Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Romney wins: Conservatism’s Lost Generation is over

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/6/12

Last words of celebrity; gods they would be called in old Greece, are important. In his last conference Steve Jobs, dedicating his landmark building in California said, “The spaceship has landed.” As often with Jobs it is thought provoking and suggests something else. Andrew Breitbart had some significant last words as well, screaming them at a bunch of young people who were demonstrating against the rich: “You are freaks and animals!” he shouted at them, distorted in scorn and laughter. I was reminded of General Colin Powell who wrote in his autobiography about returning from a second tour in Vietnam and visiting the Pentagon, shocked to see thousands, hundreds of thousands, of young people railing against America. His response was compassion and understanding and he vowed to live his life to make these young ones love America as he did.

What a contrast. In the recent passing of Breitbart, Anne Coulter said it was like “the death of John Lennon.” Other conservatives compared Breitbart to Abbie Hoffman. For anyone who lived through those times the comparisons are absurd, but you get the idea. Conservatism has been experiencing an age of dissent; an anti-age or “counter culture” like the political aspects of the Sixties. They do indeed have their Bhagwans and Jim Joneses – Rush Limbaugh and Cheney come to mind and maybe Coulter could be considered the Susan Sontag of this motley group. America has been drinking the Kool-Aid now for more than a full decade.

This Lost Generation of Conservatism, to coin a phrase, saw its high water mark with George W. Bush. I felt that Bush and particularly Cheney intentionally brought in Colin Powell to embarrass him and to disgrace him; dissent does not honor honorable men and needs to de-legitimize it. Which they did, by sending America’s most honored soldier to lie before the UN.

But Powell doesn’t belong to them. He belongs to us and if Obama is reelected he should bring him in as staff. And so should Mitt Romney. It would have even greater significance. It would show to America that conservatism’s Lost Generation is over. Our most distinguished, like Eisenhower’s son John and granddaughter Susan might even come back to the party.

Conservatism today gets a new start. John Thune, Nikki Haley, Bob McDonnell and Rob Portman in particular, form an elite group of Republicans who were with Romney before Tuesday. They advanced Romney at the critical moments when he needed them. They should be remembered for this.

Also, those who held back from the center of the party should be remembered as they bear the burden for dragging this race out and risking the health and survival of the Republican Party and hoped to engineer a brokered convention. They should be left behind with the Lost Generation.

Say good bye as well to Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, never to be heard from again. Romney now must bring order and stability to America in a 12-year-ride (Romney/Portman 2012, no?). By then (2024) the young, dedicated and enthusiastic followers being schooled today by Ron Paul and Judge Andrew Napolitano will be just beginning professional life and they will bring this new force forward.

Then all hell breaks loose.

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