Ryan Streeter interviews Ross Douthat. What Ross would most like to change about the GOP:

I suppose I would just create a stronger interest in actual policymaking, among elites and the grassroots alike. ... The Republicans just won an election promising to cut government without having to tell people what they'd cut. But it tends to be a problem across every public policy issue: Republicans just don't think as hard as they should about what the actual work of governing entails, and Republican voters too often reward politicians for mouthing slogans rather than substance.

It's great that Marco Rubio can give a stirring speech about American exceptionalism, for instance -- but in the long run, actual American exceptionalism will stand or fall on whether Rubio and others like him can figure out a way to bring the budget back into balance. And that requires policy specifics, and hard work, and probably some messy compromises. Rhetoric is necessary, but insufficient.

Amen. We've gone from The Public Interest in the early 1980s to Mark Levin's radio show. Could the decline be any steeper? (Which is as a good a moment as any to say that Yuval Levin's new journal "National Affairs" is more than welcome.)

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