David Brooks diagnoses the patient on life-support. It's not far off the arguments I made at length a year ago (and he's generous enough to mention me). Burke is indeed one key. His understanding of the limits of human knowledge and the dangers of abstract ideas did not, nonetheless, make him stodgy or dull or unable to be passionate about, say, the American Revolution or abuse of executive power at home. Conor Cruise O'Brien's treatment remains, for me, the gold standard. Conservatives can be radical and strident in defense of settled principles. Like the rule of law, and the evil of executive power empowered with the right to detain without charges and torture.

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