David Brooks has been getting some undeserved praise for this piece, in which he speaks rather harshly of Republican corruption and proposes some rather stiff measures which the Republicans should take to become the party of reform.
This is ludicrous. The present majority was put together with the help of billions of corrupt dollars, and the famous party discipline that allowed them to pass so many extremist bills was the result of corruption.
This is the most fiscally-irresponsible administration in American history, and vote-buying is the reason why. Every time a Republican starts to waver, Rove throws a hundred thousand into his campaign fund, or a billion-dollar "bridge to nowhere" into his district. The tremendous deficits we see are the result of vote-buying and nothing else.
My guess is that Brooks fears that the Democrats might take over, and is proposing the new ethics rules in order to make sure that they will be crippled when they do so. Brooks is telling the Republicans to pull up the drawbridge once they're done with their looting.
There's really nothing left of conservativism any more but militarism and low taxes. Fiscal responsibility and limited government are utterly gone. The Bill of Rights is almost gone. Even the militarism hasn't been very successful.
The time is now for conservatives to realize that they are not Republicans any more, but I don't really expect any of them to figure that out. (The time was yesterday and last year, too, but now would be fine). They'll grumble and whine, but the Bush coalition will remain firm.
However, when I talk about "true conservatives" I don't mean Brooks. I don't know if any real conservatives survive, but Brooks is just one of the cagiest and smoothest of the Republican hacks. He's offering the Republicans an "out" which will make it possible for them -- against all logic -- to look like good guys at the end of the movie.