...a lot of the debate about the Republican future has been dominated by people who believe that Bush took the party off track by embracing big governmentthat had he not busted the budget and otherwise departed from the conservative path, the party would be in better shape. It seems to me that it is these folks who have failed to grapple with important elements of our political situation: 1) the circumstances that led Bush, along with many other conservativesincluding Steve Forbes, the most free-market contender in 2000to abandon the idea of a direct assault on big government; and 2) the fact that Bush's departures from small-government conservatism have frequently been more popular than his instances of adherence to it.
This exhausted excuse is going to be trotted out relentlessly in the next four years. It will not make it more right.
There will always be a deep divide between two parties in the Anglo-American world; the party of bigger government and the party of smaller government. When the party of smaller government adds the biggest new entitlement since LBJ, doubles the debt debt and turns the presidency into a near-dictatorship,it destroys itself and its core brand and rationale.
When will Ross and Reihan and Ramesh start asking what they believe in, rather than what coalitions can be built around policies? They are not Rovian; but they breathe the stale, acrid, cynical air he has been exhaling for eight years. You know my answer: maybe more conservatives will actually deign to read it now.