The Conservative Movement: From Failure to Threat
UC Berkeley tenured law professor John Yoo epitomizes
the failure of the conservative movement in America.
"the torture professor," Yoo penned the
Department of Justice (sic) memos that gave a blank
check to sadistic Americans to torture detainees at
Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The human rights violations
that John Yoo sanctioned destroyed America`s reputation
and exposed the Bush Regime as more inhumane than the
Muslim terrorists. The acts that Yoo justified are
felonies under US law and war crimes under the Nuremberg
Yoo`s torture memos are so devoid of legal basis that
his close friend and fellow conservative member of the
Federalist Society, Jack Goldsmith,
rescinded the memos when he was appointed head of
the Justice Department`s Office of Legal Counsel.
Yoo`s extremely shoddy legal work and the fervor with
which he served the evil intentions of the Bush Regime
have led to calls from distinguished legal scholars for
Yoo`s dismissal from Berkeley`s Boalt Hall.
I sympathize with the calls for Yoo`s dismissal. In
the new edition of The Tyranny of Good Intentions,
my coauthor and I write: "Liberty has no future in
America if law schools provide legitimacy to those who
would subvert the US Constitution."
However, John Yoo is but the tip of the iceberg.
Scapegoating Yoo diverts attention from a
neoconservative movement that has become the
greatest enemy of the US Constitution.
In theory conservatives adore the Constitution and
seek to protect it with appeals to "original intent."
In practice conservatives hate the Constitution as the
protector of homosexuals and abortionists. Conservatives
regard civil liberties as coddling devices for criminals
and terrorists. They see the First Amendment as a
foolish protection for sedition. The neoconservative
magazine, Commentary, has called for the New York Times
to be prosecuted for informing Americans that President
Bush was illegally spying on them without warrants.
The conservative assault on the US Constitution is
deeply entrenched. The
Federalist Society, an organization of Republican
attorneys from which the Republican Party chooses its
Justice Department appointees and nominees to the
federal bench, was organized as an assault on the checks
and balances in the Constitution.
The battle cry of the Federalist Society is
"energy in the executive."
The society has its origin in Republican
frustrations from the days when Republicans had a
"lock on the presidency," but had their agenda
blocked by a Democratic Congress. The Federalist Society
set about producing rationales for elevating the powers
of the executive in order to evade the checks and
balances the Founding Fathers wrote into the political
With the Bush Regime we have seen President Nixon`s
claim that "it`s not illegal if the President
does it" carried to new heights. With the complicity
of Democrats, Bush and Cheney have appointed attorneys
general who have elevated the presidency above the law.
Just as liberals used judicial activism in the
federal courts to achieve their agenda, the
conservatives are using the Department of Justice to
concentrate power in the executive branch in order to
achieve their agenda. In America the Constitution has no
friends. It is always in the way of one agenda or the
other and, thus, always under threat.
For now, however, the threat is from the right.
Conservatives have confused loyalty to country, which is
loyalty to the Constitution, with loyalty to the Bush
Regime. It is purely a partisan loyalty based in
emotion–"you are with us or against us."
When I was a young man conservatives were frustrated
that facts, reason and analysis could not penetrate
liberal emotion. Today facts, reason and analysis cannot
penetrate conservative emotions. When I write a factual
column describing how we have been deceived into wars
that are clearly not in our interest, self-described
conservatives indignantly write to me: "If you hate
America so much, why don`t you move to Cuba!"
Conservatives have become so intellectually pathetic
that they regard my defense of civil liberties as an
Today`s conservatives are so poorly informed that
they cannot understand that to lose the Constitution is
to lose the country.
John Yoo was a willing accomplice of inhumane and
illegal acts. But his greatest crime is that he was a
willing participant in the Bush Regime`s assault on the
Constitution, which protects us all. If Yoo is to be
held accountable, what about George W. Bush, Dick Cheney
and his aides, attorneys general Gonzales and Mukasey,
Yoo`s Justice Department boss, now federal judge Bybee,
Rumsfeld, Rice, Hadley, and the legion of neocon
brownshirts that comprise the regime`s subcabinet? Is
Yoo any more culpable than anyone else who served the
corrupt, evil, and anti-American Bush Regime?
The ease with which the Bush Regime has run roughshod
over the law and Constitution indicates that the
brownshirt mentality to which many Americans have
succumbed has sufficient attractive power to cause a
professor from one of the country`s great liberal
institutions to serve the cause of tyranny. The
conservative movement has produced a cadre of
brownshirts that might yet succeed in destroying the
Paul Craig Roberts [email
him] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan`s
first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall
Street Journal. He has held numerous academic
appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair,
Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow,
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded
the Legion of Honor by French President Francois
Mitterrand. He is the author of
Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington;
and the Soviet Economy and
Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy,
and is the co-author
with Lawrence M. Stratton of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice. Click
here for Peter
Brimelow`s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.