And yet, in a television interview last month, we find no less a representative of the late administration than former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsing the protesters' accusations with what is, for him, considerable enthusiasm. "I thought the tea parties were great," he told Fox News's Sean Hannity. "It's basically a very healthy development."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the Republican Party's few remaining stars, has also cheered the public's willingness to "fight back against Wall Street and Washington insiders."
A Republican who wants to fight Wall Street! A Bush official who thinks protesting Bush policies is "great"! Contemplating these curiosities, we begin to realize how easy it has been for conservatives to swing back into full-throated opposition only months after their cataclysmic defeat. And also to understand why the obituaries for the GOP might be just a tad premature.
After all, there's something about conservatives' ferocious "No" that precisely fits the temper of the times. For all the past year's Democratic victories, the GOP still owns outrage, still has an enormous capacity to summon up offense, to elevate every perceived slight into an unprecedented imposition upon both the hard-working citizen and freedom itself.
What really dazzles the observer, though, is conservatives' fury over things for which they are themselves responsible.