Listening to conservative talk radio, as I am wont to do, has been a pleasant and satisfying experience the last couple of days. Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, et al, are having to come to grips with the fact that the next president will not only be one they didn't choose, but will be from their point of view one of the three worst possible choices (not counting Kucinich, who was never going anywhere). It's as if listeners tuned in to the blowhards, carefully considered what they had to say, then decided to adopt the exact opposite position.
So I got to hear Limbaugh this week responding to speculation that he is depressed. And Beck arguing that McCain should "French kiss" Limbaugh out of gratitude for showing liberals that it's OK to vote for McCain. And Hannity in nonstop self-aggrandizement mode, vowing not to surrender his "Reagan conservative" principles.
They all agree that it isn't conservatism that voters are rejecting, and I think they are right about that. At least not if one considers what always have seemed to me to be the traditional conservative principles: restraint in spending and size of government, reluctance to intervene overseas, a chief executive strictly constrained by Congress, and respect for traditional American beliefs of in liberty, courtesy toward opposing political positions and unstinting commitment to human decency.
I can't be sure what voters intend to say with their votes so far, but I hope it is this: They explicitly reject the world the talk show mavens have tried to create, a world in which political disagreement is an act of treason; where presidents, so long as they are Republicans, are free to create and ignore laws at will; where dissidents are punished and enemies are tortured; and where countries that pose us no threat are invaded at will.
That would be a conservative America that would mean something.