Monday, February 2, 2009

Depends On What Your Definition Of "This" Is

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, makes President Nixon's quixotic challenger for the 1972 GOP nomination sound like the voice of timeless wisdom:

Ohio Rep. John Ashbrook, one of the era’s most admired conservative leaders, challenged then-President Richard Nixon in the 1972 New Hampshire primary. We all knew Ashbrook had little chance of winning even double-digit support against a president who was riding high in the polls at the time.

Given the reality of what was likely to happen on Election Day, I asked, “Why are you doing this?” I’ll never forget Ashbrook’s reply. He looked me calmly in the eye and said, “I’m doing it because someday we’re going to want to be able to say we weren’t part of this.”
What did he mean by "this"? Certainly not Watergate, because it hadn't happened yet. Was "this" standing up for the U.S. commitment in Vietnam? Improving relations with China so there would be someone around today to help fund both George W. Bush's and Barack Obama's deficits? Setting in motion the end of the Cold War? Appointing strict-constructionist justices to the Supreme Court? Showing that you could be a Republican and also be for clean air and water and a federal role in desegregating schools and fighting cancer?

If Republicans are still proud of being against all that, their time in the political wilderness will look like thhiiiiiiiisssssssssss.

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