A few days ago, while switching around among news channels, I happened across Tim Russert talking about the late Pope. First, he listed a few of the Pope’s positions with which liberals disagreed. I wasn’t paying listening closely but I think he listed birth control, abortion, and homosexuality.
What caught my attention was what he said next; his list of Papal postions with which he believed conservatives disagreed: the death penalty, the war in Iraq, and a massive increase in aid for the world’s poor.
My question for conservative Dopers – is Russert right? You want the death penalty and the war in Iraq, but you don’t want a massive increase in aid for the world’s poor?
I am also wondering if the listening public accepted Russert’s comments as accurate. Has anyone heard about any objections to his remarks?
Under the usual American definitions of liberal and conservative, the Pope was conservative on social issues (against abortion, birth control, and homosexuality) and liberal on economic issues (pro-increase in aid for poor). One could argue, of course, whether the social and economic issues are really connected, but the standard American definition of the terms links them. Libertarianism is defined in opposition to this standard definition as being the political position that combines liberalism on social issues and conservatism. This makes the Pope’s position seem then like complete anti-libertarianism. But then there’s his position against the war in Iraq (which most libertarians agree with, I think) and against the death penalty (about which there doesn’t seem to be a libertarian consensus, I think). But all this just means that the Pope’s positions didn’t fit into the standard definitions of liberalism and conservatism in the U.S. So what? Why would you expect to be able to make his views fit into standard American political views?
Broadly speaking, and you’re always broadly speaking when you say “conservatives” or “liberals”, I think he’s about right. Most of the support for the war in Iraq comes from conservatives, as does most of the support for the death penalty. Aid to the poor is a bit more complicated, but generally conservatives want to limit non-military foreign aid by the government. It’s unclear to me, though, that conservatives are any more opposed to private aid to poor countries than liberals are.
I’m a conservative, and I had Tim Russert’s number. This past February I participated in a deer hunt on Nantucket. The hunting was poor. The deer prefered to stay in the back yards of the more residential areas nibbling at peoples gardens. The areas more open to hunting such as the conservation lands were filled with hunters and lacking any deer to be found.
A group of hunters told me one night in a bar where to find deer for sure. They directed me down a series of roads and said that a pond exists with deer around it every night. They said there are some houses nearby, but they are all empty and not to worry. Since they were leaving early the next morning, they felt they could share their secret. They said they had bagged several deer there and only regretted that they didn’t find it sooner.
The next morning I set out for the new spot. As I was heading down one of the streets a local stopped me. He recognized me as a hunter and proceeded to suggest that I head to the exact same spot I was already going for. He lived on that street and said that the pond I was looking for did indeed have deer every night. Also, he pointed out that the pond in question was right in front of Tim Russert’s house! He assured me that Tim wasn’t home and that in fact all of the houses on that street were empty for the winter.
I proceeded along until I found the pond. It was right at a fork in the road, just as people had informed me. However, much to my dismay there were a half dozen houses surrounding the pond. I used my rangefinder to verify that they were all about 80 to 150 yards from the pond. Technically, you only need to be 500 feet from a dwelling to hunt. I did have a bow with me, so I could have maybe positioned myself so that I was just about 500 feet from a few of the nearest houses. However, it just wasn’t right for me to do that to Tim Russert and his good neighbors. I had already encountered some locals where were non to pleased that their island was crawling with hunters. Even if I could have legally taken a deer at that pond, it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
So, I waved goodbye to Tim Russert’s house and went back to where the deer weren’t at for another couple of days of bad hunting.
You make conservatism sound like some monolithic entity. I guess the answer to your question would be…depends on what kind of ‘conservative’ you are. I suppose, at least as far as this board is concerned, I’m a ‘conservative’ enough to answer your questions (I’m assuming you are asking us individually and not trying to paint with a ridiculousy broad brush…i.e. ALL conservatives what this or that).
I’m ambivalent about it to be honest. I’m starting to think that life time imprisonment may be a better solution even for the worst cases. Not because I have some soft spot for such human trash, but looking at our appeals system and the cost and time to actually execute someone it would be cheaper and less a burden on our legal system to simply lock such human trash away for good and throw away the key.
I certainly don’t ‘want’ the war in Iraq…but I seem to be stuck with it now, unless someone has access to a way back machine somewhere.
Certainly I don’t want a massive increase in aid for the world’s poor. We’ve been pouring aid into Africa for a generation at least now…for all the good its done. Time to find a better way. As to AMERICAN’S poor (which I’m more concerned about), I think a better way needs to be found to address that than the tired old programs currently in use…which to my mind are only partially effective, and certainly poor on the cost to benifit ratio.
I agree comletely with all your other points. I would add though, that government aid to poor countries is generally something conservatives tend to be opposed to.
I wouldn’t say that conservatives are opposed to aid for the world’s poor altogether, just their government tax dollars going towards them. It seems to me that often government aid money doesn’t actually help anyone, but instead is gobbled up by greedy dictators and horded away in Swiss banks. Private aid is a much more effective way to actually help people.
I am not aware that conservatives are by nature against aid to poor people or poor nations. What is true, though, is when they see that the aid they send doesn’t seem to be helping much, they question whether blind monetary payouts are the best way to help. Conservatives have been quite supportive of economic development initiatives and shipments of food.
In my opinion, libertarians are neither liberal nor conservative. But why bring libertarians up? They would presumably not fit into Russert’s apearant worldview of a straight left to right line. The question is, does his brief list of things conservatives (people toward the right end of that line) favor/oppose have validity? People who don’t fit into (onto?) that straight line are not relevant to the question posed.
The point is, here’s a promenent cable news guy. He sees things in terms of the traditional left-right spectrum. (I don’t see things that way, but I comprend the view.) He’s by no means a leftist himself. (At least, he does not seem so to me.) He causually tosses off this list of 3 issues on which he assumes conservatives disagree with the late Pope. To me, his comment seems unflattering to conservatives. I am wondering if any conservatives take it that way.
OTOH, his comments about liberals did not seem to me at all unflattering to liberals. (To the extent that I fit the traditional spectrum, I’m pretty far left.)