Wanted: Non-corrupt conservative leaders to defend civil liberties

David Weigel reports that David Keene of the American Conservative Union and Grover Norquist of Club for Growth Americans for Tax Reform have come out in favor of closing Gitmo and trying terror suspects in a federal court.

Norquist, who usually describes himself as some sort of libertarian, has never been a particularly visible defender of civil liberties, so this statement is a pleasant (and wholly unexpected) development. Similarly, I didn’t think that the American Conservative Union was home to any national security/surveillance skeptics, but it turns out they publish Daniel Larison and a bunch of good stuff on FISA.

That said, David Keene was last seen soliciting a giant bribe and Norquist has his own history of ethically questionable decisions, so it would be nice if some non-corrupt conservative leaders came out in favor of more robust protections for civil liberties.

UPDATE: Daniel Larison says that the ACU reprinted a blog post from Eunomia without his knowledge. While this may reflect poorly on the ACU’s editorial department, I still take it as a hopeful sign that the organization is becoming more open to heterodox conservative thinkers.

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8 thoughts on “Wanted: Non-corrupt conservative leaders to defend civil liberties

  1. Don’t blame me: I voted for Kodos.

    That said, methinks that Ron Paul’s your answer. His leadership is generally relegated to crazies, fringes, and paleos (but I repeat myself! — and he’s probably too much of a classical liberal for my communitarian tastes), but notwithstanding those dubious letters some years ago, his integrity is pretty much unquestionable, and he’s obviously been railing in defense of civil liberties for some time.

    Whether his message will ever resound amongst the broader right — especially given, you know, his dastardly opposition to the welfare-warfare state — is doubtful, but he’s preaching it.

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    • I actually donated money to his presidential campaign, although I didn’t vote for him because I was so turned-off by that New Republic article. Even if I overlook the newsletters, however, I’m still faced with the fact that Paul’s crankish persona makes it difficult for him to be a credible public advocate for civil liberties.

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      • I don’t know how I feel about the letters mentioned in TNR — whether to believe that he wrote, or at least approved them, or whether it was a matter of unfortunate circumstances that they ended up in his publication —, but I am either way happy to ignore them, given the time that has passed and his willingness to stand against the tides today.

        Your point about his cranky persona is quite well taken.

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        • I had thought that Lew Rockwell wrote them and was ticked that he wouldn’t claim ownership but someone pointed out that it was far more likely that Murray Rothbard wrote them and, being dead, his friends didn’t want to roll over on him.

          Which made me feel even worse because I was a big Rothbard fan for a while.

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  2. FYI, the ACU just re-published one of my blog posts, and it was news to me that they had done so. If the ACU is taking a more constitutionalist and skeptical view of national security questions, so much the better, but it might be a bit of an overstatement to say that they are publishing my work. Many years ago I wrote a few pieces for their online publication, but haven’t written specifically for them in a long time.

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  3. I was at Ron Paul’s Rally For The Republic anti-convention… I always felt that by far the most out of place person there was Grover Norquist… I suppose this action might show that he is sincere in having at least partial libertarian tendencies.

    By the way, Bob Barr has also came out in favor of trying the detainees in civilian courts. While he was the 2008 Libertarian party nominee, many didn’t trust him because he had been a neocon only a few years prior… also, some of his actions and statements were a bit of a sleight to Ron Paul… whose record is basically unimpeachable. I suppose this should gain him a bit more credibility…

    As far as Will’s comment regarding his influence, well young people really could care less about appearances because they percieve him as being one of the only polticians who tell the truth and don’t desire personal power. The YAL is already larger than college Republicans on many of the 183 campuses it’s on… the C4L (the non-college sister group) has clearly influenced the debate regarding the Fed, and it seems influenced congress to disregard Obama’s desire to turn it into an uber-regulator.

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