I'll take a competent conservative president over an incompetent and cronyist liberal equivalent to George Bush Jr. any day. And I suspect many other moderate liberals feel the same way.

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