On the Paleo Dilemma

April 10, 2008

Much furious discussion has taken place on @TAC of late on the future of the broadly defined paleo movement.  My own feelings are pretty well echoed by Scott McConnell here.  (I can not possibly link adequately to all the salient postings, so those of you who are really interested just paruse the last week or so of @TAC.)  The discussion was prompted by two thoughtful essays by Paul Gottfried and Daniel Larison (yes, my favorites :p), which nonetheless descend into predictable silliness, aptly chided by Leon Hadar here.

The problem is precisely in the Browderism of the right I diagnosed among many Ron Paul supporters, for it is this which Gottfried, Larison, along with others like Jim Antle, see as hopeful in the dearth of young conservatives marching through the institutions who on the whole are disillusioned with Bush and the neocons.  Most maddening is Larison’s declaration that “conservative supporters of Obama must make clear that they are only supporting him in the name of the politics of the very worst”.  Apparently, along with the tactics of Browderism its self-important startegists have also adopted the Popular Front zeal for kashering everything they touch.

Scott, while making all the right points, has some intriguing quirkiness all his own.  The paleo with the richest neocon background of anyone is chiding fellow paleos over the very strategy he has always more or less championed – of paleo realignment with the Democrats modeled after the neocon drift to Reagan.  It is true that the paleos have vastly less interest or prospect in entering a Democratic administration, but even here there are some interesting exceptions: paleo-leaning national security intellectuals will have far more credibility implementing Obama’s program then many on the liberal or Democratic roster (there has already been notable crossover with figures like McPeak and Lawrence Korb), and who knows what could happen if Jim Webb is Vice President.

To be sure, I too can find the idea of paleo emumlation of the neocon crossover strategy as disturbing as it is titilating, but I would take it any day over the advice of Larison, who seems on his way to becoming the Penn Kemble of the paleos.

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