Momentary Gasp of Reason

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Watching the ongoing conservative crack-up over Harriet Miers, I'm reminded not of LBJ, or even Nixon, but of our most recent sufferer of Acute Secondtermitis, William Jefferson Clinton.

Like Dubya, Bubba clove the activist base of his party in two—one side fed up with his selling out of treasured principles (via Welfare Reform, end-of-Big-Government-as-we-know-it, expansion of the Drug War & Death Penalty), the other clinging desperately to the belief that, freed from the messy bounds of winning elections, he would unleash an era of lefty wish-fulfillment (lifting the embargo on Cuba, negotiating the Israeli/Palestinian conflict out of existence, getting back on the health care horse, doing his best Michael Douglas impersonation re: the Drug War). By the end of 1997, however, it was increasingly dawning on progressive Demo-loyalists that there was little there there.

But then Republicans played matchmaker between the faltering prez and his spurned activist base with the Cupid's arrow of impeachment. Suddenly, the discussion was no longer on Rickey Ray Rector, but on the first Black president and Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Leading to the obvious (and crass) political conclusion—maybe the Impeach Bush Movement is the only hope left that Republicans can maintain party loyalty.

Or maybe not. Republicans may have finally disabled the mute button on their squawk-box, but less than 12 months ago you heard bupkus about pork-busting and White House mismanagement from that corner of the ring while 90 percent of 'em were pulling the lever for Bush. Clinton in 1996, by comparison, considered himself lucky to get his 84 percent from Democrats. It was hardly a state secret one month ago that the Gingrich Revolution has long since degenerated into a vote-buying racket.

So I'm happy to see my Republican friends suddenly and unanimously rediscover the words "crony" and "pork," but I'll trust and respect them about as much as I did Democratic loyalists who, for a brief period in 1997-98, suddenly rediscovered their knowledge of (let alone enthusiasm for) the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. And until convinced otherwise, I remain confident that Republican Party discipline is just one juicy Michael Moore fart away.

NEXT: No Supreme "Wackos" Until Ms. Public Scatology Shows Up

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  1. Good comparison, better Pink Floyd reference.

    I’d have never even thought to make the Clinton comparison, but you raise a great point.

  2. Dare I click on the Michael Moore fart link?

    Well, here goes…

  3. Damn, blocked by my company’s firewall filter!!

    Oh well, I’m probably better off anyway…

  4. It’s actually not very interesting — just a post-election rant on my personal website about people who thought they were voting against Michael Moore in the 2004 election.

  5. I don’t know… Perhaps it’s just the crowd I run with, but every Republican I know still worships the ground Dubbya walks upon. From their perspective, his failures are clever manipulations of the “liberal media,” and his outrages are done in the name of “traditonal values” or “fighting terrorism.” Any questioning of Bush is returned with jeers of “Gore/Kerry would have let Bin Ladin invade America,” or “What are you, a communist?”

    These are the true belivers. The conservatives infected with a nasty case of what James Randi refered to his in book “The Faith Healers” as “Type 1 Faith:” Faith that won’t be let go of no matter how much evidence to the contrary is provided. (Randi, pp 6)* Bill Clinton, with all his scandels (real and imagined, really unhinged these folks. If a moron like Bush is the only alternative to another “draft-dodging, dope-smoking, filandering, liberal,” then they will defend that moron to the death. To them, the alternative is just too unspeakable.

    *I never thought I’d ever be using MLA citations in a web log comment forum.

  6. Don’t sell yourself short, Matt. You make some good points about those “Sister Souljah” moments, although I think that because Clinton was the guy who had one, the media seem to hope that a Dem candidate repeating the experience will get the boost they need to put them over the top, whereas Republicans have never had nor needed such a moment.

  7. Arguably, W had something like a Souljah moment back in 2000, when he argued that the Republican Congress should not “balance the budget on the backs of the poor.”

    Guess that doesn’t apply to the 2004 election though, now does it? I’ll shut up now…

  8. “Dennis Kucinich, who was beaten like a rented elf.” (From Matt’s blog link)

    Say what?

  9. Sadly, Akira’s observation is spot on.

  10. I don’t think its conservatives still supporting Bush, it’s the evangelicals.

  11. media:

    agreed. kinda like the crowd (save for one) i see, too. but then again Akira is a chicago guy, too…

    Agent:

    like father, like son. both betrayed the goldwater/reagan rhetoric of limited gov’t.

  12. I don’t think evangelicals care about limited government. They care about abortion and having a God-fearing man in the big house. That’s it. So long as the man in in the white house doesn’t directly insult them and avoids sex scandals, they’ll stand by him no matter what. The fact that he is a Christian means he should be trusted on all matters, as far as the evangelicals are concerned.

  13. “Type 1 Faith:” Faith that won’t be let go of no matter how much evidence to the contrary is provided.

    I remain unsurprised by the revelation that most folks don’t base what they believe on facts and logic.

    …Still, using their, by definition, average intelligence, people form markets, which behave more rationally than their participant’s beliefs might suggest, and, oblivious as they are, they typically discover the truth about their leaders–given enough time.

    People who decide what to believe based on whom they trust don’t change their minds overnight. …but the wind is changing direction. Those they trust to tell them what to believe are telling them not to trust the President anymore. …If things were about to change, wouldn’t that be one of the first signs?

  14. Even if a slew of scandals, indictments, lies and failed promises brought one of the major parties to the brink of a landslide Presidential victory, the election year phrase I’ve heard since I was eligible to vote will undo it: “the lesser of two evils”.

  15. To me, the disappointment true leftists felt with Clinton and righties are feeling now with Bush stems from the silliness of voting for people and the fallacy of representative government. People are annoying: they change their minds, they’re motivated by irrational desires, sometimes they’re just stupid. What we really want to vote for, it seems, are policies. Who cares who pushes the button?

  16. Akira:

    Maybe it’s just the crowd I run with, but the Republicans that I know haven’t been entirely happy with Bush for some time. They’re still going on about the “liberal media” and “fighting terrorism” mind you – just not without grumbles about spending and such. Hell, my Dad was bitching about Bush in this regard two years ago, long before it became hip among the kids.

    However, though these people I’m talking about always vote “R”, they are not evangelicals, nor do they worry all that heavily about “traditional values.” So maybe that’s the kicker.

  17. Matt makes a good comparison. Both Bush and Clinton were good at going against their base but then turned around and said to them “What are ya gonna do about it, vote for Gingrich/Kerry (neither of who were that bad, but both of whom played right into their hands and a mighty spin).” I think the blame can be placed on Believers, in Bush’s case evanglicals, in Clinton’s case black evangelicals and leftist-Gingrich haters, who think in irrational terms… Easily manipulated folks (look at Dobsons pathetic “This good Christian man should be trusted” stance) make for irrational politics. These same groups believe in large numbers, respectively, that the Rapture is coming anyday, Kentucky Fried Chicken is owned by the Klan, and that Bush and the Saudi government staged 9/11….Rational folks, eh?

  18. …juicy Michael Moore fart…

    Gee, thanks a lot for putting that image into my head.

  19. Out of all dozen or so Bush supporters I know, only two could be called “evangelicals.” The rest are ex-military, wanna-be military, or old farts like my father.

    They’re not exactly a bible beating bunch.

  20. Boy howdy, that Klan may have some faults, but they sure can fry them some good chikin!

    I hadn’t heard the KFC owned by the Klan thing before. What’s that about?

  21. Akira – I think you only use ‘pp’ if you’re citing a range of pages. I can’t believe I’m correcting someone on MLA citation style…

    agentalbert – See this page: http://www.snopes.com/business/alliance/sanders.asp – although I think you got that ownership thing turned around.

  22. JD: You’re probably right. It’s been a while since I had to use any sort of citation for any purpose. I thought I left all that behind in college.

  23. My faith is fading fast. I’ve defended Bush too many times to count, but I don’t understand why a bone to the evangelicals is necessary when you don’t have to run again. Especially considering the real conservative base is concerned with cutting taxes, vanquishing our enemies and preserving individual freedoms. If Meirs is not a federalist, Bush lied to me about the kind of judges he’d appoint. The days of trust without verification are officially over for me.

  24. I don’t understand why a bone to the evangelicals is necessary when you don’t have to run again.

    Maybe because Bush is an evangelical? Oh well, it’s an important life lesson, James. Never trust a politician. Not Bush, not Ron Paul, not any of them. Trust only results.

  25. James, that is a very Platonic use the word “real.”

  26. Phocion, Yea sure, evangelicals use phrases like “fuck Carla Faye Tucker” all the time. And I’m pretty sure I know where Ron Paul is going to come down on nearly every issue.

  27. dk,

    I’m with you representative government sux.

    I hear Saddam is between asignments.

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