September 29, 2006 [LINK / comment]

"Battered conservatives"?

Conservative commentator Chuck Muth is mad as heck and he's not going to take any more putdowns from what he perceives as the moderate GOP establishment. I agree with some of his analysis of what is wrong with conservatives and the Republican Party at, but his call to action on behalf of "battered conservatives" is less than convincing. He criticizes Bush's "big government conservativism" and chastises former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie for having declared that "the hostile-to-government Reagan Revolution was dead." That phrase may reveal part of the problem with the standard conservative diagnosis of GOP woes, however. Even though I share Muth's leanings to some extent, I am emphatically not "hostile" to government -- I am just very wary of increasing its power. As a former bureaucrat, I am keenly aware how the derisive attitude of many conservatives undermines morale in the civil service, and discourages talented people from making a career in the government. That is a bad attitude, and serves to reinforce the impression held by many centrist voters that the Republican Party is simply not interested in running the government or enacting serious policy initiatives. These days, anyone in the Republican Party who calls for serious analysis of policy alternatives has a right to feel a bit "battered." In general, favoring a smaller government should not be equated with wanting to strangle government.

Truck stops: flawed process

Even though I think there is an urgent need to expand truck stops in this area, I have to agree with today's News Leader. Yesterday I noted the parallel between the lack of transparency and public involvement in this case with the case of the proposed industrial "mega-site" at Weyer's Cave, and I should have emphasized that aspect more strongly. It is the subtle distinction between policy substance (what is decided) and process (how the decision is reached).