True conservatism, after all, is not about temporary battles over Medicare – important as those battles may be – but about the “Permanent Things.” It’s as though Frum never read Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. Conservatism was around long before the era of Goldwater and Reagan and it will be around long after they are memories. “What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?” The battle against limited government was a means to and end – limiting government’s ability to pursue the new and untried – not an end in and of itself. Even if Frum is right that the battle for limited government is lost, the war to defend the Permanent Things against the designs of Burke’s “sophisters, economists; and calculators” will rage on forever. ~Prof. Bainbridge
It is all together only too likely that Frum has not read The Conservative Mind, or, having read it, dismissed it or forgot what it had to say. The man who wrote “Unpatriotic Conservatives” is very likely not a man who understands or sympathises with the mind described in that book; if he understands that mind at all, it seems to represent a conservatism he actively detests. But Prof. Bainbridge makes an excellent point in reminding us that conservatism is not principally a matter of policy positions, but a matter of commitment to eternal verities. That being said, the abandonment of small-government conservative principles is a serious problem, particularly to the extent that large government empowers the forces of consolidation and homogenisation and puts the “sophisters, economists and calculators” in charge.