Surely, the defining characteristic of the paleoconservative temperament is disgust—with the current state of the country, the culture, and (most of all) the “official” conservative movement.  On this last point, there can be no compromise: Eight long years of Bushism, with a foreign policy energized by neoconservative democratism, has bankrupted the country financially and bankrupted the ostensibly conservative movement intellectually.  On every issue of importance, the “official” cons have become the right wing of the possible—to borrow and invert Michael Harrington’s phrase—capitulating to the left-liberal consensus on every issue of importance, from the Iraq war to “gay marriage.”  The apotheosis of the party line was and is the oxymoronic “big government conservatism,” a phrase coined by Weekly Standard senior editor Fred Barnes to describe the “right-wing” adaptation to the spirit of the age—a modification paleocons reject in its entirety.

During the Bush years, we remained outside the official conservative/Republican big tent, which was never big enough to include principled opponents of the Welfare-Warfare State and specifically excluded anti-interventionists.  Now, suddenly, with the coming of Obamaism, we are “in”—or, to be more exact, we are no longer being ignored.  The liberal media is full of exposés of the alleged extremism and supposed propensity for violence of the conservative “fringe,” with neocon ideologue David Frum, who once banished antiwar conservatives from the official movement—calling for a more “open,” “inclusive” movement (while still carrying on his jihad against anyone to his right).

The reason for this new focus on the “extreme” right is that paleoism is no longer confined to the narrow precincts of this magazine and the few institutions that have promoted the idea that conservatives are the intellectual heirs of the Old Right of Taft, Mencken, Nock, and the America First movement.  These ideas have broken through, past the gatekeepers of the mainstream, and generated the rising tide of right-wing populism currently sweeping the country and roiling the GOP establishment.  This has provoked a countermovement on both the left and the establishment right, dedicated to smearing the Tea Party movement as beyond the pale, racist-“extremist”-Bircher-antisemitic conspiracy theorists. David Frum and Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Ross Douthat—all tremble at the sight of the Gadsden flag, waving defiantly at these huge Tea Party rallies.

Douthat takes Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Lew Rockwell, and paleos to task for “the extreme rhetoric, the enemies’ lists, the obsession with past defeats, the conspiratorial theories of how and why the cause of true conservatism has been betrayed.”  But this is precisely what the paleo movement is all about—a recognition of the fact that the principles conservatives of the old school and libertarians held in common until, say, the 1990’s have been ditched in favor of a pallid “conservative” adaptation of cultural Marxism and Wilsonian interventionism.  There is nothing conspiratorial about this narrative: It all happened right out in the open.  The fortunes of old America Firsters, which filled the coffers of the old-line conservative foundations, were funneled into the neocon money machine and made to serve ends that would have appalled the original donors.  Neoconservatism represents an incursion from the left.  This isn’t a “theory,” conspiratorial or otherwise; it is simply historical fact, as documented by the neocons themselves.  They took over the movement and turned it into an unrecognizable mélange of notions, most of them wrong.

“If the Old Right is ever going to be anything more than a sideshow in conservative politics,” Douthat intones, “it needs to . . . apply its criticisms of neoconservatives and liberals to its own leaders, writers, and institutions.  Physician, heal thyself.”

Translation: Junk your ideas, stop reading Chronicles, learn to love Norman Podhoretz, and join the fast dwindling National Review-Weekly Standard “mainstream.”

There is no use trying to reason with, appease, or otherwise “dialogue” with gatekeepers like Douthat, Andrew Sullivan, et al.  You don’t get to write for the New York Times as a reward for upholding your conservative principles.  Nor does anyone who supported the Iraq war—and egged on the Jacobins who took control of our foreign policy in the wake of September 11—have any political or moral standing to criticize us as “extreme.”

If the adherents of the Douthat-Sullivan-Frum version of conservatism held a national convention, they would be lucky to fill the back room of the local Denny’s.  The Tea Party movement has mobilized many thousands, and they are on the march—in spite of the catcalls and smears coming from both wings of the establishment.  The only proper strategy is to march right over Douthat & Co. on our way to victory.