The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation.
By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.
As ‘noz points out, the prevailing wisdom is that you can’t win a Republican primary without appealing to the Palin/Plumber base — the Florida and Pennsylvania Republican Senate primaries next year should be good tests of that theory — and you can’t win the general election if all you appeal to is the Palin/Plumber base. Add to that the purging of the moderates from the GOP at the behest of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, and you’re on the fast track to Loserville.
Far be it from me to argue with the learned judge, but I would say that conservative intellectuals have basically been without a party since the election of 1968 when they decided that it was better to rule than to govern.