Monday, October 24, 2005

When The Right Gets It Right

No matter how tightly an ideological coalition is managed, dissent eventually takes root, and when it does there's little chance of stopping it. Over the past month we've borne witness to a torrent of right-on-right criticism on FEMA's response to Katrina, the Miers nomination, and now the administration's Middle East policies, specifically Iraq. Objections such as those recently raised by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and former State Dept. chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson will sound familiar to those of us who opposed the war from the start. But while commentators like Matt Yglesias are content to warn against praising these strange bedfellows too effusively, Crooked Timber's Henry Farrell hits the nail on the head by noting that the publicity of these conservative schisms is an indicator of the movement's thorough internal decay. The dissenters are voicing their complaints now because things have gotten so out of hand that basic ideological principles are beginning to supersede the benefits of loyalty. They certainly aren't looking to curry favor with liberals, so there's not much point discussing how much "credit" we should or should not give them for realizing what we've known all along. Best to acknowledge these admittedly welcome public reassertions of independent thought with a nonchalant nod of assent and carry on.

One further point bears mentioning. If it is true both that the conservative movement is losing its integrity and that party discipline plays a significant role in electoral success, the GOP we've known and loathed since 1994 may be coming to an end. True, a disorganized Republican party may not directly translate into more votes for Democrats, but it certainly doesn't hurt.