Fascinating to see America's biggest blowhard become the spokesman for the Republican Party. After hearing Limbaugh's speech to a national convention of conservatives this weekend, President Obama's right-hand man, Rahm Emmanuel, on Face the Nation, happily declared Limbaugh "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party." (No doubt he knows that Limbaugh is even less popular than George W. Bush among likely voters, according to a poll taken last fall.)
Limbaugh's rise to power has forced some real conservatives to draw the line. One of the best is Rod Dreher, who in this sharp post declares Limbaugh to be "crack" for conservatives. Dreher writes:
me tell you who we conservatives are [said Limbaugh]: We love people. [Applause] When
we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere,
when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see
Americans. We see human beings. We don't see groups. We don't see
victims. We don't see people we want to exploit. What we see — what we
see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the
average American, the person that makes this country work. We do not
see that person with contempt. We don't think that person doesn't have
what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants
to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous
taxes, regulations and too much government.
This is a comforting lie [writes Dreher]. It is Rousseau conservatism: the idea that
man is born innocent, but corrupted by society, or government. Remove
the chains of government, and man will return to his natural, good
state, which is one of limitless possibility. This denies two bedrock
truths of philosophical conservatism, which are that 1) human nature is
fallen, and 2) man must learn to live within limits. A conservatism
that is not founded on a conscious recognition of those two truths is a
false conservatism, and has a shaky foundation from which to criticize
Funny thing is, Dreher's "conservatism" is probably closer to the stance of most environmentalists than is the limitless faith of liberalism of old…having seen what we have done to the planet, we know that our species cannot be trusted, even with our own home, and yes, we must learn to live within limits.
For conservatives, those limits tend to be sexual, not environmental…but the principle remains.