TWO THINGS ALL conservatives love are narratives of decline and talking about conservatism. Put those together and you have the popular argument that conservatism ain’t what it used to be. The chart of that supposed decline, if you were to draw it Ascent of Man style, would start with Edmund Burke looking intelligent and walking upright, followed by William F. Buckley as Australopithecus, slouching. The present age would be represented by some knuckle-dragging, prognathous creature like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. First comes very smart, then pretty smart, and then not very smart at all.