Political Hay

The Clash of the Crusades

The Obama ideological crusade finally meets its match.

By 10.3.13

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“A lot of people talk about wanting to change Washington. Well, if we actually change Washington there’s a lot of resistance. This is what it looks like. And we shouldn’t be surprised that when Washington is being forced to change by the American people, is being forced to actually listen to the voters that there’s going to be a lot of resistance because a lot of people are vested to the status quo.” -- Senator Ted Cruz on 'The Mark Levin Show'

Finally. Recognition dawns.

Last night Speaker Boehner emerged from the White House to report that President Obama and his left-wing allies refused to negotiate.

No kidding! Shocker.

The Real Question in politics is never the first three of those journalistic “W’s.”

The question is never Who, What or When.

The Real Question is always: Why?

As in: Why is President Obama doing what he’s doing with Obamacare? Why is the President refusing to negotiate with Republicans over the government shutdown? Indeed, why has the President spent the entire last five-plus years doing what he’s doing?

As in: Why are so many Republicans demanding the defunding or, at a minimum, the delay of Obamacare? Why are so many Republicans perfectly prepared to withhold support for a Continuing Resolution or a rise in the debt ceiling?

As in: Why are so many nominally “conservative” columnists, editorial writers, commentators, joined by some GOP congressman and senators, quaking in their political boots?

In a word?

These are not disagreements -- they are crusades.

Which is why they generate so much fear and loathing.

The two words “fear” and “loathing” were first linked by the late “gonzo” journalist Hunter Thompson in his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a tale of a drug-fueled binge that takes place while the two main characters muse on the decline of culture in what they see as the insanity of Las Vegas.

In context for today, fear and loathing of one set of crusaders for the other in Washington, D.C. explains the “why” questions exactly.

President Obama and his factional allies on the far left have an absolute loathing for America as founded. Following along the well-trod path of a century-plus worth of progressives, Mr. Obama and his friends are on a crusade to turn America ever further left than it was when they took charge. A $17 trillion dollar debt? Almost $90 trillion in unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare ? No big deal.

This is precisely what the President accuses his opponents of pursuing: an ideological crusade.

The Obama-left wing crusade is dedicated to controlling the lives of 300 million Americans, in this latest instance through the alluringly if grossly misnamed “Affordable Care Act.” The President’s supporters make much of the fact that Obamacare has been passed and it’s “the law.” (Mind you, these are the political heirs of those who said slavery and segregation laws were inviolate, but that abortion laws had to be changed. Doubtless there are plenty of these people who as younger Americans were deliberately violating Vietnam-era draft laws by burning draft cards and the like. Their newfound devotion to “the law” is nothing if not disingenuous, not to say amusing.)

Yet as the always dogged and perceptive Betsy McCaughey points out, since its passage and approval as a “tax” by the Supreme Court, the president has unilaterally and unconstitutionally changed the law. Notes McCaughey, who has made herself the premiere expert on Obamacare:

The president is illegally picking and choosing what parts (of Obamacare) to keep. Gone is the employer mandate, the cap on out-of-pocket expenses, income verification for subsidy recipients, and over half the deadlines in the law.

Got that? The law supporters' claim to be inviolate was unilaterally changed by the president himself. In itself an act that showcases contempt for the Constitution -- and the mentality of a leftist crusader.

Not to be forgotten here is the news that Obamacare agents of control will be left-wing “navigators” -- not so coincidentally drawn from an army of left-wing labor leaders and community organizers from the SEIU to ACORN to Planned Parenthood. Left-wing activists who have access to every piece of confidential, private information of every American’s life -- including, yes indeed, your voter registration. Crusaders one and all.

This is the “Why” of what Obama is doing. He is about, as he famously said, “transforming America.” Making of a country designed as a constitutional -- and capitalistic -- Republic into a socialist state.

So what about the “Why” of Republicans?

Tea Party Republicans -- which is to say conservatives -- understand vividly what Obama is about. It’s always worth reminding that the Tea Party came into being not because of Barack Obama but George W. Bush. It was Bush’s TARP response to what in fact was a government-induced financial crisis, on top of his spending policies, that brought the Tea Party to life. When President Obama took office he immediately began doubling-down on the Bush policies -- quadrupling down, in fact.

Conservatives understood instantly what Obama and his allies were up to -- a left-wing ideological crusade. Five years later the reason for the alarm signaled by Rush Limbaugh a few days before Obama’s first inaugural -- “I hope he fails” said Rush -- is now understood in the bones of every conservative.

For conservatives, this shutdown and the response to Obama is about nothing less than the life of America itself. A crusade to restore America to the constitutional republic it was designed to be. Obamacare is seen as a direct if just the latest threat to the life of the nation’s founding as a constitutional republic. The conservative crusade demands calling a halt to the massive spending that will make of America the national version of Detroit -- bankrupt. An economic pauper, where the freedom and ability of every individual to pursue their dreams is replaced by a nation of beggars, drones (the human kind) and government slaves.

One indicator after another is viewed with alarm by conservatives. From the rising poverty rate, unemployment and the companion millions who have given up and simply stopped looking for work, the millions on food stamps, not to mention the original housing crisis spawned by government regulations that mandated financing for prospective homeowners who had little chance of meeting the payments – all this and more tells Tea Partiers and the conservative base of the GOP that this is a titanic life-and-death struggle for the American soul. Not a humdrum business-as-usual Republicans want to spend X and Democrats want to spend X-plus budget argument.

Alas, there are those in the conservative media who see all of this as about nothing more than “tactics.” Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and House conservatives aren’t using “smart tactics,” goes the complaint. Congressman Peter King, so far off the deep-end he is now being praised by George Clooney, has repeatedly accused Cruz of being a “fraud.”

All of this is quite telling.

The other night Mark Levin reminded of something that has been discussed in this space on occasion. That would be the late William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Mission Statement” for National Review. At this exact moment in time it is indeed worth recalling Buckley’s words, with the bold for emphasis provided:

The inroads that relativism has made on the American soul are not so easily evident. One must recently have lived on or close to a college campus to have a vivid intimation of what has happened. It is there that we see how a number of energetic social innovators, plugging their grand designs, succeeded over the years in capturing the liberal intellectual imagination. And since ideas rule the world, the ideologues, having won over the intellectual class, simply walked in and started to run things.

Run just about everything. There never was an age of conformity quite like this one, or a camaraderie quite like the Liberals’….Conservatives in this country — at least those who have not made their peace with the New Deal, and there is serious question whether there are others — are non-licensed nonconformists; and this is dangerous business in a Liberal world, as every editor of this magazine can readily show by pointing to his scars. Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by the Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity.

Ouch.

If Buckley was on to the “well-fed Right” all the way back in 1955 he would have no problem spotting them now, nor the fear and loathing that animates them.

Many, not coincidentally, are ex-Bush aides populating Fox and/or the pages of various papers and online sites -- theirs the presidential boss who summoned the Tea Party to life in the first place as he departed with a 35% approval rating. Others -- aside from people like Congressman Peter King who seems to have gone totally around the bend -- are (as here) non-Bushies pushing what Buckley called the “well-fed Right” line that busily embraces the status quo under the guise of so-called realism. The status quo, of course, is already tilted well to the left, much further so than when Buckley penned his mission statement.

“This approach places great value on zeal and combativeness and isn’t very concerned with success,” writes Daniel Larison over at the American Conservative. Larison is quoted and linked approvingly in a piece by Rod “Crunchy Con” Dreher. Both apparently unaware like Buckley in 1955, Reagan in the 1980s was all too familiar with conservatives who ran at the drop of a liberal hat. Reagan’s scornful term for these conservatives was “rabbits.” Conservatives who scurried from the first hint of defeat when Reagan himself was very much willing as president to, for example, veto a bill he knew would be overridden and bring the requisite liberal media chorus of damnation that so terrified the rabbits.

Dreher, not an ex-Bush aide, goes off on a riff perfectly describing the Bush-moderate GOP Establishment world view, praising prudence as “the cardinal virtue of conservative politics.” This is precisely the timid, status quo view that Reagan scorned as “ fraternal order” politics. To illustrate the real thinking here, this quote from Dreher’s piece will serve, bold emphasis mine:

But I told a Louisiana conservative friend the other day that the Congressional Republicans are making me consider the previously unthinkable: throwing my vote away by voting for a Democrat in the special election next month to replace my GOP congressman, who just resigned to take another job. The GOP candidates in this local race are hot and heavy to overthrow Obamacare. I think about how poor this district is — 26 percent of the district lives in poverty, making it one of the poorest Congressional districts in America — and how badly we need jobs and economic growth, and I think: What kind of world do these people live in?

So scratch a crunchy con and one finds a liberal who believes that Obamacare is the key to “jobs and economic growth.” Clearly and remarkably it never dawns on Dreher that the massive size and expense of the federal government is exactly why the poverty rate is soaring to the highest level in 52 years. The money pours out of his part of Louisana and the rest of the country and creates cushy $100,000 jobs for bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. -- and don’t forget all those Obamacare “navigators” from ACORN and the SEIU who will be scarfing up tax dollars to make sure they too are well fed.

Here’s another Dreher beauty on GOP opponents to Obamacare in his area:

…these guys would make our economic situation even more parlous by shutting the government down to overturn what in any stable political environment would have been a settled law?

Good thing ol' Rod wasn’t advising Lincoln or his district would still have the settled law that provided both slavery and segregation, those lovely staples of the Democratic Party.

So it all comes down to finally pulling the curtain aside and understanding the primal emotions that drive the left -- and a good many of those “well-fed” conservatives or “rabbits” that Buckley and Reagan spoke of.

They have fear and loathing.

They want control -- over every single thing in your life. Or, they’re too afraid to stand up and draw the line about that control, particularly when confronting the liberal media nationally or the cocktail crowd in Washington, D.C.

Obamacare all by itself is going to be demanding to know everything about you, including -- as Betsy McCaughey documents here -- about your sex life. You missed this? Here’s the question:

“Are you sexually active? If so, with one partner, multiple partners or same-sex partners?”

Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say every American must be forced to discuss their sex life -- “because it’s the law”?

What’s really going on here is that millions of Americans have had it. They are fed up. They know full well this is not the constitutional republic the Founding Fathers carefully designed. They know that this dispute is well-beyond a bickering about budget numbers X or Y.

This is about the Why.

Why is this being done by President Obama and his liberal allies? Answer: He and they are on a far-left progressive ideological crusade to remake America into a socialist utopia.

Why are Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and a band of courageous House Republicans insisting that change finally come to Washington -- and fearlessly stepping up to the plate to deliver that change by not accepting the status quo? Because their constituents are finally fed up. A century’s- plus worth of this has finally reached its sell-by date. They have had enough -- and they are demanding -- demanding -- action. They have come to the belief that they too must embark on a crusade -- a crusade to save the country from people Ronald Reagan once described as follows:

“If someone is setting fire to the house, it doesn’t really matter if he is a deliberate arsonist or just a fool playing with matches; the damage will be the same.”

And if their Members don’t get that their constituents see Obama and company as either fools or arsonists, there will be no hesitation about abandoning senators and congressmen and women who are perceived as abandoning their own constituents to follow the Washington Establishment herd.

Why are there conservatives who are wilting under the pressure, running like the “rabbits” Reagan so scorned or the “well-fed Right” Buckley disdained? In their own bumbling fashion these people too are engaged in what passes for an Establishment crusade -- riding forth on the old nags ridden by one moderate after another to raise the flag of that oldest of chestnuts. The repeatedly failed gambit of turning the GOP into the me-too Republican acceptance of the status quo on the premise of realism and victory. In spite of the fact that this devotion to the purity of moderation has lost again and again and again and again. And in the occasional moment of victory leads the country even further left under the guise of managing the leftist-constructed status quo.

For once, President Obama has it right.

This is all about an ideological crusade. His.

As all crusades inevitably do, the Obama crusade has summoned forth its opposite. What might be called the conservative crusade -- which in turn always travels with the carping, always losing, mini-moderate crusade to its rear.

This is why the seeming arrogance from the Obama White House and Harry Reid.

They are on a crusade -- and only with the advent of Ted Cruz have they suddenly spotted the masses of another crusade, their armor of energetic opposition forces glinting now in the near distance.

It’s been a long five years. Actually, it’s been a long century-plus since the dawn of William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson. There have been repeated battles -- and many calls for surrender.

Now the battle is joined again. Last night Speaker Boehner emerged from the White House to report the obvious: Obama and his far-left faction will not negotiate.

Of course not. This is a crusade.

And the American Left’s long crusade -- not to mention President Obama's personal crusade -- to control your life does in fact have something to worry about.

Finally.

Photo: UPI

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.