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Monthly Archives: January 2012

It is a disgrace that the US government has held direct talks with the Muslim Brotherhood, and an outrage that that America is accelerating aid payments to Egypt to support a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-terrorist, anti-American extremists. The Brotherhood won 47% of seats in Egypt’s parliament, and along with other extreme Islamist parties controls about three-quarters of the total. Reuters reports:

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 25 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama plans to accelerate the pace of American aid to Egypt, a top State Department official said on Wednesday, as the most populous Arab nation reaches a critical stage in its uncertain transition away from autocratic rule.

Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats, part of a U.S. delegation that held unprecedented talks last week with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, said Washington wanted to provide “more immediate benefits” to Egyptians, who earlier this month conducted their first democratic elections in decades.

“During this period, we want to be as supportive as we can. This is an historic moment. Egypt’s a country of enormous importance,” Hormats said.

Under the plan, some non-urgent U.S. aid slated for other countries – he did not name them – would be redirected to Egypt. And funding in the pipeline for long-term programs in Egypt would be shifted to quick-impact projects, he said.

This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that is infiltrating terrorists into the United States, according to the director of the FBI.  Now it is in position to control a military establishment created by the United States that includes, among other things, more than two hundred F-16′s.

The Egyptian people are free to choose any party they please, but if they choose parties that are embittered and implacable enemies of the United States and Western freedom in general, we should not help them consolidate their rule. Fortunately, $2 billion here and there won’t help Egypt very much; that’s roughly 2 weeks’ of flight capital leaving the country. American foreign aid will simply help the military kleptocrats who ran Egypt for decade to move more of their private fortunes out of the country, before the Islamists lock the country down. And there is no reason for American taxpayers to subsidize the London townhouses and Paris apartments and Monaco yachts of the Egyptian generals.


Obama in Foreign Policy Hell

January 25th, 2012 - 6:15 am

It won’t decide the 2012 election, but the meltdown of Barack Obama’s Islamophile foreign policy has to hurt. Iran’s imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons humiliates a president so committed to dialogue with the evil lunatics in Tehran that he refused to support a mass outpouring of democracy demonstrators during the summer of 2009. Obama’s closest foreign policy friendship is with the Islamist president of Turkey, who has jailed more journalists than China and steered his country towards imminent economic disaster. Tayyip Erdogan may not be a terrorist, as Rick Perry said in last week’s debate, but he backs them, including Hamas.

And then there is Egypt: Even the New York Times has noticed that Egypt’s economy is collapsing, and that the country faces disaster as it runs out of money.

The reasons for his plight have been piling up all year: a virtual cutoff of foreign investment, a 30 percent decline in tourist visits and the stagnation of economic growth. The official unemployment rate is 12 percent, but among young people the real rate of unemployment is at least double that figure.

The military rulers have also presided over a period of financial turmoil. Inflation has surged into double digits, and the exchange rate for the currency, the Egyptian pound, is under heavy pressure. Foreign exchange reserves have plunged, as the government is spending about $2 billion a month in a losing battle to prop up the pound. Foreign currency reserves have fallen to about $10 billion, after certain obligations, from about $36 billion before the revolt.

Readers of this blog are familiar with the story. The only piece of news in the Times’ very belated offering is the estimate that Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves are down to just $10 billion (rather than the reported $18 billion), or import coverage of a month and a half, preparing an “all but inevitable further devaluation of Egypt’s currency that could send the prices of food and other goods soaring.”  In an Asia Times essay last Monday, I observed that the Egyptian government no longer could borrow from its own capital markets, suggesting that reserve figures were much lower than reported; the Times does not say where it got the $10 billion number, but it sounds reasonable.

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Forget about Economic Recovery: Obama Is Toast

January 24th, 2012 - 10:43 am

President Obama thinks that the improving economy will win him a second term, the New York Times reports today. Whatever he’s drinking, order me a double. His poll numbers look a little better because the Republicans have spent the past several months in a fratricidal bloodbath. Fortunately, the memory of the American electorate for such antics is short. Once we choose a candidate (and I am happy with Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich) and unite behind him, we will win, unless, of course, we find a way to sabotage ourselves.

People are hurting, and badly. The official unemployment rate may have fallen, slightly, but the real unemployment rate — the number of working-age Americans who aren’t working — rose from about 12% before the 2008 crisis, to about 23%, and hasn’t come down. That includes people who have retired early because they can’t find work, spouses who used to earn a second income but have gone back to homemaking because work isn’t available, self-employed people whose businesses have collapsed, young people who live in their parents’ basement because they can’t afford tuition and can’t find work. The chart below, courtesy of the Shadow Government Statistics website, shows (in the blue line labelled “SGS alternative”) the way unemployment feels to Americans: one in four Americans who could be working, isn’t. That’s roughly twice the pre-recession level.



Another way to gauge the pain factor is the so-called Civilian Employment-Population Ratio. Prior to the recession, nearly 65 percent of working-age Americans (not in the military or in prison) had jobs. Now it’s down to 58%. The difference is 16 million people who should be working, but aren’t — about the same as the entire working-age population of Australia. The slight increase in employment during the past few months barely tracks the natural increase in population.

Graph of Civilian Employment-Population Ratio

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A Dialogue with Fr. James V. Schall

January 17th, 2012 - 2:09 pm

Readers of this blog might remember my post on Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., the distinguished political philosopher at Georgetown University. As I wrote last August,  he “remains at the age of 83 an indispensable voice in foreign policy, combining theological depth and strategic acuity.” On New Year’s Day, Fr. Schall reviewed my essay collection It’s Not the End of the World–It’s Just the End of You” in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.  It is a remarkable essay; in today’s Asia Times Online, I reflect on Fr. Schall’s insights.  I repost the “Spengler” essay are below.

God’s promises and man’s preferences
By Spengler

Few qualifiers are misused more often than “magisterial”. The term refers not just to intellectual authority, but intellectual authority embedded in thousands of years of devout tradition – specifically, the Magisterium, or teaching authority of the Catholic Church, the anchor institution of Western civilization.

Father James V Schall, the Georgetown University political philosopher, is “magisterial” in the full sense of the word, an authoritative thinker from a tradition that has stood for millennia.

Prominent among Schall’s many virtues is courage. Last August, for example, he suggested that Islam may collapse as suddenly
as communism once Muslims begin to question the authenticity of the Koran. “The fragility of Islam, as I see it, lies in a sudden realization of the ambiguity of the text of the Koran,” he wrote at the Catholic Thing blog.

“Is it what it claims to be? Islam is weak militarily. It is strong in social cohesion, often using severe moral and physical sanctions. But the grounding and unity of its basic document are highly suspect. Once this becomes clear, Islam may be as fragile as communism.” [1] Few political theorists could, or would dare to, go so boldly to the heart of the matter.

It was humbling for this writer to read to read Schall’s review of my essay collection, It’s Not the End of the World – It’s Just the End of You. Titled “On the Promises of God to Mankind”, it appeared on New Year’s Day in the Homilectic and Pastoral Review [2]. I use the word “humbling” with the same precise connotation that I use the word “magisterial” for the reviewer. Schall has read my work more keenly, perhaps, than anyone else, and perceived so clearly what I am after, that I now feel a bit like an undergraduate whose impatient professor gently suggests that he proceed with less distraction to the point. After reading his critique, I understand somewhat better what I was trying to say. There is only one error in his review, a small but significant one, which I will address momentarily.

I wish to call attention to two thematic issues among many in Schall’s wide-ranging review: One is the effort of a Jewish writer to understand God’s presence in the world and his promise for universal salvation as embodied in the living Jewish people, rather than the Incarnate God of Christianity.

The second has to do with the limits of reason in human affairs. The second is bound up with the first, for the Election of Israel is an act of inexplicable grace beyond the ken of human reason. “The unique issue that the book brings to our attention is precisely: What is Israel?,” Schall writes:

As [the Catholic philosopher Jacques] Maritain said, Israel is a “mystery” precisely because it is still present, and clearly has a role within salvation history itself, from which role it gets its purpose. The question for Israel remains whether its own mission is coherent, without a relation to the salvation history that ends in Christ, and continues through the Church, to “eternity, the eternal life that so concerns Goldman about the uniqueness of the Jewish nation”.

Schall quotes this passage from It’s Not the End of the World:

In the West, nations came by the hope of immortality through Christianity, which offered the eternal promise of Israel to the Gentiles, but only on the condition that they cease to be Gentiles, through adoption into Israel of the Spirit. Israel is the exception that proves the rule, the single universal nation whose purpose is the eventual recognition of the one God by all humankind. The history of the world is the story of man’s search for eternity. That is what Rosenzweig means when he said that the history of humanity is the history of eternal life, vouchsafed first to the Jews, that stands at the center of Western history. Christian Europe came into being by absorbing invader, and indigenous alike, into a super-ethnic Christian empire, whose universality was expressed by a single religious leader, whose authority transformed kingdoms, a single church, and a single language for liturgy and learning. Europe arose from a universal Christian empire and it fell when the nationalities mutinied against their mother, the Church, and fought until their mutual ruin.

And he writes in response:

I cite these passages in the Goldman book because they suggest the reason why he has to reject Christianity’s view of revelation, revising the Jewish view. This latter position makes Israel the light of the nations, not Christ. For the Christian, the light of Israel is only completed in Christ. Essentially, for Goldman, Christianity has failed in its universal worldly mission. As a result, the path is now open to China, India, Islam, and, yes, Israel to refashion the world in another image. Because of its divine founding, Israel has the strongest claim. As far as I read him, Goldman’s focus is inner-worldly, even when he talks of eternity. I do not mean that he doubts the existence of Yahweh, but he does doubt a plan that is primarily a message of salvation from this world, and not one that saves this world as a world.

The question of the inner-worldly purpose of human life in this world is one that is ever fascinating, especially when it often has its roots in a subtle effort to use this “mission” as an alternative to, or rejection of, the transcendent purpose that was embodied in Christ, and His relation to each individual human person. As Benedict said in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, what scripture said of Christ is in fact true. He is the Son of Man. He did exist in this world; he was resurrected on the “third day.”

This presence in the world of time makes everything different. One thing seems certain; the primary purpose of revelation cannot be inner-worldly, to build an earthly city. We simply cannot allow the billions of those who have thus far existed in the imperfect cities of men to become tools to some future, finite, temporal city as the explanation of why men exist in this world.

With due reverence to Schall, it is not that I believe that “Christianity has failed at its universal worldly mission”, or that I am concerned with matters of this world as opposed to salvation in the World to Come; rather, I observe (or rather credit Franz Rosenzweig’s observation) that the Desire of Nations will never leave this world. Christians always will want what the Jews have: to be Chosen, that is, eternal, and to have a sign of eternity in their own flesh. That is the dark, existential longing which no arguments can assuage.

I do not doubt that Christianity might succeed, and (except where conversion of Jews is concerned) I hope Christianity will succeed. My point is more subtle: for Christianity to succeed, it must “Judaize” to one extent or another. That is why America is the only remaining Christian nation in the industrial world: it succeeded in styling itself a new (almost) Chosen People in a new Promised Land. And that is why the Jews remain indispensable to Christians. One learns to Judaize from the Jews.

As Professor Eric Nelson of Harvard observes in his remarkable book The Hebrew Republic, America’s founders drew on Medieval rabbinic sources as well as the Bible in their new Mission in the Wilderness.

As Michael Wyschogrod observes, Christians believe that God is incarnate in Jesus Christ, whereas Jews believe that God’s Shekhinah abides in the living flesh of the Jewish people. From what we Jews observe, believe in the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is not enough for Christians; they also want to be sanctified in their own flesh. That is not the doctrine, of course, but that is the usual outcome; each of the European nations in turn arrogated to itself the idea of Election. And the Church (as well as the Protestant churches) too often appeased this desire.

To assert such a dark, existential Desire of Nations necessarily assigns a lesser role to reason in human affairs. It is not that reason is unimportant, but rather that it is our reason, whose exercise is unimaginable in world in which we do not exist in some recognizable way.

I do not think Christianity ever will fail; on the contrary, I believe that it will succeed and fail to different degrees and under different circumstances. It has failed in Europe, tragically, but flourishes in the Global South. There is no reason America should not succeed as a Christian nation, and I pray it will prevail until the Messiah comes. Schall acknowledges this sort of exemplary role for Israel. As he points out,

Several years ago, the Belgian Jesuit, Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, published an essay on the Christian understanding of the place of Israel in Christian revelation. Following the Pauline lead in Romans 11, Vanhoye argued that God did not take back His promises to Israel. The fact is that the vast majority of Jews did not, and do not, understand the Hebrew Bible as leading to, and as completed in, the divine origin and earthly life of Christ. This line of thought required a new interpretation of history. The original promises made to Abraham and Moses continue. They eventually result in an account of Israel as itself having a divine founding unlike other nations. None the less, Israel’s very existence symbolizes and illuminates what nations ought to be. The universalism of the Hebrew tradition, if it might be called that, was thus focused on the examples of believing Jews finally gathered in their homeland after centuries in the diaspora in which their identity was kept alive in the synagogue’s worship.

“The question for Israel,” Schall concludes, “remains whether its own mission is coherent, without a relation to the salvation history that ends in Christ.” That is a challenge to Jews from a Christian, and a fair one: if Jews forget that what makes them unique is also what makes Israel’s mission universal, they will have failed in their purpose and fade away like other nations. As Schall says, “Israel’s very existence symbolizes and illuminates what nations ought to be.” The nations must live in this world, even if Christians look to the next world, and Israel’s mission is to evince an exemplary national existence. But we can accomplish this only by transporting eternity into everyday life.

As noted, there is one error: He wrongly concludes that I think that “the wrong side won” the Civil War, citing my statement, “The US South chafes in anger and shame at its own defeat, and the North recoils in horror from its own victory.” On the contrary, I emphasize the horrific consequences of Abraham Lincoln’s policy the more to measure the spiritual grandeur of his character. Americans lacked the grandeur of their great leader, an almost-prophet for an almost-chosen people. After killing 30% of military-age southerners (at the cost of a tenth of its own military-age men), the Union decided that the judgments of the Lord, as was said 3,000 years ago, were not altogether just and righteous.

But Americans had marched to war singing of the Grapes of Wrath in allusion to Isaiah 63:3, where God declares, “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.”

I do not propose that Americans now should emulate the Master of Legions and seek out enemies to trample, but rather that they should tremble in awe at their God-intoxicated forefathers whose Biblical faith inspired them to such great and terrible things.

As Schall observes, I have a bone to pick with the late American political philosopher Leo Strauss. “Goldman’s problem with Strauss,” Schall writes, “is rather like his problem with Aquinas and Christians, in general: namely, their granting a place to reason within the revelational purpose itself.”

I might quibble and point out that I have no such problem with Karl Barth, but that is beside the point. The conservative intellectual consensus in America rests on two blocks, namely the neo-Thomism of Catholic natural law theory, and the Classical rationalism propounded by Strauss among others. The proximity of the two camps is such that my friend Professor Hadley Arkes, a prominent Strauss student, converted to Catholicism in 2010.

Much as I admire many individuals in the Thomist and Classical Rationalist schools, respectively, I see the world quite differently. Sacrifices on the scale that Lincoln demanded during the Civil War, for example, overwhelm human reason, and the efforts of Strauss’ students to portray Lincoln as a sort of 19th-century Socrates strike me as hopelessly obtuse. Thinking rationally, one might easily read my characterization of the horrors brought about by Lincoln’s policy as condemnation rather than praise, as did Schall. In that respect, the one wrong note in his review is revealing.

“A Catholic thinker,” Schall continues, “would find this sentence most curious: ‘Biblical faith has no need of theodicy’.” For Jews, the fact that we live today (and by implication, all Jews who ever lived continue to live in us) is a grace so palpable that we require no further proof of God’s goodness and mercy. But Schall well understands this. He writes,

In a large class of undergraduate students, I recalled the quip of Walker Percy which I thought was both amusing and pertinent to a discussion of the Old Testament and political philosophy: “Why are there no Hittites in New York?” Percy wondered. I expected some laughter, but, as far as I could tell, no one understood the point. Since obviously we find many Jews in New York but no Hittites, what can explain that survival over the millennia of Jews but not of the Hittites?

For a Christian to draw conclusions about God’s mercy from the survival of the Jews – now, that is theodicy.

Santoronomics — A Mixed Report Card

January 15th, 2012 - 8:10 am

Rick Santorum is magnificently right about tripling the individual tax credit, and doubly right to warn about demographic winter in America. But he’s wrong to propose a special tax break for manufacturing. As an admirer of Santorum, I offer some friendly criticism.

It’s encouraging that Rick Santorum emerged as the leading conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Unlike the mercurial Newt Gingrich, a man whose contributions to political life are manifold but who is temperamentally unsuited to the presidency, Santorum is a truly nice guy. And as my one-time mentor Jude Wanniski liked to say, the American people want a nice guy in the world’s most powerful office. As a prominent Orthodox rabbi of my acquaintance put it, it says something about American faith that the frontrunners are, respectively, a devout Mormon and a devout Catholic, and exemplary husbands and fathers.

Full disclosure: I have contributed to both Romney’s and Santorum’s campaigns, to the former because I think Romney is the best man to face Barack Obama in the general election, and to Rick Santorum because I like him.

Santorum’s program calls for reducing the number of tax rates to only two, namely 10% and 28%, and tripling the personal deduction for each child (to about $10,000). I would go even further and scale Social Security and Medicare contributions to family size; as I wrote three years ago in First Things, “For most taxpayers, social-insurance deductions are almost as great a burden as income tax. Families that bring up children contribute to the future tax base; families that do not get a free ride. The base rate for social security and Medicare deductions should rise, with a significant exemption for families with children, so that a disproportionate share of the burden falls on the childless.” This is simply a matter of fairness. It costs about $400,000 to raise the average American child through grade 12, the government tells us. If everyone spent that $400,000 on vacations instead, and no-one raised children, we would all die of starvation upon retirement. Families that spend that $400,000 (and much more, counting college) are raising the next generation of taxpayers without whom we are dead. Those who fail to have children and spend money on other things are free riders. As a matter of simple equity, they should pay more.

By focusing on family issues, Santorum’s personal tax program gets an A+ on my scorecard. Less convincing is the special treatment he proposes for manufacturers (complete elimination of corporate income tax, vs. a 50% reduction for everyone else). If there are profitable opportunities in manufacturing, why won’t American investors seek them out with the same incentives that apply to services? There’s no shortage of success stories in manufacturing. Germany’s unemployment rate is the lowest in a generation, in part due to its success in manufacturing exports from heavy machinery to autos. And the average German manufacturing wage is about $40,000 a year, not much different from the American level.

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Private Equity and Creative Destruction

January 12th, 2012 - 12:12 pm

Want to see what America would look like without private equity? Move to Detroit and contemplate the ruins of a city ruined by the placid conformity of auto industry executives. The  economic impact of the corporate takeover business can’t be measured by the outcome of takeovers as such. Private equity transformed the way American business thought about the world. If managers did a lousy job, outside investors could raise money (a lot of it from trade union pension funds as well as university endowments) and kick them out.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry should be ashamed of themselves for bean-counting Bain Capital’s record on job creation. Any investment firm operating over decades of rapid employment growth will be able to show that the companies it bought added jobs over time. That’s what the academic studies on private equity show in any event, as Jordan Weissmann reports at The Atlantic. More relevant is the alternative. We’ve been there, done that, and don’t want to do it again. Corporate America in the 1950s and 1960s coasted on the postwar monopoly enjoyed by American companies after the destruction of European and Japanese industries. Detroit in the late 1960s had African-American neighborhoods stretching for miles with well-kept single-family homes and manicured lawns; by the end of the 1970s it had turned into a moonscape. The rust belt still hasn’t recovered from the laziness of American capital a generation ago.

Private equity takes money from institutional investors who otherwise would passively invest in public securities, and gives them the chance to exercise direct ownership of companies whose management fails to exploit their potential. It creates competition where no competition existed before. As in every business, there are ten wannabees for every visionary. A lot of the success of private equity derives from the fact that equity values rose steadily from1983 through 2000, and anyone who had a chance to own equity with borrowed money did exceptionally well. One can argue that many of the players who got rich during the boom years simply rode the big wave. (Bain Capital, though, was one of the first in, and throughout one of the smartest, and one of the least reckless about using excess leverage.)

But all that is beside the point. The private equity business as a whole, and the associated capital market innovations that supported it (high-yield bonds, for example), forced American businesses to think competitively. One of the results is that large American businesses are leaner and more efficient than ever before — with the result that big companies actually are creating most of the jobs out there.

The table below is taken from Standard and Poor’s website. It calculates employment growth among the S&P 500 companies, showing that overall employment in the country’s biggest companies grew by more than 10% during 2010, while overall employment stagnated. The nimbleness of corporate America — the fact that the collapse of the housing market and the household balance sheet did not push the U.S. into a new Great Depression — is the result of the Reagan Revolution and the unfettered capitalism it let loose on the world.

From the standpoint of individual employees whose lives may be disrupted by corporate reorganizations, none of this is pleasant. And it doesn’t seem fair that a Harvard type in suspenders and a pink shirt should make millions by spurring managers to think smarter and employees to work harder. Of course it isn’t fair: it’s capitalism. Entrepreneurs aren’t made in the image of Mother Teresa. More often than not they are obsessive about succeeding to compensate for other insecurities. I’ve known a lot of great entrepreneurs, and not one of them was what you would call a balanced personality. Mitt Romney seems like much too nice a fellow for this line of work.

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Has the Conservative Elite Really Failed?

January 1st, 2012 - 9:02 am

Ross Douthat at the New York Times (seconded by Rod Dreher at the American Conservative) thinks that Ron Paul plays a salubrious role as truth-teller and gadfly:

The United States is living through an era of unprecedented elite failure, in which America’s public institutions are understandably distrusted and our leadership class is justifiably despised. Yet politicians of both parties are required, by the demands of partisanship, to embrace the convenient lie that our problem can be pinned exclusively on the other side’s elites — as though both liberals and conservatives hadn’t participated in the decisions that dug our current hole.

In this climate, it sometimes takes a fearless crank to expose realities that neither Republicans nor Democrats are particularly eager to acknowledge.

In both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Paul has been the only figure willing to point out the deep continuities in American politics — the way social spending grows and overseas commitments multiply no matter which party is in power, the revolving doors that connect K Street to Congress and Wall Street to the White House, the long list of dubious policies and programs that both sides tacitly support. In both election cycles, his honest extremism has sometimes cut closer to the heart of our national predicament than the calculating partisanship of his more grounded rivals. He sometimes rants, but he rarely spins — and he’s one of the few figures on the national stage who says “a plague on both your houses!” and actually means it.

“Unprecedented elite failure”? Does Douthat actually believe that the conservative elite has failed? That is a daunting suggestion. When I arrived at Columbia in 1969 as a flaming leftist, there was no such thing as a conservative elite. The conservative movement still lay under the rubble of the Goldwater disaster. There was National Review, to be sure, whose readers “also serve who only stand and hate,” as William F. Buckley quipped.  Irving Kristol’s Public Interest (to which I contributed  much later) was just in transition from liberalism to neo-conservatism. Robert Bartley was yet to take the helm at the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Supply-side economics was a gleam in Robert Mundell’s eye (Jude Wanniski’s programmatic essay for Public Interest on Mundell and Laffer appeared in 1974).

Now we have an army of conservative intellectuals, working out of the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, and too many other think tanks and publications to follow. Robert Mundell went on to win the Nobel Prize, and the “voodoo economics” of 1980 has become mainstream Republican policy. Natural-law Catholic intellectuals like Princeton’s Robert George and Amherst’s Hadley Arkes–scholars whom I had the privilege to meet as an editor at First Things – have trained a generation of students. The evangelical movement is a formidable political force. Fox News churns out the conservative message daily, along with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and dozens of other media personalities — not to mention PJ Media founder Roger Simon. The universities remain captive to the tenure system that left the ’60s radicals in positions of power, to be sure, but that doesn’t stop conservatives from thinking, publishing, and addressing a mass audience.

There is no shortage of smarts, and no shortage of institutional support, and no shortage of public outlets. Even the New York Times feels obligated to give a major slot to a conservative Catholic like Ross Douthat.

What, then, has failed?

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