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Michael Gerson: Conservative success and the recovery of a conservative temperament

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  • Bendana 99352, WA
    July 10, 2014 7:19 p.m.

    "They will be either impressed or frightened by what they see."

    As long as Fox News keeps giving them a platform for their crazy, I'm going to go with frightened.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    July 10, 2014 8:55 p.m.

    How can conservatives have any success in light of Obamacare success? The success of the ACA is the demise of the right that opposed it with everything all the time.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    July 10, 2014 8:56 p.m.

    The current left wing administration has utterly failed in its effort to turn this Country into just another European-style post-Christian state.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 10, 2014 9:38 p.m.

    As I always say I'm an Eisenhower Republican which makes me a Democrat in our current political climate. Ike embodied all of the conservative virtues highlighted in this piece, and if Republicans were ever to return to the spirit of Ike, Nixon, Ford, and Bush Sr. I would happily vote Republican again. I just don't see it happening.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    July 10, 2014 9:59 p.m.

    Granted, Sarah Palin can say some pretty strong stuff that appeals to the far right wing of the party. But I have heard plenty of rhetoric that is just as radical from the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Howard Dean.

    Somehow progressive commentators like this one never seem to point to those examples as proof that the Democratic Party is shifting to the far left or is becoming more "radical" or "crazy".

    Hmmm..... Can anyone say "Double Standard"?

  • NT SomewhereIn, UT
    July 10, 2014 10:11 p.m.

    Some people simply do not want conservative values. They can move to Washington (state).

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    July 10, 2014 10:18 p.m.

    Remember, twenty years ago, when faced with a push for true nationalized healthcare, Republicans proposed an alternative rooted in the private sector. "Conservative temperament," one might say.

    It didn't go anywhere nationally, but under a Republican governor, it became the basis for one of the greatest health care success stories of recent memory. There were a few hiccups at the beginning, but Massachusetts achieved some of the highest and most affordable coverage rates in the nation.

    However, after a Democratic president adopted the same strategy, it somehow tranformed from a conservative alternative into a Communist revolution. An attack on cherished religious freedoms (which, curiously, nobody was all that worried about two decades ago). And a reason for a Republican governor-turned-presidential-candidate to turn his back on his signature achievement.

    --

    If the GOP wants to return to an honest, intelligent conservatism, I can think of one place to start.

  • LOU Montana Pueblo, CO
    July 11, 2014 5:52 a.m.

    Gun waving, bearded rebels, wraps on their heads, scream GOD, forced morals, one religion, ranch stand off, and out ragious threats?

    We are not talking about the Middle East we are talking about the Tea Party and hard right Conservatives.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    July 11, 2014 7:11 a.m.

    I could almost label myself a Republican by the Gerson standard. Humility, intelligent reform, respect for institutions, etc. Don't buy the social stuff, but everything else is reasonable.

    He had me till he made his comments about the current President. Obama is no radical left-winger. He does have progressive tendencies toward social issues, but his overall message and policy is one in the American center. Economically, he has not pursued anything close to leftist reforms and policies. He still pursues a muscular foreign policy. The financial industry is still coddled. He even pursued Republican plans to change health care rather than the Democrats hope for universal coverage ala the rest of the civilized western democracies. And he got demonized for it!

    The unvarnished truth as pointed out by Gerson is that the Republican/Tea Party has moved so far to the right they can not even see the center of politics in America. Cast blame where you will, but it is still so. All we get out of the Republican/Tea Party are silly allegations, witch hunts and aspersions. No policy, no good government reform and certainly no humility.

  • T. Party Pleasant Grove, UT
    July 11, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    @Gerson "The authors describe the attributes of the conservative temperament — humility, an appreciation for what is worthy in our society, a preference for incremental reform, a distrust of abstraction...."

    Conspicuously absent from this list is "fiscal restraint." Progressives such as Michael Gerson always seem to leave this out. It gets in the way of their activist agenda. However, he will not begin to convince tea partiers of anything without addressing it.

    Our nation owes $17,500,000,000,000 to its creditors. Any talk of federal expansion is ridiculous if we don't have the will to pay for it. It is common sense to spend only what you take in. But expect it of your government, and it somehow turns you into a radical.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    July 11, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    First, I would argue that President Obama has not been all that "progressive". In fact, in many respects, he has been pretty darn conservative. He's been middle of the road overall. But here is the kicker. I can't think of a single advancement in society that has been brought to us by conservatives. It is by being progressive, shaking up the status quo, that we have seen advances in our society. By definition, conservativism is about staying the same or going back to the past. I can't wait to see how the reactionary conservatives will flip out over this concept. They have a hard time admitting this reality.

  • JustGordon Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 11, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    "Conservative values" is a ubiquitous term for policies that are so-called pro life, on the other hand they strongly oppose health care reform that would give life extending benefits to millions of their fellow citizens.

    "Conservative values" aren't pro-life, they are pro birth.

    "Conservative values" protect an unborn fetus over that of infant recently birthed who is in need of medical care that his/her parents can't afford.

    "Conservative values" embrace the selfish values of John Galt ("Atlas Shrugged") and not those of Jesus.

    "Conservative values" are those that value only certain kinds of families and not all families.

    "Conservative values are those that think corporations actually have religious values that they can impose on their employees, regardless of the health consequences for those employees.

    "Conservative values" are those that think that corporations are people, but real people need voter ID's to stop non existent voter fraud.

    "Conservative values" are those that think might makes right and military intervention should be done with your sons and daughters lives, not their own.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    July 11, 2014 8:42 a.m.

    Esquire: '...President Obama has not been all that "progressive". In fact, in many respects, he has been pretty darn conservative.'

    That is very funny!! That is like me saying "Sarah Palin has not been all that conservative, in fact she has been pretty darn liberal". See how funny that sounds now?

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    July 11, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    T. Party said "Conspicuously absent from this list is "fiscal restraint." Progressives such as Michael Gerson always seem to leave this out. It gets in the way of their activist agenda. However, he will not begin to convince tea partiers of anything without addressing it. Our nation owes $17,500,000,000,000 to its creditors. "

    So what would you do Tea Party, and I mean actual solutions not bumper sticker simpelton nonsense?

    Much like Sarah Palin's Moronic speeches, I hear little solutions from the tea party.

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    July 11, 2014 8:59 a.m.

    As long as conservatives pledge allegiance to Grover Norquist and remain addicted to the Koch bro's money errr free speech, the GOP will be a mess.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    July 11, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    "This advice is timely. Precisely because President Obama's progressivism is exhausted and increasingly discredited, Americans will give the GOP another look."

    LOL. . . . If wishes were fishes, Republicans would have a LOT of fish, wouldn't they Mr Gerson?

    Unfortunately for them, the nation and world is no longer willing to submit to Republican wishes.

    Mr Gerson has been known to place a lot of hope in hopeless Right Wing goals. As a member of the GW Bush administration, he argued long and hard in favor of the various ridiculous Bush initiatives that embroiled our nation in two wars and imperiled the very financial foundation of our nation.

    And now here he is referring to that same right-wing agenda to which he has shown his allegiance as an oiiii"empirically grounded and practical conservatism.”

    The United States and the world does not need or want this so-called “practical conservatism,” because the words have been rendered meaningless by actual “Conservative” practice.

    For far too long, high sounding words spoken by “Conservatives” like Gerson have been backed up by nothing but pretense.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    July 11, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    In theology one gets credit for intentions. Politics is not theology. Liberal intentions that hurt the poor are not liberal. Stupidity is not a replacement for socialism.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 11, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    Calling for impeachment is the latest political attention getter. It Gins-up the base, and it gets you in the news.

    If getting in the news, and ginning up the base is what you're about... it's fine (and apparently that's what Sarah Palin is about now days). But before you totally trash her... at least be consistent. How many DEMOCRATS called for Impeachment of President BUSH?

    Google "Efforts to impeach George W. Bush"...

    There's a LONG list of things DEMOCRATS tried to impeach Bush for.. even over Katrina (article 31)!
    -Valarie Plame (article 14)
    -2004 Election (articles 28 & 29)
    -NSA surveillance (gimme a break hypocrites)
    -Global Warming (Yes, Democrats wanted to IMPEACH him over Global Warming) article 32
    -9/11 (articles 33-35)
    -Signing Statements (article 26) even though Clinton issued more signing statements than Bush did.
    -Medicare - For QUOTE "Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare"

    Many DEMOCRATS called our President's impeachment (some big names in the Democrat party today).... They were doing EXACTLY what Palin is doing.

    So as long as you're consistent in condemnation... go for it....

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    July 11, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    Apparently Mr. Gerson believes that we were better off in 2008 than right now.

    I don't think many Americans outside of Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh believe that.

    In other words, Gerson is wrong... Dead wrong

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    July 11, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    @ JustGordon, what a great comment you made.

    @ JoeCapitalist2, your mocking doesn't change the facts. Many liberals are not happy with the President because he hasn't been more liberal or assertive. I tend to agree with them on some issues. Obama's record is pretty moderate, but because the right wing has swung so far to the extreme, even many rational Republicans are accused of being liberal or RINOs. If the President was an extreme liberal, I doubt Wall Street would be flourishing in such an unprecedented way. You can throw stones, but a little substance from you would be quite nice.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    July 11, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    Hey 2 bits -

    Despite your claims, the idea of impeaching GW Bush was NEVER in the news.

    Sure, perhaps a few Democrats threw that idea around, but it was never embraced by Democrats in general . . . And that is because, unlike Republicans, Democrats don't want to sacrifice the good of the nation for the sake of harassing a sitting President.

    By rights, GW Bush and his administration should be tried in International Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. But that would do no good for this nation, would it?

    That is why most Democrats do NOT want to see justice done in that particular situation.

    Unlike Republicans, Democrats, by and large, have the best interests of America and Americans in mind.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    July 11, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    @Happy Valley Heretic "...I hear little solutions from the tea party."

    I'm sure I've posted general outlines in this forum hundreds of times (general, because restricted by word count). The people who can't hear are the people invested in the social programs bleeding money the worst. They refuse to consider change. (Which is more than just a little ironic.) Apparently change ratchets in only one direction.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    July 11, 2014 10:15 a.m.

    Jon M. Huntsman Jr. was the ONLY Republican to run with those ideals.
    And look how the Tea-Publicans threw him under the bus!

    BTW -- There is hope.
    Huntsman was the first Republican I've voted for in over 30 years.

    So long as Palin, FoxNews, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and the like remain the Spokespersons, figureheads, talking heads, and voice of the GOP --

    you're not driving,
    so take your seat at the back of the bus, and please be quiet.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    July 11, 2014 10:29 a.m.

    Nate said: @Happy Valley Heretic "...I hear little solutions from the tea party."
    "I'm sure I've posted general outlines in this forum hundreds of times (general, because restricted by word count). "

    Yes, defund all social programs increase military spending.
    Then give tax breaks to corps and the wealthy and tax increases on the poor and middle class.
    See that didn't take up all your words.

    Or is there another plan I'm missing?

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    July 11, 2014 10:29 a.m.

    GaryO: "Hey 2 bits - Despite your claims, the idea of impeaching GW Bush was NEVER in the news."

    True. None of the press covered them. But, it would have been on the front page of all the main stream press outlets if they were interested at all in trying to embarrass those Democrats who proposed them, like they are about embarrassing Sarah Palin.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 11, 2014 11:02 a.m.

    To all my right-wing friends, please read some of the early comments in the thread, especially Roland’s. He speaks for many of us and you are simply out of touch with reality (and your favorite media outlets certainly are, so you get somewhat of a pass here) if you think that everyone who doesn’t think like you is a socialist or communist.

    And this article is spot on – today’s right-wing has little in common with historical conservatism and has much more in common with the radical leftists of the 60’s.

    By way of personal confession, I began to have doubts when Bush Jr. was nominated despite voting for him… twice (the 2nd time because I thought we should finish what we started in Iraq – which given current developments was a mistake on my part… a big one).

    But when McCain picked Palin I was out!

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    July 11, 2014 11:04 a.m.

    Happy Valley Heretic:

    Of course there are tons of plans that you are missing. Just open your eyes. Cheap shots that ignore all the fiscal responsible proposals and just try to paint all conservatives as heartless, corporate lap-dogs - are a dime a dozen.

    If you were at all interested in sensible solutions that have been proposed by Tea Party supporters, you can find them all over the internet. I don't expect you to agree with all of them, but stop pretending they don't exist.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    July 11, 2014 11:16 a.m.

    one vote The ACA is costing a lot more for people who had insurance before, and in many cases offering less care. That is not success and it will get worse as time goes on. People will realize that the A in ACA is a big lie.

    Furthermore, the far left has had the stage now since January 2007. Look at what has happened. Massive debt. An unpopular health care plan (just look at the polls) pushed through with not one Republican vote. A messed up foreign policy. A messed up domestic policy. Polls show Obama is not seen as a leader in every area.

    Esquire Yes Obama as you point out is all talk (those nasty big money wall street types) and all hypocracy by taking tons of money from them. Americans are realizing this and the tide is changing for the Republicans. All the Republicans have to do now is show up. The Democrats, led by Obama, are self destructing. Democrat candidates are running from Obama as if he had the Ebola virus. That's becoming clear to everyone, whether you want to believe it or not. Even the Obama media is admitting it.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    July 11, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    Don't forget the --

    Rape victims should make lemonade from lemons,
    or
    "legitimate" rape victims will spontaniously self abort.

    Until the GOP can expunge the Sarah Palins, Rush Limbaughs, and Glenn Becks, speaking for them ---

    The defacto party of 'Archie Bunker' will keep the re-runs going for rest of America to ignore, not take seriously and enjoy a good 'ol comedic laugh.

    Sincerely,
    Mike the "Meathead Liberal" Stivic

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 11, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    @GaryO,

    Re "Sure, perhaps a few Democrats threw that idea around"...

    Maybe your memory is failing. Did you Google it and read... to remember what life was like back when Bush was President (and DEMs were working to stop EVERYTHING he did)?

    Hint... they didn't just TALK about it! They actually wrote up articles of impeachment, authored a bill, got it approved, and had a vote (that's not talking about it... that's about as far as you can go)!

    The DEMOCRAT controlled House voted 251-166 to send the resolution to the Committee...
    That's NOT just talking about it...

    I recommend you read the "Democrats in Congress" section. It was not a casual idea (like Palins)... these DEMOCRATS were serious.

    John Conyers, Keith Ellison, Jerrold Nadler, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , Cynthia McKinney, Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, ALL said they would move to IMPEACH.

    Palin was just throwing the idea around (to gin up her base). Democrats actually DID IT!

    ===============

    Did Palin write up articles of impeachment? and have Congress vote? Nope!
    Did Democrats... Yep!

    So much for your, "Democrats, have the best interests of America and Americans in mind"...

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    July 11, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    SCfan
    clearfield, UT
    one vote The ACA is costing a lot more for people who had insurance before, and in many cases offering less care.

    ========

    We are in open enrollment.

    Our Insurance is going DOWN,
    and our coverage is going UP.

    So much for these boogieman under the bed, strawman, hyperbole, rhetorical, half-truth, no-truth, arguments....

    It boosts radio ratings, talkshow profits, and listeners blood pressure...
    but it is not the truth.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    July 11, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    @JoeCapitalist2

    I Did look around, and my comment is a summary of what those different ideas were, sorry I couldn't write a more flattering comment on those plans, perhaps you could point out some of the less offensive ideas.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 11, 2014 12:04 p.m.

    @SCfan – “Massive debt… A messed up foreign policy.”

    You really want to compare Obama here to his predecessor?

    Do you think we would even have a deficit if Bush (Greenspan mostly) had not driven the economy off a cliff (drastically reducing the GDP component of tax revenue)?

    And do you honestly believe Obama would have tampered with the Clinton/Gingrich tax rates (the other component of tax revenue) that provided the first surplus in decades?

    And you can’t be serious on foreign policy. By all accounts today, Iraq will go down in history as one of the stupidest and costliest foreign interventions we have ever attempted. And for what… because we thought people engaged in a centuries long religious civil war would “greet us as liberators” and lap up our Jeffersonian democracy like an exhausted dog?

    Please… your blaming the janitor whose cleaning up the after-party.

    Put down the Kool-Aid… that stuff will rot your brain. I did and my brain has never worked better.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    July 11, 2014 12:44 p.m.

    to John Charity Spring

    Tell me exactly what a roaring, non-stop, good time, thrill ride it was in Pre-renaissance Europe?

  • Pendergast Salt Lake City, UT
    July 11, 2014 12:47 p.m.

    to Open Minded Mormon

    "Jon M. Huntsman Jr. was the ONLY Republican to run with those ideals. And look how the Tea-Publicans threw him under the bus!"

    Not to mention, how they marginalized Ron Paul and ignored Gary Johnson.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    July 11, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    @Happy Valley Heretic "Yes, defund all social programs increase military spending [etc.]"

    Here's where you get to either provide quotes, or admit I didn't say that stuff. Which will it be?

  • Question Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 11, 2014 2:57 p.m.

    What does "Conservative Temperament" mean?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 11, 2014 3:24 p.m.

    Obama’s progressivism, weather-beaten as it may be, remains the more viable choice when the alternative is the GOP’s continuing dysfunctional conservatism. Notice how the GOP has been forced even further to the right on immigration? With the Tea Party chugging away at being such a disruptive force in Republican politics, the left has its most valuable unwitting ally.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 11, 2014 3:31 p.m.

    @Question – “What does "Conservative Temperament" mean?”

    It might be better described as traits or characteristics and historically (since England in the late 1600’s) would probably include the following:

    1.Skeptical of change and when change is embraced it is done so cautiously and incrementally.

    2.Recognize differences in people and believe society & political structures should incentivize & support these stratifications and not try to coercively level them.

    3.Have historically preferred hierarchies, expertise and elites (as opposed to democracy or populism which they view as mob rule).

    4.A strong tendency to romanticize the past.

    5.The family as the fundamental societal unit.

    6.Prefer a strongly conformist society and typically disdain non-conformists.

    7.A strong aversion to zealotry and radicalism.

    8.Political realism – tend not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    I hope it’s clear that today’s right-wingers do not share all these traits and in some cases (#1, 3, 7 & 8) are quite the opposite.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    July 11, 2014 4:27 p.m.

    Conservatism used to be associated with preserving the status quo. That definition is more descriptive of liberalism these days.

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 11, 2014 4:34 p.m.

    Tyler D,
    Of course you would take away, or diminish anything that could cast them in a positive light... I get it...

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    July 12, 2014 3:09 p.m.

    To be the voice of reason, either party trying to impeach the President was stupid. This talk of rhetoric, regardless of party, is not going to help our country go forward...

  • Light and Liberty St. George/Washington, UT
    July 13, 2014 6:36 p.m.

    How about educating the progressives, both Democrat and Republican, about the concept of liberty and freedom. Anybody that doesn't vote for tyranny, Communism, or Socialism is a radical! Anybody that asks who will pay for the debt is close minded. anybody who advocates for protection of the unborn is fomenting a war on women. That is why independents, Tea-party, and libertarians exist without any leaders. We don't need leaders to tell us how to think, which infuriates the progressives. Progressives are the most ignorant people I know. They only know the moment, which sounds pretty much like how the youth make decisions now. Whatever makes me feel good today!

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    July 16, 2014 6:36 a.m.

    "The tea party movement, of course, is more than the sum of its Palins."

    --- Love how "Palin" is now a metaphore for failure.

    "And some of the Republican Party's brighter policy lights, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah,..."

    --- Huh? "Brighter lights"? A much more valid comparison would be "dim bulbs".

    "They will be either impressed or frightened by what they see."

    --- The GOP has been terrifying for years now.

    "A party that is genuinely excited about conservative anti-poverty proposals, the child tax credit and other reforms — rather than impeachment and the abolition of modern government — might even be judged worthy of the presidency again."

    --- Republican politicians can't embrace these things; anybody who did would be crucified.

    Overall an interesting editorial.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    July 16, 2014 6:54 a.m.

    @Esquire 9:41 a.m. July 11, 2014

    . . . because the right wing has swung so far to the extreme, even many rational Republicans are accused of being liberal or RINOs.

    ----------------

    Today, Barry Goldwater ("Mr. Conservative" who defined and established the consesrvative moveing in the 1960s) and Ronald Reagan would be called "RINO" today because of their policies. That's how far to the extreme far right wing fringe the "conservative" movement has warped the Republican Party. They are not true conservatives.