Paging Mark Levin. Mr. Levin, you have a phone call at the front desk.

First, conservatism is alive and well in America; don’t let anyone tell you differently. And by conservatism, I don’t mean the warmed-over “raise your hand if you believe …” kind of conservatism we see blooming every election cycle. No, I’m speaking of the conservatism grounded in principles based upon enduring truths: an understanding of the importance of human nature in the affairs of individuals and nations. Respect for the lessons of history, the importance of faith and tradition…

Second, change – whether it “real change,” “bold change” or the “change we can believe in” variety others are selling – isn’t itself an innovative policy or a particularly strong leadership stance. In fact, from Burke to Buckley, there has been an acknowledgement that change in the political arena is inevitable and necessary, and we in the U.S. tend to experience it in regular, 2, 4 and 6 year intervals, so 2008 is hardly our first rodeo. The challenge for conservatives is calibrating whether the change being proposed is consistent with our principles and our philosophy, and whether that change is appropriate.

Our nation has some serious issues to work through for today … and for the next generation. Now isn’t the time for conservatives to be looking for a tailored message or a politically expedient route to victory if the end result is going to be the inevitable slide toward the liberalization and secularization of America, and the growth of government and loss of freedom that inevitably ensues. For us conservatives it must be about principles and policies that are grounded in freedom, free markets and the rule of law.

I’m curious as to how the Fredheads, in particular, reconcile this otherwise righteous statement of principles with the fact that Fred’s out on the stump these days with a man who’s convinced himself that illegal immigration has been “finally brought under control.” If the answer is that he’s doing what must be done to keep the Messiah away from the reins of power, then how is that different from following “a politically expedient route to victory”? This was Levin’s point in that audio clip that got so many comments — that McCain’s going to lead to precisely the sort of liberalization that Fred’s so worried about here. Have we changed our minds about that and now decided that Maverick is the Truth and the Way back towards Reaganism? I’m confused!

Update: Ah, my mistake. McCain’s speech this morning was about the things that’ll be accomplished by the end of his first term. So it’ll be 2013 when immigration is finally “brought under control” — with Captain Amnesty as president working together with a bluer-than-blue Congress. Anyone want to bet?