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Hullabaloo


Saturday, October 28, 2006

 
Back To Their Natural State

by digby


Glenn Greenwald did a thorough deconstruction of Peggy Noonan's noxious latest, but I do want to emphasize the most important point about it. She is signaling (along with a lot of others) that it's time to purge the Bushmen and, as Glenn says, we shouldn't let them do it:


There remains a broad, reflexive, and very Republican kind of loyalty to George Bush. He is a war president with troops in the field. You can see his heart. He led us in a very human way through 9/11, from the early missteps to the later surefootedness. He was literally surefooted on the rubble that day he threw his arm around the retired fireman and said the people who did this will hear from all of us soon.

Images like that fix themselves in the heart. They're why Mr. Bush's popularity is at 38%. Without them it wouldn't be so high.

But there's unease in the base too, again for many reasons. One is that it's clear now to everyone in the Republican Party that Mr. Bush has changed the modern governing definition of "conservative."

He did this without asking. He did it even without explaining. He didn't go to the people whose loyalty and support raised him high and say, "This is what I'm doing, this is why I'm changing things, here's my thinking, here are the implications." The cynics around him likely thought this a good thing. To explain is to make things clearer, or at least to try, and they probably didn't want it clear. They had the best of both worlds, a conservative reputation and a liberal reality.

And Republicans, most of whom are conservative in at least general ways, and who endure the disadvantages of being conservative because they actually believe in ideas, in philosophy, in an understanding of the relation of man and the state, are still somewhat concussed. The conservative tradition on foreign affairs is prudent realism; the conservative position on borders is that they must be governed; the conservative position on high spending is that it is obnoxious and generationally irresponsible. Etc.

This is not how Mr. Bush has governed. And so in the base today personal loyalty, and affection, bumps up against intellectual unease.


"He did it without asking." Poor Peggy, she was given a political Roofie and taken against her will. I've said it before but I'm going to say it again. Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.

The Republicans have fielded five presidents since 1968 and only one of them can be considered politically successful. One out of five. The rest have crashed and burned each time on incompetence, corruption or some combination of the two. I think it's fair to say that neither the modern Republican party or the conservative movement is capable of governance. And there's a reason for that.

I wrote this a while back:

The movement conservatives are not really very comfortable on the inside. Witness their absurd appeal above. It's all about the "permanent revolution" for them, even to the extent that they could ridiculously defend Tom DeLay as innocent, upright and under seige from powerful liberal factions less than a year ago. They seem to have realized that it won't work any longer and it's time to begin the conservative purification rituals if they want to keep the revolution alive.


This is why I don't want any of us to think for a moment that winning and losing elections means the same thing to us as it means to them. Democrats believe in government and they want to make it work. Republicans see government purely as a means to exert power. Unfortunately, they are not very good at that because in the modern world sheer, dumb might is no longer possible. The best they can do is loot the treasury and leave the rest of their mess to be cleaned up by the Democrats.

What they really excel at is politics. Governance just hangs them up. And don't think for a moment that they will be chagrined or ashamed and crawl off into a hole to lick their wounds. Being defeated liberates them to do what they are really good at --- destroying the opposition and pushing their agenda with sophisticated, scorched earth political rhetoric. It's not natural for them to be on the defense and they don't like it. They are going back to their natural state --- victimhood and the aggressive attack.

Get ready. The Democrats will not only have to govern, but they will have to fix all the problems they've created while fighting them every step of the way. They're not going away. And they will pull out every stop to win every election, not because they necessarily want to govern but because that's how you keep score. For a long, long time they've been able to get their way whether they win or lose and they see no reason to doubt that will continue. And unless we put a stop to this they might be right.

That's why this is important:

LET THE HEARINGS BEGIN!
Subpoena Envy
by Michael Crowley

As the Lord High Executioner said in The Mikado, 'I have a little list.'" So says John Dingell, the 26-term Michigan House Democrat who spent 14 years as a mighty committee baron before the 1995 Republican Revolution booted him into the powerless minority. At last poised to reclaim his House Energy and Commerce Committee gavel, the 80-year-old Dingell now sounds like a man who can't wait for 2007. Though he knows a House Democratic majority won't pass much legislation, especially given George W. Bush's veto pen, his chairmanship means he can subject the Bush administration to high-profile committee hearings--lots and lots of them.

"Privacy," he begins. "Social Security-number protection. Outsourcing protection. Unfair trade practices. Currency manipulation. Air quality. We'll look at the implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. We'll take a look at climate change. We'll take a look at [the Department of Energy's] nuclear waste program, where literally billions of dollars are being dissipated. We'll look at port security and nuclear smuggling, where there's literally nothing being done. We'll look at the Superfund program. We'll take a look at EPA enforcement." He pauses for a breath--but he's just getting started: "On health, we'll take a look at Medicaid and waivers. The Food and Drug Administration. Generic drug approval. Medical safety. We'll also take a look at food supplements, where people are being killed. We will look at Medicare Part D [prescription drugs]." Is that all? "Telecom. We'll look at FCC actions. ... Media ownership. Adequate spectrum for police, fire, public safety, and addressing the problems of terrorism. ... We will look also at the overall question of Katrina recovery efforts."

As Democrats have gained in the polls, Republicans are predicting that a Democratic majority will mean a frenzy of political witch hunts directed at them by newly installed chairmen like Dingell. "You can expect two years of all-out investigations and attacks and anything they can bring to bear," Newt Gingrich warned on Fox News last March. Clearly aiming to calm the hysteria, George H.W. Bush recently warned it would be a "ghastly thing" for the United States if "wild Democrats" were put in charge of congressional committees. A Washington Times article fretted that "key administration officials will be so busy preparing for testimony that they will not be able to do their jobs."

But the curious thing about Dingell's little list is that it targets policies--not people. While some Democrats may dream of hauling Karl Rove to the Hill to discuss Plamegate or forcing Dan Bartlett to testify about Dick Cheney's hunting accident, Dingell is one of a number of future Democratic chairs who plan to focus on substance, not sideshows. And, as strange as it sounds, this may not come as a relief to Republicans. The GOP would love nothing more than for Democrats to go off on half-cocked, mean-spirited inquisitions that generate sympathy for the hapless Bushies. Alas, the GOP's conduct during the Clinton years has provided Democrats with a near-perfect what-not-to-do manual.


If they have the guts to do this, and do it right, if they win the Democrats will have it in their power to end this cycle and shut the door on this era of conservative politics. Otherwise we will remain their cats-paws no matter which party is in the majority.


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