Conservative heavyweights planning post-mortem

CONSERVATIVE HEAVYWEIGHTS PLANNING POST-MORTEM…. This ought to be interesting.

Two days after next week’s election, top conservatives will gather at the Virginia weekend home of one of the movement’s most prominent members to begin a conversation about their role in the GOP and how best to revive a party that may be out of power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue next year.

The meeting will include a “who’s who of conservative leaders — economic, national security and social,” said one attendee, who shared initial word of the secret session only on the basis of anonymity and with some details about the host and location redacted. […]

“There’s a sense that the Republican Party is broken, but the conservative movement is not,” said this source, suggesting that it was the betrayal of some conservative principles by Bush and congressional leaders that led to the party’s decline.

If McCain wins, the meeting will focus on how to make sure he’s sufficiently right-wing to meet the base’s standards, and how the far-right leaders would rely on Sarah Palin as their conduit to power. If McCain loses, the meeting will weigh who the next conservative leaders will/should be.

The goal, obviously, is to get a head start on the party’s post-election retrospection. Before anyone can even consider moving the Republican Party towards the middle, leading activists and power brokers want to ensure that the GOP will redouble their efforts to be as rigidly conservative as possible.

It just doesn’t occur to these party leaders that the Republican governing philosophy doesn’t work. The party had it all just a few years ago, did exactly what it wanted to do, ran over Democrats as if they were speed-bumps, and saw all of their ideas fail miserably. As the nation moved away from the GOP as a result, these activists concluded they’d learned a valuable lesson — the Republican Party wasn’t nearly conservative enough.

Atrios had a very sharp post yesterday explaining the party’s folly: “Bush and this bunch of Republicans have completely f***ed the Republican brand. Social conservatism (ban abortion and contraception, stone gay people) just isn’t popular enough nationally, and they’ve (for a second time) destroyed the idea of Republicans as ‘fiscal conservatives.'”

And next week, a “who’s who of conservative leaders,” oblivious to all of this, will plot the party’s future. Democrats, I’m sure, couldn’t be more pleased.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.