It follows that, in a certain sense, Bush's defeat next Tuesday would be the
most crushing blow that organized conservatism has received since 1964 — or,
really, ever. Reagan, our most conservative president, was not repudiated when
he ran for reelection. Bush's father and Bob Dole had too distant a relationship
with conservatism for their defeats to be attributed, by conservatives or even
plausibly by others, to their conservatism; in the case of Bush's father, it was
easy to make the case that it was precisely his unconservatism that doomed him.
I don't think the case has been made against conservatism per se in this campaign as much as it has been made against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, the real "Axis of Evil" so we're told. If Ramesh is speaking strictly of a tactical defeat in losing the White House, maybe he's right. Bush is a conservative, in the broadest sense of the word, and there's a chance that some narrow conservative goals might be pursued in a second term, but the inside baseball of "...Social Security reform, budget process reform, and other things that the President has endorsed" is only part of the larger strategy. Gaining conservative influence in the media and universities is just as important when it comes to advancing the conservative agenda. If Bush loses, it'll be the combination of incompetence and egotism that the Kerry campaign is hammering. The consrevative movement has plenty of problems, but I think it'll survive a Bush defeat just fine. In fact, it may cause a reevaluation of priorities that could be healthy.