Monday, November 2, 2009
Can we conserve and correct?
Sam Tanenhaus makes a compelling argument for calling President Obama a “classical conservative” in the tradition of Edmund Burke. Tanenhaus’ title for his new book has put off conservatives "left and right" at bookstores.
Those walking away from the book should know that he is one of America’s best writers about the history of conservatism.
Tanenhaus’ new book is called “The Death of Conservatism”…I did not note that in the tag paragraph above for fear of you passing this by…it is not a negative partisan treatment of the word.
His book is based upon his article in this past February’s New Republic…click here and read it.
Back to Obama…what makes him a classical conservative? In essence, Tanenhaus believes that Obama follows the philosophy of Edmund Burke (his works are available at the Project Gutenberg website)…which is in summary an approach to conserve and correct. Sounds paradoxical.
Visit the Charlie Rose website, search on the archive for Sam Tanenhaus (10/28/09) and listen for yourself. He believes it’s too early to judge this President with but 10 months in office.
From a Newsweek interview, Sep 7, 2009:
Who do you see as the plausible leaders of the right in the next decade? for that matter, will there be one "right," or possibly a Palin party and a Pawlenty party, to put it very roughly?
This is the crisis now facing the right and principal reason I wrote this book. The movement has exhausted itself and depleted its resources. Before the GOP finds a new leader, it will need a new vocabulary. Political ideas don't change much over time and political debates don't either. (Remember, TR, FDR, and Truman all favored national health care. So did Nixon.) But the tonal difference between a Joe McCarthy in 1950 and a Reagan in 1980 is enormous. And it is the intellectuals who must reinvent the conservative vocabulary, by thinking hard again. I once asked Bill Buckley what brought him to Goldwater and then Reagan. He said, "They came to me." Bill Buckley had the ideas and the language. These ascendant leaders needed to master both.
This book provides suggestions to revitalize the conservative movement.
His next project?...the official biography of William F. Buckley, Jr.