Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obstruct and Delay

William Kristol realizes that Barack Obama is in charge and that the Republicans are in deep trouble.

Conservatives can’t win politically right now. But they can raise doubts, they can point out other issues that we can’t ignore (especially in national security and foreign policy), they can pick other fights — and they can try in any way possible to break Obama’s momentum. Only if this happens will conservatives be able to get a hearing for their (compelling, in my view) arguments against big-government, liberal-nanny-state social engineering — and for their preferred alternatives.

It’s like the conservatives haven’t had a chance to be in power for the last twelve years or so, and every time they do get in power, there’s some evil invisible force out there that makes the Republicans expand the power and the reach of the government and bring about their own version of nanny-state social engineering like faith-based science and dictating to women at home and abroad just what they can do with their bodies. But, he proclaims, just give us one more chance and we can get it right this time. We promise. Really.

It’s revealing that Mr. Kristol makes his case by using combative terms — “pick other fights” — and non-responsive tactics — “obstruct and delay.” This is based in the conservative philosophy that the only way to do anything is to do nothing other than hold your ground and resist anything that you didn’t think of. And for all his touting of “compelling” arguments, so far neither Mr. Kristol nor his fellow conservatives have offered counter-proposals that haven’t already been tried and shown to be several light years beyond the concept of Epic Fail.

To his credit, he seems to grudgingly grasp that.

Still, conservatives and Republicans shouldn’t minimize their tasks. Long term, they need fresh thinking in a host of areas of domestic policy, thinking that builds on previous conservative achievements but that deals with the new economic and social realities. In the short term, Republicans need to show a tactical agility and political toughness far greater than their predecessors did in the 1960s and the 1930s. “Else they will fall,” to quote the great conservative Edmund Burke, “an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle,” reduced to the unpleasant role of bystanders or the unattractive status of complainers, as Barack Obama makes history.

Welcome to the Reality-Based Community, Bill.