Conservative “Intellectual” “Ascendancy”

Brad DeLong appropriately derides a WSJ piece by Mark Lilla, who bemoans the decline of conservative intellect.

The key Lilla line:

For the past 40 years American conservatism has been politically ascendant, in no small part because it was also intellectually ascendant.

Wrong. It has been ascendant because it promised and delivered lower taxes.

It’s a simple strategy: Borrow abroad (or from future generations, same thing), and use the money to buy votes.

Yes, they wrapped that strategy in a bunch of intellectual-sounding glitter-tissue. But the window-dressing isn’t what achieved or maintained their ascendancy.