Long ago when I came to Washington to change the world, I ran smack into a brick wall. That wall was called the election of 1964 and if you weren't there, let me tell you about it. A very liberal Democrat -- Lyndon Johnson -- was elected president in a landslide (61 percent!) and backed up by two very Democrat houses of Congress. In the Senate Democrats ruled 68 to 32 and in the House they outnumbered Republicans 295 to 140. That was the make up of the famous 89th Congress -- where I worked and saw first hand what super-majorities can do. That Congress is known for civil rights legislation, but they did a great deal more. For example, they produced the utopian Great Society featuring the audacious War on Poverty. Conservatives were too few to stop the government-knows-best steamroller, so America spent $5 trillion and did not end poverty. Instead we eroded social and family bonds; created a chronically dependent class of Americans; and built a huge welfare-poverty industry to go with it. And it wasn't until 1996 that Republicans were able to do anything about it.
Ryan Sager's analysis of the Libertarian West is similarly unpersuasive. First, this region of the country is hardly immune to the appeals of unlibertarian economic populism and even social conservatism. Second, if the Interior West's Democratic shift is attributable to disaffected libertarians rather than demographic changes favorable to liberalism, why are the same trends evident in non-libertarian Virginia? Thirdly, why did Bob Barr see his strongest poll numbers before John McCain picked icky religious conservative Sarah Palin rather than after disaffected libertarians had no one to vote for?
Let's get the two defensible things Walter Shapiro says in his latest Salon column out of the way. Yes, there is a contradiction between trying to replicate George W. Bush's campaigns and the John McCain 2000 campaign, and it's one McCain has even at this late date failed to resolve. Yes, there is a strong conservative case to be made against many of the Bush administration's policies, including some that are popular among self-described conservatives. The rest of Shapiro's piece is utter nonsense.