Last week I predicted that history will recall Bush's relationship to post-Cold War conservatism as paralleling LBJ's relationship to Cold War liberalism. Each will be remembered as the President who, by pushing for the total realization of his domestic ideological vision, instead destroyed it. What makes the parallel particularly poignant is that in both cases, it was a war of choice -- a war of choice sold as an international instance of their domestic ideology -- that brought the President and his ideology low. Each launched the war in part to shore up domestic political support for his domestic ideological agenda: each war was intended both to rally the country around the flag, and in doing so, to rally support for the domestic agenda of the President waging the war. The pathos of the situation is that instead of achieving this Machiavellian aim, each war instead destroyed both the political reputation of the President and his political ideology.
Needless to say, I don't feel much regret about the self-immolation of Bushist ideology. But it's a different story for rightwingers, who are finally wake up to the fact that the Iraq War is destroying not just their ability to enact their domestic program, but indeed sapping the very foundations of the ideological agenda. And guess what, they're pissed: "It's time for us conservatives to face facts. George W. Bush has pissed away the conservative moment by pursuing a war of choice via policies that border on the criminally incompetent." As conservatives slowly realize, to their horror, that the Iraq War spells not the apotheosis but rather the death knell of contemporary conservatism, the conservative backlash against the war begins. And not a moment too soon.