Columnist Paul Mulshine of the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey is a conservative. If you don't know that, don't worry he'll tell you. He'll also tell you who really isn't a conservative.
There's Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Then there's Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Ann Coulter. Don't forget Dick Cheney and Charles Krauthammer and NR's Jonah Goldberg and…well…you get the idea. He's not so sure of Paul Ryan, either.
Our friend Dan Riehl over at Riehl World has disappointingly gotten there first with a jewel of a nickname for Mulshine that I wish I had thought of first…"Moonshine Mulshine."
Moonshine the conservative, you see, derides our friend Mark Levin because Mark is a "liberty-hating left winger" "pseudo-con" and "neo-con." Really? Really??? Levin's a Lefty? Yes… in Moonshine's world. On the other hand, anyone who has spent two seconds listening to or talking to Mark Levin understands one is listening to or speaking with a plain, old-fashioned deeply well-read conservative. A Reaganite who knows his Burke (and a lot more than that… we call him The Great One only in semi-jest). Moonshine dislikes Rush and Sean because among other things (he seems to have a list) they sell advertising on their programs, a process known to most conservatives as capitalism. Hannity is dissed as a "steak salesman" (along with being the standard "pseudoconservative") because one of his advertisers has been Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. One is curious as to why Moonshine works for a newspaper that pays his salary by selling ads for things like the one-hour $49 massage (true -- you can't possibly make this stuff up!) but hey…consistency and hobgoblins and all of that. Maybe Moonshine likes the $49 massage. In a style that recalls a prim Columbia Journalism Review editorialist, Moonshine's attacks on Limbaugh, Levin and Hannity sound an awful lot like a last defender of the Church of Elitist Mainline Liberal Journalism.
Apparently forgetting Buckley's zinger about preferring to be governed by the first hundreds in the Boston phone book rather than the Harvard faculty, Moonshine's elitism shines when he goes after "lowbrow lunkheads like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity who pander to people who lack the education and intellect to qualify as conservatives." Huh. I didn't know Newark had a country club.
He ponders contemptuously whether Ann Coulter is a "clueless idiot or parasitical wretch." Dick Cheney is no conservative because he supposedly panicked after 9/11 and defended the country. He hated Jonah Goldberg's book on Liberal Fascism although, he admitted, he hadn't read it. And…as I said. There's more. A lot of it. This really is moonshine kind of stuff, as Riehl quickly perceived. And I think Riehl is on to something when he says that what really drives Mulshine is a "jealousy of popular, genuinely accomplished conservative thinkers."
But as is our tendency here, let's put aside over-the-top nutty slurs of the type Moonshine doles out to just about everybody he deems as less conservative than himself…which, as mentioned, would be just about everybody. Let's focus not on the nutty rants (apparently the Star-Ledger's idea of what a real conservative is about) but on the substance Moonshine holds aloft as his obviously bleary guiding star.
Moonshine is firm. A conservative, he lectures, is one who "is a strict believer in the limited powers of the federal government imposed by the Constitution and will not vote to expand those powers."
Then why, one wonders, is Moonshine a believer that the other, few true-blue conservatives out there are Congressman Ron Paul and the late Senator Robert Taft? I like Congressman Paul…indeed…although I've had quibbles here and there with various of the 2012 potential GOP candidates, I like them all. Any of them will be better than he-whose-name-must-not-be-mentioned. But if Moonshine really is determined to press on substance -- he is a strict believer in the limited powers of the federal government, so he says -- you have to wonder why he settles on Congressman Paul. If Mitt Romney has his health care problems and Jon Huntsman his global warming problems and Mitch Daniels his social issues problems and Haley Barbour his lobbying issues and so-on with the rest, it can easily be said that Ron Paul has his limited government problems.
Back there in 2007, on the eve of the 2008 GOP race in which the Congressman made a run for the nomination, a group called "Conservatives and Libertarians United Against Ron Paul" did its homework and explained just why they weren't impressed with Paul.
It seemed they found some 65 federal projects in which the Congressman was decidedly not opposed in the least to expanding the role of the federal government way, way beyond the idea of "limited powers…imposed by the Constitution." He wanted beaucoup federal bucks for all 65. My personal favorite was Congressman Paul's apparent belief that the Constitution's limited powers included $3 million to "test imported shrimp for antibiotics." Now, I first met up with Mark Levin on a phone call in the middle of the Reagan-era when he quickly launched into an explanation of the Constitution within the first …oh…thirty to thirty-five seconds. In all the years since, whether in conversation or listening to his radio show or reading his books, I can honestly say I never heard him say, "Americans have a constitutional right to $3 million clams to test for juiced shrimp. Article I, Section 107, the 'shrimp testing clause.' There, I've said it. Get off the phone you big dope." Congressman Paul apparently believes otherwise, a sin that surely will take him out of that lonely small "last conservative" club where Moonshine serves as president and keeper-of-the-flame.
But don't worry, Moonshine still has the late Robert Taft, whom Moonshine upholds reverently as a pillar of "the true American conservative tradition of small government and limited powers."
Uh-huh. That would be the same Robert Taft whose belief in support for "small government and limited powers" translated into support for providing millions in federal aid to education and public housing and NATO and…well. Again. You get the picture. Ron Paul and Robert Taft must now shuffle in shame to join the list of Moonshine's "not really conservative conservatives" that includes the other low brows, lefties and pseudoconservatives like Levin and Limbaugh, Hannity, Cheney, Palin, Bachmann, Goldberg, Coulter, maybe Ryan and….gee…did anyone notify Reagan and Burke?
Plain and simple? Moonshine Mulshine is no conservative or anything close. He's just a guy with a soft-spot for elitism and liberal journalism who seems to be jealous of the success of some better-known conservatives in the media and has concluded he can elevate his profile by punching them in the philosophical nose and shrieking "Neo-con! Neo-con!" "Clueless! "Steak salesman!"
Maybe the next time readers of the Star Ledger check out the $49 massage ad that help pays Moonshine's salary they can read his latest to see if he's spent some time over a plate of Congressman Paul's federally paid-for juice-tested shrimp -- and read the Constitution's shrimp testing clause.
Moonshine Mulshine as an arbiter of conservatism?
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