- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Gloom file

“I have recently begun keeping a folder marked ‘Conservative Gloominess.’ It is full of articles and animadversions by various hands: dire prognostications about who the next occupant of the White House will be, harrowing descriptions of disarray among conservatives, despairing portraits of U.S. or European society. ”What’s odd, or at least uncharacteristic, about these bulletins from the abyss is not their substance … but their tone and what we might call their existential orientation. From time immemorial, conservatives have delighted in writing works with titles like ‘Leviathan,’ ‘The Decline of the West,’ ‘The Waste Land,’ or … [Robert Bork’s 1994 book] ‘Slouching Towards Gomorrah.’

“I think I am right in recollecting that when Robert Bork once delivered himself of a withering account of some aspect of our society, a member of the audience remarked on how depressing his paper was. In response, he suggested that he might call his next essay ‘Little Mary Sunshine,’ to which a fellow panelist said, ‘Oh, yes, Little Mary Sunshine Gets Skin Cancer.’ ”

Roger Kimball, writing on “Saving remnants,” in the January issue of the New Criterion

Fascism facts

“[T]he very term ‘liberal fascism’ came from the pen of H.G. Wells, the famed socialist author who delivered a speech at Oxford University in 1932 that included hosannas to both Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. ‘I am asking,’ Wells told the students, ‘for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis.’ Democracy, he argued, had to be replaced with new forms of government. …

“Wells was not unique in offering this call to liberals. In giving us a true alternative history of modern liberalism [in his book, ‘Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning’], [Jonah] Goldberg shows how the ideological roots of fascism were liberal and left-wing, as were some of fascism’s early proponents, especially in the Italy of Benito Mussolini. Most of us today forget that Mussolini, to his dying day, considered himself a man of the left and a socialist, who through nationalism and the corporatist reorganization of the polity sought to modernize a dying, 19th-century liberalism.”

Ron Radosh, writing on “America’s ‘Fascist Moment,’ Friday in the New York Sun

Losing label

“Asked last summer if she would call herself a ‘liberal,’ Hillary Clinton backed away from the label, noting that liberalism ‘describes big government.’ She preferred ‘progressive,’ which has a ‘real American meaning.’

“The Gallup Poll suggests Clinton is on to something: A survey last fall showed that 43 percent of Americans called themselves Democrats while only 30 percent called themselves Republicans. By contrast, only 23 percent of voters called themselves liberals, while 39 percent said they were conservatives. ‘The liberal brand is tarnished,’ said … Rob Glaser, who heads the online multimedia company Real Networks. He wants to ‘change the political paradigm’ and treat the word ‘progressive’ as a thing ‘that’s nurtured and managed just like any other brand.’ ”

Matthew Vadum and James Dellinger, writing on “Billionaires for Big Government,” in the January issue of Foundation Watch

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