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Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another

Here we go again — and again, and again, and again. This from an Atlantic dispatch from a post-election GOP dinner in Washington:

 The debate within the Grand Old Party has begun to take shape along familiar lines. Some call on the party to moderate its positions; others insist it only needs to articulate them more forcefully. Then there are those who darkly foresee the day the American people, having chosen the path of disaster, get their comeuppance.

“Oh yes, we are all very sad,” a silver-haired business lobbyist named Michael Maibach said when I asked him how Republicans were coping. “Some of us have turned to drugs; others are in therapy.”

But Maibach turned serious as he contemplated the second term afforded Obama, a man whose “hero is Saul Alinsky,” who was “raised in two former colonies and never had a continental experience.” The fact that he was reelected, Maibach said, was a sign of a country whose character was in decline, where responsibility had fallen out of favor.

So, Americans voted for Obama over Romney because they’re bad people and cannot recognize a Marxist anti-colonialist when they see one? If I were a liberal Democrat, I would donate money to this conservative organization to encourage people like Maibach and their way of — and I use the term loosely — thinking.

Sen.-elect Ted Cruz disagrees, sort of, but … wow:

Cruz, standing to the side of the podium before a Crayola-blue curtain with a microphone clipped to his tie, insisted in an impassioned 30-minute speech that blaming the voters was not what he was there to do.

“More than a few conservatives say, well, if the voters want to bankrupt our country, let them suffer the consequences,” he said. But the real problem, Cruz said, was that “Republicans were curled up in the fetal position, so utterly terrified of the words ‘George W. Bush'” — for whom Cruz once worked, as a campaign adviser and in the Justice Department — “that we never bothered to contest” Obama’s economic arguments. The “utterly ridiculous notion” of a “war on women” also went unchallenged, in Cruz’s telling.

The other speakers at the dinner — which was also attended by two members of Congress, Raul Labrador of Idaho and Steve King of Iowa, as well as a former Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, and emceed by Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard — were even more adamant that it was the method, not the message, that lost the election for the GOP.

Romney never contested Obama’s economic arguments? Really? Republicans would have done better had they embraced and defended the George W. Bush record? This is funny, but as a conservative, I don’t think it’s ha-ha funny. But wait, there’s more:

“2012 was the exact opposite of the kind of the election we at the American Principles Project think the Republican Party and the conservative movement need to run,” said Frank Cannon, the group’s president. It was an election, he explained, in which Republicans accepted the notion of a “truce” on social issues and spent $1 billion single-mindedly trying to convince people they would be better stewards of the economy.

Looking at the API board of directors’ list, I bet that I agree with them close to 100 percent on social issues. But honestly, to say that Romney, or any 2012 GOP nominee, ought not to have based his campaign on economic issues after four years of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is a fairly egregious example of 20/20 hindsight.

Anyway, the significant thing about this report is what it suggests about the GOP’s activist class. Of course this is just one anecdote, and I hope not one that indicates the direction of the post-election discussion among this class of conservative. Because if this is the kind of thing going on among these elites, things are going to have to get worse for us before they get better. Imagine a group of liberal elites having a Washington dinner after Dukakis’s loss, griping that Americans were too corrupt to see what an idiotic scam the whole Reagan-Bush thing was, and how they’d have won if only they had doubled down on Great Society-style liberalism.

But what do I know? Hey babe, let the GOP eagle soar!

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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