At a gathering last night of intelligent young conservatives, I was defending the point that the TARP and some kind of fiscal stimulus had been absolutely essential last year – that otherwise the world economy might have plunged into Depression – and that conservative organizations like the Heritage were right and courageous to have supported the Obama administration’s actions at the time. We can criticize some of the details of those actions, especially some of the payoffs to Democratic interest groups embedded in the stimulus and the budget for the second half of 2009. But as an AEI colleague of mine put it, in those critical hours it was more important to be fast than to be smart. And it’s not like the GOP does not sometimes deliver payoffs to our interest groups too.

This defense met some resistance. The dominant view in the conservative world rejects the decisions of last year, and even questions whether conditions were really so very dangerous after all.

One attendee said something very thought-provoking. “Maybe it was a good thing we weren’t in power then – because our principles don’t allow us to respond to a crisis like this.”

My answer: If your principles don’t allow you to save your country when it needs to be be saved, then there’s something wrong with those principles.