From The VG Bookshelf: Max Boot’s “The Corrosion Of Conservatism”

From The VG Bookshelf: Max Boot’s “The Corrosion Of Conservatism”

From The VG Bookshelf: Max Boot’s “The Corrosion Of Conservatism”

Max Boot has long been known for his foreign policy work and conservative view points. However, in the last few years, there has been a major shift in his narrative. The morning after the 2016 election he announced he had left the Republican Party. Then, a few days ago he penned an op-ed in the Washington Post championing his new book, “The Corrosion of Conservatism” and explained why we must understand that those who follow Trump are to blame.

Upon closer examination, it’s obvious that the history of modern conservative is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, isolationism and know-nothingism. I disagree with progressives who argue that these disfigurations define the totality of conservatism; conservatives have also espoused high-minded principles that I still believe in, and the bigotry on the right appeared to be ameliorating in recent decades. But there has always been a dark underside to conservatism that I chose for most of my life to ignore. It’s amazing how little you can see when your eyes are closed!

Well, evidently Max’s eyes are wide open now. I was a bit taken aback at that op-ed and decided that I needed to read his book to figure out where he’s coming from.

Photo Credit: Book Cover by Liveright Publishing Corporation and original artwork by Darleen Click

He starts off with his personal history. We go through several chapters of that leading up to his time with the National Review and then on to The Wall Street Journal. What is striking about the review of his personal life growing up, his time in college, and onward is that he laments several times about how if he’d known what Trump was going to do now he might’ve viewed events or politics differently then. Yes, folks, seriously. Every instance of his life and the decisions he’s made, the books he’s written, his policy advice …he just cannot resist throwing snide remarks about Trump in there.

For example, he wrote an article in 1996 about Texas attorney John O’Quinn, who then threatened to sue the pants off Boot and the WSJ. Sure enough, Boot writes that O’Quinn and Trump must be long lost cousins because they are both scoundrels who hide behind the banner of populism!

In Chapter 3, Boot talks about how all the presidential candidates eventually surrendered to the train wreck that is Trump. Trump is, according to Boot, ignorant of everything. Trump is a casual bigot like Archie Bunker, yet all the stereotyping that Trump did and does is because he’s channelling Hitler in the 1930’s. He goes on for PAGES talking about that. Boot is apoplectic over the fact that nearly ALL the candidates and a majority of the Republican leadership were so willing to jump on the Trump bandwagon after the primaries. Essentially Boot deems them no longer conservative by HIS definition.

Keep in mind, that Boot is the same guy who has glowingly written of Barry Goldwater over the years only to admit just a few days ago that he had never read a thing Goldwater wrote or said!!

Boot also whines about how Trump’s lowbrow slogans and demonization of the Democrats and media made more sense to all us Republican voters than the highfalutin arguments the sophisticated knowledgeable experts made. Thanks Max, I guess you bought into Hillary’s Deplorable schtick hook, line, and sinker. Oh wait, you voted for Hillary, so there’s that. From his book:

“As countless toadies had done with demagogues of the past, so now most Republican leaders showed that they were willing to discard their principles as mindlessly as a Styrofoam fast-food container if by doing so they could enhance their own positions and avoid the wrath of a powerful and vindictive leader.”

Well, gosh, that’s nice. Max is super mad because he sees that by electing someone who has been married THREE TIMES! (Reagan was ok because it was only twice and he was against Communism), and is too ignorant to run a company let alone a country; that we have abandoned conservative principles. Thus it’s up to him and all the remaining #NeverTrumpers to carry the torch. All those who have backtracked, such as the folks from the National Review, Erick Erickson, Hugh Hewitt, and more… they are traitors to the cause or something.

Max writes that those who’ve held out against Trump’s implied Hilteresque sway are either Mormons, Jews, or national security experts. Max is proud that he’s both a Jew and national security expert who falls into that camp.

Boot states that it was the GOP who was so desperate to win that the leadership was willing to ignore Russia’s meddling and hacking of the election. Yes, he wrote that in his book EVEN after we have ALL seen definitive proof that A. Obama Administration was hiding the information, and B. those in charge of investigating all this had their own axes to grind.

But you see, Trump won because we were so unsophisticated and desperate for salvation from our jobs that were failing, rising cost of living, all the blunders of the Iraq War that Boot supported, and the 2008 financial meltdown that we placed our bets with a reality show asshat instead of going with our betters.

A few final thoughts on Max Boot’s book. He states that Trump is comparable to Huey Long, Joseph McCarthy, and George Wallace. AND! The Founding Fathers even warned about Trump in Federalist 10! Trump is racist, nativist, has colluded with Russia (Boot believes the Steele Dossier implicitly), is tearing apart the rule of law, and the Fake News is all Trump’s fault.

Here’s what Boot demands we do to regain our conservative values.

Vote ALL Republicans out at every level

We need to be in favor of free markets and welfare Otto von Bismark style.

We need to be pro-free trade and make NEW treaties.

We must be for climate change otherwise we are going to die in 10 years.

We have to be pro-gun control.

Pro-immigration but figure out how to reassure white Americans that a changing demography isn’t a threat.

We must be in favor of all free speech and don’t diss Colin Kaepernick for kneeling.

We must be for strong defense, but also be an internationalist and learn from the United Nations.

The GOP needs to reexamine and disavow their checkered history of racism in order to regain their conservative footing.

All of the above, according to Max Boot makes HIM a principled conservative. In order to salvage conservatism as he defines it, we need to step in line or all will be lost.

Feature Photo Credit: Book Cover by Liverright Publishing Corporation and original artwork by Darleen Click

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9 Comments
  • scott says:

    Outside of a strong defense, not a single thing he mentions is a conservative ideal… dude seriously needs to stop smoking bath salts!

  • Many of us recognized long ago that there are several variants of progressivism, Some progressives — like Max Boot for example — call themselves “conservatives” but believe in ever bigger government run by a handle of “experts” (themselves) that pushes everyone else around “for their own good.” They differ from leftist progressives in some of the goals they think govt should pursue. But the real goal for all progressives is power over others… namely us.

    • GWB says:

      call themselves “conservatives” but believe in ever bigger government
      The key is that the bigger gov’t is cheaper and more efficiently run. So, naturally, it’s conservative!
      (Only the second part is snark.)

      • Bigger government is not cheaper, by any standard. “Wagner’s Law,” an empirical regularity, is that the state share of an economy grows faster than an economy grows. This also holds on a per capita basis as well. In fact, that’s really what “govt gets bigger” means.

        • GWB says:

          No, they both want bigger gov’t – but the Republicans want it cheaper and more efficiently. Cut the fat, and all that jazz. It’s still just as intrusive and freedom-killing as the Democrat form, but it takes 100 years to bankrupt the country, instead of 40.

  • MBunge says:

    Boot is a great example of the class anxiety underlying a lot of anti-Trump sentiment. Not that you can’t have legitimate reasons to dislike Trump as a conservative, liberal, or whatever but that’s not what is up Boot’s behind.

    He is part of a class of folks who define themselves by certain cultural signifiers. You know, the kind who think reading the New York Times makes them smart because only smart people read the Times? Well, Trump comes along and demonstrates that most of those signifiers don’t mean anything. It’s like that scene from “A Fish Called Wanda.”

    Otto West: Don’t call me stupid.

    Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?

    Otto West: Apes don’t read philosophy.

    Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.

    Trump proves that a lot of the things people like Max Boot use to prove how special they are don’t prove any such thing at all, and THAT’S why they’ve reacted to him with such hysteria. Trump is an existential attack on their own self-worth.

    Mike

  • GWB says:

    Upon closer examination, it’s obvious that the history of modern conservative is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, isolationism and know-nothingism.
    That right there is enough to make me toss him aside. There’s not a single ‘ism’ in that list (including the one that doesn’t end in ‘ism’) that is even remotely true.

    But there has always been a dark underside to conservatism that I chose for most of my life to ignore.
    FU, you elitist piece of crap! You’re nothing but a wannabe technocrat (which means you’re not an American conservative).

    who hide behind the banner of populism
    Now, I’ve never been one to like populism. It’s exactly why we have a republic, and not a democracy. But, when the populism grows because of a natural freedmen’s resistance to aristocracy/technocracy, I don’t mind using it to set things back on a conservative keel. Trump is acting more conservative than any president since Reagan, and with that exception, going back to Coolidge.

    nearly ALL the candidates and a majority of the Republican leadership were so willing to jump on the Trump bandwagon after the primaries.
    They were?!? Funny, ’cause I saw a LOT of the establishment still trying to stick a knife in Trump’s back, even after he became the official nominee.

    Essentially Boot deems them no longer conservative by HIS definition.
    Well, I have felt for a LONG time as if most Republican officials weren’t conservative, by my definition – which is a lot closer to the traditional definition of American conservatism than Boot’s is. (I’ve complained for a dozen years or more that National Review lost its way after Buckley because they became more Republican than conservative.)

    he really was an extremist
    What’s that old saying? Oh yeah….
    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
    And, imagine that, it was said by… Goldwater.

    I don’t agree with everything Goldwater said, but that right there is a pretty good summation of one pillar of the conservative temple.

    Boot also whines about how Trump’s lowbrow slogans and demonization of the Democrats and media made more sense to all us Republican voters than the highfalutin arguments the sophisticated knowledgeable experts made.
    Well, that might say something about some portion of those highfalutin arguments, you know? Especially when all those highfalutin arguments never actually are used to fight for a conservative principle, because “not the hill to fight on”. The argument all those hoi polloi listened to was that they were tired of constantly retreating, even when they had field advantage and superior arms.

    discard their principles
    ROFLMAO! You mean all those principles they kept telling us weren’t important enough to actually fight for? FU.

    Max is proud that he’s both a Jew and national security expert who falls into that camp.
    Oh dear LORD in Heaven above! Could someone find my eyes please? Because I rolled them so hard they fell out and went under the couch.

    a reality show asshat instead of … our betters
    And that asshat is actually better at the job than all those “betters”, so what does that say about Boot’s ilk? The word “self-delusional” comes to mind……

    The Founding Fathers even warned about Trump in Federalist 10!
    Oh my. Could you please excerpt that argument here? Because that has GOT to be a doozy! (And I’m not willing to give him my money just to read that bit of comedy.)

  • GWB says:

    Here’s what Boot demands we do to regain our conservative values.
    Here’s what *I* demand we do to regain/strengthen our conservative values:
    Vote ALL Republicans wannabe aristocrats/technocrats out at every level.
    We need to be in favor of free markets and private welfare Otto von Bismark style.
    We need to be pro-freeAmerican trade (realizing that “free” trade is never really free when other countries subsidize their exports) and make NEW treaties.
    We must be for climate change otherwise we are going to die in 10 years real science that doesn’t have an agenda – especially a freedom-reducing one.
    We have to be pro-gun control.
    Pro-immigration but figure out how to reassure white Americans that a changing demography isn’t a threat to make sure we get the best the world has to offer without that turning into its own form of elitism.
    We must be in favor of all free speech and don’t including dissing Colin Kaepernick for kneeling being an unmitigated idiot.
    We must be for strong defense, but also be an internationalist and learn from the United Nations oriented solely on whatis best for Americans.
    The GOP Conservatives need to reexamine and disavow their checkered history of racism point out how they have always been in favor of color-blind principles that help anyone who has the ideas and guts and work ethic to succeed in this fantastic land of opportunity, in order to regain their conservative footing.

  • Robert Cruze Jr says:

    Max Boot was a huge McCain supporter (he was his foreign policy adviser during his 2008 campaign), so his conservative street-cred is tenuous at best. Likewise, his cover blurb “Why I Left the Right” rings hollow — you can’t really leave when you never there to begin with.

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