Jonah Goldberg

Before I join in the sport of post-defeat Republican recrimination, allow me to indulge in a rare moment of bipartisanship.

Philosophers and partisans will debate for years the question of whether Democrats deserved to win the 2006 elections, but let us agree that the Republicans deserved to lose.

Through its own crapulence, jobbery and malfeasance, the Grand Old Party lost the House of Representatives, the jewel of the Republican revolution, the engine of conservative policy reform and home to the much-maligned freedom fries. The Democrats needed 15 seats to capture the House, and they passed that mark handily, like a running back carrying the ball through the end zone, into the bleachers and all the way to the concession stand - and then ordering a hot dog. Then, twisting the knife and mangling this metaphor beyond all human decency, the Senate fell into the Dem column like one enormous hanging chad.

Let's take the Democrats at their word. They wanted this election to be a referendum on President Bush and the GOP. Despite valiant efforts by the Republicans to make the election a choice between two parties, the Dems succeeded in making it thumbs-up or thumbs-down on just one: the GOP.

And so the Republicans were doomed. The cliches are no less true for being cliches. The GOP came to power in 1994 promising lean government, and became the party that needs to unbuckle its pants and loosen its belt two notches after every lobbyist-paid meal. The GOP once had the reputation of being able to run the government like a business and wars like a finely tuned machine. But under compassionate conservatism, government became a faith-based charity.

As for the war(s), the finely tuned machine is clogged with Iraqi sand. The Democrats think the only solution is to "redeploy" the whole kit and caboodle out of there for repairs. To Bush's credit, he understands that wars, particularly this one, need to be won. But, alas, the Democrats won the argument at the polls.

Now, let's get back to the important business of pointing fingers and assigning blame. Conservatives have been sharpening their bayonets for months, waiting to inaugurate the first great intramural bloodletting of the new millennium. Libertarian types think the fault lies in too much social conservatism. Social conservatives see too much worldliness. Both see too much compromise, while moderates, squishes and other RINOs (Republicans in name only) see too little compromise. Realists and isolationists see too much war. Neoconservatives and other hawks see, if not too little war, certainly too little commitment to do everything it takes to win the ones we're in.


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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