Does making an alliance with Stalin make allies Stalinists?

Anyone remember when being against Bush was the litmus test for liberalism? These days, it often seems as if being against Bush has become a litmus test for conservatism.

The old rule used to be that "the Right is looking for converts and the Left is looking for heretics." Now it seems to be the other way around.

This is all so screwy. Conservatives would do well to remember that it takes a coalition (including independents) to win. What I cannot understand is why conservatives were so welcoming of any and every potential ally when they had power and yet now that they are out of power (and most need to win it back) they've replaced the big tent with ideological suspicion.

For years, I was quite accustomed to saying whatever I thought about whatever issue I wanted. But since the election of Obama, I find myself holding my tongue, as the fallout from that one event caused a major attitude shift on the right which has had the result of transforming people like me from useful idiots to ideological suspects. Yet I have not changed my mind on any issues.

Especially the damned Culture War, which pits people against people based on their lifestyles and individual characteristics, and which posits that the values of the 1930s are more "traditional" than any that came before it.

But being in a coalition means sometimes having to put up with people with whom you disagree, and with whose lifestyles you don't like. It would be nice if everyone could shut up, but I think it's a little unreasonable to expect the likes of Michael Savage, WorldNetDaily, and Alan Keyes to shut up and get along. But I guess if they won't shut up, why should I have to?

I guess don't want to be in their tent any more than they want to be in mine. What the hell, though. If we want to get relativistic about these things, didn't the United States make an alliance with Stalin to beat Hitler?

I have no philosophical problem with such an alliance (which of course ought to work both ways). But having to pretend Stalin was a good guy, and a force for democracy, that would have been too much.

Something about the American character, though, lends itself to thinking of our allies as "good" -- even if they are not. So, if such Machiavellian alliances must be made, isn't it better to avoid such misunderstandings in advance?

posted by Eric on 05.04.10 at 04:16 PM


Are you talking about erstwhile Republicans Charlie Crist and Dede Scozzafava?

Because if you are, people like that never had any intention of enacting even fiscal conservative policies. They were loyal to the political class. With "Republicans" like that - and we'll add Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg - the country will be run into debt just as quickly.

As per your analogy, we'll note that after the Second World War, we DID get too close to Stalin, and as a result Eastern Europe and northern China and northern Korea all ended up enslaved. A smaller tent would have helped in the postwar period.

Accountability to the base is essential to getting effective leaders in charge.

And there, Bush was not as effective as he should have been. He overspent. He made Obama possible.

As for cultural conservative tenets (I won't get into my views here; I don't feel like turning this thread into a marriage-rights flamewar, but mostly they're irrelevant): I find that those Republicans who go out of their way to tweak cultural conservatives, invariably end up caving on fiscal matters as well. The same is true for compassionate Christians like Huckabee and the aforementioned Bush.

Zimriel   ·  May 4, 2010 6:16 PM

I always thought the left was looking for lunatics.

Preferably well educated lunatics:

George Orwell: "Some things are so stupid, only an intellectual could believe them"


So if I want to tweak Cultural Conservatives for making Cultural Issues the litmus test of Conservatism (if you are OK on abortion your spending record doesn't matter) then I can go after Huckabee?

BTW Huckabee is proof positive that blind support for cultural conservatives is no panacea. In fact it is probably counterproductive.

I always thought the Democrat Party was the place for free spending cultural conservatives.

M. Simon   ·  May 4, 2010 6:23 PM

I don't know who you're talking about Eric, but many conservatives were against Bush's domestic policy and weren't shy about making it known.
Whether it was his Medicare vote-buying scheme or his delusions of amnesty, he wasn't very good domestically.

As many of us said over the years (but which nobody seems to remember us saying) we were one-issue voters. The war was why we voted for Bush.

So being against lots of what he did that was not war related is nothing new. The GOP lost their majority because of the way they acted that Bush encouraged. How many years did he go without vetoing a bill? 6? 7?

And being against him for any manner of war-related stuff is nothing new either. Read Bill Quick's archives for instance. He excoriated Bush regularly for being too wimpy on the war and he wasn't alone.

The deal was that Bush's opposition was about the worst I can imagine.
I didn't start calling it the funniest end of civilization ever (no caps back then, VP Joe Biden put me over the edge on that one) for nothing.

I think Instapundit kept saying, "It's like the special olympics of politics" or something like that because of the poor quality of his opposition.

The other thing, for me at least, was that the people attacking him were so deranged and ignorant that I had to defend him.
"Bush Lied/People Died" is about as historically ignorant a thing as you can say.
Every prominent Dem, including Clinton, Gore, Albright, Sandy Berger, Jay Rockefeller and Nancy Pelosi were saying the exact same things from 1997 to 2003.

If the governor of Texas can convince the POTUS, VPOTUS, SecState, NSA and the ranking Dems on the House and Senate intelligence committees of a lie, well, who's the idiot then?

Eh, I watched it with Ronnie Raygun too. In 20 years everybody will have been on Bush's side too. We were all singing Kumbaya as he made war on the evil dewar's and Johnny Walker Red(diaper baby).

Veeshir   ·  May 4, 2010 9:00 PM

You wrote, "What I cannot understand is why conservatives were so welcoming of any and every potential ally when they had power and yet now that they are out of power (and most need to win it back) they've replaced the big tent with ideological suspicion."

I dunno, but from what I've seen the major "conservative" movement out there these days is the Tea Party, and it seems pretty welcoming of anyone and everyone who shares its basic views on fiscal conservatism, even to the point of bucking "traditionally conservative values":

Apart from that, I think part of the problem is that in the current environment such conservatives need to be all the more "ideologically pure" in order to demonstrate that there is in fact a big difference between the big government interventionism of Bush and Obama (who I might add got into office promising all sorts of fiscally conservative measures which will never materialize, such as net spending cuts and no middle-class tax increases). Otherwise, we run the risk of falling into a system like that which currently prevails in the UK between Labour and the Tories, both of whom are falling over each other to claim that one will do essentially the same things better than the other.

Richie   ·  May 4, 2010 11:08 PM

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