Nonetheless, the governor is traversing his state working to advance a conservative agenda of reform. It sounds as if the reforms are, as the Journal reports, "dull." One would set up a government department to monitor state spending. As things stand today, that function is performed by a board controlled by legislators. All right, that is like a board of foxes monitoring the henhouse. Gov. Sanford's reform makes sense. But it is, indeed, dull. It is nothing like major regulatory reform, major tax cuts, privatizing government functions, perhaps paying for major roadways with user fees.
This brings us to one matter that is, for a certitude, a national story. Gov. Sanford is a conservative, and so successful have conservatives been at governing during the past 20 to 30 years that they do not have much of an agenda left. They succeeded throughout the country at fighting crime, lowering taxes, streamlining government -- at least, making an effort to streamline government. To a large degree, conservatives are the victims of their success. Their policies solved most of the major problems of the last half of the 20th century: the Cold War, the urban crisis, stagflation.
If it had not been for the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush would not have had much to do during his presidency. He might have addressed the housing bubble, but there was no clamor to do so. In fact, both sides of the aisle seemed to think subprime mortgages were written into the Bill of Rights.
Yet with the Obama administration in place, it has become increasingly clear that very soon, the conservatives will have plenty on their agenda once again. They will have the fiscal mess that Obama is creating. There will be health care in need of market reform and malpractice reform. Foreign policy is going to be in dreadful need of adult supervision. Most alarmingly, after the Obama administration demoralizes our intelligence community and mucks up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our defense policies are going to need urgent attention.
So very soon, conservatism will have a very full agenda, though I doubt that Gov. Sanford will be very much involved.