Monday, November 03, 2008

The Happy Opposition, The Conservative Obama

To start the morning off, via Andrew Sullivan and then Hendrik Hertzberg, we have a description of a member of the old conservative literati, Jeffrey Hart, who has become one of those loathsome Obamacons. Hart is an example of the conservative-mentor who bred the likes of Laura Ingram and Dinesh D'Souza. Despicable though those two luminaries of intellect may be, Hart is a true intellectual and seemingly recognizes the pragmatism of Sen. Obama, calling him the real conservative of this presidential campaign. More importantly, perhaps, is Hart's recognition of Sen. Obama's effectiveness as an orator, claiming that Edmund Burke would have "admired the cogency" of Sen. Obama's 2002 speech against the Iraq war. That Sen. Obama was able to effectively express his thoughts in a civil but terse way left an impression on Hart.
So now Professor Hart has come out in favor of Sen. Obama and announced that he intends to vote for the senator from Illinois. He bases his decision on the positions Sen. Obama has taken--his opposition to privitizing Social Security, the understanding of the social implications of denying women access to early abortions, and his desire to see greater stem-cell research--and the reasoning Sen. Obama has given for taking such positions.
The McCain campaign has done its best to argue that Sen. Obama is the most liberal senator there is, but what Hart sees is an individual who operates under the recognition of reality and how far one can push social change before breaking the society. Hart stands against the sacralization of conservative ideology that seeks such society-breaking change. Hart's agreement with Sen. Obama on the issues of stem-cell research and abortion is based entirely on emperical thinking, a core element of Andrew Sullivan's support for Sen. Obama. In other words, as many conservatives have come to see, Sen. Obama is no ideologue. Rather, Sen. Obama, while a progressive in his perspective, is not willing to let theory override reality, a thoroughly conservative notion.
Professor Hart is just another example of the distaste for how far conservativism has strayed from its origins under the pressures of political life. If anything, I believe Professor Hart would stand as the happy opposition to a President Obama--the opposition that challenges and improves ideas and legislation rather than aims to win political points and seats. It's policy rather than politics that drives Hart's support of Sen. Obama, a distinction few of the conservative punditry understand. It's also why Hart and his thoughts will remain relevant while those of the Laura Ingram mold will fade into obscurity.