My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation.Perhaps a conservative intellectual is one who has discovered that the GOP in fact made the term an oxymoron. You can't have a serious policy debate about facts and reason when all you have left is denial, scaremongering and blatant ignorance.
By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.
Of course, some of us lesser more liberal lights figured out the intellectual bankruptcy of the current crop of GOP luminaries quite some time ago. Just as there's no real place for moderate conservatives in today's Republican party, there's not real place for intellectual conservatives either. Not when your party is run by Rush's hate, Cheney's scare tactics, and Newt's vapid platitudes.
There's a lot about actual conservatism to admire. But the GOP burned that bridge long, long ago.