THE BLOG
01/31/2008 09:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Conservative Ceausescus

It's highly entertaining to see conservative stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Robert Novak, and Grover Norquist inveighing against John McCain. Collectively, they and other panjandrums of the right are saying the same thing: that McCain isn't conservative enough for them, which means, ipso facto, that he's not conservative enough for their Republican Party, and their Republican country. But there's news for them: no one cares. All, in fact, represent a new, heretofore unidentified branch of the Republican party: the Ceausescu wing.

Remember how, in the waning days of Communist rule, the former Romanian dictator stood in disbelief before a crowd in Bucharest, stunned that his perpetually compliant subjects were suddenly jeering him? Ceausescu's time was up: within days, he and his wife were corpses. That won't happen to Limbaugh et al.: come what may, they will blather on. But their moment has come and gone. The political ground is shifting under them, and whine as they might, there's nothing they can do about it.

How spoiled have these guys become? Consider Novak's column this morning. He complains that while McCain supported the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice, he secretly considered Samuel Alito was too conservative for his taste. In fact, there's no practical difference between the two. Still, Novak is outraged at such heresy. For decades, these unelected moguls have held hegemony over the Republicans, free to dictate where the party should go. But now, real voters are reminding them that the party, and the country, are more moderate than they. And that if someone they admire comes along, they'll forgive him some lapses from ultra-conservative Republican orthodoxy. In the process, they're granting the Republicans, who by all rights should be thrown out of the White House, a bona-fide chance of staying there.

Instead of pouting, these spoiled bloviators should be grateful that the commonsensical Republican electorate, with the help of independents, has miraculously produced a candidate who could actually win for them in November. He won't be all they want, and he won't be completely under their thumb. But he'll agree with them most of the time. And he will help them salvage some of their waning influence. Surely they'll realize this as time passes, and will quietly reconcile themselves to John McCain. Besides, they've nowhere else to go -- unless they want to remain conservative Ceausescus.