Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Yet Levin also notes that conservatives have often sounded much like Paine themselves. President Ronald Reagan explicitly quoted Paine’s wildly unconservative line that “we have it in our power to begin the world anew.” Levin suggests that the practice of conservatism has been more Burkean than its arguments. The arguments have, however, weakened the practice. To use an example Levin does not, President George W. Bush’s confidence that Iraq was fertile soil for republican government owed more to Paine than to Burke. More generally, conservatives have sometimes been attracted to the apparent simplicity of principle rather than paying attention to the details of policy. . . .