Shortly after George H.W. Bush lost his bid for reelection in 1992, I began an op-ed for the Virginia Law Weekly, the newspaper of the University of Virgnia School of Law where I was then a student. I had titled it, “Our long Conservative Nightmare is Over,” paraphrasing Gerald Ford’s speech upon assuming the presidency when Nixon resigned. (Due to my academic and extracurricular obligations, I did not have time to complete that essay.)
It had been tough to be conservative during the first (and only) term of the first President Bush as it has during the second term of the second. Each man was the titular head of the supposedly conservative party, but neither governed, at least on domestic issues, as a conservative.
Neither held the line on domestic spending. Both increased the size and scope of the federal government.
And yet, they were both decent men who love this country.
We wanted to criticize them and often did, but remained aware that the “official” opposition was even less conservative than they. How could we advance our ideas when we had little control over the vehicle best suited to advancing them?
Now the contest for control of that vehicle begins.
With the election of Barack Obama and the imminent departure of George W. Bush, I feel a strange sense of liberation. We can start advancing our ideas once again.