There would have been a far smaller Republican constituency for the apostate sheriff had there been a compelling conservative to challenge him. But there never was.This seems to be a solid analysis. Krauthammer then turns to WHY there is no "next" Reagan:
The first messianic sighting was Fred Thompson, who soared in the early polls, then faded because he was too diffident and/or normal to embrace with any enthusiasm the indignities of the modern campaign.
Then, for that brief and shining Iowa moment, there was Huckabee -- until conservatives actually looked at his record (on taxes, for example) as governor of Arkansas, and listened to the music of his often unconservative populism.
That left Romney, the final stop in the search for the compelling conservative. I found him to be a fine candidate who would have made a fine president. But until very recently, he was shunned by most conservatives for ideological inauthenticity. Then, as the post-Florida McCain panic grew, conservatives tried to embrace Romney, but the gesture was both too late and as improvised and convenient-looking as Romney's own many conversions.
But there's an even more profound reason why no Reagan showed up this election cycle and why the apostate sheriff is going to win the nomination. The reason is George W. Bush. He redefined conservatism with a "compassionate" variant that is a distinct departure from classic Reaganism.Krauthammer then lists several ways that Bush has sold conservatism down the river. And he is right. I have no doubt that Bush has done a great amount of damage to the Republican Party and to a degree the conservative movement.
But while Bush is somewhat culpable for the breakdown of conservatism, the conservative movement itself is responsible as well. We have assumed that there would be a continual stream of leadership on the national level that would keep the movement going along. We have forgotten that each of us must be involved with the political process helping to infuse conservatism at all levels of government. Let us all begin now to build the conservative movement for the future.