"Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.

But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterpriseand we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important," - David Frum, in a must-read.

A reader adds:

What attracted me to conservatism as a young person in the early 1980s was its challenge to engage and understand some real thinkers -- Hayek, von Mises, Kirk, Buckley, Friedman, Chambers. You didn't have to be an intellectual, but you needed to understand them. Reagan did. Now, instead of intellectuals, we have clowns like Joe the Plumber and Limbaugh getting all the attention.

Conservatism is overopinionated and undereducated, proudly intolerant and insular -- populated by the type of Americans who (this happened) would spit on Darwin's tomb in Westminster Abbey.

My own evolution as a young conservative was more fueled by Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Amalryk, Hayek, Lewis, Bernard Levin, and eventually, as I grew old enough to understand them, Oakeshott and Strauss. My own bastardized version of conservatism was always fueled by a sense that it was more intellectually rigorous than liberalism. And because it had to find the intellectual resources to counter the suffocating left-liberal elite consensus of the 1970s, it was often more in shape than its chief rival, liberalism.

Maybe, generationally, David and I are doomed to never experience again the intellectual thrill of our adolescence. Maybe when we retire and the looming liberal hegemony fades, as it, in turn, must.

[Update: the first draft of this post garbled my reader's point and Frum's piece. Fixed now. Apologies.]

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