Jeff Jacoby describes himself as a conservative columnist. He has written for the Boston Globe as the house broken “conservative” since the early 1990’s. According to his Wikipedia page, he is “the region’s pre-eminent spokesman for Conservative Nation,” and a columnist who had “quickly established himself as a must-read.” Also according to Wiki, he takes a paycheck from the radical left-wing TV station WBUR, one of the many government run NPR affiliates in New England. He’s also been on the payroll of the Progressive cable outlet CNN.
It’s fair to say Jacoby is typical of Official Conservatism™ the last two decades, which is to say he is a neocon. There used to be time when there was a big enough distinction between Official Conservatism™ and the Trotskyites that migrated from the Left in the 70’s, but all of them are neocons now. Jacoby was gonzo for the Bush policy of invade the world – invite the world. He continues to say the Iraq War was a success and he is endlessly going on about the Czar and how Trump is a tool of Russia.
If opposition to the Soviets defined the neocons in the Cold War, opposition to Trump is what defines them now. You see that in this Jeff Jacoby column from the other day. The gist of the piece is to remind the reader of America’s past terribleness and then to tie that history of terribleness to the rise of Trump. You’re supposed to come away with the belief that voting for Trump is the same as forming a lynch mob and hanging some coolies. Just as all good thinkers look back with disgust at America’s past, future good thinkers will be revolted by Trump voters.
Logically, of course, this is nonsense. It is the fallacy of the undistributed middle. There’s nothing connecting today’s voters with the lynch mobs of 150 years ago. More important, no sane person would define America of the 19th century by these rare outbursts of violence. In every age, there are examples of people acting savagely to one another. That is the human condition. What we have here is a rather sleazy attempt to slime the people of the past, and by extension the heritage of everyone alive today, in order to disparage current Americans.
The implication is that discussing immigration is off-limits, because to do so risks being just as bad as those imaginary bigots that haunt our past. We can debate how much we bomb the Muslims, but we cannot have a public debate about how many foreigners we allow to settle in our country. Incinerating half a million Arabs over the last twenty years is perfectly fine, but hurting the feelings of would-be migrants from Mexico would make us worse than Hitler. It’s as if Americans don’t have a right to define what it means to be an American.
At the same time, neocons are forever prattling on about how America is not a blood and soil country. Instead it is a propositional nation. In other words, all you have to do is sign onto the bargain for what it means to be an American and you are an American. That sounds good, until they follow that with the argument that Americans don’t get a say in what it means to be an American. The proposition, according to guys like Jacoby, is that they get to use Americans as cannon fodder for waging pointless wars of choice and they also get to replace those Americans with foreigners of their choice.
You can be forgiven for thinking that guys like Jacoby really don’t like Americans very much. When he is not comparing us to blood thirsty, xenophobic murderers, he’s insisting we lack the moral authority to have a say in how the country is run. That’s what passes for conservatism these days. It is a laundry list of complaints about the American people. When they are not rooting for the death of working class whites, they are twisting themselves into pretzels in an effort to prove they are nothing like the savage Dirt People carrying Trump through the election.
It is a good reminder that neo-conservatism was always a Progressive heresy and never had roots in Anglo-Saxon conservatism. Modern Progressivism has curdled into a list of hatreds, offering nothing but an increasingly dark vision of society. The neocons are following the same path. Guys like Jeff Jacoby can only tell you what they are not, and increasingly that sounds like “not American.” To be a neocon today is to do little more than spew venom at normal Americans for not supporting wars of choice and unlimited immigration.
What we are seeing is the transformation of the neocons into neo-liberals. Maybe it is simply a return to their natural home, but the modern Right sounds pretty much like the Left, except they want to kill Muslims and reduce the tax on carried interest. They embrace the unhinged anti-racism that the Left now preaches and they fully embrace multiculturalism. Now that the Bush Crime Family has decided to back Hillary Clinton, the way is now open for the neocons to become neo-libs and take most of Official Conservatism™ with them.