Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 28, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

WHY I HATE BUSH....A PLEA TO CONSERVATIVES....A good night's sleep hasn't made me any less angry about the Valerie Plame bombshell from last night. The more I think about it, the more pissed I get.

But there's a lesson here too: this episode crystallizes the real reason why I dislike George Bush and his administration so intensely. Sure, I dislike his policies, and I don't care much for his phony macho Texas act either, but that's not really it.

The real reason I despise him is the feeling I've had from the beginning that Bush doesn't really believe in anything. Bill Clinton, to be sure, was a smooth talker who was more than willing to say different things to different audiences, but he was also willing to take risks for things he believed in. NAFTA and welfare reform pissed off his base, while healthcare and tax increases were widely unpopular with the country at large. But he pushed them anyway because he believed in them.

Bush doesn't seem to have anything like this. As former Bush advisor John DiIulio said, "What youve got is everythingand I mean everythingbeing run by the political arm." Tax cuts are good for the base. War in Iraq is good for the base. Steel tariffs might help us in West Virginia. But talking about the long term costs of the war isn't good for the base, so it gets soft pedaled. Ditto for Social Security and Medicare reform, which require genuine leadership and hard choices.

I don't like the hard right agenda, but I dislike the hard right temperament even more and George Bush's Texas is ground zero for the hard right of today. Bill Clinton had Vince Foster murdered? Fine. He ran drugs while he was governor? Great stuff. We might be able to smear an opponent by publicly unmasking a CIA operative? Let's do it.

Say what you will about Clinton and his disaster of a personal life. And there's no question that he fought to win quite skillfully and not always fairly. But he didn't do anything like this. In fact, I can't think of an administration since World War II that would have done something like this. It would have given pause even to Nixon's henchmen.

I doubt that blowing Valerie Plame's cover actually did much harm in the end. But that doesn't matter. This episode exposes the viciousness and amorality at the very heart of the Bush administration, and I hope it opens some conservative eyes about the nature of the administration they support. These guys are not who you think they are and they aren't pursuing their policies for the principled reasons you think they are. After all, if they went to war with Iraq because of a genuine commitment to humanitarian relief and Middle East democracy, don't you think they would have paid a little more attention to postwar planning? What does it tell you that they didn't?

Remember: this is not just some run of the mill political dirty trick. It's perilously close to treason. No truly principled conservative administration would do a thing like this, and the fact that they've been trying to dodge it for two months tells you everything you need to know about them.

There are plenty of honorable conservatives out there who deserve conservative support, but not the ones running this administration. So for God's sake, take a good hard look at these guys and get clear of them while your conscience is still intact. This is going to get ugly.

Kevin Drum 11:12 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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