Et tu, Kim Strassel?

Kim Strassel and Dan Henninger of The Wall Street Journal editorial page consistently write some of the best and most insightful conservative editorials in the country.

Ms. Strassel's May 2 installment, however, took Senator Ted Cruz to task, calling his methods "absolutist." She also managed to insult many of us who attempt to roll back bloated and even unconstitutional government, calling us "dishonest."

Yes, we who continuously need to fight in the trenches of our own party take it that way, Kim.

Strassel writes, "The real divisions in today's Republican Party are not so much over ideology as they are over strategy. The GOP is split between those who insist on making a point, and those who want to make some progress."

This is so far off the mark from Ms. Strassel's usually exacting observations that perhaps she deserves a mulligan. But, she deserves to be called out for it by those in the trenches who see on a daily basis Republicans at the federal, state and local levels who either do not understand -- or are willing to easily trade off -- conservative principles.

And that doesn't even factor in Republicans who are openly hostile to conservative principles, not as a matter of strategy, but as a matter of 'ideology.'  Call it a blend of progressive and self-serving interests within the GOP, or whatever. There are Republicans who lack conservative principles. They engage in cronyism and government-knows-best politics.

It ain't strategically designed to bring about a limited government, conservative governing agenda. Oh, it's not Obama's politics, but it's not Ronald Reagan's, either.

Strassel also writes, "The dishonest part is the way in which today's self-anointed arbiters of 'conservatism' cast these disputes over strategy in ideological terms."

That's interesting. By articulating conservative principles, and distinguishing those principles from the quasi-progressive ideology of some within the GOP, we are now "dishonest."

Let me retract: That's not interesting; it is poor strategy in itself. Politics is negotiation. Good negotiators know not to concede what need not be conceded. At the same time common sense dictates not to make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Americans in large numbers despise the GOP because they see too many of its elected officials as weak, willing to compromise too soon, and inarticulate.

Virginia Attorney General and candidate for governor Ken Cuccinell has a marvelous book, The Last Line of Defense, in which he clearly articulates constitutional conservative principles, and why they are the way forward for the GOP. In it, Cuccinelli references his Founding hero, Patrick Henry, to make an important point about principles and strategy.

Henry opposed adoption of the Constitution because it lacked sufficient checks on the federal government.  Henry's reasons for opposition have proven themselves to be prescient, correct, and even profound.

However, James Madison would have been content to adopt the Constitution without a Bill of Rights. It was Henry's principled, articulated opposition that forced Madison to commit to a Bill of Rights. With that commitment, Madison secured enough votes within the constitutional convention to win adoption -- by a mere 10 votes.

Imagine where we would be without the Bill of Rights given how government behaves with them in place as law.

It was Henry's refusal to compromise on principle that secured it. Patrick Henry lost -- but won. These are the honest lessons for today's GOP. Principle is important in and of its own right, but it is also a winning strategy when we think of the good of the country.