The National Catholic Review

I know that some people do not like the terms "rightwing" and "leftwing." In some cases, such terms are imprecise and you could write a doctoral dissertation on their use and misuse. Such terms also depend on the context, for example, what we call conservative economics here in the U.S. is generally called neo-liberal economics in Europe. More generally, of course, conservatives in Europe traditionally represented those who spoke for an aristocratic and a pre-modern sensibility, and in that sense, there are no conservatives in America. And, there are huge differences between libertarian conservatives like the Pauls and social conservatives like James Dobson. True enough. Still, how else are we to discuss politics without recourse to such terms? Readers of a magazine as literate as America need to do better than rendering their impersonation of Glenn Beck who puts the "id" back into "idiot."

Last night, MSNBC had a documentary on the "New Right" that was put together by Chris Matthews. This term was used in the late 1970s to refer to groups like the Moral Majority and the National Conservative Political Action Committee, but Matthews used it to refer to the Tea Party crowd, the growing militia movements, the Oath Keepers and such groups. What these groups share, in Matthews’ view, is the use of incendiary language and paranoid fantasies about the reach and power of the federal government. If you go all the way round the ideological spectrum to the extreme left, you find different paranoid fantasies and different incendiary language. Think Oliver Stone.

Matthews was especially good in highlighting the linguistic heritage of the New Right groups, citing Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, the John Birch Society, and Pat Buchanan’s speech to the 1992 GOP Convention. Of course, Coughlin, McCarthy and the Birchers lived at a time when there was a very real threat to democracy in the form of communism, and they were only responding to that threat is an extreme and crazy way. It turns out that President Eisenhower and his brother were not, as the Birchers thought, secret communists and Coughlin was wrong about FDR being a slave to "the Jews." A common theme, then as now, of extremism is the need for a scapegoat and so the hatred spewed against Latinos today is different in degree but not in kind from the hatred spewed against Jews, and against Catholics, in earlier times.

Today, there is no such threat as communism to democracy. Terrorism perpetrated by radical Islamicists can cause death and destruction, but it cannot, like the Red Army, conquer half of Europe or put missiles in Cuba. The system of checks and balances on government power is working as intended, both by the Founders and by the people of Massachusetts who voted to deny the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Federal taxes are at all-time lows in the post-World War II era as a percentage of national income. There is no Gestapo knocking at the doors in the middle of the night.

The most recent fantasy from the New Right – too new to make it onto Matthews’ documentary – was an ad for Rick Barber, a GOP candidate for Congress in Alabama. You can watch it here.

I especially like Mr. Barber’s profound understanding of the history of the American Revolution. It turns out that the American revolt was about more than a tea tax. Also, having Sam Adams at the table makes for a cute comment about the brewery, and Adams is a favorite of Glenn Beck too. But, Mr. Barber evidently is unaware of Samuel Adams’ verdict on the one instance of rebellion against a republican government, the Shays Rebellion. Adams opined that "the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death."

The attack on the IRS is predictable but its provenance may be opaque to non-Southern readers. Perhaps Mr. Barber truly thinks the progressive income tax is a problem, even though it is a mark of a civilized society. But, I suspect his ire has a different, coded quality. One of the principal reasons the Religious Right rose itself into a politcal frenzy in the late 70s was because the IRS challenged the tax exmept status of private Christian schools that were set up to avoid compliance with the desegregation requirements of Brown v. Board of Education.

The people who have the most interest in learning about the extremism on the far right, and denouncing it, are smart, responsible conservatives. America needs an informed, intelligent conservative voice in its political life, but the brand will be diminished if Rand Paul, Sharron Angle and Rick Barber become its poster-boys. The American government hasn’t been "taken away" from anybody. President Obama got more votes than Sen. McCain. That’s how democracy works. The common, and dangerous, theme among the New Right groups is that they confuse political opposition in a democratic republic with fighting tyranny in an oppressive, non-democratic regime. They may fancy themselves modern-day Sam Adams. They may fancy themselves as Montezuma. The fantasy is still deluded and, for the future health of conservative politics, it is dangerous. And the silence about this danger from responsible Republicans is deafening.

 

Comments

Vince Killoran | 6/18/2010 - 7:56pm
Nazi Germany was a marriage of fascism and big business.
William Kurtz | 6/18/2010 - 11:34am
Actually the origins of "right-wing" and "left-wing" long predate Stalin. During the French Revolution, members of the Third Estate (parliament) were grouped in a semi-circle. The most radical (the Jacobins) were at the extreme left of the chamber, while the most conservative were at the right end.
As for calling fascism a left-wing philosophy, I doubt it. Hitler tolerated private enterprise, and business leaders eventually supported the Nazis, although mainly for fear that the Communists would otherwise prevail.
ed gleason | 6/17/2010 - 8:09pm
I suggest that The 'balance' on these posts has arrived  by having  Jeff, JR, Kash, Power, Maher and Jeff  all posting on the 'right' side of the see-saw. Do they want  bigger seats on their side? 
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 2:33pm
"Both sources are, generally, conservative without being crazy. The Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins of our national political ecology are terrifying."
 
They are MEDIA personalities, primarily.  BOTH parties have their nutcases and embarrassments.  The difference, however, is that on the Left, people like Cindy Sheehan get sympathetic write-ups in the NY Times, but when they do crazy stuff like hang out with Hugo Chavez, the liberal establishment quietly ignores them; same with the pink slip crowd.  BUT, when these types on the right show up, the media write stories de-crying the breakdown of civility and suggesting that they are about to take over and re-install every sort of nightmare you can imagine.  I knew what Matthews' "documentary" was about when I saw the commercial and he was interviewing 5 guys in cammo in the woods with some guns, and then jump to tea parties or whatnot.  This is so old they don't even try new tricks.  There has been anger & rhetoric in politics since, well hell since the first campaign.  The difference is that when Republicans don't denounce and disavow something, liberals want to paint the whole movement as some nefarious right-wing conspiracy.
Vince Killoran | 6/19/2010 - 1:46pm
I think the problem lies in your belief that there have been and are "free market" economies. It's a myth, a utopian notion.  It never existed. The closest was in nineteenth century America where the state served to give free land to the railroads, courts to rule against unions, and state militias to crush strikes.
 
Much has been written about big business during the Nazi years and the consensus of historians is that big business was in bed with the facist government.  You're skipping the historical evidence and getting hung up on the word "socialism."  I bet you think today's Labour Party in Britain is a party run by and dedicated to the cause of trade unionists.
Anonymous | 6/19/2010 - 12:20pm
''I'm sorry but the historians and the archives are against you on this one.  This is the way Nazi Germany worked in the 1930s.''
 
This is getting kind of silly.  It is possible to produce quote after quote about the socialist nature of Nazism, the fondness for Mussolini etc.  Mussolini, a communist/socialist provided financial support for Hitler and his party in the 1920's.  Their association continued through most of the war and he certainly didn't need the funding later on.  Socialism certainly wasn't the only thing the Nazis were about and definitely not the most important thing but it was the way they envisioned the world economically and it was definitely how they ran their governance of the economy.  The obviously most important things were nationalism and a pure German race with the accompany hatred of Jews.
 
When Hitler came across the German Worker's Party and liked the national aspects of it he quickly became its leader and changed the name to National Socialist German Worker Party.  He did this because he was a fan of big business.  Yes he co-opted Germany's big business in the 1930's as he incorporated them into his four year plan for the economy.  I wonder where he got the idea for a ''four year plan'' and Goering was put in charge of all the economy including business.
 
A whole treatise could be written and some have about the nature of the economy under Nazism.  But anything close to a free market economy is absurd.  Like everything the Nazi's did it was heavily controlled.
Vince Killoran | 6/19/2010 - 10:58am
p.s. Your take on the mid-1940s US government and economy is a real howler. The Serviceman's Readjustment Act was a major piece of government spending-you're trying to portray it as a conservative voucher plan.
 
It's true that the more ambitious aspects of the New Deal lost out, but here's what remained: the Social Security Act, Wagner Act (high union density, high wages=booming economy), and an emerging civil rights movement. All of this no thanks to conservative southern Dems. (who became Republicans) and most of the GOP.  "Growth liberalism"  of high taxes and generous public spending was the order of the day in the 1945-70 period.
 
Vince Killoran | 6/19/2010 - 10:40am
Dear Cosgrove:  I'm sorry but the historians and the archives are against you on this one.  This is the way Nazi Germany worked in the 1930s.
Anonymous | 6/19/2010 - 8:56am
''Nazi Germany was a marriage of fascism and big business.''
 
Interesting revisionism.  So all those socialist and ex communists that made up the Nazi organization were secretly in cahoots with big business.  Hitler did tone down some of the socialist rhetoric a little so as to not completely alienate business.  He needed their money sort of like the Democrats and Wall Street.  Theodore Abel wrote about who were the Nazi faithful and they were the little guys who were attracted to the nationalist message or the racist appeal but were also attracted to the anti business/capitalist appeal.  Hayek wrote about how socialism was embedded in the German culture from the time of Bismarck in 1944 in his book, ''The Road to Serfdom.''
 
Big business most definitely existed in Nazi Germany but it quickly became subjugated to the party after Hitler came into power.  Sort of like BP which has been a major donor to Obama and helped write the cap and trade bill and hoped to reap billions in profits if it went through.  Laissez faire economics at its best under the Democrats and in Nazi Germany.
 
Hayek's book was number one on Amazon in the last couple weeks but also was number one in 1944 in the US and probably helped eliminate the New Deal from consideration after the war.  The New Deal was generally a failure and Roosevelt dreaded the end of the war when 11 million men would be coming back to no jobs.  Roosevelt and then Truman planned a massive socialist program after the war but it was nixed, thank God, and prosperity returned as taxes were cut and the environment was made more friendly to business.  The returning GI's got education vouchers from the government that they could spend in Catholic schools if they wanted and then they got married had children and built post War America.
 
david power | 6/18/2010 - 6:07pm
Having read all of the postings so far and been educated a little only by Cosgrove,though his point was well made by Simone Weil,I think that MSW will surely revisit this argument .In the next attempt he will either be gracious and admit he was outwritten by Cosgrove or else write a super charged posting that seeks to counter every offering put so far.It will be blinding and failing.Within the next ten years or so a hermenuetic will arise that will abolish most of the contrived writing that seeks to understand issues by dropping a label on them.This will not be the end of talented writers like Winters but the beginning.His up to now flirting with the Event will take on a new turn and indeed the move from moralism will be complete. The tackling of issues without resorting to straw men etc will take more effort but may lead to a challenging of all and not a return to the mudslinging,and that this is a ROD posting and not a God posting gives the reason why there are so many polemics.If Winters had co-written with Shakespeare and Ovid but limited himself to God there would have been less than two comments     
Anonymous | 6/18/2010 - 12:48pm
Mr. Kurtz,
 
Mr. Winter's post is in response to the meaning of the term ''right wing'' in a post on Wednesday.  In that post it was explained where the origin of ''right'' vs. ''left'' originated in French politics in the period preceding the French Revolution and the time afterwards.  Stalin used the term fascist to to disparage other socialist movements such as Mussolini and Hitler.  Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin were darlings of the left in the 1920's and 1930's.  That does not mean every person of the left looked upon them favorably because many didn't.
 
In Nazi Germany everything was subservient to the state including business, especially big business.  Socialism works in lots of ways but when the state controls the main engines of the economy, that is socialism and a left form of government.  Some will argue that Nazism was not a true fascist state but would never argue it wasn't some form of socialism.  The  term means National Socialism.  But it is hard to argue that Mussolini was not a fascist since he coined the term.  And Mussolini was a communist who hated the Church and hated capitalism.
Anonymous | 6/18/2010 - 9:16am
I have never watched a Glenn Beck show but I have read that he is promoting Hayek's Road to Serfdom. This classic recently went from the #1 nonfiction at Amazon to #2. If Glenn Beck is encouraging people to read this classic then he cannot be all bad. I am sure the ''educated'' America readers would agree.
Anonymous | 6/18/2010 - 8:43am
Ms. Cioffoletti,
 
Your response is typical and is a result of years of propaganda by the communist and the liberal left sympathizers of communism.  Mussolini started out as a communist and endied as a communist.  He changed his movement to more suit Italy but it was socialism all the way.  He was raised as a socialist by his father and on his death he was accompanied by his mistress and one of the arch communist of Italy, Nicola Bombacci.  He was writing with Bombacci's help a new socialist manifesto for Italy in his last days.
 
The term NAZI is short for Nationalsozialismus, or National Socialsimm.  It was also known in Germany as the  National Socialist German Workers' Party.  It was in direct competition with the communist for the left.  The Nazi flag was mainly red to attract communists. 
 
Many people confuse the fact that the fascists and the communists were at war with each other as proof that they represented different philosophies.  Obviously they were different in some key places but they were fighting over the same piece of economic ground, those who were on the left who wanted forced equality of economic resources.  Both were fighting capitalism.  Similarly, Lenin killed all his socialist competitors in Russia who did not agree with him.
 
A similar thing is happening within the Catholic Church as various factions are fighting for control of the Church.  You would not confuse that with saying one side was atheist just because they are trying to rid or marginalize another faction.  The positioning of fascist as ''right'' is a construction of the communist or liberal left that sympathizes with communism.  In the 1920's and 1930's many liberals were enthralled with fascism and with communism.  It was a question of which form of progressivism would be most effective.  So anyone who uses the term ''right wing'' is continuing the communist propaganda started by Stalin in the late 30's and continued by him till his death and reinforced by people on the left since that time.  Fascists were socialist and to deny that socialists are not left but right is absurd.
 
Beth Cioffoletti | 6/18/2010 - 7:41am
I tend to think that the left and the right are very real and a naturally occuring phenomena with the purpose of "balancing" ourselves.  I see no problem with either side using the terms "right-wing" or "left wing".  We have to call each other on errors.  Why is it offensive to call Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or Keith Olberman on their extremisms?
 
I'm trying, but I can't quite get a grip on JR's insistance that Fascism is a left wing movement.  Could you give some references, JR?  I don't think I have ever come across that idea anywhere but in his commentary.
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 10:07pm
This post is mainly about whether Mr. Winters can continue to use the term ''right wing'' or not.  And essentially he cannot do it honestly.  Because it is an arbitrary term that really has no meaning any more and has only been used to disparage people he does not like or does not agree with.  He wants to use it in a new sense but the new sense was only created by the left to continue to ridicule those they do not like hoping it would have a connection with other odious groups associated with the term in many people's minds.  Why are right wing people bad?  Well because they are fascists or Nazis or authoritarian people.  How many times have we seen these three terms used in discourse when neither of the first two exists anymore.  Look up the terms in a dictionary to see how this fiction has penetrated the public psyche.
 
So the main odious groups that right wing is meant to be associated with are fascists and authoritarian personalities.  Unfortunately these people are/were nearly always people on the left, an inconvenient truth for the current left.  The true far right in today's politics are libertarians but these people are not at all scary but the left has to somehow have the term ''right'' refer to something distasteful.  For years they got away with the fiction that fascists and authoritarians were right but that is nonsense.  This practice of calling fascist right wing originated with Stalin who applied it to anyone he didn't like and here we have modern day liberals carrying on that tradition.  Most of them probably do not know that they are continuing a practice originated by such a beautiful person.  If anyone wants to deny that fascists are connected with the left and communism, then read about Mussolini and Nicola Bombacci.
 
Fascists were the darlings of the progressives in the 1920's and 1930's as were the communists.  But after World War II and the holocaust that association with fascists went away and they became pariahs.  It is inconceivable to have a Hitler or Mussolini school or restaurant but it is fashionable in places to celebrate communists.  (There are Mao restaurants in Los Angeles and many other cities around the world named after one of the greatest butchers in history.)  The fact that fascists were leftist had to be wiped out.  Does anyone believe Mr. Winter's insistence that he be able to continue to use the term ''right wing'' is based on attempt to associate it with libertarians, who as I said are the true far right today.  No he wants the fascist/right wing meme to pop up in your head.
 
I am not sure exactly what conservatives are.  I believe I am one but I do not know if what I believe is held by all who say they are conservatives.  I have a lot of sympathy for libertarian ideas but know that complete laissez-faire leads to problems.  For example, a huge debate is going on now as to whether to legalize drugs or not, a position many libertarians hold.  It would stop all the illegal drug trade and the many problems that come with it but would it just create even worse problems as tens of millions would get hooked on cheap drugs.  For those who say no, then they should look at Russia which has a massive drug problem which they cannot control and wants the poppy fields in Afghanistan burned.
 
So what is a conservative?  I know there is no relationship between a conservative Catholic, whatever that is, and one who is conservative politically even though one could be both.  But the term is used by Mr. Winters like it means the same thing which is why he should probably stop using this term also.  Either that or use it in a way that the two uses are not conflated.  Or if he thinks they mean the same thing, then he should state why that is so.  That might be an interesting debate.
 
It will be difficult for Mr. Winters not to use either ''conservative'' or ''right wing'' in his posts.  But maybe then they will get clearer and more honest.  Not being able to use ad hominems will be very difficult for Mr. Winters to do but I look forward to those posts.
Vince Killoran | 6/17/2010 - 9:25pm
I take your point about McCarthy's very early political efforts, although I'm not convinced about the "progressive" part.  I thought you meant his political identity and party affiliation as a national politician.  My understanding of McCarthy is that he didn't believe in much or do much (until his Wheeling, W.Va. speech)-i.e., he was a pure-and-simple opportunist.
 
Hey, we seem to agree on something!  I'm going to so watch the NBA game & call it a good day.
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 9:19pm
My quibble with Mr. Winters is not that he is a liberal or a Democrat; and when he writes generally about the relationship bewteen faith & politics, I find it informative and enjoyable.  Nor do I expect him to agree or justify Republican positions out of charity.  However, when he puts on his political operative hat and writes a flame-throwing post about Republicans, I think he goes seriously off the tracks & frankly fails to live up to the expectations that conservative readers of American like myself love about the magazine - that it challenges but is careful to represent all sides.  Just a quick review of his topics with Republican comments reveals that in the last couple weeks he has written about a "documentary" by Chris Matthews on MSNBC about a bunch of yahoos in the woods, on the day AFTER the President delivered his first major Oval Office address on the biggest environmental disaster in American history, he chose to write about some nutcase comments on a BLOG & professed that conservative Catholic blogs were bereft of intelligent opinion, his post before that accused Republicans of having no ideas when it came to spending & taxes (as if he had NEVER heard of Paul Ryan).  In short, when it comes to Republicans, Mr. Winters chooses to focus on the tea party, Rand Paul & generally opinions that do not reflect mainstream conservative opinion.  When he writes on these topics he generally veers way into political operative land, as if he were reproducing DNC talking points with a Catholic twist (which he castigates conservative Catholic politicans for doing) & thus failing to ANALYZE the issues.  Analysis I respect; taking cheap political shots is useless & something I would think America should eschew.
Beth Cioffoletti | 6/17/2010 - 7:53pm
Just my 2 cents, but I actually consider both MSW and Fr. Jim Martin to be fairly middle of the road writers, careful to consider all sides of an issue before writing.  It is true that MSW is a liberal leaning Democrat, but he is far from leftist.  (He is certainly to the right of me!)  I was disappointed when he didn't challenge Obama's war-justifying speech when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. But I respect his long study and interest in Catholicism and Politics in the United States.  That, alone, gives him an authority to size up daily news events in ways that carry more weight than many news journalists.
 
Actually, MSW's traditional Catholicism sometimes annoys me, but it is clear to me that that is what informs his political perspectives.  I would like to see him explore that angle of his political persuasions in a little more depth.
 
I love Fr. Clooney-Looney's contributions, the book recommendations, the little interviews with people like Fr. Gregory Boyle, and the various other postings.  Bill van Ornum's posts are especially intriguing and thoughtful.
 
As for the general tone of the America magazine, I am pleased with the way it educates and challenges me to think more deeply about my Faith.  What it means to be Catholic; what it means to be Church in these troubling and complex times.  I greatly appreciate the flexibilty of the thought that is presented here - none of the "you have to believe this or you are not Catholic" - and the prophetic courage to name the delusions and lies of the culture that are so easy to get trapped in.
 
I find an affirmation and encouragement for my own Faith journey here, without getting bogged down in piety, and for that I say thank you.
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 7:03pm
I would also like to add that is terribly disappointing that despite a demonstrated core of conservative readers and commentators on the America blog, the editors continue to only allow a liberal slant in its official bloggers.  Yes, I am fully aware that America isn't National Review, but as a Catholic publication which has traditionally been very good at giving both sides, it would be nice to have SOME balance on the blog.
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 7:01pm
''Why aren't today's conservatives willing to do the same with crackpots like Glenn Beck, who draws upon old Birch-style materials for much of his commentary?''
 
For the same reason that today's liberals aren't willing to denounce people on their side who suggested that George Bush was part of a conspiracy to intentionally blow-up the Trade Towers on 9/11.  The more time we spend in the weeds, the more likely we are to get bitten by a rattlesnake.  We should try listening and choosing to see the BEST in the other side first.  But Mr. Winters has, again, succeeded at what he appears to do best - drive-by blogging, i.e. writing up some infuriating piece, posting, & then letting everyone fight it out.  And since he doesn't take the time to respond to critics, I can only assume that his desire is to stir the pot & leave the kitchen. Many of the ''conservative'' commentators on here have sought to point out that whenever he discuses conservatives, it is usually in the context of some far right opinion & we have tried to get him to address mainstream conservative opinions like Ross Douthat or Paul Ryan.  Instead, he chooses to ignore those voices & sow discord by pointing out the chaff.  It is very disappointing, & because he doesn't seem interested in responding like other bloggers, one that I am losing the desire to continue reading.
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 7:01pm
''My favorite though is Cosgrove's attempt to label Joe McCarthy as a ''progressive Democrat''
 
Yes, McCarthy was a progressive Democrat who in his early years would go after the Republican party candidates as pawns of business.  He switched to Republican after the war to run against La Follette in the primary who had been the Progressive Senator from Wisconsin but decided to run as a Republican in 1946.  Wisconsin was essentially a one party state back then and it was not uncommon for some progressives to run as Republicans.  Remember, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican progressive.
 
Yes, the Kennedy's were not liberals and ''Tailgunner Joe'' was a good friend of the family.  The Kennedy's were very anti Communist and so was Joe McCarthy.  Yes, he was very excessive in his investigation of communists and he came off as a buffoon.
Vince Killoran | 6/17/2010 - 5:53pm
So, what do moderate conservatives, paleo-conseervatives, neo-conservatives, the Religious Right, libertarians, and the New Right have in common?
 
It's always amusing to read bloggers trying to assign the really bad guys in history to the other side! With Catholic figures we just claim people for our side. . . My favorite though is Cosgrove's attempt to label Joe McCarthy as a "progressive Democrat" is a whopper!  You'd think "Tailgunner Joe" was a Henry Wallace supporter.
 
BTW, McCarthy'sconnection w/the Kennedys was purely personal although I suppose a common Cold War outlook united them as it did most Americans (Old Man Kennedy and JFK were not exactly screaming liberals anyways).
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 4:42pm
''Fr Coughlin was a man of the left''
 
Most definitely and the interesting thing is that Mr. Winters identifies his as such in his book.  He was both Canadian and Irish and the purveyor of a massive redistribution of wealth to the poor who ranted against laissez-faire economics and International bankers.  He was an avid backer of Roosevelt in 1932 but became disillusioned with him and backed Huey Long who was another far left politician.
Helena Loflin | 6/17/2010 - 4:07pm
Glenn Beck is an idiot.  A dangerous one at that.
William Kurtz | 6/17/2010 - 4:04pm
I'm old enough to remember the John Birch Society, which got a lot of publicity in the early 60s. Eventually William F. Buckley made an effort to draw a line between conservatives like himself, and nutcases like the Birchers. Why aren't today's conservatives willing to do the same with crackpots like Glenn Beck, who draws upon old Birch-style materials for much of his commentary?
I will also predict right now that Barack Obama will be overwhelmingly re-elected. The GOP is making the same mistake (between the tea partiers and the stone wall of Congressional opposition) that the British Conservatives did after Tony Blair's first victory. The Tory response to Blair's ascent was to fight the next two election on the proposition that Margaret Thatcher hadn't gone far enough. After two routs, they decided to step into the 21st century with David Cameron.
Who will be the American Cameron?
ed gleason | 6/17/2010 - 3:43pm
JR's labels???... 'Fr Coughlin was a man of the left'.. Coughlin  was a Canadian/Irish... I say Che was a man of the right. he was Argentine/ Irish.. The Irish are are hard to figure out?.  
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 3:08pm
I do not have time to comment much right now and just read Mr. Winter's post.  It is nice to see he does read the comments from past posts because one of the frequent commenters here said it was unfair to criticize him since he does not reply.  But two things:
 
Farther Coughlin was a man of the left.  He wasn't conservative in any sense it is used today unless one wants to say he was a traditional Catholic.  Senator McCarthy started out as a progressive Democrat and was close friends with both Joseph Kennedy Sr. and John Kennedy.  John Kennedy never condemned McCarthy.
 
Is a conservative Catholic the same as a conservative in today's politics.  I do not think so.  Can one be a liberal politically and adhere to traditional Church teachings.  I know some.  And even more interesting is if a majority of so called liberal Catholics are also liberal politically, why is that?  Why should they be related?  And if they are, what is the more important driver, religious beliefs or political beliefs.
Michael Cremin | 6/17/2010 - 2:00pm
Just two years ago, deep thinkers on the Progressive Left-people like Congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan and author Naomi Wolf-were predicting that George Bush wouldn't leave office, and that fascism had finally taken our nation over. Truthers and other conspiracy theorists are woven into the fabric of the American progressive movement, so I wouldn't start throwing stones, Mr. Winters.

With that said, this "New Right" is an embarassment. If you want sane, sober conservatism, read National Review or listen to Bill Bennett. Both sources are, generally, conservative without being crazy. The Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins of our national political ecology are terrifying.
Brendan McGrath | 6/17/2010 - 1:56pm
I like Chris Matthews, and "Hardball" - so much of the show is so marked by Catholic culture and the Catholic imagination, usually in an unspoken way but often in an overt way.  When Tim Russert died, I remember Chris reciting the second part of the Hail Mary on the air in his honor (why only the second part, I don't know).  And when he starts talking with Pat Buchanan (of whom I've come to be fond as well for his jovial nature), it's like "The Ambiguously Catholic Duo" - Catholic culture is so ever-present but unspoken that it's delightful.
 
I think it would be funny to see documentaries like the following narrated by Chris Matthews:
 
"The Rise of the New Molinists"
"The Rise of the New Monothelites"
"The Rise of the New Scotists"
"The Rise of the New Homoiousians"
"The Rise of the New Cappadocians"
Michael Bindner | 6/17/2010 - 1:42pm
The Independents who voted for Obama might vote for Republicans, provided that the radical rhetoric is toned down and is not seen as spurring such events as the shooting down the street from my office just last year or the one man tax protest which really did happen in Texas last winter. My point and MSWs point is that the independents who voted for Obama, including and especially Catholics, won't do so if the nut cases keep grabbing the mircophone. Quite a few "Independents" are now in that category because they saw Governor Palin as categorically unqualified to be one McCain heartbeat away from the presidency - especially given her use of such inflamatory rhetoric - and the use of it by those who showed up at her rallies. Face it, the tone was ugly and people responded appropriately. If you don't agree, run Palin in 2012 - but don't be shocked that if and when you do, there will be a new second party after the election - especially if the economy is not good and people vote for that party to show their displeasure with Obama.

Romney has been seen as a competent candidate, but if he panders to the Palinite right, he will just destroy his electability. Frankly, his best chance is to go with the new Independence Party of America, taking his followers with him. General Clark has the opposite problem. He won't be the cause for weakening Obama in the Democratic Party and likely learned his lesson that he is not electable as a Democrat. He could also go to the Indies - and given his military and diplomatic experience - which we need to get out of south Asia, he would probably be a better ticket topper than Mitt. I suspect a Clark/Romney ticket would probably win in 2012, although both are too old for 2016.
david power | 6/17/2010 - 1:31pm
I recall the comment that inspired this blog.It was by J Cosgrove and was very well-written and basically dismantled most of the reasons for using the tribalistic language that is left and right wing pigeonholing. He explained how is was just basically a short-cut to demononizing others and that was unsuited to what America or any magazine that calls itself catholic should be about.His comments still await a good response. He was calling for a more "literate" America.He was told no.
 
 
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 12:49pm
Oh please, Mr. Bindner; give me a break. So all of these Independents that supported Obama in '08 & are now trending to the Republicans are part of a vast nefarious "revolution" that will result in bombs and airplanes and unjustified attacks on the IRS?  You're wrong on the facts, sir.  The people doing that these days are the socialist radicals in Europe who freak out anytime the world's capitalist countries get together for a meeting.  
 
The fact is that whenever Democrats fall out of favor with the electorate or they lose an election, Democrats always look for some crazy meta-narrative to explain why they're unpopular. It's usually some variation of "the electorate is too dumb or poor or racist or lazy to know what's really good for them; if they just understood what we do for them, they would never ever vote for any of those icky Republicans, who just want to take their money and give it to really rich people.  But we enlightened few know what's best".  YUCK.
Michael Bindner | 6/17/2010 - 12:26pm
Regardless of the motivations of Messrs. Matthews and Winters, is there any argument that it might be good for "Goldwater Conservatives" to listen to their points? I have seen several comments on motivations, but none challenging the facts cited. Why is that?

Is readership here high enough for this debate to make a difference in any 2010 congressional race? I suspect not. Will it cause the Angles and Barbers of the world to ease up on the red meat rhetoric? Not if such rhetoric is seen as winning in 2010. The danger, of course, is that someone may load up a truck of ammonium nitrate and blow up a federal building, or take a shotgun into the Holocause Museum or fly an airplane into an IRS office. The fact that this has already happened is both tragic and not good for the future electability of conservative candidates. When candidates even hint that revolution is a possiblity, they lose their legitimacy - both in the eyes of voters and in fact. Indeed there are laws that delegitimize parties that advocate the violent overthrow of the government. They were originally aimed at the Communist Party, but if the combat boot fits...

This is why there is talk of a second major third party.
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 12:08pm
Why is it that some on here never react to the ARGUMENTS made but rather continue making jibes at people?  Yes, Democrats think Glenn Beck & Sarah Palin are idiots; guess what, Republicans think Keith Olbermann & Jon Stewart are in the same category.  Everyone feel better now?
ed gleason | 6/17/2010 - 11:36am
Glenn Beck supporters posting in America Mag. ?? Who are they trying to convince to listen to his chalk board ideas?
Benjamin Alexander | 6/17/2010 - 11:22am
MSW, I don't understand the value added by your commentary most days. I'm looking to see how you illuminate finding God "In All Things" and instead all we get are oversimplified, misleading broad stroke attacks in politics. This is even the case when I might agree with you about some things.
 
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 11:08am
Glen Beck is encouraging people to read F.A. Hayek's Road to Serfdom. MSW would do well to read Hayek. It might help him to come out of the dark.

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Serfdom-Documents-Definitive-Collected/dp/0226320553/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276787301&sr=1-1
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 11:05am
It should also be stated that during the Bush Administration, there were lots of leftist groups saying lots of nutty things. In fact, if some enterprising network had wanted, I'm sure they could get up a "documentary" showing connections between various leftist groups convinced W. was hell-bent on driving this country into a dreadful direction & connected those groups to the Democratic Party; you could have even called them the "New Left" to make it sound all official and stuff.  Remember when that nutcase Congresswoman snuck in some pinkslippers to one of W's SOU speeches?  Where was the OUTRAGE about the breakdown in civility in politics?!  Yet I didn't hear then anyone wringing their hands about these leftist groups (some of them with their ties to terrorist outfits) and their nefarious connections with the Democratic party.  Yet all of a sudden, the Tea Parties, and all these "New Right" groups are the source of angst and sturm und drag & the Republicans are pictured as just stoking the flames.  Please.  Politicians, by and large, aren't that bright.
Anonymous | 6/17/2010 - 10:29am
Hmmm, "insights" into the Conservative movementS from Chris Matthews & Michael Sean Winters.  Mark me as skeptical.
 
But as usual, this post portrays a certain schizoid logic: on the one hand, America "needs" a "responsible conservative voice in politics", while on the other hand, the raison d'etre of the movement-Communism- is gone & therefore the conservatives are just looking for some new psychological enemy.  Funny thing, but liberals said that communism was no threat WHILE it existed, & argued that we should learn to peacefully co-exist, etc.  You could of course argue that liberals have always believed that conservatives were but a few degrees removed from totalitarian groups, so Matthews "documentary" is a slimy attempt to confirm some very tenuous links among these various groups.
 
Second, what "responsible" conservatives understand is that America was founded with a definite vision: a system of LIMITED government, hence checks & balances.  The Founders believed that a government that did everything would nothing well, and was a threat to the basic liberty of individuals and communities.  Conservatives want to stay true to the limited government vision & I believe are right to point out that when we start passing billion dollar bills 2,000 plus pages long, maybe something is a bit out of whack.  Some of these voices may not be as "sophisticated" as the readers of America, but since when do we require sophistication as a pre-requisite to being a politician?
Tom Maher | 6/17/2010 - 9:40am
Here we go again. Catholic scholarship is having another bad day. In the opening of the article MSW calls Glenn Beck an idiot. Amother ad hominem attack by MSW as rhe cetral theme of the article.

Catholics political commentators are way too dismissive of other points of views even when these views are held by a majority of Americans including majority of Catholics.

But ad hominem attacks on people by innuendo is very poor school yard from that does not articulate a real objection. Personall attaack is very bad form that everyone else in the world avoids. This is the argumentation of a Catholic school yard thug. This type of argument is not done us in the big people's world outside the Catholic education ghetto. The co0nsersation need to get out of the street and be less crude and raw. You give Catholic scholarship a bad name by so frequently resorting to name-calling.