"Conservatism in America"--whitewashed

Monday, August 14, 2006 at 05:26 PM

At last month's "Aspen Ideas Festival," there was a panel on "Conservatism in America" which discussed the state of that political concept today, which necessarily required some description of where those ideas came from, and how the advocates of those ideas came to power.

I had the misfortune to watch most of this travesty on C-SPAN (which offers a copy of the proceedings for $24.95).  The supposedly illustrious panel consisted of columnist Richard Cohen, Mort Kondracke (of Roll Call and Fox), Ramesh Ponnuru (of National Review), Laura Ingraham and Mickey Edwards (former Repub. Congressman), moderated by Priscilla Painton (Exec, Editor of Time Magazine).

As I said, they did rehash where conservative thought (??) came from, and touched on its rise to power.  But, oddly, that discussion managed to completely omit:

  1. The Powell memo that galvanized the wealthy elites, and the ensuing massive funding of conservative causes by those business and other elites.

  2. The racism that drove white Democrats to the Republican party after Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

  3. The incredible smear jobs that Republican strategists have used for decades now (at least since Reagan) to manipulate the pea brains into voting against the Democrats, rather than in favor of the Repubs.

  4. The continuing role and influence of the right wing echo machine centered by Fox and talk radio.

What's the matter distinguished panel, those subjects not scholarly enough to be worthy of debate?  Afraid that a little honesty about the past might throw a shadow over the presumed wonders of the present and the potential wonders of the future?

What a joke.  How do you discuss a political movement without any damned mention of the forces that brought it into the mainstream and rammed it into the seats of power?  Is anyone deluded enough to think that the substance of the ideas is completely divorced from those forces?