Before the election, the New York Post’s Robert George raised some eyebrows with a New Republic cover story explaining why he couldn’t support George W. Bush. Now one of his colleagues, Ryan Sager, is home from the Conservative Political Action Conference, and a bit freaked out by what he took as the central message:
“We Christians can do this alone, y’all who ain’t down with J.C. best be running along.”
Sager’s and George’s articles cast some light on the developing rift between the conservatives — yes, we’re still on conservatives — around Rudy Giuliani, the Manhattan Instititute, the Journal and Post and Sun, on one hand; and the crowd running the GOP and the country on the other. New York vs. Washington is a shorthand for the split here, which is part cultural, part intellectual. On the cultural side, the New Yorkers are as likely to be Jewish as Christian; likely to have, as Barack Obama put it, gay friends; and unlikely to own guns.
But the ideological split is more important. For the New Yorkers, small government is often the end in itself, as is judicial restraint. They’re libertarians and Reaganites when it comes to this. But for the Rick Santorums of the world, small government is a value that can be discarded when it comes to, say, government programs promoting marriage. And judicial restraint is just this week’s line of attack against gay rights and abortion. If the legal tide shifts, they’ll think of another one.
Sager, along with being a Postie, is a fellow blogger and Sun alum. And for all his hawkishness and libertarianism, he apparently felt distinctly unwelcome at CPAC, as he writes at Tech Central Station:
“The arrogance that will prove problematic, ultimately, was that directed at the libertarian-leaning conservatives by the social conservatives. The message in that regard was clear: We Christians can do this alone, y’all who ain’t down with J.C. best be running along.
“That was the message when Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute, who was on a panel to defend President Bush’s proposed immigration reforms (supported by no less a conservative institution than The Wall Street Journal), was loudly booed by the anti-immigrant crowd. That was the message when a representative of the Log Cabin Republicans was booed and then asked by a student, ‘You people [homosexuals, that is] already have the right to live together, you got the sex, what else do you people want?’
“In fact, if there was anything particularly striking about this year’s CPAC, it is to just what extent Republicans have given up being the party of small government and individual liberty.
“Make absolutely no mistake about it: This party, among its most hard-core supporters, is not about freedom anymore. It is about foisting its members’ version of morality and economic intervention on the country. It is, in other words, the mirror image of its hated enemy.”