"However heady the 1980s may have looked to everyone else, they were for conservatives a testing and disillusioning time. Conservatives owned the executive branch for eight years and had great influence over it for four more; they dominated the Senate for six years; and by the end of the decade they exercised near complete control over the federal judiciary. And yet, every time they reached to undo the work of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon — the work they had damned for nearly half a century — they felt the public’s wary eyes upon them. They didn’t dare, and they realized that they didn’t dare."
(Frum's next sentence is "Their moment came and flickered", which somehow put me in mind of the eternal footman holding their coats and snickering.)
They didn't dare, and they realised that they didn't dare. That will make you despise yourself.
It makes an interesting comparison with the experience of the right in the UK in the 1980s. That was very much an invigorating experience of daring and realising, once the wets were out and the Falklands won, that they did dare. It probably made lots of other people dare too - not least Tony Blair.
(2) Also on politics, Charles Moore in the Spectator writes about how hard it is for politicians nowadays to talk about why Ed Miliband's price freezing idea is so bad, because you need to start talking about economics and no one wants to listen.
"It is not so much that our leaders don't know what they are talking about as that they don't (or can't) talk about what they know."
This is slightly reminiscent of the most famous saying of Jean-Claude Junker (Prime Minister of Luxembourg): "We all know what to do, we just don't know how to get re-elected after we have done it."
(3) To make it a hat-trick of right-wing commentators, here is Mark Steyn. Apparently, the Obama health reforms have the bizarre effect, at least on paper, of requiring US citizens resident outside the US to buy US health insurance. But the US government is going to waive that requirement. As Steyn writes, "The IRS is issuing its waiver because it takes it as read that U.S. citizens overseas, wherever they reside, have health-care arrangements in place. The underlying assumption is that the rest of the planet already has universal coverage, or, at any rate, that wherever you reside — Sweden, Slovenia, Sudan, Waziristan — you live somewhere whose health system is less crazy than here."