The Legs of the Stool

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Poulos, responding to this post:

Ross also claims that "Of the three legs of the modern right-of-center stool - social conservatives, small-governmenteers, and foreign-policy hawks - it's the hawks who almost always have the least to fear from savvy Democratic Administrations." But there are growing numbers of social conservatives out there -- including Catholic Democrats -- who actually do like the idea of universal health care and a New Deal for energy, and know they can't do much about the liberal judges who will prop up the incoherent and crippled Casey/Roe regime. And small-governmenters will continue to accept more cultural libertarianism for the void that political libertarianism used to fill -- bigger cages, longer chains, as some punks put it not so long ago.

I take James' broad point, but I was making a narrower one. It's certainly the case that a successful Obama administration has the potential to peel both socially-conservative and libertarian voters away from the Republican coalition, albeit for different reasons - as indeed, an ascendant Democratic Party already has. But I had the GOP's activist and journalistic core in mind - the people who staff think tanks and advocacy groups, who write for the Standard and NR, and so forth. And within that core, I think, you're a lot more likely to hear and see national-security hawks praising Obama, arguing that his foreign policy actually displays real continuity with George W. Bush's approach, and so forth, than you are to hear, say, pro-lifers praising his judicial appointments or small-government conservatives praising his budgetary priorities. Or put another way, I suspect that Obama will receive more kind words from Robert Kagan and Max Boot over the next four years than he will from, say, Robert George or Dick Armey. But obviously this is all supposition; time will tell.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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