In the imperturbable E.J. Dionne's latest column there is an optimistic assumption that troubles:
[Obama] has pushed Republicans who have genuine doubts about their party’s sharp turn rightward to begin to pull it back, to vote for measures rejected by a majority of their colleagues and to ponder if there are better approaches to being conservative.
This, on Dionne's part, is scarcely naiveté, for just prior to assuming a GOP "pullback" he also acknowledges that Republicans "are even contemplating whether bringing the government to a halt and threatening the country’s credit are legitimate means" for waging budget wars--a rather peculiar way to demonstrate one's "genuine doubts" about right-wing extremism. Nor do I think this is an overlooked contradiction on Dionne's part; that in the span of a mere five sentences he simply forgot that those Republicans in search of "better approaches to being conservative" are simultaneously plotting our national ruin.
This, then, leaves ambivalence: a recognition of the right's fluidity--or more precisely, its volatility--although Dionne seems a bit heavy on the optimism. Much heavier than I, anyway. Because for the right, there's one and only one absolutely unassailable approach "to being conservative." It requires no gentle pulling back, no caressing of doubts, no grievously protracted pondering. It requires only a recommitment to authentic conservatism--a touch of Burke, a sprinkling of Eisenhower and a healthy topping of, say, what Huntsman is so desperately trying to retrieve for his party.
And until Republicans, on the whole, plunge headlong into that recommitment, we would do better to retain our profoundest doubts about just how "genuine" theirs are.