Saturday, August 28, 2004

Niall Ferguson has a typically engaging and thoughtful piece over at OpinionJounral. He posits that a Bush defeat might actually be good for conservatism.

You should read it, because it's Ferguson, and he's always a fine read. But his larger point is, while very clever, completely wrong.

The smartest thing Fred Barnes ever said to me is that if there's one Iron Law of Politics, it's this: Winning always beats losing. When you win, problems recede, divisions smooth over, and you control, at least a little bit, your own direction.

When you lose, problems are magnified, divisions become more pronounced, and--worst of all--you become even more susceptible to events outside your control.


Joe said...

Mr. Ferguson makes two errors in his comparison of John Major and George W. Bush that I was able to identify this early on a Saturday morning (actually, I spotted them yesterday when I read the column in the WSJ's dead-tree edition). The first is that, unlike Bush, Major didn't come to 10 Downing Street through election; he assumed power in what was essentially a palace coup against Margaret Thatcher. The second error is like unto the first; Major's committment to conservatism was, shall we say, imperfect - he was one of the leaders of the Europhile wing of the Tories, often called the "wets", and the contrast in political and personal style with Thatcher could not have been more marked. In fact, it often seemed that Major had no idea what he really wanted to accomplish or even if he had any overarching vision. That's not a problem GWB has ever had through _his_ administration - you will never find him fussing about the "vision thing"!

Dean Barnett said...

You have Ferguson in a nut-shell: usually clever, usually wrong. Also, sometimes quite sloppy with facts that happen to be inconvenient to his thesis.

Is there any wonder that Harvard couldn't wait to give this man a Chair?

Tom said...

I rather enjoyed his comparison of the work habits of W and Ike. I think it was Ambrose who some three decades ago found the secret diary that showed Ike was a tad more than a golfing dilettante; quite a compliment for #43 if he's managed to pull the same thing off.