The Bold Conservative Statement of Principles That Says Nothing New

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 16 2014 5:29 PM

The Bold Conservative Statement of Principles That Says Nothing New

Robert Costa was the only reporter allowed into a daylong conservative summit that, to be honest, sounds like every conservative summit ever held since 2007 or so. That's not jealousy talking! As Costa reports, the summit was an outgrowth of the "Mt. Vernon Statement," a largely forgotten event from 2010 at which established D.C. conservatives teamed up with Tea Party activists to agree to a fairly unspecific catechism. The hook of the new summit was that conservatives needed to recommit to some principles, less they win the 2014 elections and forget what to do. But now, as in 2010, nothing specific was agreed to -- nothing that any national Republican isn't on board with, nothing that is hard for a moderate to seize onto.

The memo, via Zeke Miller, is here:

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I defer to Ramesh Ponnuru on the new unspecifics:

The manifesto advocates the reform, not just the elimination, of government programs. “It’s time to fix dysfunctional government programs,” it says, mentioning “[f]ailed job training and education programs.” ... A lot of what the manifesto calls “specifics” are in fact pretty vague. The health-care section does not rise much above the level of conservative platitude. (“Replace Obamacare to fix heath care problems without raising costs or shrinking the workforce.”)

It really just reads like a reaffirmation, by long-lived conservative groups and their adherents, that they're still here. But it's been a long week, and I've spent three days driving around Georgia and slapping copy far too tardily into the hands of my editors. Maybe I'm missing something, but it would be far more interesting to see unions, "professional left" groups, greens, gender activists, and minority activists lock themselves in a hotel and come out with a manifesto. It's been too long for them.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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