Jonathan Rauch has a wonderful article on John McCain’s conservatism with the tag line “John McCain hasn’t betrayed conservatism; his party has.” It’s a good look at some of the reasons Conservatism will be much better off with McCain setting the tone than someone like Bush (who’s about as far from conservatism in some areas as Obama is in others).

Alert Washingtonians were treated to an odd juxtaposition not long ago. John McCain was booed at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the big annual gathering of the right-wing tribes, while trying to establish that he was a conservative. On the same day, across town at the American Enterprise Institute—another conservative stronghold—Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, was warmly received when he touted a new book called Real Change. Never one to go underboard, Ging­rich called for “explosively replac[ing] the failed bureaucracies of the past.”

The irony of the contrast seemed lost on conservatives. No one in the movement doubts Gingrich is a real, no-kidding conservative. Many doubt that McCain is. Some flatly flunk him. Thus spake James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family and a leader of the Christian right: “I am convinced Senator McCain is not a conservative.” He’s not one of us, these conservatives have insisted.

Actually, they’re not one of them. But he is.

{Read it all}