Purist Potshots

by Ramesh Ponnuru

The ratio of invective to thought in this attack on me by Americans for Limited Government president Bill Wilson is pretty high. (In a closing bon mot, he calls me an “odious quisling” and urges my firing.) He claims that in a recent column I urged Republicans to be “to be more accommodating, more bipartisan, and not to turn off political Independents”–which gives him a pretty impressive 33 percent accuracy rate since, yes, I do think conservatives need to attract independent voters to win elections and change the direction of government. As for “accommodating” and “bipartisan”: I not only spent more than two years arguing for unyielding opposition to Obamacare, but lauded Republicans for that stance in the very column Wilson is criticizing.

Leaving aside Wilson’s many misconceptions–and his need to switch to decaf–there is a real disagreement between us. Wilson writes, “Is winning elections more important than saving the country?” No. But political movements can usually do a lot more good for the country if they can win elections. Wilson criticizes me for suggesting that it was unwise to nominate Ken Buck and Sharron Angle for Senate seats that other conservative Republicans could have won. He blasts me for allegedly being less devoted to limited government than he is. But it is pretty hard to make the case that nominating Buck and Angle advanced that cause.

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