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Recapturing The Center

My new column for The Week is now up. Here is the main point:

The faction most responsible for the GOP’s political failure is national security conservatives. Yet within the party, they remain unscathed, their assumptions about the use of American power largely unquestioned, and their gross errors in judgment forgotten or readily forgiven. Among the mainstream right, the foreign policy of the Bush administration is barely a subject of debate. Rather than reorienting Republican foreign policy towards a political center defined by realism, humility and restraint, the GOP’s leadership and activists have redoubled their commitment to Bush and Cheney’s hawkish stances and to a lock-step defense of the Bush administration’s policies.

This situation creates a strange incongruity. In one breath, conservatives will invoke a baseless claim that Bush’s excessive spending lost them the country, and in the next they will defend to the last Bush’s decisions as Commander-in-Chief. Yet these were the decisions that, more than anything else, led to Democratic victories and the GOP’s now toxic reputation. What is more, everyone outside the conservative bubble knows the narrative that mainstream conservatives tell themselves is false, which makes conservative professions of fiscal austerity and continued hawkishness even less likely to win public support.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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