Too Many “Conservatives” for 2008?

National Review editorializes against Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback getting into the race for the Republicans’ ’08 presidential nod: “He could fracture the conservative base and contribute to the success of a ‘half-scale’ Republican.” Apparently, conservatives of all stripes are meant to shut up and rally around Mitt Romney — Romney, who only discovered that he was “pro-life” about the time he decided to seek the GOP nomination and whose devotion to free-market principles can be gauged by, among other things, his health-care plan for Massachusetts: “The state would work harder to enroll all residents eligible for Medicaid; employers, most of whom already offer insurance, would be encouraged to continue doing so voluntarily; and individuals who don’t have insurance would have to sign on to one of two new insurance pools, one of which would be subsidized for lower-income residents.” (That’s USA Today‘s description, which alos notes that “Failing to sign up [for the mandatory insurance scheme] could lead to a loss of a personal tax exemption or garnishment of wages.”

Brownback is not a whole lot better than Romney — on foreign policy, he may be worse, since the Kansan is eager for the U.S. to manage Africa’s affairs as well as the Middle East’s. But you’d think that social conservatives would demand that at least one contender in 2008 be reliably in their corner. (Brownback himself wasn’t always anti-abortion, but his turnabout is long-established now.) The thin gruel — for conservatives that is — of the GOP’s 2008 line-up so far is a pretty good indication of just what movement conservatives have won after decades of activism and eight years of Bush. As NR would have it, they’ve won themselves a choice between Giuliani, McCain, and Romney. And maybe Newt Gingrich, the man who wants to colonize Mars and amend the First Amendment and whose ethics make Bill Clinton look like George Washington.

All this ought to create an opening for a third-party candidate, but it won’t, and not just because the bugaboo of Hillary Clinton will keep most disgruntled conservatives in line. More fundamentally, conservatives have long since tied themselves so closely to the GOP and partisan politics that they’ll take whatever they get, and NR will be there to tell them they should like it.

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6 thoughts on “Too Many “Conservatives” for 2008?

  1. John Lowell December 6, 2006 / 3:49 pm

    Planning to continue a now well established tradition of abstention. I’m finished with “conservatives” that are willing to compromise in any way on abuses of the human person, whether the question at hand has to do with the person-as-embryo or the person-as-adult. I only hope that Catholics all-too-eager to find a resting place with stem sell-out and warmonger, Richard John Neuhaus, and the present “orthodox” Catholic blogoshere will be embarrassed into abstension as well. There are far better answers – and much better company – available to them in the pages of Communio, International Catholic Review. No one there wants to see or is willing to pay for having the DNA sucked out of a little kid’s only cell or for any more blitzkriegs in the Middle East. God save us.

    John Lowell

    John Lowell

  2. James Wilson December 6, 2006 / 10:31 pm

    Is there a single major Republican candidate who has called for budget cuts, or the elimination of just one federal program?

  3. James Wilson December 7, 2006 / 10:10 pm

    I read the link. Keeping government spending below the inflation rate may not be satisfactory from a libertarian perspective, but from a “fiscal conservative” perspective, it is actually a significant accomplishment.

  4. Daniel McCarthy December 8, 2006 / 7:08 am

    That’s true. But it’s a long way down from the days of Goldwater to a lower-than-inflation percentage hike in New York City’s spending. The latter is something, and for New York politics (especially relative to Dinkins) it’s pretty darn good, but a movement that after 40 yeras is prepared to settle for that has to be called a failure.

  5. Kevin DeAnna December 8, 2006 / 3:40 pm

    As always Dan, your analysis is spot on accurate and infinitely depressing.

    I’m voting for Tancredo regardless of who they nominate.

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