The task ahead for today’s conservatives

The Republican Party resembles the man who told his psychiatrist, “I have an identity problem, and so do I.” The party’s leader is at best indifferent to, and often is hostile to, much of the party’s recent catechism: limited government, the rule of law, a restrained executive, fiscal probity, entitlement reforms, free trade, the general efficiency and equity of markets allocating wealth and opportunity, and — this matters especially — the importance of decorousness in political discourse.

.. Today, many Americans seem to relish being furious. An indignation industry has battened on the Republican Party, feeding this addiction. This industry is inimical to conservatism’s health.

A veteran baseball coach once said baseball is not a game you can play with your teeth clenched. The sport of the long season requires emotional equipoise, a continuous combination of concentration and relaxation.

.. persuasion is necessary to temper the public’s instinctive aversion to the patience that politics requires — the public’s proclivity for disparaging institutional impediments to immediate gratification. Only conservatives will undertake such persuasion.

 .. Protectionism is comprehensive government intervention in economic life. It supplants commercial calculations with political considerations. Using tariffs, which are taxes imposed at the border, government imposes its judgment of what Americans should be permitted to purchase, in what quantities and at what prices. If conservatism can embrace such statism, can it distinguish itself from progressivism — the doctrine that government experts are wiser than markets in determining individuals’ choices and directing the efficient use of labor and capital?
.. He could make these suppositions more plausible by nominating Kelly Ayotte to be attorney general.
.. the Justice Department has been politically tainted by, among other things, its lassitude regarding the IRS’s abuses against conservative advocacy groups. It needs a steely but amiable leader, not someone with a recent record of hysterical partisanship (e.g., Rudy Giuliani).