Bill Kristol should be joking here, but unfortunately he isn’t:
Republicans can and should say, with considerable justification and only a bit of bravado: It is past time we ceased to apologize for an imperfect political party. Find its equal. Probably more than any other party in the world, the Republicans have in recent decades stood unflinchingly for the cause of liberty abroad, and, at home, with a bit more uncertainty, for limited, constitutional government and for the principle that government exists to serve free men and free markets, not the reverse.
If you were wondering when Republicans had started apologizing for their party’s flaws, you aren’t alone. The Republican Party has many afflictions and problems today, but a lack of triumphalism about its own virtues isn’t one of them. Kristol’s overconfidence in the GOP is impressive in a perverse way. Reviewing the GOP’s record over the past decade of massive foreign policy failure, executive overreach, expansion of government, growth of the national security state, support for torture and indefinite detention, and government bailouts, there are not many willing to celebrate the party for its “unflinching” defense of the causes of liberty and limited, constitutional government.
The simple reason for that is that it does not deserve to be celebrated. The “principle that government exists to serve free men and free markets” has been one that Republican leaders have honored more in the breach in the last decade. Republican leaders can’t cease to apologize for their party’s flaws now that they have only just begun to acknowledge them. Self-criticism is supposed to be an uncomfortable and humbling experience, not a brief prelude to more self-congratulation.