…was greatly exaggerated.” So argues Professor Wilfred McClay in the featured article of the November issue of Commentary. One could cite many examples of the wish projections that substituted for sound analysis regarding the alleged death of conservatism. Here Professor McClay cites two:
Sam Tanenhaus of the New York Times wrote a long article in the New Republic that was turned into a tome rather too thin to serve as a headstone, notwithstanding its blunt title: The Death of Conservatism. George Packer made the grand announcement in the pages of the New Yorker of “the complete collapse of the four-decade project that brought conservatism to power in America.” And even though these morticians’ declarations began to look questionable only months after Obama’s inauguration, when a resurgent populist right began making itself loudly known across the country, such pronouncements have continued unabated. Indeed, with conservatism on the verge (at this writing) of a great and perhaps unprecedented political comeback, the dream of killing off the intellectual opposition through the unilateral declaration of its demise has proved amusingly durable. In the words of the late Senator Ted Kennedy–whose actual death at the end of last year seemed a symbolic indication of the ideological troubles ahead–“the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
“But of course,” Professor McClay observes, “the eulogists are being disingenuous. They are not truly concerned with how conservatism or neoconservatism or Commentary died but rather with the annoying way in which each has managed to live.”
Let’s just say that Professor McClay’s article is perfect reading today while we await the election returns tonight. And thanks to Professor McClay for the kind note he takes of Power Line toward the end of the article.