The Corner

That Brooks Column

I’m halfway between Ross Douthat and you on it, Jonah. I think Brooks is right that a lot of conservatives have a paralyzing misimpression of Ronald Reagan. He’s also right, in my view, that organized conservatism, and not just the Republican party, needs some innovation. But not just any old innovation, or innovation for its own sake, which is what Brooks comes close to suggesting. He thinks Rudy Giuliani should be free to “innovate” on social issues, and John McCain on economic ones. He thinks it’s terrible that James Dobson criticizes Giuliani’s “innovations,” and that the Club for Growth criticizes McCain’s. If Brooks wants to argue that that the party simply needs to move left on economics and social issues, then I’d be interested in seeing his case–but there wouldn’t be anything especially innovative about it. And when the Club for Growth goes after a Lincoln Chafee or an Arlen Specter, which is what it spends much of its time doing, it’s not stifling some creative conservative rethinking.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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