Thursday, October 30, 2008

As conservatism implodes

Even as the Republican Party seems poised to suffer a defeat of post-Watergate-like proportions on Tuesday, I was amazed to find a recent poll to the effect that 59 percent of Republicans still think highly of George W. Bush. That suggests to me that 59 percent of Republicans have virtually no discernment or a death wish. George W. Bush has taken the Republican Party and strangled it with his bare hands, abandoning every limited-government principle along the way. My old friend and former colleague Harold Johnson used to say the Republicans love to "touch the purple," meaning they have what seems a natural urge to dote on and be impressed by those in power.Can it be that, or is it enough that Dubya once said he had a conversion experience and really loves Jesus?

Thank goodness there are still a few conservative commentators with a sense of proportion and a certain respect for principle, like George Will and to some extent Peggy Noonan. I don't know if I want the modern conservative movement to reconstitute itself on somewhat more sophisticated principles or just disappear into the mist, which just might leave an opening for libertarians, constitutionalists, Paulistas and genuine devotees of limited government. Obama will surely do many stupid things that have dire consequences, but who will be there to point them out in a coherent way?

I take some comfort from Adam Smith's admonition that there's a great deal of ruin in a country. But I fear we may have to endure a good deal of it.

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