The Fall of the Right, in a Nutshell

Friday, March 20th, 2009

This is Joe the Plumber. He spoke at the Media Research Center’s annual “we hate the Em-Ess-Em” party this week. The Media Research Center’s founder is Brent Bozell III, who ostensibly gave the okay to have celebrity Joe come speak at the big gala. Bozell’s late father is L. Brent Bozell, Jr., an erudite, scholarly fellow who attended Yale with William F. Buckley, Jr. and ghost wrote Barry Goldwater’s classic tome The Conscience of a Conservative.

Though I’d have disagreed with Bozell’s father and Goldwater on a number of issues, I have to say, it’s too bad that the ideas-driven, intellectual old right lost its grip on the conservative movement. That Joe the Plumber is one of the right’s biggest celebrities and most in-demand speakers right now is a pretty sad commentary. It’s been a long, hard fall from “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice….and….moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” to, “God, all this love in the room and everything. I’m horny.”

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40 Responses to “The Fall of the Right, in a Nutshell”

  1. #1 |  Bill Bailey | 

    You are too hard on him. Hey, that’s a pun!

  2. #2 |  Guido | 

    Palin/Plumber 2012!

  3. #3 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    facepalm.jpg

  4. #4 |  KBCraig | 

    Gotta remember, the GOP didn’t make him a hero… he was handed over, all gift-wrapped, but the Democrats who tried to find tax and child support issues they could burn him over.

  5. #5 |  Greg N. | 

    What were the odds that the intro. song would be Lee Greenwood?

  6. #6 |  DenverDandy | 

    I believe you are wrong in your sneering at “Joe the Plumber”.

    Scoff if you wish, but examine the real-world consequences of favoring academic approaches to populist ones. Barack Obama is a shining example of this on the liberal side. Hardly erudite or scholarly, but very popular and thus a vehicle for pushing collectivism/statist ideas. In the end, he is getting the fundamental changes he wants, and all your sneering at populism doesn’t mean a thing in the long run, if a populist non-collectivist/statist approach were enough to halt his expansion of the state.

    There has to be some sort of populism driver, otherwise “erudite & scholarly” conservatism will be relegated to a small band of purists who are ultimately ideologically pure, but as ineffective and minuscule, politically speaking, as the Libertarian Party.

    Think of conservatism in popular culture prior to that non-scholar Ronald Reagan. Think hard — is that where you wish things to return, ceding the ground to fans of Leviathan? It seems to be what you are advocating.

  7. #7 |  Paul | 

    I loved when Joe covered the Gaza War(crime) and opined that people shouldn’t be allowed to cover wars.

  8. #8 |  Joe Strummer | 

    Gotta remember, the GOP didn’t make him a hero… he was handed over, all gift-wrapped, but the Democrats who tried to find tax and child support issues they could burn him over.

    This is stupid. Obviously the “Democrats” who “tried to find tax and child support” issues on him shouldn’t have done that, any more than the “Republicans” should’ve done so to that kid and family who complained about Bush’s failure to sign S-CHIP.

    But you don’t see progressives inviting that kid and their family to headline at the Center for American Progress fundraisers, or sending him overseas to be a “reporter”.

    The conservative movement is a f*cking joke.

  9. #9 |  Pinandpuller | 

    I guess you have a higher opinion of journalists than most people I know. In the era of reality TV what’s wrong with Joe getting a gig? He’s got to do something till his lawsuit comes through.

  10. #10 |  Les | 

    Gotta remember, the GOP didn’t make him a hero…

    Since the election, Joe has said that reporters shouldn’t be in war-zones and that people who criticize the military should be killed.

    The only people paying to listen to this ignorant-as-fuck authoritarian are members of the GOP.

  11. #11 |  Michael Chaney | 

    This is stupid. Obviously the “Democrats” who “tried to find tax and child support” issues on him shouldn’t have done that, any more than the “Republicans” should’ve done so to that kid and family who complained about Bush’s failure to sign S-CHIP.

    There’s a major difference between using publicly available information (as in the latter case) and illegally obtaining publicly unavailable information (as in the former).

  12. #12 |  James D | 

    Considering numerous and massive ways in which Obama is screwing up the country in just his first 100 days, I don’t see why this is such a big issue.

  13. #13 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    If Joe and Palin are your leaders you have set the bar too low. And we wonder why we have troubles.

  14. #14 |  Les | 

    Considering numerous and massive ways in which Obama is screwing up the country in just his first 100 days, I don’t see why this is such a big issue.

    It’s not really a big issue. It’s just more of the same, I think. Neither party cares anything for honesty or freedom as much as opposing each other.

    Also, Obama is only part of what’s “screwing up the country.” He requires the help of Congress, just like Bush before him. In fact, I can’t think of a President in the last 50 years who hasn’t worked with Congress to screw up the country.

  15. #15 |  exileguy | 

    There’s no doubt that the right has fallen, but I want to know just how long do the last throes last?

  16. #16 |  Les | 

    If Joe and Palin are your leaders you have set the bar too low. And we wonder why we have troubles.

    This is a key point. Is Obama smarter and more capable than those two? I think it’s obvious he is. And that’s good enough for Democratic loyalists. They actually think that because he’s smarter and more competent than those two dimwits, it means he’s not a self-interested, dishonest opportunist, when all the evidence suggests that he is.

  17. #17 |  Tokin42 | 

    #8 | Joe Strummer |
    This is stupid. Obviously the “Democrats” who “tried to find tax and child support” issues on him shouldn’t have done that, any more than the “Republicans” should’ve done so to that kid and family who complained about Bush’s failure to sign S-CHIP.

    While Joe’s 15 minutes of fame should have been up a long time ago, I don’t see much of a comparison. One guy was minding his own business when he was thrown into a media blitz because he just might have been the first guy to ask the president a tough question, while the middle-class S-Chip family put themselves into the middle of an argument by claiming the president was trying to put them in the poor house by taking away their access to a program that is supossed to help low income families.

    Funny how many people don’t even remember what Joe’s question was or what the response was he got from Obama. With everything that has been going on during Obama’s first 8 weeks, I sure wish more people had paid attention to that little exchange.

  18. #18 |  Tokin42 | 

    doh, “supposed”. 7 years of college money well spent.

  19. #19 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    Non-collectivist populism is an oxymoron; populism is collectivism throwing a temper tantrum.

    If that’s the only way to defeat socialism, what’s the point in winning?

  20. #20 |  JS | 

    Denverdandy post #6-you make an excellent point. It reminded me of what Hitler did for the Volkish movement in the 30’s. All the professors and intellectuals couldn’t get people together on the far right in post WWI Germany but the populist rabble rouser Hitler did. Not trying to compare anyone to Hitler just an example of the power of populism.

  21. #21 |  Matt D | 

    That’s not really true about the Frosts. I don’t think they ever said Bush was trying to take away their access; rather, they were campaigning for an expansion of the program to broaden its accessibility to other families who they felt would benefit from it. And CHIP was I think always targeted at uninsured children in low-to-middle income households, which does seem to describe the Frosts.

    Now I’ll agree that one invites a certain amount of scrutiny when they make a public stand on that sort of issue, so perhaps the conservative media figures and bloggers paid to their countertops was warranted. But given that assumption, I’m not really sure you can fault the media for inquiring into Joe the Plumber after John McCain essentially made the guy a campaign prop in the final debate, and especially given how ridiculously full of shit he was (he’s not Joe, not even “the Plumber”, not making anywhere near $250k, and obviously quite certain who he was voting for even as he disingenuously posed as the undecided everyman).

    Obviously I don’t condone the background checks that were performed on him in Ohio (and I’d note that the person who ordered them has resigned, and the dem governor signed into law a bill criminalizing such searches shortly after). But that’s a different animal than the “media blitz” and different still than what the Frosts were subjected to.

  22. #22 |  Matt D | 

    And that should read “so perhaps the attention conservative media figures and bloggers paid to their countertops was warranted.”

  23. #23 |  Matt D | 

    Also, on a related matter, my hope for Joe at this point is that the makers of Nailin’ Palin talk him into a guest role on a sequel. One can imagine how the base would react to that.

  24. #24 |  Kevin Carson | 

    The worst part of it is what a shameless and transparent liar “Joe the Plumber” is.

    His first public appearance was as a skeptical voter trying to make up his mind. Either he was a right-wing plant from the beginning (a la Santelli), posing as an undecided voter, or he lurched rightward as soon as he figured out which side his bread was buttered on (which makes him a match for Palin in venality). Either way, anyone who takes him seriously is just plain fucking stupid.

  25. #25 |  ChrisD | 

    It’s truly a shame too. RIght now, the MSM has embargoed video of Obama reading the Irish PM’s speech instead of his own (“I’d like to thank President Obama”….etc.). They’ve let him spend an afternoon unveiling his NCAA picks for the country. (How ’bout picking some people for Treasury? Ones who use Turbotax.) Bush would have been killed for those things. Destroyed. The media give Barack a pass. As bad as Bush was, at least you knew the press hated him and would check up on him. But no one on the right and in the press really has the credibility or gravitas to make those criticisms stick against BO. That Joe the Plumber is even in public discussion makes this point clearly.

  26. #26 |  Två citat och en bild | Sänd mina rötter regn | 

    [...] Radley Balko: It’s been a long, hard fall from “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice….and….moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” to, “God, all this love in the room and everything. I’m horny.” [...]

  27. #27 |  markm | 

    Chris: Or perhaps he lurched rightward as soon as he discovered that not only was Obama not going to answer his question, but his supporters despise the working man.

  28. #28 |  JCoke | 

    I understand what you are saying about the pass thing, but I think Obama did that as a joke (the speech thing). The Irish PM actually gave a few paragraphs of Obama’s speech, right after Obama gave it. As a joke, Obama headed back to the podium and said that pretending to read the PM’s speech.

  29. #29 |  Stephen | 

    I don’t think Palin will be the final candidate in 2012. She does make a nice lightning rod for the left and the media to focus on.

    Republicans should use her to focus the left’s attention and then switch to another candidate. The momentum of bashing Palin would not be able to switch over to the new guy in time to make a difference.

  30. #30 |  Z | 

    Where is the footage of him grunting a throwing feces?
    Oh yea that was backstage….

  31. #31 |  Matt D | 

    Or perhaps he lurched rightward as soon as he discovered that not only was Obama not going to answer his question, but his supporters despise the working man.

    Good grief. Despise the working man? What is that even supposed to mean? The 53% of us who voted for Obama are, what, trust fund babies or welfare cheats to the last man?

  32. #32 |  Guido | 

    “but his supporters despise the working man.”

    I have a neighbor down the street (Los Angeles) that has two bumper stickers on his car:
    1.
    Republicans, working hard so you don’t have to

    2.
    Wine me, dine me, 69 me

    Any conclusion to be drawn there?

  33. #33 |  CL | 

    Sorry, but I don’t see an iota of hope for smaller government coming out of the right-wing populist crowd. The Joe’s I know in my neck of the woods are “working hard so you don’t have to” at some industry that depends entirely on defense contracts, so their paychecks are dutifully written at the expense of the taxpayer. This irony is lost on them. So is the fact that it’s not a coincidence or fact of their superior working-hard-ness that those industries are located in their neighborhoods and not in the inner cities (hint: it’s entirely political). Try and tell them that defense spending is as “socialistic” as any other kind of government spending and you’ll get the irrelevant comeback that you’re unAmerican. The real message I get from this crowd is, Republicans can do socialism with impunity, because, you know, God’s on their side.

  34. #34 |  Billy | 

    How ’bout picking some people for Treasury? Ones who use Turbotax

    Yea, we need some good accountants, not more “economists”…!

  35. #35 |  adsfas | 

    Bozell and Buckley started their careers defending Joe McCarthy, a lot of this “where are the intellectual conservatives of yesteryear?” stuff is just selective memory.

  36. #36 |  old | 

    Hah! Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher is exactly the person the right deserves at this time. S. J. Wurzelbacher, M. Malkin, R. Limbaugh, all the Fox news crowd. They are exactly who the right deserves, and Piyush Jindal, Sarah Palin, Eric Cantor, and Michael Steele shall lead them. They have the exact leaders they deserve. Sure spend ten or fifteen years disparaging intellectualism, then look around and wonder why there aren’t any smart people in the party.

    Of course, no party has a monopoly on morons in their party. You’ve got people duped and voting against their own interests across racial, and economic lines. I always love to converse with a libertarian who always votes for the republican because they will not grow the government, and the republican who votes for a Bush, and democrat who votes for a Kennedy after Bobby and Jack. It is hilarious all around.

    We get the leaders we deserve. Now, where’s my feinting couch?

  37. #37 |  Phelps | 

    I have to say, it’s too bad that the ideas-driven, intellectual old right lost its grip on the conservative movement.

    They gave up and switched to the other side. They decided that they would rather indulge the identity politics crowd by electing an empty suit with the right complexion than the only politician on either ticket with an actual libertarian leaning record. They decided that since her personal views were oh-so-crude, they couldn’t look past the fact that she had gone with liberty over imposing her views over and over as governor of Alaska.

    The Intellectual Old Right decided that they would rather have a freedom hating socialist from Harvard run things than to succumb to having a state college strumpet who did unlady-like things like ride a snowmobile and hunt anywhere near the White House.

  38. #38 |  Big Chief | 

    Wow, give the guy a break. As for whether Joe was undecided, I can believe he was. He sounds like a Republican who wasn’t too sure he could trust McCain. He was possibly torn on whether to vote for McCain or the Constitution Party or other third party.

    Get some perspective people. I’m didn’t follow Joe’s work in the Middle East, and I’m not going to start now. But he’s certainly not the problem the right is facing. The problem with the right is a lack of principle and spine. Currently the left is only dealing with a lack of principle, a spine they’ve got.

  39. #39 |  Eric Seymour | 

    I’m just a little skeptical of conservative or right-leaning intellectuals who assert that the problem with the conservative movement is that it’s not intellectual enough. Seems a little self-serving to me.

    Sure, there were plenty of intellectuals in the conservative movement 30, 40, 50 years ago, and there still are. But I doubt that the proportion of political power which came from the strength of intellectual arguments alone was much different in 1969 than it is today. It’s just that in ’64 it was “get the commies” instead of “drill, baby, drill!”

  40. #40 |  unpopulist | 

    You are all so condescending. He did ask a good question once. Is this how you think about anyone who doesn’t have your credentials?

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