Libertarians Sh**ing on Tradition?

mattandnick.jpgLast night, America’s Future Foundation hosted their 10th Anniversary roundtable at the Heritage Foundation building. Matthew Yglesias hosted the debate between reason‘s Nick Gillespie (sans leather jacket) and NRO‘s Jonah Goldberg. As I brought along a cheap camera, I couldn’t get a good debate picture of Goldberg from my vantage point. I did manage to get this shot of Yglesias and Gillespie, though.

The beverage choices were soft drinks, wine and Coors products. Coors, IMO, is merely recycled beer. I drank the chardonnay so as not to recycle Republican money, too.

The Debate

The competition actually started during the debate warmup stretch when Gillespie warned Goldberg that he was using “performance enhancers.”

Goldberg: “Here, piss into this [or piss in this cup?].”

Gillespie: “No, I’ll save it for the debate.”

Following this repartee, the verbal duel (which was, IMO, too short) began.

Goldberg admitted that he was becoming more libertarian over time and found a lot of alliance with libertarians on economic issues. I’m assuming he’s not very well informed, as every libertarian I know is actually opposed to Republican deficit spending. Goldberg theorized that the largest disconnect between libertarians and conservatives is the libertarian “antipathy towards cultural traditions.” Goldberg claimed that “ACLU cultural libertarianism” is the key problem.

Gillespie made an entertaining jab at the post-9/11 right with, “…minimizing civil liberties as a way of maximizing America policy abroad.” Goldberg countered with a stab at “anarchic individualism.”

Goldberg made several points about the importance of tradition though the debate. He accused “cultural libertarians” of shitting on tradition. The first time he spoke of the importance of cultural tradition in framing debate over public policy, I uttered “Yeah, like slavery” to the amusement of a few people (accompanied by a couple of groans) in the immediately surrounding rows. I’m guessing my non-traditional outburst may have had some impact, as Goldberg then had to go on the defensive by repeatedly denouncing slavery.

Gillespie on tradition:

“The appeal to tradition is bullshit if you don’t define the tradition.”

“Each of us is the author of our own tradition.”

Gillespie also had the memorable quote of the night:

“A coelacanth is a lot like Joe Lieberman, except it’s neck isn’t sticking out.”

I would have titled this posting “Reason 1, NR O”, but there was no clear and obvious winner. Perhaps because of my non-traditional libertarian bias I’d say libertarians won, but by a slim margin. The competition was tough and the formal debate time was very limited, though.

The After Party

nickandana.jpgFollowing the very brief post debate reception at the Heritage Foundation building, a bunch of us went across the street to a place called Lounge 201 to DWI (Debate While Imbibing).

Pictured is Chris Lehmann with Ana Marie Cox, who is talking to Nick Gillespie. Kerry Howley is in the striped blouse on the left. While I couldn’t hear the conversation, I’m assuming Cox was chastising Gillespie for insufficient anal sex references in his Wonkette postings.

During the debate, Goldberg had stated, “Conservatism has always welcomed libertarianism.” I’d wanted to have Goldberg expand more on that topic in the debate, so I brought it up during the DWI session. Dave Weigel managed to snap a shot (the bottom pic on this posting) of Julian Sanchez, me and Goldberg (left to right) during that exchange.

I asked Goldberg to qualify his statement with the background in mind that I’d been burned by conservatives, ranging nationally from James Taranto’s insinuation that I’m a commie peacenik to a denial-of-service attack launched on me and a key Alabama talk radio host (we were fighting a major statewide GOP tax increase plan) which was eventually traced to one of Governor Riley’s paid flunkies.

Goldberg responded that my argument was pedantic. I felt obliged to remind him that the three of us make our living using pedantry.

After a while, the party started to break up. The libertarians either made arrangements to celebrate a bit of “cultural libertarianism” or went home to have some wet dreams about tax cuts or free markets, while the conservatives went home to dream about which country to invade next or how grand life will be when the northern border is eventually sealed off. Following the after party, the seven folks left standing decided it was time for an after party after party at Tune Inn. I bought the first round (mixed drinks and beer) and only paid $21. With prices like that, the booze seemed to flow very fast and my memory is a bit blurry about exactly what transpired, so I’ll refrain from incriminating myself with any further detail.

Wonkette, H&R and NRO have more, including pics.

  1. I became politically active during the Goldwater campaign, and began to learn about liberty by reading National Review. It was an interesting magazine when William F Buckley ran it.

    It is a tragedy that Buckley turned it over to an intellectual lightweight like Jonah Goldberg.

  2. Goldberg is a shill and puppet so why bother debating him? Getting angry with Goldberg is like going to MacDonalds and getting mad at the clown because you don’t like the hamburgers.

  3. … or going to McDonalds and getting mad at the clown because you don’t like hamburgers at all.

  4. If Johnah is a true believer in the neocon agenda why doesn’t he get his fat ass over to Iraq or Israel to fight the “terrorists”? The US has guard and reseverists over there in their 50s and even 60s so it’s not like the punk is too young to get shot at.