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I don’t know why RSM is so insistant on bringing up Ross Douthat’s Harvard credentials, since they don’t speak to anything anymore than my lower-tier ivy credentials might. They’re irrelevant to his argument, which is summarized as follows: Senator McCain’s loss should not necessarily be construed as a failure of moderate Republicanism (though Rush is saying it is). Instead, it’s a failure of strategy, given its substance-free approach.
Ross’s assessment omits this point. The substance-free approach of McCain and Co. is absolutely tied to moderate Republicanism and the campaign’s strategic failure. McCain’s lackluster response to the economic crisis is a perfect example of this. His aversion to addressing issues was rooted in lacking a coherent philosophy as the thread to weave through it. What was it the press and conservatives have been howling about for months? The lack of a message. Wouldn’t that message have been solidified if McCain ran on simply more than “I was for the surge before anyone else was?”
Yet that’s what moderate Republicanism offers. It offers a few issues where their expertise might be attractive to independents. In this game, however, a Democrat always wins. Why? Because a Democrat can argue about the need for moderation as a way to shortcircuit concern about going too far with spending. No one in the party will call the candidate on his ambition. A moderate Republican, however, has to contend with a party base that’s a little more discerning.
Rush’s point was that true conservatism — a belief in the right to life, a strong national defense, and limited government, resonates in a way that does not happen with watered-down self-servatism, because the latter is too difficult to effectively communicate in a way that resonates with independents and core conservatives. The point is that you can reach independents using a conservative message. When you try to simply cater your message to independents, though, it makes little sense — because independents themselves have a philosophy that doesn’t quite make sense (otherwise, more people would be attracted to it, right?).
Ran Hay, a commenter on Stacy’s earlier post, puts it fantastically well: “Even ‘moderates’ and ‘undecideds’ pine for clear choices.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online