Smart

What the GOP Hasn’t Learned

It is a tad bit convenient for conservative columnist David Brooks, after having endorsed many of the Bush administration’s worst follies, to rediscover Burkean conservatism and apply its principles to Barack Obama’s stimulus. George Packer nails it: “Here’s the test Brooks should set: will Obama’s efforts lead to worse than the alternatives? Will they be worse than his predecessor’s? ... Brooks pits a rigid, abstraction-loving liberalism against a wise, experience-loving conservatism. But recent American history has shown the truth to be closer to the opposite. We are where we are because the ruling conservative ideology of the past few decades refused to face facts, like the effect of private insurance on health-care costs, or the effect of deregulation on investment banking. Facts drove the Republicans out of power. … Obama isn’t trying to remake America’s economy and society out of ideological hubris. He’s initiating sweeping changes because he inherited a set of interrelated emergencies that require swift, decisive action.”