In a new ebook, Philip Klein argues that, to avoid a repeat of the GOP-sanctioned Bush nightmare, Romney-era conservatives shouldn't "shut up and get in line." Instead, they should capitalize on their nominee's "infamous calculating nature" and "play coy." Jim Antle summarizes:
When Republicans take the base for granted, government gets bigger and conservative policy objectives go unrealized. Despite his good intentions on Social Security reform, George W. Bush's presidency was an enormous missed opportunity for conservatives on entitlements. Not many more opportunities will present themselves. Romney needs to have the same political incentives to govern in a conservative fashion that Tea Party challengers have created for complacent Republican incumbents across the country.
Friedersdorf highlights a couple of Klein's blindspots, including national security and the conservative media:
Klein persuasively argues that it's important for rank-and-file conservatives to focus on entitlement reform, health-care reform, and tax reform. I'd add deficit reduction to that list. He doesn't delve into what the rank and file currently focuses on or why they focus on those things. In addition to taxes and spending, the rank and file currently spends a lot of time obsessing over trivial nonsense: for example, an imaginary race war against white people; The New Black Panther Party; and a liberal schoolteacher abusing her position somewhere in America. Those are but three stories in conservative news right now, alongside the constant obsessions with liberal media bias, anything involving "God, guns, and gays," statements by Janeane Garofalo-style celebrities, and ginned-up kerfuffles we can't even presently imagine. Whether a Republican or Democrat is in the White House, the right-wing media thrives on those often symbolic controversies, which exacts a heavy opportunity cost. … Without confronting these forces, is there any chance the right will get through the next four years focusing on the most urgent of their governing priorities?