Jonah Goldberg

Here we go again. Suddenly, conservatives, libertarians and other souls of a rightish bent are pondering whether a "conservative crack-up" is nigh.

In their book, "The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America," John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge offered some insight into what could stop the conservatives from prospering: if they became "too Southern, too greedy and too contradictory."

Libertarian law professor and influential blogger Glenn Reynolds says the conservatives are "aiming for two out of three" of these opportunities to yank defeat from the jaws of success. (Reynolds, a Southerner, isn't too worried about the third.)

Elsewhere, the New York Post's Ryan Sager, another libertarian, laments that the Republican Party is shedding the "last vestiges" of its small-government philosophy by participating in such grandstanding spectacles as the baseball steroid hearings.

Andrew Sullivan, a self-described sane-moderate-libertarian-pro-life-conservative-hawk, is convinced that conservatism is simply over. He is now convinced that the GOP is really a Bismarckian enterprise run by a "crew of zealots and charlatans" who are "immune to calls to restraint or moderation or limits on power."

Meanwhile, in private conversations, e-mail exchanges and the like, there's a level of chatter - often egged on by wishful liberals - that the USS Conservatism is about to founder on the rocks and that maybe it'd be wise to make our way to the life rafts before it's too late.

Take a deep breath, everybody.

First, keep in mind that what has prompted the most recent bout of panic is the passionate - and legitimate - differences over the Terri Schiavo case. Just as hard cases make bad law, they also tend to make for bad analysis. Lots of people are pointing to the fact that the polls do not support Congress' decision to intervene on Ms. Schiavo's behalf (even as the nature of that involvement has been often wildly exaggerated). The Republican Party has exposed itself, if these pessimists are to be believed, with a dangerous overreach that will haunt it for years.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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