QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Time has an interesting cover story in its new issue, exploring the depths of the Republican Party’s problems, and when the party might recover. There was one quote in the piece, however, that I had to read a few times, just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

The most urgent question is the meaning of economic conservatism. Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a conservative who keeps a bust of Reagan on his desk, surprised me by declaring that the Reagan era is over. “Marginal tax rates are the lowest they’ve been in generations, and all we can talk about is tax cuts,” he said. “The people’s desires have changed, but we’re still stuck in our old issue set.”

That’s true, of course, but it’s incredible to see McHenry admit it, out loud and on the record.

Indeed, just three weeks ago, McHenry was getting conservative activists worked up at a “Tea Party” in North Carolina, arguing that the current tax burden is outrageous. He neglected to mention to the crowd of angry conservatives, “Marginal tax rates are the lowest they’ve been in generations.”

It probably slipped his mind.

Also note, McHenry isn’t even close to being a moderate. Long-time readers of the Monthly may recall this fascinating item from 2005, detailing McHenry’s rapid ascent in Republican politics, thanks to his uncanny ability to position himself to the right of just about everyone.

When he’s admitting that the Reagan era is over and the Republican demands for tax cuts are no longer relevant, it suggests the GOP is need of a whole new identity. By the time the same congressman leading the tax revolt concedes that taxes are already low, you know the jig is up.

Post Script: How quickly will Limbaugh and the Club for Growth force McHenry to denounce himself? And how can McHenry spin out of unambiguous comments like these?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.