Howard Fineman of Newsweek looked into his crystal ball and proclaimed the coming crackup of the conservative movement. But, to quote Mark Twain, reports of its death are greatly exaggerated.
Fineman methodically ticks off what he thinks are the dying agonies of conservatism's constituent parts. The corporate chief executive officers, whose religion is Faith in Management, are mortally embarrassed by the Bush administration's incompetence in handling the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The Old Right is angry about the administration's failure to do anything at all about the invasion of illegal immigrants. The neoconservatives, who want more troops in Iraq not fewer, more spending on war not less, and more passion for empire not talk of timetables for withdrawal, are despondent about President George W. Bush's failure to fulfill their neo-Wilsonian dreams of forcing democracy on the Middle East.
The old-fashioned fiscal conservatives who cherish smaller government are in open revolt about Bush's gigantic spending binges. Bush did stick with the supply-siders, who believe that cuts in tax rates are the basis of a sound economy, but they are already worrying that Bush II will repeat Bush I's memorable tax betrayal and allow the reductions to expire.
As Fineman analyzes current politics, the nomination of Harriet Miers to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was "the final insult" to religious conservatives because it demonstrates that Bush wants to keep them in the political closet and expects them to be satisfied with a no-paper-trail nominee and the patronizing words "trust me." They think he lacks the will to fight for their causes.
My crystal ball reveals a very different vision of the future. The Harriet Miers nomination is not the "final" anything; it is the springboard to a revitalized conservative movement.
Nor is disaffection about the Miers nomination limited to religious conservatives, some of whom still trust the president. Every one of the disparate factions in the conservative movement feels betrayed by the president who led his voters to believe he would appoint a Supreme Court justice like Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas.
To understand the across-the-board criticism of the Miers nomination, we should study the survey just released by the ABA Journal eReport. A majority of Americans agree with the statements that "judicial activism" has reached "a crisis," that judges "ignore traditional morality," that judges are "arrogant, out-of-control and unaccountable," and that judges who ignore voters' values "should be impeached."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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