I recently asked what long-term benefit conservatives derived from Medicare Part D. Ramesh Ponnuru, who believes (with good reason) that the program helped President Bush win re-election in 2004, replies: “If my previous posts are right, two answers suggest themselves: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.” Roberts and Alito are indeed among the highlights of the second Bush term, even measured against the damage that was done to the Republican Party during that period. Someday reading their dissenting opinions will make it easier to swallow the bitter, federally subsidized, rationed, reimported pills supplied by the Democrats who now control every elected branch of the federal government.
More seriously, just because the Bush administration’s failures were often in response to real political circumstances doesn’t make those failures inevitable. Imagine if Republicans tried to popularize a real, relatively free-market alternative on health care rather than the Obamacare light favored by some senior Republicans. Imagine that they tried something similar with the Medicare prescription drug benefit instead of supporting the version that is now in place. While their success would be no more inevitable than Bush’s failure, if they had succeeded both the party’s fortunes and many conservative causes — including the cause of conservative judges like Roberts and Alito — would be in much better shape.
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