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December 09, 2011

David Brooks Dooms Gingrich, By Agreeing With Him

Is Brooks self-aware enough to know he's not really a conservative, and that actual conservatives despise him as an impostor who flatters the liberal chattering class to which he actually belongs?

I assume he knows that, and so I assume he intentionally attacks Gingrich with his latest column's supposedly laudatory bits.

Of all the major Republicans, the one who comes closest to my worldview is Newt Gingrich. Despite his erratically shifting views and odd phases, he continually returns to this core political refrain: He talks about using government in energetic but limited ways to increase growth, dynamism and social mobility.

As he said in 2007, “It’s not a point of view libertarians would embrace, but I am more in the Alexander Hamilton-Teddy Roosevelt tradition of conservatism. I recognize that there are times when you need government to help spur private enterprise and economic development.”

Look at American history, Gingrich continued, “The government provided railroad land grants to encourage widespread adoption of what was then the most modern form of transportation to develop our country. The Homestead Act essentially gave away land to those willing to live on it and develop it. We used what were in effect public-private partnerships to bring telephone service and electricity to every community in our nation. All of these are examples of government bringing about public purposes without creating massive taxpayer-funded bureaucracies.”

This was not one of Gingrich’s passing fads. It is one of the most consistent themes of his career. His 1984 book, “Window of Opportunity,” is a broadside against what he calls the “laissez-faire” conservatism — the idea that government should just get out of the way so the market can flourish. As he wrote, “The opportunity society calls not for a laissez-faire society in which the economic world is a neutral jungle of purely random individual behavior, but for forceful government intervention on behalf of growth and opportunity.”

Over the years, this approach has led Gingrich to support cap-and-trade energy legislation to combat global warming. It has led him to endorse universal health care coverage. It has led him to support humane immigration reform. He enthusiastically backed Jack Kemp’s efforts to fight poverty, the precursors to compassionate conservatism.

Though his ideas stray, his most common theme is that government should intervene in crucial ways to create a dynamic, decentralized, low-tax society.

So why am I not more excited by the Gingrich surge?

In the first place, Gingrich loves government more than I do.

Now my opening question was just sort of cheeky -- I think Brooks knows exactly what he's doing, and he knows this is the worst possible thing he can say about a candidate he disfavors.

So it is an example of a liberal trying to vote in a conservative primary.

That said, that is my own problem with Newton.


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posted by Ace at 12:04 PM

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