Conservative senators passing through the Capitol reception room should ponder the portrait of Ohio’s Robert Taft (d. 1953), who was conservatism when it stressed congressional supremacy. America was born in recoil against an overbearing executive’s “repeated injuries and usurpations” (the Declaration of Independence); modern conservatism was born in reaction against executive aggrandizement, first by Franklin Roosevelt, then by his acolyte Lyndon Johnson.
But beginning in 1968, Republicans won five of six and then seven of 10 presidential elections, and experienced rapture with Ronald Reagan. Then they lost their wholesome wariness of executive power. Today, conservatives should curl up with a good book by a founding editor of National Review – James Burnham’s “Congress and the American Tradition.”â
Regarding the relevance of the Constitution, you must remember this: Rep. Nancy Pelosi, asked about the constitutionality of the health-care legislation – a subject now being seriously litigated – said, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” She was serious.