With the rise to enduring power of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in 1933, a new type of Republican emerged in reaction to FDR's attractive and overawing power: the me-too Republican. Until the election of President Reagan five decades later, these me-too Republicans supported, rather than opposed, Democratic Party policies but claimed they would administer them better. Of course, this led to a half-century of Democratic dominance of American government and politics.
FDR himself cruelly mocked this pathetic breed of spineless, protect-your-career-at-any-cost Republican politicians:
"Let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion which says: 'Of course we believe all these things. We believe in Social Security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them; we will do more of them; we will do them better; and best of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.'"
Now, on the cusp of what some think will be a major Obama victory, we are beginning to see emerge what I will call "me-too conservatives" -- initially among conservative commentators (politicians to follow). I have in mind, among others: Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Chris Buckley, David Frum and Kathleen Parker.
Of course, they are not quite saying they are giving up conservatism for whatever it is Obama would bring. They are initially focusing on style or, in the newly arrived cliche, temperament -- a term made famous, interestingly, to describe FDR as possessing a second-class intellect but a first-class temperament.
The hopelessly enthralled David Brooks wrote recently:
"(Obama) doesn't seem to need the audience's love. But they need his. The audiences hunger for his affection, while he is calm, appreciative and didactic.
"He doesn't have F.D.R.'s joyful nature or Reagan's happy outlook, but he is analytical. His family is bourgeois. His instinct is to flee the revolutionary gesture in favor of the six-point plan." That is, amusingly, almost exactly what Vladimir Lenin's admirers, such as John Reed in "Ten Days That Shook the World," used to say in contrasting Lenin's style to the fierier Leon Trotsky. (Note: I am making a style point, not a substance point.)
But they all cast their admiration for Obama in contrast with Sarah Palin -- whom they mischaracterize through a process of intellectual and historic dishonesty tempered by cultural snobbery and fear.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.