A government that works, some conservatives fear, is dangerous stuff. It gives people ideas. Universal health care isn’t just a bad idea for their buddies in the insurance business; it’s a gateway drug to broader state involvement in the economy and hence a possible doomsday scenario for conservatism itself. As two fellows of the Ethics and Public Policy Center fretted in the Weekly Standard in May, “health care is the key to public enmeshment in ballooning welfare states, and passage of ObamaCare would deal a heavy blow to the conservative enterprise in American politics.”

On the other hand, government fails constantly when conservatives run it because making it work would be, for many of those conservatives, to traduce the very laws of nature. Besides, as we can now see, bungling Katrina recovery or Pentagon procurement pays conservatives huge dividends. It gives them potent ammunition to use when the liberals have returned and are proposing another one of their grand schemes to reform health care.

This is the perverse incentive that is slowly remaking the GOP into the Snafu Party.