The Presidency of George W. Bush has three years yet to run, but this season of scandal and disillusionment is an opportune moment for conservatives to start thinking seriously about the post-Bush era--and particularly how to fashion a domestic policy from the wreckage of Bush-style, big-government conservatism. Thanks to the abiding weakness of the Democratic party, Republicans haven't yet paid a political price for insider-friendly appropriation bills, Medicare boondoggles, or the smog of semi-corruption rising from the party's cozy relationship with K Street. But even if the GOP's majority survives the next election cycle, conservatives shouldn't kid themselves: President Bush's domestic policy looks less and less like a visionary twist on traditional conservatism, and more and more like an evolutionary dead end.It's quite a long essay, and I certainly don't agree with everything in it, but the straight talking, clear-eyed assessment of the current situation in the GOP is as bracing as a shot of overproof rum.
Forget the misplaced loyalty and incompetence on display in Hurricanes Katrina and Harriet. The intellectual exhaustion of the current majority should have been obvious at the close of the last legislative term. After months of political reversals--including the defeat, without a shot fired, of Social Security reform--the congressional leadership managed three victories: a pork-laden $286 billion in new transportation spending, an energy bill larded with generous corporate subsidies, and a noble but unpopular free trade act, CAFTA, that may prove a poison pill for vulnerable GOP congressmen come 2006. All in all, not a bad week--unless, that is, you believe in small government, expanding economic opportunity, and the long-term political viability of the Republican party.
The Party of Sam's Club (Weekly Standard, November 14, 2005)