In a nutshell, a paleoconservative is someone who rejects neoconservatism and mainstream conservatism. The neocons are spurned because it has its roots in liberalism (specifically an inability of some faux liberals to realize they weren't intellectual giants but were intellectually-challenged mice, instead) and mainstream conservatism is disdained because! (Really.)
As an example, here's Mr Francis discussing race:
While Scotchie is quite clear and well-informed about the paleos’ thought on immigration and its meaning, he fails to discuss at all their views on race. This is unfortunate, as not a few of them have been accused of simple-minded “racism,” “white supremacy,” and other ill-defined bugaboos. I, for one, like to think that what they believe about race, while definitely not in the liberal-neocon mainstream, is rather more nuanced and considerably more sophisticated than their enemies (and not a few of their friends) want to think.I'm not so sure there's much nuance to paleoconservative views on race. The relevant bit:
... paleoconservative thought on immigration and makes clear that to paleos, America was an extension of Western civilization. It was intended by the Founding Fathers to be an Anglo-Saxon-Celtic nation also influenced by Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. Large-scale immigration from non-Western nations would, as Fleming (and most other paleos) maintained, forever spoil a distinct American civilization.Basically, Jews, many Europeans, blacks, Asians, and non-whites weren't intended to American. There might be other ways of reading his words, but I'm not sure they withstand scrutiny. Mr Francis is quite clear about what he thinks America should be - white, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic. Gotta love that nuanced racism, right?
In one of the longest sentences I've ever read, Mr Francis also argues - and this is one of the few places where his argument is coherent - that what he calls paleoconservatism, and I call "The Tea Party", that the movement is a reaction to cultural and social changes in America. Ironically, the more substantial changes are those the paleoconservative promote! Notwithstanding a dislike of a hedonistic, secular and carnal society (!), paleoconservatism is a reaction against big government, big business and big media. The irony is lethal.
In the end, paleoconservatism boils down to a fantasy of what America never was. A "Leave it to Beaver" world that has John Wayne as the Marshal, Ronnie Reagan as the Prez, everyone goes to church and pretty much every one is equal, but the not-white folk know their place. And Jews aren't especially noticeable.
No wonder Glenn Beck is their spiritual leader, Rush Limbaugh their bombastic mouthpiece. And no wonder Sarah Palin briefly shone; she embodies the irrational, emotional and elitist tendencies of these "paleoconservatives". Paleo means "ancient", prehistoric. A conservative is "[a] person who favors maintenance of the status quo or reversion to some earlier status". These paleoconservatives hold a modern view of conservatism and America that is incoherent, but it is based on maintaining the status quo and reverting an earlier state that, quite frankly, didn't exist outside of Hollywood. So I can only suggest a new moniker for the movement: phantasie-conservatism: A conservative philosophy based on fantasy. The label works because it's as awkward as the "philosophy".
Like I said, the irony is lethal. But, yeah, you've gotta love that nuanced racism. Explains it all, really.
PS I just noticed the essay is from 2002; I forget where I saw a reference to it (The Daily Beast?), but it was just yesterday. Still, the ideas it contains are a template for the Tea Party - including the "nuanced" racism.