George Will: Be of good cheer, conservatives

posted at 1:30 pm on January 1, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Columnist George Will is starting off 2012 on a positive note… at least in most areas. For his premiere column in this election year, Will doesn’t sound very enthusiastic about the prospects of defeating Barack Obama in November, but he still feels that conservatism in general is on the upswing and we should be looking forward to a banner year.

Although they have become prone to apocalyptic forebodings about the fragility of the nation’s institutions and traditions under the current President, conservatives should stride confidently into 2012. This is not because they are certain, or even likely, to defeat Barack Obama this year. Rather, it is because, if they emancipate themselves from their unconservative fixation on the presidency, they will see events unfolding in their favour. And when Congress is controlled by one party, as it might be a year from now, it can stymie an overreaching executive.

One of the first items on Will’s list of positive conservative indicators is a story which we covered here earlier this month. It’s the not very widely covered fact that America became a net petroleum exporter again in 2011 for the first time in more than half a century. Good news to be sure, but why does George Will see this as particularly beneficial to conservatism? Because progressivism, he claims, relies on scarcity as a means to allow government to control behavior.

For the foreseeable future, a spectre is haunting progressivism, the spectre of abundance. Because progressivism exists to justify a few people bossing around most people, and because progressives believe that only government’s energy should flow unimpeded, they crave energy scarcities as an excuse for rationing — by them — that produces ever-more-minute government supervision of Americans’ behaviour.

Energy issues aside, the author also sees plenty of room for optimism regarding the November elections even if Obama wins a second term, and the Senate is the key. By taking the majority there, the GOP’s stamp of approval would be required for any future appointments to agencies such as the NLRB, the EPA and the energy department. These entities, which Will refers to as unconstrained instruments of presidential decrees, will lose much of their power to do mischief through what amounts to extra-legislative lawmaking.

This is a double edged sword, of course, and continues an unpleasant precedent. In theory, the president makes these appointments as part of his mandate as expressed by voters selecting him for office. Using the legislative branch to thwart these types of appointments at every turn has always struck me as somewhat dirty pool, but the practice has been in place by both parties for a while now, so there’s not much to be done about it.

In that light, George Will may be correct when he closes by saying that, in the end, control of the White House may not wind up meaning very much if conservatives control both chambers of Congress. With that, this parting observation:

In any case, nothing that happens this November will bring an apocalypse. America had 43 presidencies before the current one and will have many more than that after the end of this one in 2013 or 2017. Decades hence, it will look like most others, a pebble in the river of American history.

And on that cheerful note, enjoy your New Years Day, folks.


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Comment pages: 1 2

We need Michelle Bachmann to be the next Speaker of the House.

And Jim DeMint the next Senate Majority Leader.

ITguy on January 1, 2012 at 4:43 PM

It’s not enough to have the GOP control the Senate.

A GOP Senate would still let Obama appoint reliable socialist votes on the Supreme Court. The federal government would have no check on its power, the Constitution will be history.

mockmook on January 1, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Yeah, I hate to break it George Will, but Republicans won’t be taking over control of the senate. Sure, we’ll pick up some seats, but it won’t be enough to regain control.

xblade on January 1, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Just as Rush explained. The right establishment doesn’t think Obama can be beaten, but the senate can be retaken and they will get their committee chairmanships back. That’s all they think about, getting their power back and screw us and the country.

Kissmygrits on January 1, 2012 at 5:14 PM

OMFrickinG! Jazz, you have GOT to be kidding?! Look, we need to control BOTH the legislative AND executive branches. Think of the federal judiciary. And the fact that the Dear Leader will use Executive Orders like no one ever has before. No, Will is wrong as I point out here: http://www.rightviewfromtheleftcoast.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-george-will-kidding.html

righty64 on January 1, 2012 at 5:22 PM

George Will is a priggish, haughty bore. I think he should give up his “This Week” seat to someone else.

I don’t want a man like that representing conservatives on a major network. Sure, he may be intellectual, but he’s also like an uptight cartoon character.

bluegill on January 1, 2012 at 5:26 PM

With Romney as the nominee, win or lose in 2012, conservatism is dead.

angryed on January 1, 2012 at 5:28 PM

We need Michelle Bachmann to be the next Speaker of the House.

And Jim DeMint the next Senate Majority Leader.

ITguy on January 1, 2012 at 4:43 PM

WHAT? Are you crazy? Don’t you know the only way to advance conservatism is by caving to Obama each and every time? Wakcjobs like DeMint and Bachmann would actually stand up to Obama. And we cannot have any of that behavior that will alienate the precious moderates/independents.

Good day to you sir.

angryed on January 1, 2012 at 5:31 PM

I’ve never cared much for Gore Vidal, but he did get one thing right – “Democrat and Republican parties are merely two wings of the same party.”

Horace on January 1, 2012 at 2:44 PM

^^This.

PatriotGal2257 on January 1, 2012 at 5:57 PM

If its not baseball or ranting against those evil dungarees, George Will is hopelessly clueless.

oryguncon on January 1, 2012 at 5:58 PM

I’m not an expert, and have never been invited to be a talking head on any network, including Current, but I really feel Obama can’t win in November. You won’t see an honest poll because, if you say you don’t support Obama, won’t vote for him, or dislike his policies, you’ll be called a racist, so it’s just as easy to say you h aven’t made up your mind yet. The fact is, people have made up their mind and Obama is in over his head, he’s the most divisive president any of us have encountered, and he truly doesn’t deserve a 2nd term. NO matter who the Republican put up, will get elected.

bflat879 on January 1, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Conservatives will go nowhere because they keep chewing on one another instead of supporting a candidate who will implement the bold change required. And, it ain’t RINO Romney.

Sparky5253 on January 1, 2012 at 6:46 PM

I tread disappinting column after disappointing column from Jazz Shaw. He has the mentality of David Frum on the future of conservatives. He is constatntly thinking expectations have to be managed and positions tamped down. Jazz if you read this I have one thing to say. The precious moderates and independents don’t know what they are for or against other than, AND THIS IS KEY , success or failure. Reagan’s popularity and support came AFTER he succeeded. Carter’s unpopularity came AFTER he had failed. On the heels of Obama’s epic failure you don’t have to “moderate” you have to do what will BE SUCCESSFUL. If you ARE a conservative that means proven conservative actions and principles. Quit your d*mn hang-wringin about only taking the Senate and being able to manage from the committe Chairmanships. You are a fool to think Obama isn’t a down ticket disaster and the Republican candidate IS.

Conan on January 1, 2012 at 7:55 PM

It is thanks to so-called conservative tools like this that we got George Bush, the compassionate conservative and John McCain, the pseudo-conservative. These supposed pundits want nothing more then to make us believe they speak for conservatism, but all they are are self-serving political hacks who are looking at the loss of their pundit power and hence the livlihood they get for producing absolutely nothing.

manjodad on January 1, 2012 at 8:01 PM

George Will was overrated in his prime, and now, he is well past his prime. I don’t pay attention to what he writes.

Phil Byler on January 1, 2012 at 8:30 PM

But would Republicans with control of both houses behave conservatively and could they avoid shooting themselves in the foot and handing legislative victory to Obama?

Charm on January 1, 2012 at 8:57 PM

WHAT? Are you crazy? Don’t you know the only way to advance conservatism is by caving to Obama each and every time? Wakcjobs like DeMint and Bachmann would actually stand up to Obama. And we cannot have any of that behavior that will alienate the precious moderates/independents. Good day to you sir.
angryed on January 1, 2012 at 5:31 PM

This reminds me of Leslie Stahl’s hit piece on Cantor tonight on 60 Minutes blaming him for the low approval rating of Congress and lack of compromise. According to CBS, Reagan was a compromising and tax loving fool for Cantor to emulate.

HellCat on January 1, 2012 at 9:40 PM

To labrat re 6:46 PM 1/1/2012 post: George Will had already lost all credibility with me, but I agree that Will’s recent attacks on Newt were really, really dumb.

Newt must get credit as Speaker for achieving balanced budgets and major welfare reform, forcing Bill Clinton to move right, and Newt more recently analyzed the White House and congressional Democrats as running a secular socialist machine that must be fought. Yet, Will writes about Newt being aa Marxist!?! Please, Will is not smart. Will deserves to be viewed as a babbling inside-the-beltway idiot.

Phil Byler on January 1, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Yet, Will writes about Newt being aa Marxist!?! Please, Will is not smart. Will deserves to be viewed as a babbling inside-the-beltway idiot.

Phil Byler on January 1, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Will and Charles Krauthammer both called Newt a socialist. If they see Newt as a “Socialist”; I guess they would feel Atila the Hun was at least a “Community Organizer”. Sadly after these scandalously false attacks, Newt’s poll numbers started plummeting. Apparently if told often enough that the sun rises in the west, some people will doubt what they can see with their own eyes and start to believe it.

KW64 on January 1, 2012 at 10:24 PM

We need Michelle Bachmann to be the next Speaker of the House.

And Jim DeMint the next Senate Majority Leader.

ITguy on January 1, 2012 at 4:43 PM

I LIKE THAT!

KOOLAID2 on January 2, 2012 at 12:36 AM

Call me crazy, but I thought 2012 was about repealing Obamacare.

Pablo Snooze on January 1, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Oh Goodness no silly! Repealing Obamacare would take cajones, and besides a few Republican woman-the Republican party is decidedly cajoneless!

melle1228 on January 2, 2012 at 3:10 AM

We have had GOP-controlled Senates before, and then they caved in the name of “comity”

McConnell and his troupe of clowns will screw us either way.

Mr. Grump on January 2, 2012 at 7:04 AM

Sorry George. You may be in touch with the inside republicans, but you are out of touch with the average working american. If we are satisfied to maintain the present situation, then my generation (I’m 41) will not see retirement in our life-time. We will not get the benefits that we pay for and our children will be burdened even more. But hey, that’s okay with George. He and his inside the beltway republicans and political cohorts can sit in their high tower and continue to “think” upon the american condition for many adminstrations to come. As long as they can afford to send their kids to 100k a year colleges, then let the rest of eat cake. I mean to George and ilk whom get paid to merely “think upon the condition”, what’s a $1000.00 a month in health care for your family, what’s an increase of a few mere percentage points in taxes, how deep can a few extra dollars a gallon really hit a budget, what’s the loss of equity in your home, what’s the worry for the average working american who’s lost 20% of their earnings over the past decade? Nice to know you’re in touch George. Thanks. Really.

mtucker5695 on January 2, 2012 at 10:40 AM

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