‘In your guts you know he’s nuts’

Bushism is Goldwaterism on steroids, but also something radically different. More than his Republican predecessors – even Reagan – Bush has reorganised the economy to favour the Republicans’ corporate base. The near abolition of estate taxes and the appointment of judges like Samuel Alito and John Roberts who are committed to dismantling the regulatory state fulfils Goldwater’s dream of strict constructionist judges burying the New Deal. Bush’s commitment to moral conservatism (even if his over-the-top evangelicalism would have outraged Goldwater) is the extreme expression of the religious ideology that permeates The Conscience of a Conservative. And his muscular foreign policy – treating ‘radical Islam’ as the equivalent of the Communist menace – is latter-day Goldwaterism. The Bush administration’s embrace of domestic spying, preventive detention and secret tribunals takes Goldwater’s emphasis on authority and security as far as it can go. Bush’s indebtedness to the military-industrial complex – he is, like Goldwater, a product of the Sun Belt – has, however, led him to expand the state beyond what even Goldwater himself might have tolerated. What Bush has lost – and why the Republican fusion is now so fragile – is the sense of balance that, in the end, made Goldwater less of an extremist than his heirs. For Goldwater liberty and authority always existed in tension. Today, both exist in hypertrophied form, their exaggeration finally reaching the point of untenability. Or so at least we can hope.


There is a sentence in Thomas Sugrue’s piece above that will make you smile:

The modern Republican Party was born of revolution. In the early 1960s, right-wing insurgents – self-consciously using the model of Communist cells – took over the GOP, repudiated the moderation of its leaders, among them President Eisenhower and the New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, and built a formidable counter-establishment infrastructure that extended from local school boards to state capitols to think tanks.


4 Responses to “‘In your guts you know he’s nuts’”

  1. 1 jonolan December 24, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    “Radical’ Islam is the modern day political equivalent to Communism. It is a pernicious ideology that seeks to destroy freedom and democracy. it must be stamped out using any and all means available.

    Sadly, Bush doesn’t understand what those means are. Many of his tactics are either non-productive or counter-productive.

  2. 2 thabet December 24, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    “Radical Islam” is ill-defined. Amina Wadud could be a ‘radical’ Muslim for her assertion on issues like women leading prayers.

    Terrorist Muslim groups are not capable of “destroying freedom and democracy” — they are capable of extremely violent and destructive acts, yes, but not of replacing any existing structure with something else. They have no ostensible social or political goals (“Al-Q” types are different to groups like Hamas who have clearly defined political aims). In fact, such terrorist groups are also anathema to conservative, traditional and Islamist Muslim movements, even though the latter might also express a sceptical attitude towards “freedom and democracy” (I am sorry, but “freedom and democracy” is just a politician’s soundbite).

    Now, if you had said “Islamism like Communism (or Bolshevism)” then this is much more clearly well-defined. We can defined ‘Islamism’, ‘Islamists’ and point to some examples to sustain this theory (e.g. just as left and ‘radical’ politics is touched by Communism in some shape or form, then a lot of Muslim modern thinking is also not untouched by Islamist movements).

  3. 3 jonolan December 24, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Oh please! Everyone in America knows what the definition of “radical Islam” is. It’s the Islamists or more poetically the Islamofascists. The Jihadis are just the spearhead of their movement. The less physically violent groups use the natural reaction to the jihadis’ savagery to wage their own war in the world’s courts. The goals are the same though – a global Caliphate and no law but Shari’a.

    There are fallen-away Muslims – what you wrongly describe as “moderates” – just as there are fallen-away Christians. They are actually at more risk from the Islamists than the rest of the Dhimmi.

  4. 4 thabet December 24, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    I am not American, but I seriously doubt “everyone in America knows what the definition of “radical Islam” is”. What they know is what comes through their television set, much like the rest of us in any other part of the world.

    Islamofascism is meaningless term as it makes little sense. See this post of mine:

    I don’t use the label “moderate Muslim”. See this post by the blogger, and friend, Ali Eteraz:

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