I should talk about the preposterous main thrust of David Brooks's latest column (available free here) -- that if America is to survive it needs to have excellent schools and a national-service program, but also low taxes. (The elves and fairies, I guess, will pay for the excellent schools and national-service program.)
But instead I want to point this out:
...while some Republicans argue that ... the G.O.P. was in decent shape until [George W.] Bush ruined it, this is a total myth. In fact, it was Bush in 1999 who single-handedly (though temporarily) rescued the Republican Party. He did it not by courting Republican interest groups, but by coming up with something new. On July 22, he delivered a speech in Indianapolis in which he explicitly distanced himself from Washington Republicans and laid the groundwork for compassionate conservatism.
Do you believe that? Can anyone with a functioning long-term memory possibly believe that?
Imagine: It's 1999, but the presidential race is shaping up very differently -- George W. Bush is the no-'count commissioner of baseball and Karl Rove is in prison. Can it seriously be argued that the GOP would have been facing ruin, with the then-rock star John McCain as its almost certain presidential nominee, going up against Al Gore?
The press loved McCain back then. And the press hated Al Gore. (If you need a refresher course on that, go here.) I suppose there's an outside chance that Gore could have beaten McCain, but it's hard to imagine.
Does Brooks think the GOP needed a thesis? Does he think the GOP needed a speech? The GOP needed a winning candidate, and then everyone would have said it was a party in perfectly sound shape (an opinion to which much of the Beltway press was already very much inclined.)
Brooks missed his calling -- he really should have been a mediocre college professor. Typical of him to think that the key to the GOP's health as a party was a text.