John Kerry: the conservative in the race

I’m not a big fan of Andrew Sullivan, but he is right on this one:

[W]hat strikes me in [David] Brooks’ defense of Bush is how it’s traditionally a liberal defense of a liberal president. It’s liberalism that has historically enunciated grand, abstract themes and conservatism that has always emphasized the difficulty of translating abstraction into reality, of finding the proper means to achieve certain ends, of the limits of our intellect when faced with the world of practical life. In that philosophical sense, it is Kerry who is the practical conservative in this race; and Bush who is the airy-fairy idealist.

Back in the day, I knew people who used to laugh at liberals as being people whose hearts were in the right place—they “meant well” was the sneer—but whose brains had been fried in the ’60s.

It depresses me to think of how many of those people will vote for Bush next month.

One Response to “John Kerry: the conservative in the race”

  1. kevin whited Says:

    Kerry is Baker-Scowcroft-Bush I in this race — a man more motivated by “stability” (remember the Chicken Kiev speech?) than any other principle. That may be “conservative” in a dictionary sense, but it’s certainly not conservative in a Reagan sense.

    The notion that borders shall not be considered inviolate if yours is a rogue totalitarian regime with the potential to harbor terrorists or supply them seems a perfectly conservative response to the challenge of 9-11. It does not commit us to military action against EVERY such rogue regime, nor does it commit us to military action in the name of spreading Wilsonian democracy in any “idealistic” sense. It’s a mistake to read parallels in language as carbon copies of policy.

    But it’s not Kissingerian realism (read: defeatism), no. You’re right that that is precisely where the Kerry camp is located. Whether THAT is conservative in a contemporary American political sense is debatable, along with the question of whether it is admirable.

    It’s a policy that Pat Buchanan could endorse, though!

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