VDH belatedly notes that sacrificing principle for political pragmatism didn’t work so well:
The real cause of unhappiness with the Republicans was simply that they could not make a convincing case for conservatism to a changing electorate because so many of them were not acting as conservatives…. Once Republicans started talking about federal deficits only in terms of manageable percentages of GDP rather than as real money, they forfeited the entire issue of fiscal responsibility, and lost the moral high ground. Barack Obama can get away with unprecedented and astronomical of projected deficits, in part because the Republicans are not credible any more on spending….
If the Republicans think they can outbid the Democrats for the support of feminists, gays, and growing numbers of minorities, then they will only add embarrassment and permanent failure to the present natural cycle of political correction.
As counterintuitive as it may sound to the average political analyst, it was the liberalism of the Bush administration and the Republican congresses, not their conservativism, that led to the financial crisis and enabled the Democrats to move further to the Left. Bush didn’t have to appoint Bernanke. McCain didn’t have to tie himself to the banking bailouts… had he actually been the maverick that he feigns to be, he could have slaughtered Obama courtesy of his close ties to Wall Street and Fannie Mae. And, as VDH notes, the party that outspent LBJ simply has no credibility in complaining about Obama’s even more outlandish expenditures.
Those who believe in chasing electorates and polls don’t understand that electorates are not static, which is why their efforts are doomed to failure. They’re dynamic and they will respond favorably even to those with whom they are in fundamental disagreement for a variety of reasons. Obama will screw up, and badly, there is little question of that. But it’s far from certain that the Republicans will be able to take advantage of his mistakes and eventual unpopularity; listening to the advice of the accomodationist squish faction will only ensure another 40 years in the political wilderness.