In Time of Crisis, Movement Conservatism Exposes Itself

Posted on September 13, 2012

There are two general species of conservative who, astonishingly, defended Mitt Romney yesterday — notwithstanding the candidate’s manifestly depraved comments with respect to the attacks on U.S. Diplomatic Posts in Libya and Egypt. The first species: Movement Conservatives, long ideologically-committed to the election of Mitt Romney, and totally untethered to principle. Doubtless Romney himself has made friendly appearances before some of their editorial boards. The second species, naturally, are your classic neoconservative browbeaters like Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. (Clearly there is overlap between these two sorry categories). But it’s not worth anyone’s time to analyze the deranged psychology of Bill Kristol, so let’s take a prime example from the former species:

Philip A. Klein, Senior Editorial Writer for the Washington Examiner and reliable Romney/Ryan booster, tweeted Wednesday morning in feigned dismay: “Amazing that the media is gonna turn a story about Obama’s disastrous [Foreign Policy] into a story about whether Romney is allowed to criticize him.” Behold the mindset of the stalwart Movement Conservative: Mitt Romney — in utter defiance of the facts at hand — had just explicitly undermined U.S. interests abroad for personal gain by transmogrifying the murder of our diplomats into a crude political wedge. It would be one thing if this transmogrification was grounded in some semblance of empirical reality. Not the case. Most despicably, Romney had the gall to declare — just as GOP Chairman Reince Preibus did the previous night – that Obama “sympathizes” with the attackers in Egypt. By doing so, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee echoed a theme from Dinesh D’Souza’s dangerously unhinged “2016: Obama’s America” conspiracy propaganda film, which I saw over the weekend; at one point, D’Souza ominously asks viewers if they have noticed that Obama “seems weirdly sympathetic to Jihadis captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

I struggle to find the words to describe Romney’s conduct. “Vile” and “disgraceful” feel inadequate. If the man had any decency, he would promptly withdraw from the race in shame.

And yet, by Philip A. Klein’s lights, the real wrong was perpetrated not by Romney or even Preibus, but the “Evil Liberal Media” (of course!) who are apparently so desperate to reelect the President that they have consciously coordinated with one another to divert attention away from Obama’s foreign policy failures — primarily related to Israel (of course!) — and to Romney’s completely innocuous comments. Parties to this grand liberal conspiracy must therefore include top Congressional bombast-peddler Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the notoriously pro-war Washington Post Editorial Board, and a former senior Romney adviser who told The New Republic that the campaign “stepped in it.” Even Jeffery Goldberg, the consummate warhawk, accused Preibus of “slandering” Obama, a charge which would also apply to Romney by the transitive property of logic. But Mitt Romney is the guy who has truly been mistreated, argues Klein, either from bad-faith or so warped a political disposition as to transcend classification.

Like Dinesh D’Souza, Klein and his cohort are simply divorced from reality, unamenable to basic facts, and willing to say virtually anything. Meanwhile, fellow conservatives remain inexplicably silent, enabling Klein et. al to spew further reprehensible falsehoods. Moments like this — of impending crisis and frightening uncertainty — are good tests of intellectual and moral integrity. Philip A. Klein and his ilk in the Conservative Movement have demonstrated, unequivocally, that they possess neither.

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