Modern conservatives, whether they wish to admit it or not, are every bit as responsible for the diabolical growth in government as the leftwing progressives and their Democratic overlords. The examples are endless. A movement born in opposition to the New Deal, boldly anti-state, has morphed into a power-hungry, overlord worshiping, cult of the state.
Ouch! Tough words. Let me explain ...
President Obama recently launched a war, er, kinetic military action in Libya without any sort of Congressional approval. In response, Thomas Woods posted "The Phony Case for Presidential War Powers," a well documented argument against executive unilateral war powers based on the Founder's original intent. Limits on the executive, however, have become anathema to the modern conservative movement. Self-government? Not anymore! Conservatives yearn for a "leader" who can exercise unlimited powers. Effectively, they want a king.
You'd think leftwing progressives would be on the attack against Wood's argument from original intent against presidential power, but no, it was radio pitchman and conservative favorite Mark Levin who took up the cause for presidential despotism. He did so by unleashing a rude, name-calling tantrum as defense for his theory (radio and Facebook) as to why the president can make war without Congressional approval. While Woods relied heavily on quoting the Federalist Papers and various Founders, Levin relied on ad hominem and the cheap non-argument "I'm right. Shut up!"
Thomas Woods responded to Levin's tantrum with a challenge for him to find just one quote from the Founders backing up his theory of unilateral executive war powers. If one exists, that's an incredibly easy challenge for the supposed constitutional scholar, wouldn't you think? So, how did Mark Levin respond? With personal attacks on Woods (quoting a progressive historian no less), coupled with a "profanity-laced anti-Ron Paul tirade."
Why Ron Paul? How did his name enter the debate? Simple. Ron Paul had nothing to do with the argument whatsoever, but without being able to document his claim, Levin chose to "Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It." Ron Paul was Levin's his scapegoat. Levin's follower jumped into the argument by naively calling Woods a "liberal revisionist" :
Incidentally, I was amused to see, in the comments section beneath Levin’s piece, several of Levin’s followers assume I must be a "liberal revisionist" historian because I hold the constitutional view of presidential war powers. The traditional conservative position, as Russell Kirk and others made clear, recoiled at a strong and independent executive, a fact that years of neoconservative reeducation of the masses has done much to obscure. I suppose Senator Robert Taft, known in his day as "Mr. Republican," was likewise a "liberal revisionist" for making, in 1950, the very same arguments I am advancing against Levin today?
In fact, when Taft denied that Harry Truman could commit troops to Korea without congressional authorization, his major intellectual opponents were left-liberal historians Henry Steele Commager and Arthur Schlesinger. Levin listeners, this is the side your host has placed you on: against the Senate’s great twentieth-century conservative, and in support of the left-liberal historians who hated him. But here’s the difference between them and Levin: years later they had the decency to admit they had been wrong on the facts, and that Taft had been right.
You might think movement conservatives would be inclined to an argument from original intent, and likewise repulsed by an argument by decree. You might even think that their supposed understanding of "original sin" would steer them towards the prudence of limited executive power. But you'd be tragically wrong.
While RedState's Erick Erickson linked Levin's non-argument as definitive proof of a presidential right to despotism, my man Smitty jumped into the argument declaring that "Ron Paul people" are "intolerable." Dan Riehl then jumped on the slime machine too, using personal attacks and snark instead of even an ounce of intelligent debate. The Daily Caller even joined the chorus, quoting Mark Levin saying Ron Paul supporters are "the biggest a-holes of them all."
So without a legitimate argument, Levin and the rest of the conservative brethren turned the debate into a juvenile attack on Ron Paul, a man who had nothing to do with the debate, and his supporters. Sad. Pathetic. And one of the many reasons I no longer consider myself a conservative.
For the life of me, I don't get it. Why would any sane person be so anxious to be perceived as a smarmy jerk over something that didn't even involve him? Have we really devolved this far politically - where our scholars are smeared as the sinners while the thugs are hailed as saints?
And this makes us different from the left how, exactly?
Riehl is representing himself as nothing more than a shallow, belligerent bully who can't refrain from speaking even when he has absolutely nothing important to say. It should repulse any reader who respects him and what he does. But sadly, it won't.
Like it or not (and "not" seems to be duh - winning!), Woods has clearly made his point based on historical evidence. At the outset, this seemed to be an awesome chance for the TEA Party types to learn a little history, and perhaps more importantly, a chance for the Libertarians and the GOP to join together and publicly berate the Democrats over yet another constitutional transgression.
But that's not what happened. Since it's been a while since the neocons were in control, I sort of forgot that when intellectually lazy, ethically bankrupt people have no real counter argument to history, and their big government tendencies [rise] up to the surface, they get downright ugly. And they opt to support Obama's creative interpretation of supreme executive power, lashing out at other members of their own party who innocently corrected the intentionally twisted theory that Levin put forth.
Of course, now that Dan Riehl and The Daily Caller have entered the fray, they'll soon be 100 other bloggers not blogging about the issue, but yammering about the personalities. Ron Paul's a nut, his supporters are rude, Lew Rockwell's a miscreant, blah blah blah - but not a word about the fact that Woods has proven his point with documentation, while Levin's position is bluntly that he is right because he said so.
Propagandized by the false prophets of neoconservatism, the once anti-state conservative movement now longs for an all-powerful "leader," and the state has become their new religion. Progressives to the left of us, progressives to the right ... Liberty and self-government in America is nothing but a "crazy," "fringe" dream.