GNP: Partisan and Meta-Partisan Critiques

So, when Sullivan says I “tear into GNP,” I was in fact tearing into the whole genre of partisan political books, which is obviously a banging-head-against-wall sort of thing to do. The bit he quotes was a coda to a post that defended Grand New Party against the charge that it is irrelevant because the authors are too naive to see that the Republican Party is the sworn enemy of anyone without a yacht. Just so you know.

Criticisms from the partisan left, like Hayes’ and Yglesias’, I think lazily impute bad faith to the GOP. I’m obviously open to the charge that politicians act in bad faith, but I’d just like to see that argument made more credibly and with less transparent coalitional bias. In contrast, I’ve found Andrew’s conservative criticisms pretty effective. “[I]f this remoralization doesn’t work out, aren’t you just left with a vast redistributionist scheme?” is I think the right question to ask.

Of course, I think Kerry’s just killin’ it over at the TPMCafe Book Club. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Kerry’s criticisms are coming from “the left” of Ross and Reihan. Now, Kerry’s liberalism (pretty much my own) is obviously less immediately politically relevant, but is I think a more authentic and  powerful conception of liberalism than the semi-coherent, compromised creed of commited Democrats. So she is able to pitch the liberal critique of GNP with a force most Dems are unable to.

Oh! And now I see that Reihan has just replied to Kerry’s last post. Reihan is characteristically wide-ranging and ecumenical. I feel Reihan’s difficulty here is a failure to clearly separate the strategic from the moral. He seems to really want them to coincide, which is the desire that drives the chief fallacy of political strategy books. Yet he also seems to sense that they don’t really coincide, which leaves him in a position where he will neither endorse nor reject the nationalist assumptions of GNP. But either you’re morally in favor of a more cosmopolitan political order or you’re against it. If he’s for it, then he should be arguing for incremental steps that move us toward it. But he’s not arguing that. So either he thinks morally we shouldn’t be moving toward it, or that it is just unstrategic for Republicans to do so. If he actually believes in moral nationalism (and what else justifies analytical nationalism?), then it’s not so hard to cop to it. Larison does it all the time. If Reihan’s not really a moral nationalist, but simply thinks defending a more cosmopolitan politics is a near-term loser for Republicans, then he should go ahead and admit that the moral and the strategic clearly come apart, but that it’s worth arguing for strategy over morality in anyway. In that case, there better be some longer-run moral payoff from the success of the short term political strategy. But I’m not seeing what it is.