In his latest, David Brooks' speculative thesis is that since the GOP's politicking-while-blind-drunk pileup on Nov. 6 the party "has experienced an epidemic of open-mindedness." There is, online, "a vibrant and increasingly influential center-right conversation" (none of that stale, "conventional" stuff we heard from "Republican candidates this year"). It is from this robustness--delivered by a diverse intellectual cadre of what Brooks calls Paleoconservatives, Lower-Middle Reformists, Soft Libertarians and Burkean Revivalists--that the "party may evolve quickly."
A few problems.
First, what Brooks describes is merely more fragmentation and incompatibility. What a Burkean Revivalist would be doing in bed with a Soft Libertarian is (beyond the more obvious reason) beyond me, as it would be to these traditionally battling Bickersons. The National Review's Bill Buckley and Frank Meyer's fusionism of the late 1950s and early 1960s and then Goldwaterism and finally the New Right movement heaved them into partnership for purely pragmatic electoral reasons; but such cold, arranged marriages kept together for the children's sake (a broader base) are generally destined to fail. (Consider the open enmity of late between the Santorum and Romney camps.)
Second, Brooks simply assumes that this younger conservative intelligentsia will be more "influential" within the party than were its predecessors of, say, Andrew Sullivan and David Frum. Why? I mean, I know why Brooks assumes it: he must. The question is rather why will it be more influential? Brooks doesn't say. And that's because he doesn't know either the why or the how, any more than the Sullivans and Frums ever fully understood why "the conservative party" so foolishly ignored their jeremiads of years past.
As something of an aside, the above is scarcely anything new under the sun. Intellectuals from Plato to English Fabians to the New Deal's leftist critics have rarely understood why the pols and the people don't just shut up and listen. The political intelligentsia is as old as the oldest profession, and in time their functions are essentially indistinguishable--whoring for real money becomes preferable to whoring for two-penny tabloids.
Last, does Brooks genuinely believe that Louie Gohmert and Virginia Foxx and Jim DeMint and James Inhofe give a right-wing rat's ass that "Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago published an influential book ... that took aim at crony capitalism," or that "Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review has argued for family-friendly tax credits"? For starters they'd have to ask Newt Gingrich to read it to them; then they'd have to ask David Brooks to explain it to them; and then at any rate they'd rush out and spew the selfsame, pseudoconservative gibberish and holy-rolling thumperism that they've been spewing for lo these many years, which infinitely pleases the only people who matter: the Republican base, which keeps the Gohmerts and Inhofes in office and on the government's payroll.