Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Something is afoot: in Op-Eds in both today's New York Times and Washington Post, David Brooks and Peter Beinart (respectively) note the crack up in the conservative coalition. Beinart notices the difficulty that the conservative coalition is having maintaining the pairing of the East Coast liberal business establishment (which he calls conservative!!!) with the heartland "populists," a coalition that Reagan managed to put together, due simultaneously to the stupidity of the post 1960's Democrats who allowed the party to be captured by libertarian elites, and Reagan's exploitation of that stupidity and his knack for fomenting racial fears in the nicest possible way. David Brooks observes the coming of a new culture war (new? where have you been, David?), which pits educated liberal individualist elites against backwater stupid people who care about communities. Both come across as pretty sanguine about the prospects of healing the conservative coalition (Beinart recognizes that the populists are now pitted against the Republican elite, but that could change once there's an anointed liberal Democratic nominee - a Hillary nomination would do the trick; Brooks is pretty confident that we can educate the rubes to get with the program, but urges his NYT readers not to offend them too much in the meantime) - but, what I find interesting about both columns is the deeper anxiety evinced by each over the potential for damage to the military-industrial complex that such a populist rise could portend. The chattering classes are worried, no doubt about it. Dare we hope that their worries are not misplaced?