Since I agreed with Frum's take on Rove, it stands to reason that I agree with Jonah's similar analysis as well. I only wonder about his remark that "the Medicare prescription drug benefit may be surprisingly popular, but the promised political windfall never materialized." It depends on what your definition of windfall is, I suppose. The prescription drug benefit may not be remembered as a step toward a lasting conservative majority, but my sense is that it was intended more as a necessary concession to a popular liberal idea - with a few free-market elements and some sops to business constituencies worked in, obviously - than as a pillar of Rove's long-term realignment strategy. And in the short term, it did produce something of a political windfall: Promising a prescription-drugs benefit on the campaign trail in 2000 clearly helped Bush in his race against Gore, and passing it helped the President more in 2004 that most people realize. Bush's biggest gains, by age bracket, from '00 to '04 came among voters 60 and older, and without Medicare Part D I'm willing to bet that those numbers would have been different enough to tip a few extra states to John Kerry.
Ross Douthat is a contributing editor at The Atlantic.