I’m not so sure, Ross, that you’re right about the way you frame the issue of the war and the election. Of course, in your response to me , you may be righter than I was . But I don’t see that I was saying anything much different from, for example, E.J. Dionne, who wrote in his column this morning that the votes the Democrats received on Tuesday were "on loan."

The way I personally was treated by the leftist poetry world in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq is one of the things that helped convince me to support the war: If their objections to the invasion were all culture-war retreads¯the open expression of anti-Semitism and hatred of Christianity were particularly appalling¯then I figured I should be for the invasion.

But maybe a great deal of this cycles back to what in 2005 I called "the new fusionism," a general growing together of neoconservatives and social conservatives that was observable in Washington and, indeed, around the country. My concern was particularly with the pro-life movement, and I noted the general increase in opposition to abortion among the neocons over the last decade. Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard are among the most staunch pro-lifers in the world of conservative journalism.

A lot of paleoconservatives railed against the war, and maybe they were right, though I’m not convinced. And a lot of religious conservatives, too, strongly objected to the war. But you point to a different set of people, Ross, that should have objected to the war at the beginning and are now declaring that they are empowered by the Republicans’ defeat on Tuesday: old conservatives of the Reagan and Bush-I eras, such as Brent Scowcroft or George Will.

Forgive me if I say that conservatism passed out of these guys’ hands for several good reasons¯and chief among those reasons was abortion. They were the squishes, and the country-club types who imagined themselves better than the great unwashed pro-lifers, and the financial conservatives embarrassed by religious believers. The pro-life movement got nothing from them¯and it’s gotten Justice Roberts and Justice Alito out of the new fusionism.

As I say, I still support the war, but even solely on pro-life grounds, if the choice is between the old bait-and-switch cons and the neocons, I’ll take my stand with the neocons. Right or wrong about Iraq, they are at least not those cynical old hacks of days gone by. And they’re against abortion.

Articles by Joseph Bottum

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