[T]he pre-mortem is now a well-established political ritual and Republicans, for so long used to arguing in victory, are diving in, like frenzied fans into a mosh pit. Some anonymously, getting their retaliation in first by telling Obama supporters in the media (sorry, that was tautologous) what's gone wrong. Some, such as Colin Powell, and less predictably, Ken Adelman, one of the most enthusiastic backers of the Iraq war and one-time acolyte of Donald Rumsfeld, breaking publicly and endorsing the Democratic candidate.
The ferocity of the current fighting will be nothing though, compared with what comes after the inevitable defeat. John McCain and his campaign will be the initial targets, and will deserve some of the blame they get. How they contrived to turn one of America's most attractive and independent-minded figures into a spluttering partisan and oddly ineffective jackal will be a tale worth hearing. But the retrospective McCain Mutiny will be just the opening salvo in the war for the soul of America's Right. The fighting will be so furious and so multidirectional it will be hard to know what's going on at times.
It will pit neoconservatives against isolationists. The isolationists will say that a crazy ideological faith in America's mission to democratise the world through force of arms led to the debacle in Iraq (even as American arms succeed in democratising Iraq). Do not be surprised if neoconservatives end up feeling closer to an Obama presidency (as they often did to a Clinton presidency) if it seems internationally engaged, than to Republicans who think it's time to pull up the drawbridge.
It will pit social conservatives against libertarians. The latter will argue, with good grounds, that the obsession with creationism and gay marriage ended up leading Ronald Reagan's shining New Jerusalem in an ill-fated and unedifying peasants-with-pitchforks assault on Sodom and Gomorrah.
There will be much fighting around the proposition that conservatives lost their way because they ceased to be conservative.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Gerard Baker in the Times of London: