As Goes Dean, So Goes Absolutely No One Else

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Writing at The Nation's new-ish blog, John Nichols announces that Sen. Russ Feingold has crossed party lines and found Republican "legal firepower" to help him censure George W. Bush. Watch out, Imperial Presidency—here comes former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein and former White House Counsel John Dean!

For Feingold's Senate colleagues—defensive Republicans and cautious Democrats alike—the testimony of Fein and Dean may come as a shock to the system.

Come on—really? While Fein has generally stayed inside the reservation, he's not exactly a Republican heavy hitter. And John Dean hasn't had a place at the Republican family table since 1974, when he was 35 years old. Since then he's sued G. Gordon Liddy, questioned how William Rehnquist got on the Supreme Court, and called for the impeachment of George W. Bush. Actually, he called for that two years ago.

The question isn't whether Dean is right, but "Why is he still considered a rebel Republican?" How long can you go after your own party or your old friends and still dine out on your insider cred? Slate's Jacob Weisberg asked a similar question about Kevin Phillips, whom liberals "continue to welcome … as a fresh convert to their side decades after his defection from the right." Realistically, you may only get a year or two to trash your old friends before you have to hand in the old decoder ring. Take Georgia Senator Zell Miller. He wrestled out of Tom Daschle's kung-fu grip in late 2003, with an anti-Democrat book and a collection of Bush-friendly Senate votes. By September 2004 his act was fresh enough to win him the Must See TV slot at the Republican Convention. But after the election, the well dried up. His second liberal-bashing book (introduction by Sean Hannity!) went nowhere. Fox News hired him as a commentator, but when's the last time you saw him on the air?

Serious question here: How long can you turn on your old allies and retain the power of a convert? And how powerful a Republican would have to turn on Bush to really make an impact in this debate? Ed Meese? John Ashcroft? Laura?

NEXT: The Next Crock

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  1. Only Jesus Christ himself I think.

  2. The undead zombie of Reagan himself would have to rise screaming and wailing from his masoleum before you could get my attention.

  3. The trick is to keep a toe in one side’s door while you bash them. Joe Lieberman, Joe Klein, Marshall Wittman all get to call themselves Democrats.

  4. Warren, everyone knows that Jesus was a libertarian. Jeesh.

  5. Warren, everyone knows that Jesus was a libertarian. Jeesh.

    I always thought he was a Marxian Theist.

  6. Digama,

    Joe Leberman is still a Democratic Senator. If he is not a Democrat, then why does he keep winning the primary? He is also pretty liberal on a lot of things and ran for vice President on the Democratic ticket in case you missed it. The fact that he is not considered a Democrat by some shows that the war in Iraq has replaced abortion as the litmis test for liberaldom. If you support it, you are an evil neocon member of the Jewish conspiracy to ruin America regardless of any of your other views.

  7. How long can you go after your own party or your old friends and still dine out on your insider cred?

    For as long as an insufficient number of people give a fuck about whether anything makes sense or not.

  8. Thanks for the link to the Weisberg article on Kevin Phillips. I tried to read Phillips’s Wealth and Democracy once (lots of raves printed inside the cover), and I was quickly appalled by his economic illiteracy. Given how often Phillips appears on NPR, he needs to be debunked more frequently.

  9. “If he is not a Democrat, then why does he keep winning the primary?”

    You ignore the fact that the last time Lieberman ran for his seat was 2000. That is a long time ago in political terms. He’s clearly moved farther and farther right during that time and finished 5th in the New Hampshire primaries in 2004. He’ll probably win again this time, but it will be closer than his last senate primary race (in which he was unpposed apparently).

  10. Should be “unopposed”.

  11. I dunno, Connecticut’s not a particularly left-leaning state–for all I know Lieberman may have enhanced his reelection prospects. Incumbents have to screw up pretty badly to lose in the primaries.

  12. SR,

    Unlike Miller and Dean, Liberman holds public office. He is still part of the Democratic party. Not every Democrat is a Dean/Kos moonbat. I don’t think holding Liberman out as a Democrat is wrong or inacurate. Lincoln Chafe is still a Republican even though he is a liberal about most things.

  13. Connecticut’s not a particularly left-leaning state

    HA! You must not actually live here.

  14. HA! You must not actually live here.

    No, but I don’t think of it in terms of Vermont-style leftwing kookiness. Politically, I think of it somewhere in the squishy middle of liberal Republicans and centrist Democrats.

  15. how powerful a Republican would have to turn on Bush to really make an impact in this debate? Ed Meese? John Ashcroft? Laura?

    Rove?

  16. Is there really a debate? It appears to me to be party/Bush loyalists against everyone else.

  17. D. Weigel: John McCain (faint hope). His “indictment” of POTUS would resonate with more of both the electorate and (more importantly to an impeachment) Congress members. Look at what sort-of happened when he took up the torture issue.

    This is only remotely likely, and will happen, probably in late 2007 or early 2008, if McCain sees it as a path towards his own Presidency.

  18. Serious question here: How long can you turn on your old allies and retain the power of a convert?

    As a useful turncoat for maximum media exposure, Republican or Democrat? I think your answer lies there.

  19. For a certain percentage of America (25-30%?) Bush is a religious figure, not a political figure. No mortal could turn these people against him. His approval rating will grind lower until he hits that number and won’t go lower.

    I used to think maybe a sex scandal, but it’d have to be a gay sex scandal, and there’d have to be video. But they’d just say it was a fake video, etc.

  20. No Brian,

    No one could ever have any honest opinions and support the war in Iraq. No one could also ever support the war in Iraq and think Bush is wrong about big policy deicisions like No child left behind and the prescription drug benifit but support him in spite of this because moonbats like Howard Dean run the Democratic party. Nope, no room for debate here. Bush is just a religous figure. Anyone who disagrees with you about anything must be clinically insane and part of a religous like cult.

    JACKASSS

  21. I like how John brings up the unrelated troll topic of Iraq, froths sarcastically… then signs his post “JACKASSS”.

  22. Russ is a bit too honest for the average corporatarian here. And that’s a good sign.

    He is a leader, unlike your favorite chimp in chief. Bush follows his saudi uncles’ lead.

  23. Given how often Phillips appears on NPR, he needs to be debunked more frequently.

    The funny part was when NPR’s ombudsman cited Phillips as a conservative voice on NPR. The other names he listed: Andrew Sullivan (Kerry voter), Chip Pitts (Kerry voter and donor), and Varenicta Ruji (who I’ve never heard of). Yep, the right wing has practically taken over NPR.

  24. The funny part was when NPR’s ombudsman cited Phillips as a conservative voice on NPR.

    Perhaps we are simply unable to separate the man Kevin Phillips from the context of the liberal pundit as he bashes at the unholy trinity of church, oil, and banking. He sounds so “liberal” and “progressive” to us.

    An ombudsman, on the other hand, may have a preternatural ability to rise outside the current context and view the world with a most objective eye. He may recognize that Phillips’ populist ideas — and the implication that the state is the only agent that can save us from such diverse interests in the name of the people — fit right in with those of the purest nationalists of the past.

    And everyone knows that nationalists are right wing!

  25. Don’t forget that Lieberman’s very first Senate campaign back in 1988 earned a major boost from William F. Buckley, who endorsed and actively campaigned for Lieberman as the rational alternative to liberal Republican Lowell Weicker.

  26. Don’t forget that Lieberman’s very first Senate campaign back in 1988 earned a major boost from William F. Buckley, who endorsed and actively campaigned for Lieberman as the rational alternative to liberal Republican Lowell Weicker.

    That reminds me of someone from Texas telling me that when George Bush ran against Lloyd Bentsen in the 70s Bush was considered “the liberal”.

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