...Oh, and it should be noted: while some of these rumors come from the truly bizarre and dark corners of the Internet, and others come from the usual suspects (WorldNetDaily, Townhall), a few (including stories about the non-existent "whitey tape," the speculation that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father, and charges that Obama's birth certificate was forged) were given prime real estate at The Corner. Could that have happened at WFB's National Review?
The old institutions of Republican and conservative thinking have crumbled. The Corner is enough to sour any sane person on NR, and after seeing what Bill Kristol's done to the party (and to the country), I can't imagine The Weekly Standard becoming the new home of intelligent, principled conservatism. Culture11 was recently launched as a sort of conservative Slate, but like Slate, it has a broader focus than politics, and it isn't a platform from which to launch new conservative ideas.
That's not to say that National Review or The Weekly Standard are fading away, though. The crowd that gave you George W. Bush - and most recently, Sarah Palin - is hunkered down, and they aren't going without a fight. Consider this report from the Sunday Telegraph, courtesy of Matt Yglesias:
Jim Nuzzo, a White House aide to the first President Bush, dismissed Mrs Palin’s critics as "cocktail party conservatives" who "give aid and comfort to the enemy". He told The Sunday Telegraph: "There’s going to be a bloodbath. A lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party. The litmus test will be: where did you stand on Palin?"
The Republican Party excommunicates Brooks, Frum, and Noonan at its own peril. You can't build a successful political movement based on class envy, cultural warfare, anti-intellectualism, and contempt for dissent. I thought that would be the lesson of the Bush years, but I guess I was wrong. Make no mistake, though: if the Republican Party pursues that strategy, the resulting movement will be devoid of new ideas and rotten at its core. And that's not good for anyone.