Over the past few weeks, the dissenting views of conservatives Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, David Brooks, and Christopher Buckley et al have stirred up quite a storm. All have disavowed Palin, McCain, or both, to some degree or another. Liberals are gleeful that the conservative movement is “falling apart” and many heretofore like-minded and friendly conservatives are thoroughly irritated with one another.
For the record, unlike Jonah Goldberg (with whom I usually agree), I have no problem with these debates, whenever they may occur. People are free to vent their emotions, push their agendas, explain their motivations, and air their grievances anytime they like. I do think we should keep cool heads and let pragmatism rule when possible, but those who find they cannot are free to do what punditry permits. Should they later feel some regret, they can retract and re-state as needed.
I do agree with Jonah on this point, though:
We’ll all know what we need to know after the election and if McCain and the GOP come out the losers we’ll have a luxurious amount of time to argue amongst ourselves about which way forward and which wrong turns we may or may not have taken. If David Brooks wants to be oncologist in chief of the GOP and tell us where the cancers are, he’ll be free to do so. If some of my colleagues want to crack the whip on the ideological slackers in our midst, they’ll have plenty of elbow room.
But it’s worth pointing out that if McCain loses and the Democrats surge in the Congress, we’ll also have some greater reminders of what we agree on to help us keep our disagreements in perspective.