Jonah Goldberg has “a letter to Sarah Palin” column that I find interesting because it touts the importance of policy knowledge, but only for getting elected:
Second, peddling a few platitudes and truisms about free markets and limited government is no substitute for really knowing what you’re talking about. Yes, you can talk well about the stuff you know — oil drilling, energy, etc. — but beyond your comfort zone, you fall back on bumper-sticker language that sounds fine to the people who already agree with you but is useless in winning over skeptics.
President Bush had the same problem you do, which is why there’s a hunger for Republicans who can effectively articulate and sell our policies and philosophy. That’s why the wonks have the upper hand. Mitt Romney, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, and other hands-on types are what the party wants and, frankly, needs.
Note that the emphasis is on articulating and selling, not on understanding and implementing. But even if Jonah still doesn’t believe that the reality of policy is important, at least he now accepts that the electorate does and thinks that Republicans should put forward candidates who at least give the appearance of understanding this reality.
I think that represents some kind of progress.