The New Yorker is hardly the optimal vehicle for reaching the conservative intelligentsia. But, last year, Barack Obama cooperated with a profile for that magazine where he seemed to be speaking directly to the right. Because he paid obeisance to the virtues of stability and continuity, his interlocutor, Larissa MacFarquhar, came away with the impression that the Illinois senator was an adherent of Edmund Burke: “In his view of history, in his respect for tradition, in his skepticism that the world can be changed any way but very, very slowly, Obama is deeply conservative.”
As The New Yorker‘s assessment shot across blogs, many conservatives listened eagerly. A broad swath of the movement has been in open revolt against George W. Bush–and the Republican Party establishment–for some time. They don’t much care for the Iraq war or the federal government’s vast expansion over the last seven-and-a-half years. And, in the eyes of these discontents, the nomination of John McCain only confirmed the continuation of the worst of the Bush-era deviations from first principles.
For some reason, a lot of prominent conservatives think the Republican Party has been hijacked by interests antithetical to true conservative ideals.
It seems that The largest group of Obamacons hail from the libertarian wing of the movement. and
Libertarians (and other varieties of Obamacons, for that matter) frequently find themselves attracted to Obama on stylistic grounds. That is, they believe that he has surrounded himself with pragmatists, some of whom (significantly) come from the University of Chicago. As the blogger Megan McArdle has written, “His goal is not more government so that we can all be caught up in some giant, expressive exercise of collectively enforcing our collective will on all the other people standing around us in the collective; his goal is improving transparency and minimizing government intrusion while rectifying specific outcomes.”
It’s not just the libertarians though.
But, if you’re looking for the least likely pool of Obamacons, it would be the supply-siders. And you can even find some of those. Take Larry Hunter, who helped put together the economics passages in the Contract with America and served as chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He concedes that Obama is saying the wrong things on taxes but dismisses it as electioneering. Of far greater importance, in Hunter’s view, is that Obama has the potential to “scramble the political deck, break up old alliances, and bring odd bedfellows together in a new coalition.” And, what’s more important, he views the Republican Party as a “dead, rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of Weekend at Bernie’s, handcuffed to a corpse.”
I have friends who are critical of the present state of the Republican Party but they think that McCain can put ’em straight. I am with Larry on this topic:
Unless the Republican Party is thoroughly purged of its current leadership, Hunter fears that it “will pollute the political environment to toxic levels and create an epidemic that could damage the country for generations to come.”
I read the article a couple of months ago when it first came out, but it has been getting a lot of attention recently with the hyperpartisans at The Corner,