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Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, explains Conservatism 2.0

Thursday, November 20, 2008

HH: Joined now from Tennessee by Glenn Reynolds. He is the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds also a professor of law at the University of Tennessee Law School. Glenn, am I going to see you at the Association of American Law Schools this January, come San Diego?

GR: I don’t know. I don’t know. I might be going to the Detroit Auto Show. It just depends on whether I want to look at a dying industry or a flourishing one, I guess.

HH: Well, do you think there will be an auto show? Or does that need a bailout as well?

GR: I don’t know, but you know, the law professor biz is going great.

HH: All right, let me ask you, Glenn Reynolds, yesterday I go to, and I see that you and Michelle Malkin are having a debate about Conservatism 2.0. What is that all about?

GR: Well, that’s actually sort of what we’re trying to figure out. The suggestion is that it’s time to do some rethinking. We had eight years of what were really, you know, sort of drift amongst the Republicans and the center-right. And now, you know, there are a lot of recriminations, there are people like Kathleen Parker saying that the social cons should be kicked out, and there are people like Mike Huckabee being not too friendly toward the libertarians, and so on. And Michelle and I were suggesting that maybe the big tent approach has something to go for it, and that maybe everybody should get together and kind of figure out how to go ahead and focus on points of unity, as they call them.

HH: Well, don’t those points of unity inevitably divide, though, Glenn Reynolds, in terms of the social cons and the libertarians on things like same sex marriage, protecting the unborn, those sorts of things?

GR: Well you know, it really depends on how people choose to look at it. I mean, I’ve always described my political philosophy by saying I’d be happy to see an America full of happily married gay couples with closets full of assault rifles. Now if you choose to look at that, if you’re a social con, you can look at that as glass half full or glass half empty, I guess. I’ve always felt that you advance your issues by finding places you can agree with people and working together. And maybe that’s just a Tennessee thing, but that’s sort of what I think.

HH: Now how many of the people participating in this conversation about Conservatism 2.0, because you talked to Huckabee, and obviously you and Michelle were doing debating, are party leadership? How many are hierarchy, and how many are outside the hierarchy?

GR: This is pretty much the outsiders. This is not the party hierarchy. And you know, that’s sort of the idea. The party hierarchy really didn’t do a very good job, and you may have heard back in 2006, my wife and I on our show interviewed Ken Mehlman when he was RNC chair, and my wife was asking him why the Republicans were acting like Democrats, and didn’t they realize they were going to lose everything if they kept it up. And we didn’t get much of an answer. And that’s, you know, the party hierarchy didn’t persuade Ted Stevens not to run for reelection this time, and that cost them a Senate seat. And so I think we need a little fresh blood.

HH: But this is where I go…how does that fresh blood get to circulate? Obviously, we can talk to each other over the radio, can broadcast any number of interesting interviews. But if the party leadership represented in the Congressional party doesn’t care, does it matter?

GR: Well, I think one of the things you have to do is you have to get people active and involved in both recruiting good candidates to run, in supporting people who are good candidates, and in putting pressure on people who are in office that you are in a position to get rid of. And you know, there are certainly plenty of good people in the party. I’ve got, actually, a poll on my blog at on this, and I’ve actually opened up comments, which I don’t do very often. And one suggestion somebody gave was they said you should have a get together, and the keynote speaker should be Senator Tom Coburn. He said the GOP wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today if more GOP Congressionals had listened to Dr. Coburn more, and to Trent Lott and Ted Stevens and their ilk less. And I think that’s about right.

HH: Now what’s the next step for Conservatism 2.0? What do you do?

GR: Well, we’re gathering information, we’re getting a lot of views, we’re going to have another round up of this stuff on Pajamas TV in about two weeks, and then we are going to look toward having a get together and having people focus on ideas and a plan of action, I think, sometime in February if this goes ahead. That’s really the question I’m asking people, is what they think about that.

HH: And where would you gather?

GR: Well, that’s still up for discussion. We could have it in Washington, or we could maybe show something about having it outside the Beltway.

HH: Oh, don’t do it…

GR: There’s a lovely underused convention center here in Knoxville.

HH: Don’t do it in D.C. Everyone will scurry over to the same old people and talk to the same old things. I just got done talking last hour with Patrick Ruffini, David All and Rob Neppell about the tech gap, and they all agreed that the RNC’s full of nice people who don’t really know what’s going on. Do you agree with that assessment?

GR: Oh, that’s totally true. Look, the Dems have been running circles around the Republicans on this stuff, really, for years. They were ahead somewhat in 2004, and they continue to advance where honestly, the RNC in some ways backslid from 2004. You know, I talked to bloggers who went to the RNC this time who were at the convention in 2004, and they said they were treated better in 2004 than they were this time around.

HH: Well, Patrick Ruffini was running it in 2004, so that makes sense to me.

GR: I guess that’s right. Well, you know, if I can give people one piece of advice, it would actually be to listen to Patrick Ruffini, David All and Rob Neppell. They could do a lot worse, and so far, they mostly have.

HH: All right, last question, in terms of the influencers, the people who are providing grist for the intellectual mill, who are they? And are there new ones out there that people should be paying attention to, Glenn Reynolds? You kind of oversee the blogosphere. Where’s the new energy coming from?

GR: Well, I would encourage people to check out a site called the Next Right, which is at, where there’s a lot of discussion of these kinds of issues going on. The folks at Red State at, putting a lot of thought into it as well, and of course at, it’s going to be covered every single day for the next several weeks.

HH: Glenn Reynolds, always a pleasure, Thank you, Glenn.

End of interview.

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