William F. Buckley

The Right Wing's Meaningless Manifesto

Last week it was reported that, on Wednesday, a large group of conservative leaders were going to unveil what they call "definitive statement" regarding the central principles of the conservative movement, to be known as "The Mount Vernon Statement."

And apparently it is a pretty big deal, as it is already getting all sorts of media coverage ... most of which makes it pretty clear that, despite all the hype, this new manifesto is really going to say anything at all

The "Mount Vernon Statement,'' to be signed on an Alexandria estate once owned by George Washington, is billed as a declaration of conservative values and beliefs. Organizers say it is modeled after the 1960 Sharon Statement, signed at the Connecticut home of William F. Buckley Jr., which helped usher in the modern conservative movement.

"We don't talk about specific issues or parties or the current political situation,'' said Alfred S. Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator magazine. He helped draft the statement as part of the Conservative Action Project, a new group seeking to coordinate the chorus of voices. "It's a philosophical foundation, based on the concept of constitutional conservatism. It's written so most conservatives can say, 'Yeah, this is just what I think.' "

Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, organizers released only an excerpt of the two-page document. It says in part, "The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant. . . . The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles.''

The gathering of more than 80 leaders, to be led by Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese III, comes as the conservative movement's many strands are joining together in opposition to Obama's policies -- and to moderate Republicans they see as insufficiently conservative. The network of loosely affiliated conservative blogs, radio hosts, "tea party" organizers and D.C. institutions is spreading through new media and increasingly coordinating its message.

The manifesto is scheduled to appear here tomorrow at 3 pm, but already excerpts are being floated:

"In recent decades, America's principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The self-evident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

"Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead -- forward or backward, up or down? Isn't this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

"The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

"The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature's God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man's self-interest but also his capacity for virtue."

Wow.  Groundbreaking.

While I generally don't agree with right-wing direct mail guru Richard Viguerie on anything, I have to say that I think he's on to something when he calls this manifesto little more than embarrassing pablum.

If You Boycott WND, You Boycott Everyone

Yesterday Jon Henke over at The Next Right wrote a post blasting the sort of nonsense spewed by WorldNetDaily as well as those organizations and individuals who "choose to support WND through advertising and email list rental or other collaboration":

In the 1960's, William F. Buckley denounced the John Birch Society leadership for being "so far removed from common sense" and later said "We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner."

The Birthers are the Birchers of our time, and WorldNetDaily is their pamphlet. The Right has mostly ignored these embarrassing people and organizations, but some people and organizations inexplicably choose to support WND through advertising and email list rental or other collaboration. For instance, I have been told that F.I.R.E (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) - an otherwise respectable group that does important work - uses the WND email list. They should stop.

No respectable organization should support the kind of fringe idiocy that WND peddles. Those who do are not respectable.

As Terry Krepel of Media Matters quickly pointed out, one of the organizations that has rented WND's mailing list is the Republican National Committee.

I'd like to add a few more: what about Mike Huckabee and Representatives Michele Bachmann, Tom Price, and Steve King who will all be appearing at the upcoming How To Take Back America Conference, which features WND among its sponsors and has WND founder, editor and CEO Joseph Farah serving on it host committee?

Or what about the 2007 Values Voter Debate featuring GOP presidential hopefuls like Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Ron Paul, where Farah served as a moderator?

Or, for that matter, what about CPAC, where Farah has been a speaker and panel participant?

Henke is threatening to "boycott any of those organizations that will not renounce any further support for WorldNetDaily" ... but if he did that, he'd literally have to boycott the entire right-wing political movement.

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