That Elusive "Permanent Governing Majority"
It has been interesting to watch [House Republicans] on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party.
A curious accusation coming from a guy who A) warned Republicans (inaccurately) that their failure to nominate John McCain over George W. Bush in 2000 meant that the GOP was "doomed," in dire need of "creative destruction," and that McCain and the country might be better off launching a Teddy Roosevelt-style third party run; and then B) still managed to have a president who mostly heeded his big-government conservatism advice from about Sept. 12, 2001 onward.
It was David Brooks who, five months after the attacks on the World Trade Center, saw a "huge opportunity" to "create a governing Republican majority" through Bush echoing "precisely the aggressive foreign policy and patriotic national service themes that John McCain struck in the 2000 primary season," including "rogue-state rollback," "nation-building," and "a summons to national service." President Bush, Brooks gushed, had finally "broken the libertarian grip on the GOP."
It was Brooks who, on the eve of the 2004 Republican National Convention, performed an endzone dance celebrating "the death of small-government conservatism," arguing that the Republicans "must embrace" a T.R.-tastic "progressive conservatism" if they want "to become the majority party for the next few decades."
And it was David Brooks who, after nearly seven years of a big-government conservatism administration, declared that "official conservatism [has] slipped into decrepitude," to be saved only by a bunch of young writers, especially Ross Douthat and Brooks' former assistant Reihan Salam, who together are hawking a new book about–surprise!–how the GOP can create a governing majority by pandering more effectively to middle class "Sam's Club voters" than the Democrats. "The best single roadmap of where the party should and is likely to head," Brooks enthused. "It may take a few defeats for the G.O.P. to embrace a Sam's Club agenda, but sooner or later, it will happen. Trust me."
So to sum up: The Republican Party has been following David Brooks' advice for more than seven years now, and as a partial result is on the verge of a near-historic ass-whupping. For which David Brooks blames "nihilist" libertarians. Nice work, if you can get it.