Remember all those “reformist conservatives” who were peddling books, op-eds, and magazine articles saying that the Republican Party would die after the 2008 elections unless GOP pols followed the five- or fifty-point plans contained therein? Well, Dave Weigel followed up and asked the logical question: What do you think now that the Republicans are likely to win again not just by ignoring your advice but by doing the opposite?
The reformists mostly double down, arguing that they have either been proven right or will be proven right just around the corner (the piece concludes with a characteristically obnoxious quote from Mickey Edwards). Snark aside, governing is different than campaigning against an unpopular administration that has tried to do too much during a horrible economy. Maybe we’ll need to dust off our copies of Comeback and Grand New Party in the run-up to the 2012 election. And I do think Republicans are returning to power prematurely, though given the way the Democrats have governed I don’t see what the alternative is.
But as I observed in a recent Wall Street Journal review of two triumphalist Democratic books — both smart books in their way, just like the two reformist conservative books I just mentioned — we’ve been in a very volatile political environment for quite some time. There is a tendency to overreact to the last election cycle. Those predicting a permanent Democratic majority and the reformist conservatives overreacted to 2006 and 2008, mainstream conservatives overreacted to 2002 and 2004, and I’m sure we’ll see all kinds of Tea Party triumphalism in the overreaction to 2010.
Sometimes it’s better to take the long view.