Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column at National Review Online challenges the notion that conservatives can blame the Iraq war for much of their recent malaise at the national level.

That libertarians, paleocons, neocons, and the Republican establishment all argued over Iraq was natural — in the manner that the often “muddied” party split over interventions in Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, and Libya.

[Peggy] Noonan believes that Iraq “ended the Republican political ascendance that had begun in 1980.” Hardly. Bill Clinton did that in 1992, when he defeated once-popular incumbent Republican George H. W. Bush (and then was reelected for a second term). Al Gore won the popular vote over George W. Bush in 2000.

In truth, there is rarely either a Republican or a Democratic long-term ascendance or mandate — other than the natural challenge-and-response pattern of politics. Iraq became unpopular and was helping Democrats by 2006. Yet the specter of Obamacare in 2010 — and its reality in 2014 — may foster an even more influential swing-back in public opinion.

Did Iraq alone really undermine “respect for Republican economic stewardship,” as Noonan suggests? The war may have cost $1 trillion over a decade. Yet from 2001 to 2008, a Republican president (with help from a Republican-majority Congress for six years) ran up $4 trillion in debt — at that time, the largest borrowing of any two-term administration in the nation’s history.

At most, Iraq contributed 25 percent of that aggregate debt. The vast expansion in the size of the federal government and domestic spending levels not only eroded “respect for Republican economic stewardship” but discredited the Bush tax cuts, which, we seem to have forgotten, resulted in more, not less, aggregate federal revenue.