“Let’s talk about energy independence. My entire adult life I have been listening to politicians promise to work for energy independence. Just so’s we’re clear, we live on a continent that is so rich in energy that we could light and heat the whole planet for the next millennium or two. Whether we are talking about coal, natural gas, or oil, we could run circles around the Saudis, waving our hands in the air. So what is the principle obstacle that stands in the way of our energy independence? Why, it’s Congress! The people making all the vows and promises are the very ones who make it impossible. They are the only ones who make it impossible. They are the only obstacle. And so, every two years, they promise to work toward energy independence, and they have been doing this for decades. Give them time. Show some patience, champ. Just like Lucy and the football, hope springs eternal in the cranium of the blockhead. In case you were having trouble following my argument, the voter collective is Charlie Brown.” – Doug Wilson, from Blog and Mablog
“Yes, we do, because the fringe is marginal no more.” – George Will, in a 1995 column.
I first read this quote on January 1, 1995 as Washington, D.C. was preparing to swear in the first Republican majority in the U.S. House in 40 years that would join the existing Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. Most of us conservatives were quite giddy at the prospect of undoing much of the harm that the liberals had done over that period. And despite a Democratic president we were rewarded in quite a few ways as welfare was remarkably transformed, the federal budget was balanced for the first time in the memory of most people, and the economy continued its record growth begun under the Reagan presidency. Truly, we thought, we—the conservative fringe—are marginal no more.
Here is the quote put into more context:
Robert Merry of Congressional Quarterly recalls Pat Moynihan’s first Senate campaign, in 1976, against the conservative incumbent, James Buckley. Addressing a labor audience, Mr. Moynihan said, “Look, there’s this particular fringe, and their one fundamental problem is they simply never accepted the New Deal.” He added: “Didn’t Franklin Roosevelt settle this issue once and for all? I mean, do we really have to go over it again?” Yes, we do, because the fringe is marginal no more.
Then came not just a Republican Congress, but a Republican president. We had it made! Except that even before we won the presidency, the Republican Congress had fallen back in many of the free spending, big government ways of incumbents. The new president in many ways joined in with this, and after a while it seemed as if conservatives were becoming the marginal fringe even within the Republican party.