Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: The Future Of
Conservatism via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan by Andrew Sullivan
on 12/2/08
This is a typically concise and brilliant summation of the problem from
Richard Posner. And this paragraph helps lay out the depth of the
challenge for conservatives right now:

The financial crisis has hit economic libertarians in the solar plexus,
because the crisis is largely a consequence of innate weaknesses in
free markets and of excessive deregulation of banking and finance,
rather than of government interference in the market. Believers in a
strong foreign policy have been hurt by the protracted and seemingly
purposeless war in Iraq (the main effects of which seem to have been
discord between the United States and its allies, increased recruitment
of Islamic terrorists, and the strengthening of Iran and of the Taliban
in Afghanistan and of al Qaeda in Pakistan) and the Bush
Administration’s lack of success in dealing with Iran, North Korea,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. And social
conservatives have been hurt by the stridency of some of their most
prominent advocates, who all too often give the appearance of being
mean-spirited, out-of-touch, know-nothing deniers of science (e.g.,
evolution, climate change).

The combination of all three is a very potent one. The crisis is at two
levels - the dreadful incompetence and incoherence of the Bush-Cheney
administration, which has poisoned the Republican brand for more than
one generation, and the emergence of inherent flaws in several strains
of conservative thought.

The banking crisis is so close to us and so unresolved it's hard to see
it in context, but I fear that Greenspan is right: it's a huge flaw
that cannot be explained away by government. The limits of hard power
are, in fact, perfectly in line with conservatism's deeper insights
into human affairs, with Bush and Cheney acting more as over-reaching
utopians than conservative statesmen. And the social conservatism
problem has been a function of Christianism: an inability to shape
society as it is because their theological doctrine demands adherence
to eternal dogma not development of pragmatic policy. So we have their
rigid refusal to countenance any legal abortion or any civil
recognition of gay couples.

Grappling with any one of these problems would be serious enough.
Untangling all three at once? The GOP had better hope Obama really
screws up.

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