"But it is the 'temperment and style' criteria that Lacy rightfully notes several commentators have seized on to say that Obama is, at his core, a conservative, and it is with this defintion that I think bugs me so much (not in the way Lacy defined it, but rather in the way that MSM commentators use it). To say that Obama is even-headed, thoughtful, and pragmatic, ergo he is conservative, both ignores a lot of wild-eyed nutters who self-identify as conservative of late and suggests that all liberals are, by contrast, irrational, emotional, and impulsive. Now, it is possible that these commentators are using the French Revolution era distinction of liberal and conservative, but I kinda doubt that."
See, I think you are falling prey to the problem I was discussing --- mainly that the seven groupings aren't mutually exclusive. You can be a liberal in reference to your party and ideology post-2001, but have a conservative temperament. And vice-versa. Here are some historical examples:
Liberals with conservative temperament: Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Moynihan
Conservatives with liberal temperament: Newt Gingrich, Bush 43 (maybe McCain?)
Liberals with liberal temperament: Ralph Nader, Woodrow Wilson (and, of course, Bill Ayers!)
Conservatives with conservative temperament: George Will, Barry Goldwater, Ike (and Edmund Burke, of course!)
I think this goes to the heart of Obama. He's a policy liberal, but I don't think he's interested in massive transformational action. He strikes me more as John Roberts than Scalia, more Daniel Moynihan than Chuck Schumer.
Hell, you can play this game all day, on as many dimensions as you want. Consider:
Liberal party, conservative fiscal policy, liberal temperment: Civil War Radical Republicans!
Liberal party, liberal fiscal policy, conservative temperment: Daniel Patrick Monyihan!
Liberal party, conservative fiscal policy, conservative temperment: James Madison!
Liberal party, liberal fiscal policy, liberal temperment: LBJ!
Conservative party, conservative fiscal policy, liberal temperment: Newt Gingrich!
Conservative party, liberal fiscal policy, conservative temperment: Henry Clay!
Conservative party, conservative fiscal policy, conservative temperment: George Washington!
Conservative party, liberal fiscal policy, liberal temperment: Teddy Roosevelt!
The point is that liberal policy goals are not incompatible with conservative temperaments. Once you accept that, I think a lot of things change.
Maybe this is a fundamental disagreement we have -- I don't think that 'temperment' is a particularly good way to categorize liberal and conservative. In matters of policy, one could argue for a liberal or conservative position, with the sense that one is not choosing between words where one is inherently better -- more positive in connotation -- than the other. However, when it comes to defintions of temperment, I think there'd be a lot of agreement that a conservative temperment is better than a liberal one. Thus, I don't think it is a particularly good way to go about defining liberal, because liberals get the short end of that stick.
I completely agree with your closing sentiment that "liberal policy goals are not incompatible with conservative temperaments. Once you accept that, I think a lot of things change." I'd just re-write the sentence and substitute "rational, analytical, meditative" for "conservative."
Elizabeth Swann of Port Royal, Caribbean relates:
|I don't know about you but I don't mind/readily admit that I am a liberal...|
(I never associated the term with wild-crazy-french revolutionaries though ;))..
Do you think this is age-related? Do you think of being a liberal as something with a negative or "crazy" connotation...
I mean, I clearly remember having heated discussions with my uncle (a true-blue (or red) western PA republican) about politics and the state of the country (under Bush) and at one point he lashed out calling me a "liberal" ... I realize now that he probably thought he was really insulting me... or at least was perhaps shocked or horrified to realize that I am, in fact, a liberal... but his assertion never phased me...
hmf... so, is this an age thing? an ignorance thing (on my end)? ... does liberal = bad?? .. and since when? ... or when did it stop being bad for that matter?
For certain, some commentators have attempted to demonize the word liberal (it often appears next to phrases like godless, anti-American, etc.) Perhaps the apex of this was the Bush-Dukakis '88 campaign. But I do think Elizabeth is right to note that there is an age-component to this. To the under-30 crowd (or, the 30-and-under crowd), the word conservative is far more likely to have negative connotations -- homophobia jumps immediately to mind, and in general the image of a fat sweaty white guy with flushed red cheecks getting all worked up about some 'moral' issue and the decline of America caused by video games and rap lyrics.
To close, the self-pseudonymed Tits McGee adds:
|"suggests that all liberals are, by contrast, irrational, emotional, and impulsive."|
*This must be why more females vote Democrat*?
I'm not going to comment on that... ;)