The (Ir)relevance of ANWR

Of course we should drill for oil there. And yes, McCain's resistance to doing so is a good small-bore example of what's wrong with his style of reformist conservatism: It deviates from right-wing orthodoxy on boutique issues that please the media (see also campaign-finance reform, tobacco legislation, etc. etc.), rather than issues that connect with actual voters, and draw usable contrasts with the Democrats.

But it's a small-bore example. On the level of policy, drilling in ANWR isn't going to make more than a small dent in America's energy difficulties over the long run. On the level of politics, meanwhile, the idea that pushing for drilling is going to be some sort of major difference-maker in the fall campaign is just silly. And it's the sort of silliness that makes me dread a McCain presidency, frankly, because it will set up a situation in which the debate over the future of conservatism gets defined as a struggle between McCainism on the one hand and Limbaughism on the other, when both are a poor basis for a viable conservative party in America.