Jon Chait is right, the conservative theory that the GOP lost power due to insufficiently dogmatic adherence to “small government” dogma is bizarre. It’s true that deviationism earned the Republicans a lot of criticism from conservatives, but there’s almost no evidence of conservative abandonment and a wealth of evidence suggesting moderate voters turned — hard — against the GOP, which they would have done earlier if not for the deviations. But the madness seems to grow more entrenched as I read in the NY Times that “Republicans close to the White House say Mr. Rove has been arguing that the White House needs to shore up its standing with conservatives, whose support will be crucial to rebuild Mr. Bush’s popularity and ultimately give him some leverage.”
Bush’s standing with conservatives, however, remains plenty high. It’s his standing with everyone else that’s in the toilet.