Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Conor Friedersdorf Doesn't Know Much About Conservatives

Anyone who has read Conor Friedersdorf's columns at the Atlantic already knows that he's a regular critic of conservatives who doesn't actually know much about them. His latest column, called "The Heresies of Chris Christie," makes that abundantly clear. Regarding Christie's speech at the Reagan library, Friedersdorf writes,

he also made four key assertions that are now heretical within the Republican Party, and the significance of his speech is almost entirely wrapped up in those passages of politely stated dissent.
Unfortunately for his premise, none of those assertions are "heretical" to Republicans.

First, Friedersdorf thinks that political compromise is "anathema" to Republicans, "who regard compromise as tantamount to selling out principle." Republicans are not opposed to reasonable political compromise and never have been. The question is what is reasonable. If the compromise is in fact a selling out of principle, which some compromises are, then yes, many Republicans would oppose that, just as Democrats oppose selling out their principles.

Second, he makes a big deal out of Christie's comments on American Exceptionalism, apparently reading into them much more than was there, and creating a strawman regarding how conservatives might view them. Christie was primarily arguing from an economic perspective that U.S. exceptionalism requires us to lead by example. If our country is a fiscal mess, it ceases to be much of an example to the rest of the world. There are very few conservatives that would take issue with Christie on that point.

Third is more of the same. Christie argues that if America is a mess, and we can't fix our own problems, it lessens our influence. This is not even close to being "heretical" to conservatives, let alone Republicans in general.

And finally, Friedersdorf seizes on this passage,

"We certainly cannot force others to adopt our principles through coercion," he said. "Local realities count; we cannot have forced makeovers of other societies in our image. We need to limit ourselves overseas to what is in our national interest so that we can rebuild the foundations of American power here at home - foundations that need to be rebuilt in part so that we can sustain a leadership role in the world for decades to come."
Very few conservatives would disagree with those points, especially since they can be interpreted various ways, particularly with regard to limiting ourselves to what is in our national interest. There's certainly nothing there that would rise to the level of "heretical."

Friedersdorf has demonstrated on many occasions that he is a poor political analyst. In my opinion he's a pretentious, intellectual lightweight who has nothing more than a simplistic, caricatured view of conservatives and the GOP in general. There are actually plenty of things conservatives don't like about Chris Christie, such as his pro-gun control views, for example. It would be very easy to write an accurate article about why conservatives aren't thrilled with Chris Christie. Others have even done so.


  1. The fourth one seems anti-neoconservative. IMO that's his only good point.

  2. And even that is a stretch which applies to only some conservatives.

  3. I think the fist one has been dead-on in the last decade.

  4. Then you haven't been paying much attention. The GOP made all sorts of compromises with Democrats, particularly during the Bush administration. Here's a partial list of bipartisan legislation during that time.

  5. You basically showed me a list of special interest legislation...

    I think the only thing that proves is that each party is bought by the same people.