…it wasn’t long into the research before I found myself wrestling with a historiographic problem.
What to make of the fact that some of the names who pioneered this anti-Nixonian movement of principle showed up in the dankest recesses of the Nixon administration? People like Douglas Caddy, of course, the co-founder of the effort to draft Goldwater for vice-president in 1960 and YAF’s first president, who was the man the White House called on to represent the Watergate burglars in 1972. And people like the guy inaugurated as YAF’s chair in the 1965 with those stirring words about truth: Tom Charles Huston–who, as the author of the first extra-legal espionage and sabotage plan in the Nixon White House, can fairly be called an architect of Watergate…
…Perhaps that is why it has becomes my thesis that the Republicans are less the party of Goldwater, and more the party of Watergate–and this not despite the operational ascendecy of the conservative movement in its councils but in some sense because of it.
Ths simple answer is that there is more than one conservative movement. If Huston was a member of the current ruling class, I’d not be surprised to see him as a signatory to the
Wolfowitz Bush Doctrine. It is also important to remember that Pat Buchanan writes for antiwar.com. Libertarians split from the YAF in 1969.
What is even more interesting to me is that liberals don’t seem to get what makes conservatism tick. From the speech:
I get the question all the time from smart liberal friends: what is conservatism, anyway? They’re baffled. “As far as I can tell, anything someone on the right does is, by definition, ethical. It’s not about the act, or even the motivation. It’s about who’s perpetrating it.” It has become the name for a movement that can scream from the rooftops that every Supreme Court nominee should have an expiditious up-or-down vote, then 15 seconds later demand tortuous proceduralism when that nominee is Harriet Miers. Flexibility is the first principle of politics.
I’m not baffled. Most Republicans and far too many “conservatives” are not guided by principal as much as they are by identifying with someone they feel exhibits their principles. Their mindset is typically so authoritarian that it is hard for them to buck their annointed or appointed leaders. I see this all the time in Republican politics, and my home state of Alabama is a classic example. They got behind Governor Riley until they found out he wanted to raise taxes in the name of Jesus. Now they’ve shifted (one recent poll notwithstanding) to Roy Moore, who would likely outlaw anything fun in the name of Jesus. What makes Republican politics work is a bunch of authoritarian sheep (both party loyalists and conservatives alike) blindly following their perceived leader without truly questioning the costs or principles involved. There are but a few exceptions.