The EFM Feature

I continue to think about all the claims out there that the Republican field this time around stinks and that we’re all terribly dissatsfied with it. Here’s my question: When did conservatives have more reason to be excited about their field than now?
Even before Senator McCain imploded–and was thus in the top tier–the answer to that question wasn’t clear to me. Pick any of the top candidates. Are people really arguing that we were better off in 1988, with George H.W. Bush representing us? Or 1996, with Bob Dole?
In fact, if you look at two of the three real contenders, were we really better off in 2000 and 2004? This may get me accused of heresy, but show me one place where the current president is notably more conservative than either Governor Romney or Senator Thompson. I bet you can’t find one–and any honest critic will have to admit that both current GOP frontrunners are much stronger than the man they seek to replace on the issue of government spending. Or look at abortion, where President Bush is a convert, too, according to Kate O’Bierne. Or the war, where there’s no daylight between the current commander-in-chief and the 2008 GOP frontrunners–any of them. I know Mayor Giuliani is quite liberal on some important issues, but why the great gnashing of teeth if we have two more conservative alternatives?
And why, if our base got so excited for President Bush four years ago, are these other candidates so bad?
Answer: They’re not, if you compare them to other real-life alternatives. But we keep comparing them to an idealized reality that does not exist and has never existed–or, sometimes, as EFM has noted, an idealized Reagan who never lived. And that is dangerous. If you don’t believe me, let me–following on Erick Erickson–give you four reasons why. Here they are: John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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