The consensus emerging online seems to be that John Roberts is the long-awaited fourth conservative justice on the Supreme Court, the prize for which the rank-and-file Republican conservatives have been labouring, arguing and compromising away all other principles to achieve. This makes me wonder whether “conservatives” will now find their long, twilight struggle to get another solidly conservative justice on the Court to have been worthwhile. Having embraced democratism as one of their core beliefs in betrayal of their entire heritage, having sold out their movement on almost every other issue, and having succumbed to every perversion of conservatism in the name of electability, will “conservative” activists really feel as if they have been sufficiently repaid by the meager gain of this Supreme Court nomination, perhaps to be followed by a second less satisfying or indeed countervailing choice?

Those who endorsed Mr. Bush at the last election primarily over the issue of judges will feel vindicated–the meaningful difference between Kerry and Bush is now clear, they will say, and they will not be entirely wrong. Obviously, Kerry would never have picked John Roberts or anyone like him, and it may be argued that Roberts will be one more roadblock to national ruin that would otherwise have been missing in the event of a Bush defeat. But has it been worth all the compromises and abandonments of principle that conservatives have endured for all these years? Was it worth supporting such a dreadful president? I doubt it very much. But, ever driven by token symbolic achievements, the dessicated conservative movement will continue on, believing that it has struck the first blow in some sort of regeneration of the country.