A whiff of panic

Last week in NRO the eminent theologian and political philosopher Michael Novak gently chided the emotional Andrew Sullivan for his over—the—top criticism of the Catholic Church.  It is not true, he wrote, that the papacy of John Paul II saw an unparalleled quashing of dissent in the Church.  The only man irrevocably excommunicated was 'Archbishop Lefebvre (and his followers) of the traditionalist movement that rejects Vatican II.'  Presumably the gay activist Andrew Sullivan does not object to that.

This is indeed a peculiar season.  All across the political square left—wing activists are hurling immoderate accusations of extremism at moderate conservatives: at moderately conservative judge nominees, at moderate reform of Social Security, and at a moderately conservative pope.

The only thing moderate about all this is the moderate response of conservatives to all the hysteria and extremism.

Conservatives would be delighted to negotiate a moderate compromise on homosexuality, a recognition that for some people the mainstream of monogamous heterosexual courtship, marriage, and children is a burden too great to bear, even at the cost of separation from the universal trajectory of life.  But we haven't heard a whisper of moderation from liberals on sexuality.  Imagine what liberals would do if McDonalds started selling food that was said by some studies to reduce life expectancy by 20 years—as some studies indicate the gay lifestyle does.

Conservatives are eager to obtain a moderate solution to the folly of a judicial activism that has overbalanced the laws of the nation towards the agenda of the government's aristocratic branch and away from its monarchical and its democratic branches.  President Bush has nominated moderate conservative judges to the bench who understand that the judge judges best who judges least.  But liberals have reacted as if he were trying to tear down the temple of justice.

Conservatives could compromise on abortion, perhaps around a legal recognition of the right to choose an abortion safely, legally, and rarely if it were balanced by a social consensus that utterly deplored the resort to abortion as worse than a crime, a blunder.  For how can any woman, knowing of the miracle of life and how precarious and impermanent her window of fecundity may be, rationally deny any opportunity to become a mother? 

But we haven't heard a whisper of moderation from liberals on abortion in 30 years, unless you count junior senators from New York about to launch national presidential campaigns.

Conservatives are pushing a moderate reform of Social Security that preserves the promise of helping the unfortunate while encouraging a robust program of national saving, a program that introduces personal savings accounts with real property rights on retirement money.  Liberals attack the whole scheme as at attempt to demolish a venerable monument, even as the engineer's report warns of serious foundation problems in the future.  That is extreme.

We know why liberals are driven to the politics of hysteria.  They are in a panic.  After the last election they felt like the investor that opens the newspaper in the morning to find his stock down 50 percent.  How could that be?  The broker recommended it years ago as a sure thing.  Get aboard now and ride the tide of history to peace and justice; it's the only game in town, he promised.  Liberals bought all the Liberalism LLC stock they could afford and looked forward to a comfortable retirement.  For years, Liberalism's Democratic stockholders lived off the dividends: pensions, jobs, tenure, what a deal!  And the delicious thing was that it was all paid for by evil rich Republicans and doofus Billy Pilgrims.

But now things are getting scary.  People are talking about the Long—Term Deficit in Social Security and Medicare.  Suppose the checks stopped coming?

Everyone that got into Liberalism LLC in the last few years is getting close to a margin call.  And the guy sending out the margin calls back at Uncle Sam Benefit and Trust is a geek named George W. Bush.  (So that's why liberals hate the W smirk.) Some liberals are getting hysterical for a different reason.  Fifty year—old women are getting hysterical because they can't forget the two or three abortions they had in their twenties that could have grown up to become the light of their lives.  Gays like Andrew Sullivan are getting hysterical about gay marriage because after a lifetime of pride and rebellion they want to be normal, not an expendable fringe.

'Let us recall,' writes Richard Fletcher in The Barbarian Conversion, 'that the continuance of their rule depended on regular, successful, predatory warfare.'  He was writing about Charlemagne and the Franks, but he could just as well have been writing about our own welfare state.  Suppose there came a day when the Democratic Party failed to deliver regular, successful, predatory jobs and pensions to its rank—and—file and sexual license to its educated elite?  What then?

Christopher Chantrill (mailto:chrischantrill@msn.com) blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

Last week in NRO the eminent theologian and political philosopher Michael Novak gently chided the emotional Andrew Sullivan for his over—the—top criticism of the Catholic Church.  It is not true, he wrote, that the papacy of John Paul II saw an unparalleled quashing of dissent in the Church.  The only man irrevocably excommunicated was 'Archbishop Lefebvre (and his followers) of the traditionalist movement that rejects Vatican II.'  Presumably the gay activist Andrew Sullivan does not object to that.

This is indeed a peculiar season.  All across the political square left—wing activists are hurling immoderate accusations of extremism at moderate conservatives: at moderately conservative judge nominees, at moderate reform of Social Security, and at a moderately conservative pope.

The only thing moderate about all this is the moderate response of conservatives to all the hysteria and extremism.

Conservatives would be delighted to negotiate a moderate compromise on homosexuality, a recognition that for some people the mainstream of monogamous heterosexual courtship, marriage, and children is a burden too great to bear, even at the cost of separation from the universal trajectory of life.  But we haven't heard a whisper of moderation from liberals on sexuality.  Imagine what liberals would do if McDonalds started selling food that was said by some studies to reduce life expectancy by 20 years—as some studies indicate the gay lifestyle does.

Conservatives are eager to obtain a moderate solution to the folly of a judicial activism that has overbalanced the laws of the nation towards the agenda of the government's aristocratic branch and away from its monarchical and its democratic branches.  President Bush has nominated moderate conservative judges to the bench who understand that the judge judges best who judges least.  But liberals have reacted as if he were trying to tear down the temple of justice.

Conservatives could compromise on abortion, perhaps around a legal recognition of the right to choose an abortion safely, legally, and rarely if it were balanced by a social consensus that utterly deplored the resort to abortion as worse than a crime, a blunder.  For how can any woman, knowing of the miracle of life and how precarious and impermanent her window of fecundity may be, rationally deny any opportunity to become a mother? 

But we haven't heard a whisper of moderation from liberals on abortion in 30 years, unless you count junior senators from New York about to launch national presidential campaigns.

Conservatives are pushing a moderate reform of Social Security that preserves the promise of helping the unfortunate while encouraging a robust program of national saving, a program that introduces personal savings accounts with real property rights on retirement money.  Liberals attack the whole scheme as at attempt to demolish a venerable monument, even as the engineer's report warns of serious foundation problems in the future.  That is extreme.

We know why liberals are driven to the politics of hysteria.  They are in a panic.  After the last election they felt like the investor that opens the newspaper in the morning to find his stock down 50 percent.  How could that be?  The broker recommended it years ago as a sure thing.  Get aboard now and ride the tide of history to peace and justice; it's the only game in town, he promised.  Liberals bought all the Liberalism LLC stock they could afford and looked forward to a comfortable retirement.  For years, Liberalism's Democratic stockholders lived off the dividends: pensions, jobs, tenure, what a deal!  And the delicious thing was that it was all paid for by evil rich Republicans and doofus Billy Pilgrims.

But now things are getting scary.  People are talking about the Long—Term Deficit in Social Security and Medicare.  Suppose the checks stopped coming?

Everyone that got into Liberalism LLC in the last few years is getting close to a margin call.  And the guy sending out the margin calls back at Uncle Sam Benefit and Trust is a geek named George W. Bush.  (So that's why liberals hate the W smirk.) Some liberals are getting hysterical for a different reason.  Fifty year—old women are getting hysterical because they can't forget the two or three abortions they had in their twenties that could have grown up to become the light of their lives.  Gays like Andrew Sullivan are getting hysterical about gay marriage because after a lifetime of pride and rebellion they want to be normal, not an expendable fringe.

'Let us recall,' writes Richard Fletcher in The Barbarian Conversion, 'that the continuance of their rule depended on regular, successful, predatory warfare.'  He was writing about Charlemagne and the Franks, but he could just as well have been writing about our own welfare state.  Suppose there came a day when the Democratic Party failed to deliver regular, successful, predatory jobs and pensions to its rank—and—file and sexual license to its educated elite?  What then?

Christopher Chantrill (mailto:chrischantrill@msn.com) blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.