There seems to be a concerted movement amongst the republican in name only commentators to get all warm and fuzzy over Obama and liberals as of late. For some the conversion has been a kind of October surprise, whereas others are evergreen. I devised a simple cocktail scale so that when you come across these authors you know how lightly to take their opinions.
No cocktail for you- these are the stubborn idealogues reliable die hards defenders of conservative principles, if not always the GOP. The current king of the No Cocktail crowd is Stanley Kurtz, who has tirelessly explored Obama’s career and connections to ACORN, Fannie Mae, and William Ayers. As I understand it he not only is uninvited to every press luncheon in the NYC – DC corridor, but he is forbidden from drinking cocktails altogether in a fatwah issued by King Obama. Other notables include Thomas Sowell, John Derbyshire, Mark Steyn, Victor David Hanson and reliable GOP cheerleaders like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.
One Cocktail. These guys are pretty stalwart defenders of conservatism but often show restraint in order to maintain a higher profile and hopefully reach a larger audience. Guys in this category are really helpful. Ramesh Ponnuru will occasionally play cricket and share tea time with Fareed Zakaria, and Jonah Goldberg doesn’t write in the LA Times about drinking the blood of baby seals as we all know he does in private. So they don’t give in too much ground. Rich Lowry would have received a higher status on the cocktail scale had the Democratic party allowed Clinton to win since he was visibly pulling for her in the primary, but as it is he got bumped down. Lowry’s three written manuscripts of the Clinton dynasty must now remain locked up in his hard drive until 2012.
Two Cocktails- Can’t we all get along? These guys consider themselves principled conservatives, but only if conservatism were different or had a different name. They are a lot like those girls who love a guy but feel that if they can train him not to pick his nose in public, or work such long hours and be more sensitive to their needs, he’d really be a catch. Rod Dreher fits this mold perfectly. The Consummate “Crunchy Conservative” wants a free market economy and supports traditional family values, and really digs home schooling, but golly gee, when those participants in a free market economy don’t want to provide government tax incentives for solar panel installation, well he just washes his hands of conservatives altogether and grabs his second cocktail. David Frum, a former W speechwriter who must have had something to do with ‘compassionate conservatism’ has recently bumped up into this category with his dismissal of Sarah Palin (Kathleen Parker and George Will are here too). Unfortunately for Frum because he wrote the “Axis of Evil” Speech his lifetime cocktail invitation quota is severely limited.
Three Cocktails – The turncoats- These are the Jumpin’ Jim Jeffords of the commentary world. Christopher Buckley and Morton Kondracke are the current kings of the three cocktail land. As with the New York Times editorial page, the three cocktail club wanted all of us Neaderthals to vote for a moderate republican like McCain and not any social conservatives. Now that we’re stuck with McCain of course these guys twist the knife further and endorse Obama. Membership is volatile here because you can only convert once, after which you must compete for space with the millions, and millions, of established liberal writers. Good luck overstaying your welcome guys, you can bunk with Andrew Sullivan tonight.
Cocktail infinity – David Brooks. He definitely gets the Nobel Prize for squishy Republicans. A graduate of the Neville Chamberlain school of persuasion, there is no principle he won’t concede, no criticism too mild, and no illusory victory small enough for Mr. Brooks. On the rare occasion Brooks criticized Barack Obama, he does so as if he feels obligated as the house goy of the NY Times, for example:
When you listen to his best speeches, you see a person who really could herald a new political era. But when you look into his actual policies, you often find a list of orthodox liberal programs that no centrist or moderate conservative would have any reason to support.
The question of the week is: Which camp is Barack Obama in?
You get the feeling that an Obama presidency and Pelosi-Reid legislature would at worst make Brooks sigh uncomfortably. Even this criticism was probably too much for Art Sulzberger, because one short week later Brooks states this:
God, Republicans are saps.
All I know for sure is that this (Obama) guy is no liberal goo-goo. Republicans keep calling him naïve. But naïve is the last word I’d use to describe Barack Obama. He’s the most effectively political creature we’ve seen in decades. Even Bill Clinton wasn’t smart enough to succeed in politics by pretending to renounce politics.
This was in the article supposedly critical of Obama. Brooks consistently saves his worst criticism for the GOP, and seems to have little interest in advancing any conservative principles through his writing. The trick Brooks must pull off is that he must occasionally write an article which may be construed as distinguishing him as a republican. These must be the hardest times in Brooks’ life. How does he do it? How does he, every three months or so, write an article that seems conservative enough to convince Republicans and conservatives that he is one of them, so he can spend the next three months writing glowingly about post-partisan Obama love, causing the GOP to pull their hair out constantly.
When Brooks first started at the NY Times, things weren’t so easy. For their first cocktail party, Maureen Down led him around the room wearing nothing but a spiked dog collar. Paul Krugman hid his glasses in the punchbowl, and Friedman incessantly lectured him on the importance of mixing metaphors. Over time David learned to distinguish between pomegranatinis and lycheetinis, and his pinky finger is constantly extended. Now his only punishment is he must constantly wear pink, but that is what you get when Mo Dowd picks out your wardrobe.
So, next time someone claims to have read some conservative touting the virtues of nationalized search engines or toilet paper quotas, ask your liberal friend about the writers ranking on the cocktail scale.