Friday, February 1, 2008

Conservatives for Obama is Not Just a Figment of His Imagination

Archconservative Sides With Democrat
By Peter Jamison
Valley News Staff Writer

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.
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.”

And so it is that Jeffrey Hart counts himself a member of Obama's “new American majority” -- a group of voters the Illinois senator says are fed up with the partisan excesses and wrangling of the last two decades and eager for a practical, cooperative approach to the issues that have divided Washington.

“It turns out that these political parties are not always either liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican,” Hart, a 77-year-old with thick white hair who lives in Lyme, said in an interview at his home yesterday. “The Democrat, under certain conditions, can be the conservative.”
The current Republican field does nothing to raise Hart's hopes. He said McCain is “candid and authentic” but too committed to keeping up the U.S. military presence in Iraq; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Hart said, “would say anything to get the nomination.”

In Obama, by contrast, Hart sees a Great Communicator in the mold of Reagan, John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, a leader who can inspire Americans to work together on the problems of the 21st Century.

via: Andrew Sullivan

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