Monday, October 15, 2012

Kristol: "Liberalism Is Tired, Depressed, and Mugged by Reality"

Obama is depressed because today’s liberalism is depressing. Obama is world-weary because modern liberalism is world-weary. Hope and change was just campaign talk. The real existing liberal president lives in an atmosphere of reduced hope and hostility to needed change...

The dreams of liberalism’s fathers don’t move today’s liberals. Whether in manic or depressed mode, they know liberalism’s been mugged by reality—though they dare not acknowledge it. Has Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech been overtaken, to say the least, by facts on the ground in 2012 in Benghazi? Don’t acknowledge the facts. Does all the talk about a green energy future seem empty and ridiculous? Keep talking the talk—while also taking credit for increases in oil and gas production you did nothing to make possible and that you, deep down, find distasteful. Is there a need for real tax reform? Ignore it, and just let the Bush tax cuts expire. Do decades-old programs like Social Security and Medicare need to be changed? Just attack the reforms Romney and Ryan have proposed. Roe v. Wade? Sacred scripture.

To watch Obama and Biden on stage is to watch a liberalism that has lost its nerve, a liberalism that is the enervated and excitable residue of an earlier, energetic doctrine…

But a decadent liberalism can do real and lasting damage. The United States can survive—the United States has survived—four years of weakness and drift. Four more years would be another matter. Obamacare institutionalized, defeat in Afghanistan, the Middle East in chaos, a Supreme Court unmoored from the Constitution—these would be the wages of four more years of Obama and Biden. The historic task of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is to bring home to Americans just how much damage could be done by another four years of a decadent liberalism—and to make the case for a conservatism neither enervated by an acceptance of decline nor made excitable by a fear of change, a conservatism that shows strength and confidence in defense of liberty.

(William Kristol, "Liberalism, Manic & Depressive" in the Weekly Standard)