From Mitt Romney to Ron Paul: The vast wasteland of American conservatism

In my most recent column, “Supreme Court scandals,” I suggested that America endures a partisan Republican and ideologically extreme Supreme Court majority that has run amok, embodies the hypocrisy of a delegitimized conservative movement and has become an enabling force for the most corrupted of the 1 percent. From the shamelessly unprincipled Mitt Romney to the shameful and unprincipled pandering to Romney by Ron Paul, who like Romney is now a man without a conscience, we are witnessing the end of conservatism as a credible intellectual force in American public life.

Justice Scalia's behavior during the Supreme Court argument was often incoherent and at times childish. Scalia, who went on a private trip with Vice President Cheney at the moment he was deciding a case that Cheney had pending before the court, and Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined Scalia in giving private ex parte speeches to a political faction with an interest in the Citizens United case they were deciding, illustrate the ethical lapses and partisan maneuvering that are a hallmark of the Supreme Court conservatives.

ADVERTISEMENT
The unprincipled Romney, whose own staff compared him to an Etch a Sketch toy, and the no longer principled Paul, who used small donations from sincere people to pay for ads defending Romney on the Etch a Sketch fiasco, represent polar opposites of the vast wasteland of conservative partisans.

Paul goes from one extreme, such as nutty positions of abolishing the Fed entirely and doing away with airport security and making America a nearly 100 percent isolationist nation, to the other, helping Romney, who is the exact opposite of everything Paul claims to be.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an estimable conservative of potential presidential stature, was reduced to endorsing Romney while mourning that the large number of candidates he believes are far better qualified decided not to run. I feel Rubio's pain. While endorsing Romney he looked like a Red Sox fan rooting for the Yankees in the World Series.

Only an intellectually bankrupt conservative movement could rally behind Donald Trump as a former front-runner, or make excuses for the pay-for-play mercantilist and career adulter Newt Gingrich, who claims the president is more sympathetic to Islamist terrorists than American Catholics.

Only an intellectually bankrupt conservative movement could rally behind the hapless Herman Cain, who did not even know that China is a nuclear power, and who inspired some leading conservative women to defend him against multiple charges of abuse, and to join Cain in attacking the women and comparing their charges to the attacks against (you guessed it) Justice Thomas.

Only an intellectually bankrupt conservative movement could embrace Rick Perry, who called the chairman of the Fed a traitor (and implied that there would be violence if he went to Texas), took oceans of Obama stimulus money as governor, claimed credit for the jobs that money created in Texas, invented new means of crony capitalism raising money from wealthy insiders he appointed to state boards and could not remember what federal agencies he would abolish.

Only an intellectually bankrupt conservatism could make its last great hope a millionaire lobbyist for special interests and earmark champion who says President Kennedy makes him vomit because JFK believed in separation of church and state, and now says America would be better if Obama defeats Romney.

How many conservative politicians took pay-for-play money while endorsing the mandate and promoting earmarks? How many conservatives promoted the mandate when it was Republican, then attacked it as socialist when the Democratic president accepted it, and now champion the Republican candidate who enacted it in Massachusetts?

And finally for today, the crown jewel of what is called conservatism, Citizens United, which as I wrote in my column, and as John McCain is warning, will lead to a tide of corruption and scandals.

I hope honorable conservatives will reflect today on how conservatism has lost its moral and intellectual bearing, has become little more than a party that hates the president and seeks power for itself, and now stands for nothing in the great conservative tradition of Goldwater, Buckley and Reagan.