Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Just how “Burkean” are the Obamacons?

As he tells the story, David Brooks fell for Obama while the two discussed Edmund Burke. (Who knew creased pants were so Burkean?)

Resercons are quite fond of name checking Burke when defending their right-wing bona fides. They explain their differences with the majority of conservatives by appealing to the father of modern conservatism. Brooks goes farther than most by declaring Obama a conservative as well:

the war in Iraq has caused me to rethink things in a much more modest [way], and that is Burkean, too.”

He recognizes something similar in the current president. “Obama sees himself as a Burkean,” Brooks says

Maybe I’m overly cynical, but I wonder just how important Burke’s thought is to Brooks and Co.

Dropping his name is useful, no doubt. It hints at wide-reading and intellectual heft. It scores status point against the Palin fans. Since few reporters have studied Burke, there is little chance that the resercons will have to explain themselves.

Detailed explanations might be uncomfortable. It is pretty hard to reconcile Burke's principles with Obama’s actions. At the core of Burkean conservatism is a rejection of , even revulsion for, the grand plans of ambitious intellectuals who wield power.

Brooks, of course, celebrates what Burke disdained. He loves the Obama administration because it is filled with intellectuals with grand plans and great power. Where Burke sees a crisis as a problem to be solved with sober common sense and a humble understanding of human limits, the new administration sees a crisis as an opportunity to enact all their dream projects with limited scrutiny and less debate.

One could blog for days illustrating just how un-Burkean the Obamacons are.

There is one biographical point, however, that is telling. Through out his career Burke paid a price for his principles and patriotism. He lost elections and high office because of his public stands. His opposition to the French Revolution cost him one of his greatest friends-- Charles James Fox.

The Obamacons have followed a different path. Their estrangement from (or rejection of) the conservative mainstream opens doors. Each blast against their erstwhile allies leads to more lucrative opportunities in the MSM.

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