- In the popular political imagination we're familiar with the neocons as conniving militarists, masters of intrigue and cabals, graspers for the oil supplies of the world, and all the rest. But here we have them in what I suspect is the truest light: as college kid rubes who head out for a weekend in Vegas, get scammed out of their money by a two-bit hustler on the first night and then get played for fools by a couple hookers who leave them naked and handcuffed to their hotel beds.
- Authoritarianism and secrecy breed incompetence; the two feed on each other. It's a vicious cycle. Governments with authoritarian tendencies point to what is in fact their own incompetence as the rationale for giving them yet more power.
- If you think back to the Swift Boat debacle of 2004, the surface issue was John Kerry's honesty and bravery as a sailor in Vietnam. Far more powerful, however, was the meta-message: George Bush slaps John Kerry around and Kerry either can't or won't hit back. For voters concerned with security and the toughness of their leaders, that's a devastating message — and one that has little or nothing to do with the truth of the surface charges. Someone who can't fight for himself certainly can't fight for you. At the time I called it the "Republicans' bitch-slap theory of electoral politics."
- To the president the Democrats should be saying, Double or Nothing is Not a Foreign Policy.
The great bulk of the public doesn't believe this president any more when he tries to gin up a phony crisis. They don't believe he'd have much of an idea of how to deal with a real one. Enough of the lies. Enough of the incompetence and failure.
No buying into another of the president's phony crises.
- Talking Points Memo (2006-04-10)
- With all the efforts now to disassociate President Bush from conservatism, I am starting to believe that conservatism itself — not the political machine, mind you, but the ideology — is heading toward that misty land-over-the-ocean where ideologies go after they've shuffled off this mortal coil. Sort of like the way post-Stalinist lefties used to say, "You can't say Communism's failed. It's just never really been tried."
But as it was with Communism, so with conservatism. When all the people who call themselves conservatives get together and run the government, they're on the line for it. Conservative president. Conservative House. Conservative Senate.
What we appear to be in for now is the emergence of this phantom conservatism existing out in the ether, wholly cut loose from any connection to the actual people who are universally identified as the conservatives and who claim the label for themselves.
We can even go a bit beyond this though. The big claim now is that President Bush isn't a conservative because he hasn't shrunk the size of government and he's a reckless deficit spender.
But let's be honest: Balanced budgets and shrinking the size of government hasn't been part of conservatism — or to be more precise, Movement Conservatism — for going on thirty years. The conservative movement and the Republican party are the movement and party of deficit spending. And neither has any claim to any real association with limited or small government. Just isn't borne out by any factual record or political agenda. Not in the Reagan presidency, the Bush presidency or the second Bush presidency. The intervening period of fiscal restraint comes under Clinton.
- There's this old line the wise folks in Washington have that "it's not the crime, but the cover-up."
But only fools believe that. It's always about the crime. The whole point of the cover-up is that a full revelation of the underlying crime is not survivable.
- The president just seems to be living in some sort of alternative universe populated by the failed gods of his narcissism and vainglory.
- Primitive animals will sometimes keep chattering or twitching their muscles even after their heads have been cut off. And that's probably the best analogy today to the president's continuing enunciation of his policies.
- Talking Points Memo (2007-09-14)