Friday, February 01, 2008

Prof. Hart Profiled in the Valley News

The Valley News has an excellent profile on Professor Hart in today's paper.

Lyme -- Jeffrey Hart sat at his kitchen table in slippers, reading Barack Obama's words aloud. The retired Dartmouth professor, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, wore on his shirt an artifact of the 1900 Republican presidential ticket -- a McKinley-Roosevelt pin.

“I am not opposed to all wars,” Hart intoned, quoting a 2002 speech before the Illinois State Legislature in which Obama, then a state senator, had warned of the perils of invading Iraq. “I'm opposed to dumb wars.” Looking up from the page, Hart nodded his approval.

“Very Burkian,” he said, referring to the 18th century Irish political writer Edmund Burke, hailed by many as the founder of modern conservatism. “Prudential. A sense of history, and what we're up against there.”

Hart wore another campaign pin on his shirt: It displayed a now-familiar rising sun, and the words Obama '08.

The 2008 presidential campaign has not been short on surprises, some of which have confounded the physics of the political universe: former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman endorsing GOP front-runner John McCain, or Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Capitol Hill veteran, spurning the Clinton machine to support Obama's upstart candidacy.

But even in this unsettled campaign season, the conversion of Hart -- speechwriter for two Republican presidents, former writer for the National Review, and patron saint of the notorious Dartmouth Review -- to Obama's banner is cause for a double take. Nancy Hart said she believes her husband is emblematic of a larger class of old-school Republicans disenchanted with the status quo.

“People who are disgusted with Bush,” she said. “A lot of them are.”

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Numerous blogs take notice. Andrew Sullivan, Andrew Samwick, Snarksmith, The New Republic's Plank, and the Drudge Report.

UPDATE: The guys at Powerline reminisce about Prof. Hart.


Anonymous said...

And before Obama he liked Edwards. The man has lost it, sadly.

A. S. Erickson said...

I think after these last 7 years many conservatives have 'lost it.' In fact, it has become quite clear, I think, that conservatives should no longer hue to the Republican Party. This is not just a matter of our simple-minded invasion of Iraq, though that is clearly what disturbs Prof. Hart the most. Bush bloated the size of the government in almost every aspect, and he was aided by Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. And it is not just those in political power, have you read National Review lately? No wonder Buckley wants to die.

Do I support Clinton or Obama? No, but it's not unreasonable—and I certainly do wish Republicans meet an ill fate in November.

John Bruce said...

How is it Burkean to support vague "change" (a la "change we can believe in") without specifying what that change will be? Obama's ads in California, for instance, show him simply saying we'll find a way to pay for affordable health care by having everyone come together. Right. The whole Valley News piece suggests that Hart is focused entirely on the Iraq situation, and he's calling on Wolfowitz et al as the culprits -- but Wolfowitz has been gone for years, and the surge, by general acknowledgement, has been succeeding. At this point, the Iraq omens seem to support McCain's view, not Obama's.

W. Aubin said...

I respect Prof. Hart, but I am inclined to agree with john bruce here, it sounds as though Hart has made this choice based entirely on Iraq. That's legitimate, of course, but if that conflict continues to stabilize and reaches a successful conclusion, does Professor Hart really want all the other big government domestic policies Obama will try to push through? What is Burkean about minimum wage hikes, federal health care, and a slew of spending "initiatives"?

Anonymous78 said...

It’s not that unusual for a Dartmouth Review type to question Bush or to vote for a democrat. The common thread here has always been the dislike of a certain kind of self-righteous liberalism common on college campuses. At the Review’s 25th Anniversary Celebration in New York I talked with a couple of people who had voted for Clinton. It’s fair to say though that not a single person there had any use for James Freedman.

With Bush I never really forgave him for caving in on mental health parity. I’ve also come to believe that if Bush and Cheney had it to do over again, we wouldn’t be anywhere near Iraq.

So to me it’s no big deal if Hart supports Obama. I’m more concerned with what he’s had to say about the recent trustee disputes. He might be seriously breaking from Review thought on that one, but I’m still watching.

Anonymous said...

well said, andy