“The First Draft, Not the Compromised Second Draft”
Like Allahpundit – and, surprisingly to me, for the same reasons – I have no idea whatsoever what the newly-released Mount Vernon Statement is supposed to accomplish. It amounts to a statement that the old Three-Legged Stool remains coherent and relevant. Why? Because they said so, that’s why. There are no details, no attempt to resolve the conflicting interests of social conservatives, economic conservatives, hawks, and libertarians. Just a blanket statement that somehow these groups all have the exact same interests, and all agree with a very generalized vision of the Constitution. As Allahpundit points out, “the principles here are so broad as to be almost meaningless,” and noting further that the Statement doesn’t even attempt to provide a framework for bridging the gap between libertarians/paleocons and neo-conservatives on foreign policy (see Larison for a more fully developed argument on this point), nor does it provide any guidance as to how one would determine whether a particular policy fits within the notion of “Constitutional conservatism.”
Compare this Mount Vernon statement, drafted by the old lions of movement conservatism, with the Tea Partiers’ proposed “Contract From America,” which doesn’t attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable but instead tries to keep a tight focus on fiscal and economic issues, and you get the feeling that the old school movement conservative leaders have ceased to be relevant in any meaningful way.