Am I No Longer Fit to Be a Conservative?
I have often thought of myself as a staunch conservative. However, over the past five weeks I have come to realize, thanks to a solid majority of the conservative chattering class and their vitriol against Newt Gingrich, that I am, per Glenn Beck, a "closet Progressive"; per Ann Coulter, "not a real conservative"; per George Will, "a Marxist"; and per National Review, and numerous other so-called conservative publications, "unfit to represent the conservative movement."
With so many people obviously smarter than I sitting in judgment, I must confess that, based on their criteria, they are right. But who is the epitome of the movement?
In the 1980s, I was an owner of a consulting company that numbered among its clients an evil pharmaceutical company, SmithKline. But that wasn't the worst of it. We also had a contract with the Resolution Trust Corporation. The RTC was a government entity set up to consolidate and liquidate the assets of nearly a thousand failed Savings and Loans. We had as one of our principals a recently retired assistant IRS commissioner who not only had a wealth of knowledge, but knew the contracting officers at the RTC. Yes, I admit that we used his expertise and connections to obtain the contract.
It has now been made clear to me by those sitting atop the Mount Olympus of conservatism that regardless of a person's area of expertise or whether one is in the private sector or if someone has connections based on prior work, it is an egregious sin to actually make money, regardless of how well the job is done, working for an entity such as the RTC or Freddie Mac. Further, I am certain that these same arbiters of conservatism have never used their status or connections to obtain lucrative advertising endorsements, book deals, or appearances on Fox News or other media outlets.
One day during this same period of time, I happened to be having lunch with an old friend at the Palm in Washington, D.C. In walked Ted Kennedy with one of his senior aides. My friend, who had known Ted Kennedy for many years going back to their days at the University of Virginia Law School, took me over to meet him. Ever ebullient, Ted Kennedy asked us to join him, and we did. Yes -- I confess to the world that I sat at the same table and broke bread with the contemptible (to many conservatives) Ted Kennedy. Worse still, I found him to be quite affable and likable, even when we discussed the political landscape.
There it is: my work for the RTC and sitting at the same table with Ted Kennedy are, I now understand, more than enough to drum me out of the legion of committed conservatives as defined by the establishment. But in the spirit of true confession, there is more.
As many readers of American Thinker site are aware, I am a survivor of World War II and a displaced war orphan. Therefore, I consider Franklin Roosevelt to be one of the greatest presidents of the past one hundred years. Not for the statist policies he pursued which resulted in prolonging the Great Depression, but for his leadership during World War II, the defining event of the 20th century. There were 16 presidents during that century, and I had considered the top to be (in no particular order) Coolidge, Reagan, F. Roosevelt, and Truman.
I now know that giving any recognition to Franklin Roosevelt is tantamount to an admission of being a closet "progressive," as Glenn Beck, the Lord High Executioner of the Court of Ideological Purity, would brand me.
But my sordid past does not end there. I did not have the opportunity to experience a childhood. Once adopted, I learned English with the dedicated help of a 4-foot-10-inch dynamo by the name of Sister Mary Clare and by reading from cover to cover every volume of the Funk and Wagnall's encyclopedia my adoptive parents picked up at the grocery store every few weeks. Unable to relate to others within my age group, I spent many hours in the library and read voraciously books on science, history, medicine, and biographies of prominent people of the past. In later years, I would openly discuss new ideas or theories, either fanciful or based on science and fact. I would gush forth with any thought that came into my fertile and sometimes overactive brain, as I was the epitome of a jack of all trades and master of none.
Now I am told that that very trait indicates that I am unreliable, prone to hyperbole, a buffoon, and most of all, incapable of leadership. I never knew.
I have always lived under the assumption that people would be judged by their accomplishments as well as their ongoing determination to overcome the human frailties to which all of us are subject. In my own case, I have had a lifelong war with the demons of my youth, having lost more battles than I won. However, I now understand that these transgressions are never forgiven and become the fodder for ridicule depending on one's standing with the current self-appointed caretakers of conservatism. Needless to say, those now sitting in judgment have never had any moral or ethical lapses.
Lastly, since October of 2008, I have written and published over 140 columns and essays -- mostly on the American Thinker website, but also on Investor's Business Daily and the American Spectator sites, among others. This output amounts to perhaps 170,000 words. I am certain that contained within that volume of verbiage are positions or phrasing that would be considered unacceptable by the arbiters of conservative thought. Therefore, I am no doubt guilty of some or perhaps numerous statements that would render me an undesirable in the conservative movement.
There is an old adage that confession is good for the soul, perhaps, but I must also confess to some confusion.
Mitt Romney is described by Ann Coulter as "the one true conservative left in the race," and much of the conservative chattering class has overtly or tacitly endorsed him for president. Yet he stubbornly defends RomneyCare (the precursor to ObamaCare), he has, in the past, described himself as a moderate and progressive, he was for abortion before he was against it, he claims to believe in man-made global warming, he raised taxes every year and increased annual spending much higher than the inflation rate during his tenure as Massachusetts governor, he has a well-earned reputation for "changing his mind" on many issues, and he has been very muted in his criticism of Barack Obama.
Is this now the pundit class and establishment version of conservatism? Is Mitt Romney the epitome of an acceptable "conservative"? Apparently so. That being the case, I cheerfully accept the verdict of the conservative cognoscenti that I am not a "true" conservative.