Bill Kristol: Moderation in pursuit of Neoconservatism is a virtue

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and one of the most influential neoconservatives in the country, is not happy with Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul's recent message "The IRS asked for a fight. How about a revolution?” Mr. Kristol thinks that Dr. Paul, and Campaign for Liberty, are being "immoderate," with all our talk of rEVOLution.

Mr. Kristol contrasts Dr. Paul's call for a rEVOLution with Dr. Peter Berkowitz's, reviewing Roger Scruton's The Meaning of Conservatism that arrived in Mr. Kristol’s inbox the same time as Dr. Paul’s message, call for moderation in pursuit of liberty:

"We’re sympathetic to Berkowitz’s worry that, “Driven by the fear that every political compromise brings the country one step closer to the defeat of the idea of limited constitutional government at home and the ruinous erosion of America’s ability to defend herself abroad, conservatives have taken to equating political moderation with capitulation.” We second his warning against so simplistic an equation, and we appreciate his reminder that moderation really is, generally speaking, both a moral virtue and a political necessity. "

Kristol, who later on in the article calls for the use of revolutionary rhetoric in service of moderation and incrementalism, makes a common misunderstanding about Dr. Paul and Campaign for Liberty: that our commitment to rEVOLution means that we settle for nothing less than the immediate attainment of our goals. In fact, we are willing to accept compromises-- for example we would gladly "settle" for a 20% real reduction in federal spending as a step forward, or a repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate as a step toward repealing the entire law. What we will not do is pretend that a step toward our ultimate goal is the same as reaching our ultimate goal.

We will also not support (and this may be the real root of Mr. Kristol's displeasure with Dr. Paul and Campaign for Liberty)  a phony "compromise" that “cuts projected rate of growth of baseline spending" but increases spending in real terms, or replaces Obamacare with a Republican "Obamacare light" -- no matter how much "credibility" we would gain inside-the-beltway for doing so.

The problem with allowing your goals to be determined by what the political class has determined to be "moderate" or "realistic" is that you are always working within the framework set by the establishment, and you are always taking whatever meager (more likely phony) gains the establishment is willing to let you have. This may be a way to have a nice career in the beltway, but it is a poor way to advance liberty.

By contrast, Dr. Paul never worried about whether the political class thought his views were "extreme" or his goals were "unrealistic." He told people the truth about the dangers of the welfare-warfare state and the Federal Reserve. As a result, Dr. Paul inspired a movement of principled activists who are literally changing the country and the world.

Of course, Mr. Kirstol disagrees with Dr. Paul (and our) opposition to the PATRIOT Act, the NSA, and giving the President unchecked power to wage war in violation of the Constitution. But is it really immoderate to oppose giving the government unchecked power to spy on us and allow the President to wage war without congressional approval? I think when it comes to civil liberties and foreign policy, it is Mr. Kristol and his fellow "neocons" who are being immoderate.

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