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Is the Conservative Movement Losing Steam? Richard Posner


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Many of you know who Richard Posner is. He is a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and a very respected conservative mind. He basically invented the law and economics movement.

This is his latest blog entry.


My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation.

By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.

And then came the financial crash last September and the ensuing depression. These unanticipated and shocking events have exposed significant analytical weaknesses in core beliefs of conservative economists concerning the business cycle and the macroeconomy generally. Friedmanite monetarism and the efficient-market theory of finance have taken some sharp hits, and there is renewed respect for the macroeconomic thought of John Maynard Kenyes, a conservatives' bĂȘte noire.

I don't usually start threads, but this really caught my eye.

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Many of you know who Richard Posner is. He is a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and a very respected conservative mind.

It reminded me of an article in the conservative UK Daily Telegraph before the election which talked of the string of conservative intellectuals who were so dismissive of Palin.

It wasn't just Colin Powell, the Daily Telegraph listed a number of prominent conservative writers and opinion formers who openly felt the Palin/Plumber fiasco was a sign that the party had lost its way. The Daily Telegraph listed:

Michael Smerconish

Christopher Buckley

Peggy Noonan

Kathleen Parker George Will

Charles Krauthammer

Michael Barone

and even the Chicago Tribune which backed a Democrat for the first time in its 161-year history.

Populism and spin can take you far but there has to be a supporting foundation that is developing consistent and workable policy.

My next door-neighbor, a life-long Republican and CFO of a publicly traded company, reacted to the selection of Sarah Palin "are you ****ing kidding me?" In spite of all his concerns with the Democrat platform, there was no way he would consider Palin being close to the Presidency.

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