The Corner

One More Comment

on the geography of conservatism: I think Ross Douthat’s post “The Limits of Libertarianism” is largely right. (The caveats, fwiw: I have some quibbles about his characterization of how public opinion drove the shift from Gingrich to Bush, and some reservations about his prescriptions for the future.)

Douthat wonders whether a majority could really be formed for Andrew Sullivan’s brand of libertarianism. The same question could be asked of the conservatism that Jeff Hart implicitly proposes. Could we really have had (assuming it were desirable) a successful conservatism that was based in the Northeast and Midwest, balanced the budget, shrank the government, protected the environment and beauty, and made its peace with legal abortion? Hart speaks of a politics of actuality, but that implies choosing among actually available alternatives. What he has actually done is sketched his version of a political ideal. To assume that this ideal could be realized politically is at least as utopian as anything he criticizes.

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

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