Mona Charen

Strangely, chatter about the "death of conservatism" is circulating this fall. I say "strangely" because we are in the midst of the greatest left/liberal moment in living memory. Liberal policies are careening out of Washington and mowing down innocent bystanders. This is the greatest opportunity since the Carter administration to illustrate to voters why conservatism is to be preferred. So it's downright weird that at this moment, we are being asked to ponder how far we have fallen from the glory days of William F. Buckley and Milton Friedman. "How awful for you," say those who never sympathized with conservatism, "that you have been reduced to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity."

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This is rubbish. Conservatives have always had populists as well as intellectuals. In the 1970s there was Buckley, yes, but also Howard Jarvis and Richard Viguerie. We had fewer radio voices because the Fairness Doctrine limited free speech. Now we have a chorus where once we had only a few soloists. Besides, why don't those crying crocodile tears for conservatism's supposed decline fret that liberalism is represented by the likes of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow? I'll see your Rush Limbaugh and raise you an Al Franken and a Michael Moore.

Far from suffering a decline, conservatism is on the cusp of a major comeback, courtesy of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. That revival will be fertilized by their failures. The crop is already beginning to come in:

Cash for Clunkers: The goal of the program was to reduce carbon emissions and boost the ailing auto industry. As even "Saturday Night Live" acknowledges, the program succeeded in stimulating the economy -- of Japan. The Department of Transportation estimates that 59 percent of vehicles bought with clunker bonuses were foreign made. As for the American auto industry, as soon as the program ended, sales plummeted by 25 percent compared with last year, suggesting that consumers simply rushed to purchase cars in August that they were planning to purchase soon anyway. The environmental impact is speculative. Some estimate that the program will save 0.04 percent of CO2 -- or two days worth -- over the next decade. Or maybe not even that. Lee Schipper of Berkeley and several colleagues warned in the Washington Post that new cars are more fun to drive than old clunkers. It is therefore possible that the program will not yield even that de minimus environmental benefit. Moreover, the price for this fandango came to $2,000 per vehicle, or $1.4 billion to taxpayers.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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