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March 02, 2006



George, you silly, just chill. It isn't up to us anymore. It's up to the Iraqis. Trust in Sistani.

Rick Ballard

Will has been a sourcon (TM) for some time. Like Buckley, he believes that getting out of Dodge is the best thing the sheriff can do. After all, a self appointed sheriff doesn't have any obligation to the people of Dodge, does he? Not in Will and Buckley's world, anyway.

I think we should test their hypothesis in Iran. Flatten it (or all parts of it ever mentioned as having anything to do with the nuclear program) and then watch what happens. I wonder if George and Bill would cheer that decision?


Will has been negative about Iraq for quite some time. He's one of those conservatives the media likes to showcase so they can have a panel with a token conservative yet collectively be totally anti-Bush.

Plus, I don't buy his argument about North Korea and Iran being more dangerous. Yes, but in the cornered rat kinda of way. The only reason they didn't seem dangerous before is because we were busy appeasing them and ignoring the problem. Did Will think the EU's plan with Iran was working?

I actually think he was against Bush's reelection. Smart pundit though, I used to enjoy reading him years ago.

Jim E.

I realize the much mocked Greenwald post was going after bigger fish in the pundit world, but I love how TM's own comment section exemplifies the thesis so well. Exhibit A: Kate's comment, which alleges Will is anti-Bush.


Jim E: I indicated that this is my opinion. I listened to Will several times right before the election and I got the sense that he was not an enthusiatic supporter. He certainly expected Bush to lose, and I sense he may have welcomed it. My opinion, but I'm probably right. My instincts are pretty good.



You didn't call him a liberal. Could you make that correction ASAP?

Jim E.

"I used to enjoy reading him"

Is that because you are busy, or because Will is no longer a conservative?


Jim E. Don't know if you are aware that there is a vast opinion range in the conservative movement. Will is an isolationist (except for the communists). I believe in a more robust foreign policy where warranted by global threats.

Rick Ballard

Perusing the Town hall archives, I would have to say that Mr. Will is not "changing his position". If we look at his column of Aug. 17, 2003 we find his thesis concerning the possibility of democracy taking root in Iraq stated very well. He isn't changing.

As to his like or dislike of Bush - Mr. Will (as a sourcon - that is a conservative actually able to articulate conservative principles - which unfortunately always have a sour sound to them - rather than the sweet lies of liberals) I would say that he simply states his beliefs - George Bush is not a conservative. In part, I would have to agree. George Bush is a consummate politician willing to compromise somewhat more than I might wish but better able than anyone I have seen to govern.


Jim - Under Greenwald's thesis, Will would be "re-labelled" as a liberal. Try reading Kate's comment again, carefully this time. See the words "token conservative?" Good. Now, do you see that she never "re-labels" Will a "liberal?" Good. Do you understand that "anti-Bush" doesn't equal "liberal?" Good.

Jim E.

"My opinion, but I'm probably right."

Anyone else want to agree with Kate that George Will welcomed the defeat of George W. Bush in the 2004 election? Any takers?

Even better: any evidence?

Now we learn from Kate that George Will is an isolationist!! A pro-Iraq war isolationist. Hmmmmm.

I'm still waiting to hear why Kate "used" to read Will, but no longer does.


I don't like Will's writing because it is often too obscure and doesn't appeal to me in the way I like to enjoy opinion columns. I have often thought he was just too pretentious.

Will and Buckley (Novak....etc) are pretty conservative guys. The truth is that traditional cons were never hot-to-trot for the war in Iraq, cons as a group are much more cautious than that. Most of us came over reluctantly because the president made the argument it needed to be done.

I don't think the war in Iraq is lost - far from it. It is turning out to be more difficult than I expected though. I thought winning the war on the front end would be more difficult and that winning the peace on the back end would be easier. Wrong and wrong again! 8^|~

Lou Grunt

I think Will has been hit in the head by a few too many foul balls.

Will was not so much pro-Bush in 2004 as he was anti-Kerry (but who in their right mind would be pro-Kerry):

"Reelect Bush, Faults And All

By George F. Will
Sunday, October 31, 2004; Page B07

This column has expressed abundant skepticism about the grandiosity of George W. Bush's foreign policy. And about his passivity about spending (he has vetoed nothing), his enlargement of the welfare state (the prescription drug entitlement), his expansion of inappropriate federal responsibilities (concerning education from kindergarten through 12th-grade, through the No Child Left Behind Act) and his complicity in vandalizing the Constitution (he signed the McCain-Feingold bill, which rations political speech). Still, this column prefers Bush.

Reasonable people can question the feasibility of Bush's nation-building and democracy-spreading ambitions. However, having taken up that burden, America cannot prudently, or decently, put it down. The question is: Which candidate will most tenaciously and single-mindedly pursue victory? The answer is: Not John Kerry, who is multiple-minded about most matters..."



I agree with Kate. There has been a subtle change in opinion re: President Bush on his part. Lou' link to that Oct.29th article is a good example. We can disagree and still stay true to who we are.Sometimes if pundits or people are writing a book they want to appeal to a larger audience. Some examples would be David Brock-now completely liberal Richard Clarke, Paul Oneill, James Risen, et al. Money can be a much greater motivator than political beliefs.

Cecil Turner

There are at least three scales here: liberal-conservative; pro-anti Bush; and dove-hawk. Most arguments seem to be a result of taking the latter as an indicator of one of the former. On the war, Will has been less than definitive. His pre-war viewpoint seemed fairly even-handed, chastising both sides (pro and con) for poorly thought-out positions, concluding:

The debate about regime change through preemptive war is reaching a rolling boil before the administration is ready to respond, so the war's first surprise has already happened. It will not be the last.
After lambasting inspections and cheerleading for Colin Powell, he
seemed to support invasion:
America has had "the most successful foreign policy of any major country" not just because of its strength but because "it has never had any objective except not to be threatened and when threatened, to remove the threat." And it "does not believe in durable coexistence with a mortal threat."
However, in the immediate aftermath, after correctly assessing the political difficulties, jumped on the "not enough troops" bandwagon. That view continued, with more emphasis:
U.S. forces in Iraq are insufficient for that mission; unless the civil war is quickly contained, no practicable U.S. deployment will suffice. U.S. forces worldwide cannot continue to cope with Iraq as it is . . .
And yet more:
But the first task of government is order, which is necessary to prevent Iraq from becoming a vacuum into which violent Islamic radicalism flows. Order requires more Americans carrying guns, and more nations carrying costs and responsibilities that America is now bearing.
By the summer of 2004, he was rethinking his earlier support, and perhaps getting a little pessimistic:
But now his dilemma is that in U.S. politics, optimism is mandatory, even -- no, especially -- when it is dubious. Everybody has a game face on. Too bad this is not a game
His most recent position (which, to be fair, reprises some of his earlier remarks) seems to be that GWB needs to say something magical:
the country would welcome, and Iraq's political class needs to hear, as a glimpse into the abyss, presidential words as realistic as those Britain heard on June 4, 1940.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't think Bush's words are the problem. And to the extent that words are the issue, I think Mr Will might be better served to look a little closer to home.


Off topic sorry, but OK this is just too damn funny. David Gregory drunk on the phone with Imus.


I never bought into the view that guys like Will, Buchanan and the like were Conservative. They're Provincialists: Statists; reactionary about most everything, albeit a myriad of personal styles. I've come to think most of the media claiming to be Conservative fall into the same camp. Whatever happened to the Jeffersonian spirit? Seems to me B43 has it, and has it in a big way. I've come to wonder if the corporatization of politics killed it in the rest of them? It's seems to have left most of them emasculated and without an original thought. Not a good sign for the nation. It they complete the psychotic break they'll become post-modern Liberals. God help us all.

Soylent Red

George Will is a conservative pundit, first and foremost. Therefore, it is his job to be critical of anyone in office. If a "liberal" GWB didn't exist, George Will would have to invent him. It's either that or write more columns on baseball.

Further, Will, Buckley, et. al. come from a particular branch of conservatism that is distinctly pre-9/11. In fact, that particular branch can be dated specifically from the mid-1950s (when conservatism rose to leadership in the Republican party) to 9/10/01. Republicans have not always been "conservative" by the paleo-cons' standards, and even when the paleos were at the height of their power (1960s and 1970s) there were still factions that were considerably more liberal.

Ronald Reagan was one of them, despite the paleos claiming him for one of their own ( anyone remember muscular projection of American power, immigrant amnesty, deficit spending?). Even on the hot button of "larger government", Bush still holds true to the conservative originalist thinking of "reduced scope of federal government". Bush would have government authority reverted back to state level, even though he has increased the size of the Federal level.

Buckley, Will, Buchanan, etc. claim that neo-cons have hijacked the party. While neo-cons have certainly supplanted paleo-conservatism in control of the Party direction, what we are really seeing, IMO, is the return of the Republican Party back to its progressive (as in "progress", not as it is currently used as a synonym for "socialist") days under Theodore Roosevelt. Paleos tend to forget that conservatism had a long and rich tradition well before the 1950s, when Bill Sr. "defined" it.

It's interesting that both Bush 43 and Reagan before him are/were both great admirers of TR and Churchill. These two men, more than anyone else I can think of, define conservatism as it manifests itself in a shifting global playing field. Paleos had the luxury of defining conservatism during a period where there was pretty much one defined enemy, and the U.S. enjoyed economic hegemony. TR and Churchill operated in times much more similar to the post-9/11 world we live in, in terms of economics and foreign engagement.

Gary Maxwell

George Will is not Pat Buchanan. He most certainly is not a liberal. He and I happen to disagree on his current point.

Try the same trick on the opposite side of the spectrum and see if howls and call for boycotts arent immediatley apparent. Kinda like the cartoon controversy actually.

Tom Bowler

Today, with all three components of the "axis of evil" -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- more dangerous than they were...

To believe Iraq is greater threat to our security now than before, you would have to have fully bought into the view that Iraq didn't have WMD, didn't intend to develop any, and never had any connections to terrorists.

Cecil has a good point about Will jumping on the "not enough troops" bandwagon. Most of the arguments over Iraq have been along the lines of questioning the strategy rather than the objective. There are very few people who really think we shouldn't fight the war on terror. But everybody is being whipped into a frenzy by the media's non-stop promotion of the idea that Bush isn't doing it right. Iraq is not the right war, or if it's the right war we got into it dishonestly, or there's no plan to win the peace, or there aren't enough troops. It just goes on.

It's sad to see Will has decided to join the piling on.


Here is WF Buckley from March 2003:

What Mr. Bush proposes to do is to unseat Saddam Hussein and to eliminate his investments in aggressive weaponry. We can devoutly hope that internecine tribal antagonisms will be subsumed in the fresh air of a despot removed, and that the restoration of freedom will be productive. But these concomitant developments can't be either foreseen by the United States, or implemented by us. What Mr. Bush can accomplish is the removal of a regime and its infrastructure. The Iraqi people will have to take it from there.

That relates to Will's post from Aug 2003 that Rick B picked up:

But Blair's muddled implication is that a nation that refuses to use force on behalf of all unfree people is denying them freedom.

The premise that terrorism thrives where democracy doesn't may seem to generate a duty to universalize democracy. But it is axiomatic that one cannot have a duty to do something that cannot be done.

These two seem to have been non-neocons from the outset. Not that there is anything wrong with that!


Don't look at me.I've always believed there should be term limits on columnists. Will's best work was early in his career when he was fresh off the Hill. I haven't read him for years.

Rick Ballard

"Not that there is anything wrong with that!"

I should hope not. There are quite a number of people who do not stare fixedly at cocoons in anticipation that eagles will issue forth.


Paleo as a contradistinction to neo is of little value. Most just plain vanilla conservatives would no more rush to embrace Jefferson than they would Locke. Montesquieu and Burke, to be sure, but not "men of imagination". That way lies madness.


With the exception of one favoring baseball and the other boxing, Will and Buchannan are very much the same sort. Completely different personalities and temperaments, but very much the same in important predisposed ways: oppositional, persnickity, judgmental and pious. In fact, they're almost perfect icons of Protestant and Irish Catholic provincialism. The term 'neo-victorian' comes to mind. Howard Dean, John Kerry, Joe Wilson and Al Gore strike me in a similar way. B43, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Bolton and Wolfowitz, by comparison, are a breath of fresh air. I don't buy the notion that prissy, preening malcontents offer much of anything to our collective future that favors the health of our nation.

Soylent Red


You are right, and I only use paleo vs. neo as a way naming the sides of the argument.

Conservatism is, I suppose, a continuum of positions on several different topics. The sum of the positions can sometimes be very difficult to place into a predefined camp.

Just as Will is to the right of Bush on some things, he is to the left of Buchanan on some things. And on some things all three agree.

Which is why Reagan was such a hugely influential figure. He didn't veer very far from the conservative center on most issues. Everyone could claim him as their own.

Rick Ballard

Well, strict conformance to contemporary orthodoxy is so much easier to tolerate. Mustn't let prissy principles stand in the way of going along with the crowd.

Jim E.

Facts: 1
Kate's "pretty good" instincts: 0

Gary Maxwell

Now here class is a textbook example of what is known as "the pot calling the kettle black." Any questions, if not then class dismissed.

Rick Ballard

"The sum of the positions can sometimes be very difficult to place into a predefined camp."

Boy, that's fer damn sure. Sometimes threads can be discerned but you're still looking at the back of the tapestry.

One of Reagan's gifts was that he had up close and personal contact with the Commies in Hollywood. He knew them as the hollow cowards they were then - and he knew when push came to shove, the Russian masters were no different than their Hollywood serfs.

JM Hanes

Jim E.

If I defend George Will despite his defection from the talking points, I've sold my political principles to the cult. If I critique him for it, it's because disloyalty is the cardinal cultish sin. Life is good when logic is circular, eh?

Love the line on bigger fish, but so far it's been mostly empty boots. For some reason, Greenwald can't seem to get the Big Boys to take him seriously. The small fry posting on TM's board, however, seem to like the Cult idea a lot.

Jim E.

JM Haynes,

I'm not entirely sure what your point was. I said Greenwald's post was "much mocked." That was not meant ironically or satirically. It was much mocked.

I found it interesting (ok, funny) that Kate so totally misrepresented Will's views based on today's column. She sought to discredit him as a reliable conservative ally. So unless you, like Kate, think that George Will is so anti-Bush that he wanted him to lose in 2004 (or if you think Will is somehow an "isolationist"), I don't know what your beef is. I was pointing out Kate's, ahem, misapprehensions, not defending Greenwald.

In terms of "Big Boys," I don't know what you're referring to. Who are the "Big Boys"?

JM Hanes

I'd say unless Kate used to sing Will's praises, I don't see your point. Her views were clearly based on more than today's column, contrary to your own misapprehension.

Now Will is a reliable conservative, but that's never made him a reliable Bush ally. He calls 'em as he sees 'em, and I don't know how anyone could read him regularly without realizing that he's not exactly consistently kind to the Prez, the way someone like Hugh Hewitt is. I don't think he's particularly thrilled with this Prez either, because he doesn't really think this Prez is the all that conservative. Kate may feel that he was even less enthusiastic than I do, but I hardly think it qualifies as confirmation of the world acc. to Glenn. And yes, I'd put him leaning isolationist, except for a certain qualified admiration for some of what Bush is trying to do, but which he's always seen as sort of dreaming the impossible dream.

None of which has anything to do with attempting to discredit Will. Like Kate I suspect, I figure most of the folks around here can read and make their own assessments. What strikes me as funny is how much time you spend characterizing, and often mischaracterizing, other people's opinions, and how little you devote to stating any coherent position of your own.

Big Boys, Big Fish, your choice.

Jim E.

"I'd say unless Kate used to sing Will's praises, I don't see your point."

I don't really see your point on this one, but Kate did write that "I used to enjoy reading him years ago," which implies that she no longer does enjoy reading him. But Kate's tricky that way. Every few weeks she manages to write something to the effect of "I used to trust Fitz, but I'm starting to think he's a biased hack," so I might be reading too much into her Will comment. For all we know, she has always distrusted Will and never did enjoy reading him in the first place. That would be so Kate.

Look, Kate said Will wanted Bush to lose in 2004. I called her on it. This mistruth is obvious on its face, but it has since been documented as untrue upthread. So I most certainly didn't misrepresent Kate, contrary to your accusation.

And Sue did want to discredit Will. She sought to discredit him in the way Republicans like to discredit Dem objections: "Hey, he was always anti-Bush, so his views today are hardly a surprise."

Thanks for not telling me to stick it, or stuff it, or whatever with a condescending "please" after it.

JM Hanes

Documented as untrue up thread? With what, other opinions? Or do you mean where you challenged the world to produce the evidence for Kate's opinion, and the discussion just continued on its merry way? Your obsession with Kate's every thought is starting to sound really creepy. You're welcome.

Jim E.

Lou Grunt pasted part of a column written by George Will himself. In that column, Will endorsed Bush for president in 2004. That's a fact.

JM Hanes

And that proves Kate didn't really think he was against Bush's reelection how?

Soylent Red

So Will endorsed Bush as President. I fail to see how that is "pro" Bush. Particularly in a context of "lesser of two evils".

Who exactly, as being anti-Bush, but still conservative, was Will to endorse? Will was stuck, as are we all, with the conservative we have rather than the conservative we'd like to have.

That doesn't change his anti-Bush stance. It simply means that his anti-Bush stance was less motivating than his lack of desire to endorse Kerry.

JMH nailed it. Unless you day in day out hate Bush, conservatives are not allowed to disagree. But if a conservative disagrees, he/she is obviously part of an authoritarian cult

Please, for the love of God, when will liberals stop trying to define conservatives? You peckerwoods can't even define what you stand for.

Soylent Red

By the way...

I'm calling FNL for 5 p.m. Central, to allow for everyone to participate, and still get an hour or two of sleep.

As vVig, I am subject to Executive veto though.


Ahem Soylent,the goddess does not recall delegating to you the power to define who is and is not part of the cult. Since you did not err on doctrine, just a taste of the lash, sweetie..this time.

Soylent Red

We humbly beg forgiveness...

JM Hanes

Pony up a virgin or two for altar, and I expect you'll find it smoothes things over nicely.

Jim E.

"So Will endorsed Bush as President. I fail to see how that is 'pro' Bush."


Jim E.

I never disputed that Kate had an opinion. I disputed the accuracy of that opinion.


Kate's opinion is accurate because Will endorsed President Bush due to the fact that you dems had a lousy candidate in Kerry or as Rick calls Hi Howdy, I'm Doody a riff on his reporting for duty. Kate is free to express any opinion she wants on these threads withoout first getting approval from you.


JIm E.
George Will's column reads "The answer is: Not John Kerry". That's as weak an endorsement for Bush as is possible to give,

JM Hanes

Jim E

"I disputed the accuracy of that opinion."

Gee, I could have sworn you've been disputing Kate's honesty. I thought you were painting her as a posterchild for Greenwald's much mocked authoritarian cult who maintains her membership in good standing by falsifying her own opinions. Can't imagine how I got that impression.

"For all we know, she has always distrusted Will and never did enjoy reading him in the first place."

For all we know, you're a Bush operative sent in to test the loyalty of the troops. That would be so Rove. OTOH, for all we know, you run a meth lab in Kansas. For all we know.... Nice! I'm going to write it up in the official Cult Handbook under Rhetorical Tactics for Tight Corners.

Thomas Esmond Knox

Re Winston Churchill and Dunkirk. Fewer people evacuated than from New Orleans. Took longer too.

Gary Maxwell

Which is right more often? One the one hand we have the proverbial broken clock. On the other I give you Jim E. Both are only occasionally right but the question fo the minute is which is more right. Remember the broken clocks has it right 2 twice a day and the contender well....


FNL for 5 p.m

Soylent, it's on...in Dueling Emails

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