Here is the crux of his argument, which I will address in part:
What we have here, then, is a most curious misunderstanding. Mr. Stooksbury and I seem to inhabit almost synchronous orbits within what might be called the paleolibertarian region of the political galaxy, our chief points of disagreement being:
- Mr. Stooksbury's admiration of Crunchy Cons, a book based on the Buddhist economics detested by the libertarian Skousen, and generally panned by conservative critics. (In the latest issue of The American Spectator, Florence King may have outdone us all.)
- Mr. Stooksbury is anti-war and seems to have conceived me as some sort of neocon chickenhawk warmonger type. In fact, as friends will attest, I was a confirmed skeptic of the casus belli for the Iraq invasion -- at least so far as it was publicly articulated by its advocates. But once the war began, I was for victory. In other words, if this is ancient Athens, then I am not the rash and ambitious Alcibiades, but the wise statesman Nicias, who advised against the expedition to Sicily but, once the assembly voted to go, urged them to make the expedition with the strongest possible force.
- Mr. Stooksbury seems to have been afflicted with a variant strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome that is widespread among my paleolibertarian friends.
I'll ignore the bit about the Dreher book and address the other two. McCain is right that I opposed the war from the beginning. His view that once in it, we should try to win is not entirely wrong. In 2003, before a blog captured my every thought, I would have argued that we should try to accomplish something of value before leaving. I think the window of opportunity to has long since closed. Cutting and running looks like a better option every day.
I remember when everything seemed to be coming up roses due to the Bush foreign policy, from Libya giving up some weapons to the color-coded revolutions. How do things look now? Iraq, with in excess of 100,000 American occupiers, is in the midst of an all-but-officially named civil war, the other two members of the Axis of Evil are growing more and more belligerent. I seem to remember that taking out Saddam was key to solving problems among Israel and the Palestenians. And how is that going?
I don't have Bush Derangement Syndrome. I would describe the malady from which I suffer as Deranged Right-Wing Bush Supporter Derangement Syndrome (DRWBSDS). Most of my DRWBSDS comes from reading Power Line, Hugh Hewitt and pundits like Jay Nordlinger, whose creepy fawning over Bush and Rumsfeld inspired an article by me in The American Conservative a few years back.
McCain says that he isn't part of the problem. "Nobody at Official Conservative Movement headquarters has ever solicited my advice, nor do I expect an invite to the next state dinner at the White House." Fair enough. As coauthor of Donkey Cons, he is promoting the idea that conservatives have nothing more to think about than how awful the Democrats are. But the record of rightwing Republican rule for the last six years indicates that the right should spend more time looking in the mirror.