Friday, October 12, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
David Byrne would be proud.
There have been a number of articles recently that portray President Bush as someone who strayed from the path of true conservatism. Republicans, these articles say, need to return to their roots.
Well, I don’t know what true conservatism is, but while doing research for my forthcoming book I spent a lot of time studying the history of the American political movement that calls itself conservatism — and Mr. Bush hasn’t strayed from the path at all. On the contrary, he’s the very model of a modern movement conservative.
For example, people claim to be shocked that Mr. Bush cut taxes while waging an expensive war. But Ronald Reagan also cut taxes while embarking on a huge military buildup.
People claim to be shocked by Mr. Bush’s general fiscal irresponsibility. But conservative intellectuals, by their own account, abandoned fiscal responsibility 30 years ago. Here’s how Irving Kristol, then the editor of The Public Interest, explained his embrace of supply-side economics in the 1970s: He had a “rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems” because “the task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority — so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”
People claim to be shocked by the way the Bush administration outsourced key government functions to private contractors yet refused to exert effective oversight over these contractors, a process exemplified by the failed reconstruction of Iraq and the Blackwater affair.
But back in 1993, Jonathan Cohn, writing in The American Prospect, explained that “under Reagan and Bush, the ranks of public officials necessary to supervise contractors have been so thinned that the putative gains of contracting out have evaporated. Agencies have been left with the worst of both worlds — demoralized and disorganized public officials and unaccountable private contractors.”
People claim to be shocked by the Bush administration’s general incompetence. But disinterest in good government has long been a principle of modern conservatism. In “The Conscience of a Conservative,” published in 1960, Barry Goldwater wrote that “I have little interest in streamlining government or making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.”
People claim to be shocked that the Bush Justice Department, making a mockery of the Constitution, issued a secret opinion authorizing torture despite instructions by Congress and the courts that the practice should stop. But remember Iran-Contra? The Reagan administration secretly sold weapons to Iran, violating a legal embargo, and used the proceeds to support the Nicaraguan contras, defying an explicit Congressional ban on such support.
Oh, and if you think Iran-Contra was a rogue operation, rather than something done with the full knowledge and approval of people at the top — who were then protected by a careful cover-up, including convenient presidential pardons — I’ve got a letter from Niger you might want to buy.
People claim to be shocked at the Bush administration’s efforts to disenfranchise minority groups, under the pretense of combating voting fraud. But Reagan opposed the Voting Rights Act, and as late as 1980 he described it as “humiliating to the South.”
People claim to be shocked at the Bush administration’s attempts — which, for a time, were all too successful — to intimidate the press. But this administration’s media tactics, and to a large extent the people implementing those tactics, come straight out of the Nixon administration. Dick Cheney wanted to search Seymour Hersh’s apartment, not last week, but in 1975. Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, was Nixon’s media adviser.
People claim to be shocked at the Bush administration’s attempts to equate dissent with treason. But Goldwater — who, like Reagan, has been reinvented as an icon of conservative purity but was a much less attractive figure in real life — staunchly supported Joseph McCarthy, and was one of only 22 senators who voted against a motion censuring the demagogue.
Above all, people claim to be shocked by the Bush administration’s authoritarianism, its disdain for the rule of law. But a full half-century has passed since The National Review proclaimed that “the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail,” and dismissed as irrelevant objections that might be raised after “consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal” — presumably a reference to the document known as the Constitution of the United States.
Now, as they survey the wreckage of their cause, conservatives may ask themselves: “Well, how did we get here?” They may tell themselves: “This is not my beautiful Right.” They may ask themselves: “My God, what have we done?”
But their movement is the same as it ever was. And Mr. Bush is movement conservatism’s true, loyal heir.
Beneath the farts and flourishes of failed amendments, procedural votes and resolutions passed, one fact remains:About a quarter of the people in this country are just awful fucking human beings.They walk upright like us. Eat and shit like us. Reproduce like us. But they are not like us.
We are, right now, enduring the final act of arguably the failingest, most incompetent and mentally underclocking President we have ever had. A President who has proven himself every day to be simultaneously a traitor, a sadist and a fop.
We are groaning under a debt his Administration created, an unnecessary and catastrophic war his Administration manufactured, and a failed foreign policy his Administration authored.
And for his sins and crimes he continues to enjoy the blind, rabid canine loyalty of the 27%, whose proxies in Congress -- the same wingnut hirelings who screamed themselves hoarse chanting “Up or down vote!” every time a single GOP nomination got snagged -- continue to happily obstruct even the mildest effort to curb their Dear Leader’s Forever War or in any way mitigate his “Bomb them ‘til they’re Christian” vision of world peace.
He was preceded by as moderate and center-seeking president as we have seen in my lifetime.
One who made it a point to appoint Republicans to his cabinet, give the Right a voice, and triangulate away to them a lot of what they asked for.
For his troubles he endured the blind, rabid reptilian rage of the 27% for seven years.
And then they impeached him.
These are the pod people that keep O’Reilly propped up, keep Limbaugh on the air, and keep Fox News profitable. They kept Jerry Falwell from being run out of Christendom on a rail, and keep James Dobson from sinking back into the tent-show fever swamp from whence he came.
They are the reason the Minority Party knows it will pay absolutely no price for thwarting the will of the majority of the American people.
They are the reason the War Party has, finally, resorted to simply lying outright about Iraq; because they know which side of the Mason/Dixon line their bread is buttered on.
The truth of the matter is -- like the segregationists and slaveholders from whose degenerate ideologies and DNA the modern GOP base springs -- thanks to these people and their leaders, the next President of the United States is going to have several genuine, historic disasters that need simultaneous and focused attention.
And as these people and their leaders amply demonstrated during the Clinton years and over the last nine months, they are perfectly willing to sacrifice the good of the nation to advance their narrow, odious agendas.
With an unbroken record about being completely wrong about every fucking thing, at this point -- if we were dealing with sane human persons -- owning up to being a Republican should be as filthy and shameful a thing as being caught abusing puppies.
In a church.
On Easter Sunday.
But it isn’t.
Millions of Americans still wake up every day button-poppin’ proud that George W. Bush is their Preznit and Chief-Christian-In-Charge, and fatback-on-a-hot-stove sizzlin’ mad that Evil Liberals are still allowed to walk abroad in the daylight, plotting and scheming to destroy their beloved Jebusland.
Because the ugly truth is simply that the problem with the Republican Party is not George Bush, or Dick Cheney or Dough Feith or Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson: the problem with the Republican Party is Republicans.
The ugly truth is, Keith, that whether or not we’ll be able to weather the storms that are to come depends in large measure on how much longer the GOP base is allowed to control any significant part of our media, our politics or our faith.
I don’t know how much longer we can last until someone swings their camera around, points it at them and says: “You are the problem. You are a cancer on this good land, and whoever stands with you, votes with you or sides with you is unfit to call themselves a good American.”
Without the Base to prop them up, the Republican Party would revert to what it always has been: the Natural Law Party as run by closeted gay men.
And without their front-men in the media, the Congress and the White House, the Base would lose the luster of the limelight that creatures like Coulter are for some reason allowed to wield and would once again have to settle for being no more or less than what they have always been: the last, slavering remnants of the Confederacy.
Squatting in the moral abyss of their Conservative White Jebus-festooned double-wides.
And whining impotently about Jews, queers, Negroes and uppity women.
The NYT didn't bother to find out what the heck Bill Richardson has been wearing on HIS lapel and all they had to do was ask. It's a tiny pie chart from Priorities! "Business Leaders For Sensible Priorities." They're on a mission.
...to change US budget priorities to reflect a national commitment to education, healthcare, energy independence, job training and deficit reduction -- at no additional taxpayer expense -- by eliminating funding for unneeded Cold War era weapons systems.