So sayeth Dick Armey, former Gingrich revolutionary and House majority leader from 1995-02. Armey, who now heads up Freedom Works, has uncharitable things to say about the last eight years of Republicanism:
Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms. How else do we explain "compassionate conservatism," No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug benefit and the most dramatic growth in federal spending since LBJ's Great Society? […]
The response by Mr. McCain to the financial crisis on Wall Street was the defining moment of the campaign. In what looked like a tailor-made opportunity to "clean up Washington," the Republican nominee could have challenged the increasingly politicized nature of Federal Reserve policies, and the inherently corrupt relationships between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and various Democratic committee chairmen. Instead, his reaction was visceral and insecure: He "suspended" his campaign and promised "to put an end to the reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed that have caused a crisis on Wall Street." […]
Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 because voters no longer saw Republicans as the party of limited government. They have since rejected virtually every opportunity to recapture this identity. But their failure to do so must not be misconstrued as a rejection of principles of individual liberty by the American people. The evidence suggests we are still a nation of pocketbook conservatives most happy when government has enough respect to leave us alone and to mind its own business. The worrisome question is whether either political party understands this.
I don't know if Armey is right about the political calculus of it all, but I do know that if Republicans react to Tuesday's drubbing by embracing less individual freedom in the form enhanced cultural conservatism, they are flirting with the possibility of going extinct. Ask newspapers, for one, how that whole, don't-attract-customers-under-30 thing has worked out for them.
Some Dick Armey hits from the reason archives: Before the 2006 elections he explained why Republicans deserved to lose. A few weeks before that, he kicked social cons square in the be-hind. In 1997, he was interviewed by contributing editor Caroyln Lochhead. And earlier this year he was on reason tv, talking about immigration: