Feeding Frenzy

by Ramesh Ponnuru

I guess my essay with Rich Lowry about the bad habits of mind that the shutdown illustrated was a red cape to Erick Erickson. He has now charged, though without result.

Erickson makes two key points. The first is an unfavorable comparison of today’s Republican-establishment-coddling NR to the Goldwater-backing one WFB founded. The problem with his comparison is that it assumes that WFB and Goldwater failed not only to move American politics rightward but even to change the ideological complexion of the Republican party. It’s a dubious homage, and one that grapples with no evidence at all.

Second, Erickson writes that Obamacare “should be fought by all means, with or without a Senate majority or White House. The fight should not depend on electoral outcomes and should not be delayed pending reinforcements, many of whom will flee the field once elected.” Who’s arguing with that? Not me. I’ve been consistently urging Republicans to fight Obamacare. (Unlike people who have argued that the whole law should be implemented, people like . . . Erick Erickson.) But I plead guilty to thinking that our choice of strategy against Obamacare should depend on things like which party controls the Senate.

Erickson claims that the point of our essay was to “tell conservatives to stop fighting until they win” and says that most conservatives, unlike your “well-fed” correspondent, are “hungering for a fight against the leviathan.” Our actual point is that it is mistaken and counterproductive to chalk up all strategic disagreements to differences in degrees of commitment to the cause.

I’m not as hungry as Erickson for a fight, especially among conservatives. I am hungry for a victory over big government — which will take our brains as well as our stomachs.

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