Like the Berliners of 1945-46 who picked through the rubble to separate still usable bricks for re-building from that which was destroyed beyond repair, the Republicans now start the same lamentable process of finding something of value in the rubble that was their majority. And just as the Berlin of today is physically both similar to and different from the Berlin that stood before it was flattened during WWII, so, too, the new Republican majority that someday will be rebuilt will be similar but not identical to the one that was constructed in the Reagan-Gingrich era.
For both edifices the cornerstone was and again will be conservative principles of governance and society. But even the substance of that cornerstone will be hotly fought over -- to say nothing of how the rest of the building above the cornerstone will be constructed.
Will it exclude "grandiose nation building abroad," which George Will recently insisted was one of the non-conservative apostasies of the Bush administration? Will it also exclude a firm Mexican border policy and any deviance from free trade, as Michael Barone suggested last week? Will it exclude opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, as many U.S. Chamber of Commerce leaders believe is necessary to keep the business-class conservatives on board with Republican conservatism?
It's all very well for all of us conservatives to repeat -- and believe -- the mantra that we strayed from conservative principles and paid the price. But the inevitable stresses within the conservative Republican governing coalition that had held together for a quarter of a century (more or less) until last week's election will be harder to put back together than they were to keep together. (The magic elixir of power to be shared is stronger than the appeal of laboring together in the wilderness.)
National governing parties are by definition coalitions. There is no faction in American politics equal to 51 percent of the vote. FDR successfully held in his great coalition southern segregationists and northern integrationists -- to use the most spectacular example of successful coalition management. The challenge for conservatives is to rebuild a governing coalition for the next few decades. Let me offer just one example of how this coalition construction job will be marginally different from the one Newt Gingrich & Company had in the '80s and '90s.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.