Another thing about Michael Gerson's funny Jesus-wasn't-a-libertarian column that Jacob Sullum dropped some theology on below: In reading it, I was reminded again of something I only fully realized when doing research of the 2000 campaign for my book: The George W. Bush vs. John McCain fight back then, when Compassionate Conservatism did holy battle with the secular religion of National Greatness Conservatism, was widely (and accurately) understood at the time as an explicit rejection of GOP libertarianism, then most associated with Newt Gingrich. (See, for example, the extended McCain quote at the bottom of this post.) The two candidates were championing the federal government as a tool for good works, and promising to restore a certain dignity and honor in the White House. We've had eight years of one flavor (admittedly mixed heavily with the neocon/National Greatness stuff after 9/11); now it's time to try the other.
Is it any wonder then, that the Republican nominee has trouble on his libertarian flank, despite being good on stuff like earmarks and government waste?
In that context, and in the season of an impending Republican rout, it makes perfect sense for those Republicans, like Gerson, who've actually been within sniffing distance of power these past eight years to take aim at those libertarians who most definitely have not. Considering that Bob Barr is this year's third-party candidate of interest, and Ron Paul is still proving to be some kind of irritant, expect the next six months to produce an establishment GOP assault on limited-government Republicans and independents who have little or no more use for that shrinking Big Tent. Should be a hoot.