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I agree with most of the analysis here about the Republican debacle. The reference to Limbaugh is an interesting insight. He is perceived as a spokesman for the GOP, or at least for the red-meat, Chamber of Commerce type of Republican. His comments were just plain nasty. Add that to the Abramoff-Foley-Delay stories and it makes for a toxic mix. And yet, our tin-eared Pres. Bush was a guest on the Limbaugh show days before the election. I have no doubt his behavior cost the GOP.

Even though they only have a 1-vote majority in the Senate--as Gabriel notes--I still believe the shift is significant, and more importantly, not yet over. I see predictable GOP states from Ohio to the Rocky Mountain states turning from red to blue. Even in Dallas--yes, Dallas--the Democrats swept the field. Dallas has been perhaps the most Republican city in the nation for years, and yet Democratic candidates won ALL the local races. I see a shift taking place that will take several election cycles to play out.

Unless the Republicans remember that conservatism is about actually CONSERVING things, and not just about the bottom line, then I suspect they had better just make themselves at home in the political wilderness.

I don’t know if it is fair to say that the Democrats “whooped” the Republicans when they control the Senate by one seat. (A smaller margin than what the Republicans controlled it with.) The House certainly shifted, but if you count the seats, those aren’t “mandate numbers.” That is, they aren’t the sort which gives the Democratic Party carte blanche.

As for abortion, I suppose the obvious question to ask is, “What else could they have done?” I go back and forth a lot on the abortion issue, but the fact remains that Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were set in stone before the Republicans dominated the Executive and Legislative branches. Bush has managed to appoint and confirm two principled, conservative Justices to the Supreme Court. He has appointed a good number more to the lower federal benches. Having a young, principled, and exceedingly intelligent Chief Justice like John Roberts on the Court is one legacy Bush and the Republicans can be proud of. Unfortunately, that hasn’t offset their other failures.

Aside from these points, I agree with the heart of your post. The marriage between economic and social conservatives has broken down since the 1980’s. I do not believe the neoconservatives are to blame, either. If the Bush Administration was truly neoconservative in the full sense of its principles, we would still have an aggressive war effort, but with the sort of moral contour on domestic issues that one often hears expressed in the pages of The Weekly Standard, Commentary, and First Things. (I grant that FT is not a neocon publication per say, but there’s no doubt that a number of its top social contributors have neocon leanings.) What we got instead was an awful conflation of competing conservative visions coupled with the usual lobbying, short-sightedness, and power grabs that have always been a part of American politics. Could more have been done to stabilize the ship? Sure. But the inadequacy of Bush & Co. having a comprehensive conservative vision that touched on the whole of what politics is supposed to deal with has shone through.

Tres bien!

Hear! Hear!

I am very much in agreement with your thoughts.
I live in the Ford family's turf, and was pleased that at least Harold lost, though the neo-con plastic face who beat him has changed his mind on abortion as needed. Ford's "pro-life" record is found here:
http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_rating_category.php?can_id=BC042346
Perhaps Ford discussed his pro-life convictions when he went to that party at the Playboy Mansion.
At this point I am simply glad to see the neo-cons take a blow. For all the gloating Buckley and pals have done in recent years patting themselves on the back for their role in the conservative revolution (which was never conservative), I frankly would not mind if they all were to go to their graves having seen it unravel. But then again, I don't own a sailboat, or talk with a strange accent that reeks of silver spoon breath, so what do I know?

Thank you, Lord Peter. We paleo's were told, some years back, by the National Review that we had turned our back on our country. Now, it appears, some neo's (including David Frum) have seen the paleo light.

ST,

You, and the Mom-and-Pop conservatives you describe, sound like paleo-conservatives or, the term I prefer, Old-Right Conservatives. Unfortunately, the GOP only panders to this constituency anymore. Neo-Cons and Country-Club Cons have the reigns of the party, and the American people have duly kicked them out of power! Amen.

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