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Tilting at Windmills

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January 11, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION....In their book Off Center, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue that although the Republican Party has moved far to the right of the political center, it has nonetheless managed to hold onto power by adopting a variety of hardnosed and cynical electoral strategies. The problem with this thesis is that, in practice, Republicans haven't actually moved all that far to the right. Charlie Cook sums it up this way:

There is a growing divide between those members of the GOP Conference who want confrontation with Democrats and those who seek compromise. According to one influential Republican, "We cannot govern from the right," but added, "you cannot control this caucus from the center."

I think that's just about right. As Cook's source puts it, the Republican caucus has indeed moved radically to the right, but at the same time they all know perfectly well they can't govern from there lest they be tossed out of office en masse. It's just another piece of evidence that the "conservative revolution" is, and always has been, a myth.

Kevin Drum 5:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (110)

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Ehh, I'm sure more sensible republicans are out there that through GOP discipline and arm-twisting are swallowed into the black whole of GOP leninism, but otherwise I seriously doubt this source represents any but a modest faction of the Republican party.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on January 11, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

> they all know perfectly well they can't govern
> from there lest they be tossed out of office en
> masse

Evidence please? Cheney and his big business coalition in particular seem to be getting about 80% of what they want, and they are wrecking the federal goverment so badly it will be inoperable for at least 10 years after they are out of office. Seems like fairly effective (if evil) governance to me.

Remember the key line of Gattica? "I didn't plan to swim back"? That is the Radicals' plan for the W Administration, and seems to me it is succeeding.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 11, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I disagree. The Republicans have been moving things to the right as fast as they can, doing their best to systematically undermine labor laws, environmental laws, and social services, and applying their "privatization" mantra wherever they can. They are restrained somewhat by the fact that many of the programs they seek to undermine are wildly popular (e.g. Social Security), but they are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

And Democrats have also moved far to the right. I remember college in the mid-70s, when the debate was over things like the Humphrey-Hawkins bill (making the government the employer of last resort, thereby guaranteeing jobs for all).

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 11, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

There is a lot to dislike in the Republican agenda, but it is not because it is conservative. Their intent is to enrich themselves and their primary constituents: big business, while at the same time giving social conservatives just enough (but not too much) to keep them active at election time. Bush's approach to leadership is conservative only to the extent that it is feudal, i.e. lines of loyalty move vertically up and down the line of command. He doesn't believe in free markets, small government, personal accountability or states' rights. So what is there about his approach to government that is conservative?

Posted by: NeilS on January 11, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

I'm not sure how you conclude that Bush hasn't been governing from the far right, when his first act in office was to slash family planning funds for international agencies. Add to that the relentless push to reform (read, destroy) Social Security, draconian cuts to food stamps, heating assistance and student loans, preemptive war, domestic spying and on and on. In short, a template for an American fascist regime. If you want to be apologist for this blatantly unAmerican activity, be my guest. I sure as hell won't sign on to that...

Two anecdotal tidbits to illustrate how far to the right the political spectrum has been shifted:
(1) Al Hunt of the WSJ is presented as a "liberal voice" on the McLaughlin Group and other hollerin' shows.
(2) Can you imagine a member of the American Communist Party appearing as the counterbalance to Cal Thomas or Bob Novak on one of the FOXNews chat shows????

I rest my case.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 11, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Relevant to this is this essay. Not sure I buy this, but it's interesting to see it in print for a change.

Posted by: craigie on January 11, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

But them Dems better not confront the Repugs! That would be uncivil! Better just give them what they want, and hope things go better later....

Viva Diebold!

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on January 11, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Stop being so intellectual about it. Elections are won and lost on the basis of image, not reality.

Classic example: "tough guy" Reagan sold arms for hostages, but "wimpy" Carter refused to do so.

Republicans have been far better at selling "brand conservative" (any relation to actual conservative political philosophy is purely coincidental). Once they've chosen sides, many people will root for their team regardless.

This is why more of a blue collar Democrat image is needed.

Posted by: alex on January 11, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Buck - I think you miss the distinction that Kevin's drawing between Republican officeholders (and the people who run the Republican Party as an institution) and Republican voters. There's no question that the former have moved way to the right, but he says the latter haven't so much.

I don't know if he's correct about that or not, but that's the distinction he's making.

Needless to say, the GOP finesses their rightward move by putting as centrist a face they can on whatever it is that's in the news at a given moment. They're selling moderate conservatism to the voters as a whole, while selling more extreme social conservatism under the radar to the fundies, and more extreme pro-business, anti-worker, anti-consumer, etc. conservatism to their true base, big business.

Posted by: RT on January 11, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

NeilS has it about right. In addition, it's worth noting that whenever Republicans try anything big, like Social Security reform, they fail miserably. The best they can do is stealthy, small bore stuff.

Unfortunately, that's about all that Democrats can do too. It's quite a stalemate we have.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 11, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: It's just another piece of evidence that the "conservative revolution" is, and always has been, a myth.

What is not a "myth" is the accelerating concentration of wealth and power in the hands of an already wealthy and powerful, hereditary, neo-fascist, corporate-feudalist elite.

That is the real "revolution" that the bogus, made-for-TV, so-called "conservative revolution" serves by using its fake, phony pseudo-ideology and emotional-button-pushing so-called "issues" to motivate ignorant voters to vote Republican (and distract Democrats and liberals from the actual economic class war being waged by the ultra-rich against everyone else).

Cranky wrote: Cheney and his big business coalition in particular seem to be getting about 80% of what they want ...

That's exactly right. Does anyone really think that Dick Cheney and his cronies and financial backers in the military-industrial-petroleum complex actually care about gay marriage or abortion?

Get real. They care about concentrating all -- and I do mean all -- of America's wealth and power in their hands, and their heirs' hands. That's all. The "conservative revolution" is a dog & pony show to bamboozle the gullible masses.

How many questions from Democratic Senators to Alito in this week's hearings dealt with Roe v. Wade? How many dealt with Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad and the pernicious doctrine of "corporate personhood"?

Get it?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 11, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

They're selling moderate conservatism to the voters as a whole, while selling more extreme social conservatism under the radar to the fundies, and more extreme pro-business, anti-worker, anti-consumer, etc. conservatism to their true base, big business.

Well said.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 11, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal things done by Bush
- NCLB is an attempt to change a department that is not achieving results. That is what is known as "progressive".
- Increased education spending.
- Medicare prescriptions.
- Iraq war (like it or not, it's a liberal war).

Conservative things done by Bush
- Cut taxes.
- SCOTUS nominees.

How do you spell "moderate"?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 11, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

A few years ago I was trying to spread the thesis that the conservative revolution and media wurlitzer is 2-pronged:

1. Slowly move their followers and however much of the rest of the country they can to the Right;

2. Encourage the continuing of the corporate contribution system for both major parties that inordinately focuses the outcome of the race on a small minority of swing voters in "the middle".

Thus, through massive media and propaganda efforts, slowly move the country and especially the base to the Right, and reinforce this with elections that desperately and inordinately overmarket to the middling "center", which is slowly moving "right".

The end result is the country is moving to the Right without anyone really noticing, since it's so glacial, while the base and judiciary are radicalized.

Posted by: Jimm on January 11, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: How do you spell "moderate"?

How do you spell "irresponsible"? At least you admit that your hero is no conservative.

Iraq war: invade country that doesn't threaten US. Dream up ever-changing rationales. Execute incompetently (ignore advice of seasoned military personnel on required troop levels, fail to provide armor and other essentials to troops, fail to plan for occupation, take advice from Iranian agents).

Cut taxes: ignore need to keep budget in some semblance of balance. Claim "party today, forget tomorrow" is a conservative principle.

Medicare prescriptions: give blowjob to major campaign contributors. Give my money away by outlawing bargaining on prices.

Posted by: alex on January 11, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq is a "liberal war"????

Posted by: tomeck on January 11, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut: If government spending increases, then you haven't really cut taxes, you have only postponed the time that you will pay them. As such Bush has given us the biggest tax increases in a generation. I'm not sure why you say the Iraq war is Liberal. Perhaps you are arguing that in the Wilsonian sense we are bringing democracy to the world. But I don't think that Bush was ever very serious about that. I think that his motives were to establish American hegemony regionally in the mideast (because of oil and Israel) and globally (as an example to the other members of the 'Axis of Evil'). He may also have been paying back Saddam for trying to kill his father. For George Bush, unlike the Godfather, it is always personal.

Posted by: NeilS on January 11, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq is a "liberal war"????

more bullshit rhetoric. the fallback, nation-building, justification is liberal, but the original justifications certainly weren't. and by calling it a "liberal war", lefties are all supposed to look hypocritical for not supporting it.

fuck that.

conservatives elected, support and defend Bush and his war. it's their's.

Posted by: cleek on January 11, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue that although the Republican Party has moved far to the right of the political center..."

Their techniques for finding that are very sketchy. They rely on the self identification of party volunteers, but have no good method for identifying "the political center" and thus have no good method for measuring distance from the political center. Furthermore in their issue-based poll analysis they do very little to control for intensity of interest in an issue--ignoring for instance the idea that "the center" might be more intensely interested in national security issues than they are in immigration issues for instance.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on January 11, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

alex
Check the archives, you won't find me defending Bush.

NeilS
I'm not sure why you say the Iraq war is Liberal. Perhaps you are arguing that in the Wilsonian sense we are bringing democracy to the world. But I don't think that Bush was ever very serious about that.
That is the sense in which I am arguing, and whether Bush was ever serious about that or not doesn't change the fact that Iraq is a liberal war. And I'm aware the war was sold to the US public mainly on the basis of WMDs, but from the beginning democracy was always there.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 11, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: 'It's just another piece of evidence that the "conservative revolution" is, and always has been, a myth.'

God, I hope it's a myth! The conservatives obviously think otherwise and I hope they're severely disappointed. The conservatives are certainly trying to move the country towards their ideal of what this country should be. If this is not what the majority of Americans want, they'd better start voting that way.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 11, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

The conservatives are certainly trying to move the country towards their ideal of what this country should be.
And, what are the liberals trying to do?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 11, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's also why the GOP continually rolls out a propaganda campaign every time they announce a new "policy initiative". Using deception is the only way they can get people sign on to their unpopular ideas, and the press laps it up like kittens to milk. There's a good reason they can't govern from the far right: it's usually unconstitutional. Funny how someone over on the right finally figured that out.

Posted by: FuzzFinger on January 11, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Democratization is the reason given for the Iraq war now, but that is only because the other arguments have proven to be 'inoperable'. There were are no WMD in Iraq at the time of the war, and Bush has had to admit that ties with Osama were fictitious. Those were really the primary public arguments of the White House. The administration tossed out many arguments for the war because they knew that what would appeal to one group might not appeal to another. I was unpersuaded by the WMD and terrorist connection arguments, but have long hated Saddam and thought that if the war was conducted properly it might actually replace a truly pernicious force in the mideast (Saddam and sons) with a more acceptable government. I was naive.

So perhaps you are right that the war has become liberal by default. In fact, that might be why it has lost a lot of support among conservatives, e.g. Buchanan and Fukuyama.

Posted by: NeilS on January 11, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

So perhaps you are right that the war has become liberal by default.
Since freeing Iraq from a tyrant would obviously occur, it did not "become" liberal. It started liberal even if the liberal argument was not the driver.

And I never bought the WMDs either. Seemed to me to be the weakest argument available. But the isolationist right should have opposed this from the beginning. They may just now be getting vocal about it since the Dems have activated the argument.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 11, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

conspiricy nut wrote: And, what are the liberals trying to do?

Maintain the integrity of the Constitution, protect America from trans-national and Cold War era threats, level the playing field between rich and poor, instill a sense of shared national sacrafice (American-based corporations too), and lead the charge towards massive health care reform.

Conservatives? Anyone? By the way, according to Joe Klein at Time Magazine, Democrats have no socially redeeeming qualities. All the while he feeds from the trough of his inherited New Deal Liberalism.

Posted by: FuzzFinger on January 11, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Every day, conspiracy nut plumbs new depths of ignorance, stupidity, dishonesty, and mindless regurgitation of idiotic, scripted, programmed rightwing talking points.

The Iraq war was and is an illegal war of unprovoked aggression for corrupt purposes of private financial gain for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, and their cronies and financial backers in the military-industrial-petroleum complex. It was and is based entirely on deliberate, repeated, elaborate and sickening lies about a nonexistent "threat" from nonexistent "weapons of mass destuction" and imminent "mushroom clouds" over American cities told by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell and other principals of the Bush administration to the American people, the United States Congress, the United Nations Security Council and the entire world.

The Iraq war is not a "liberal war." Neither is it a "conservative war." It was, and is, a criminal act by a gang of career war profiteers.

conspiracy nut: And I'm aware the war was sold to the US public mainly on the basis of WMDs, but from the beginning democracy was always there.

You are just as sickening a liar as Bush. At least Bush lies for personal profit; you regurgitate idiotic, scripted lies merely to indulge your pathetic neo-brownshirt compulsion to lick his boots.

The Iraq war was "sold" to the US public entirely and exclusively on the basis of what Bush, Cheney et al knew to be a nonexistent "threat" from nonexistent "Iraqi WMDs" and nonexistent "links" between Iraq and the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. "Democracy" was never, ever, not once, presented to the American people as a reason for invading Iraq. There was not one single word about "democracy" in the October 2002 Congressional authorization for Bush to use military force to address the nonexistent "continuing threat" from Iraq. Not one single word.

The "conservative revolution" is fake, phony, made-for-Fox-TV fodder for dumbass dupes like you. It's about as real as some stupid "reality TV" program. And it works real well to keep the morons marching.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 11, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is on to something here. As I discuss in this post, note how Alito is presenting himself as moderate in order to win the support of mainstream America. After twenty five years of the "conservative revolution," most Americans still favor moderate to liberal policies.

Posted by: Karl Weber on January 11, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's no myth,

You have to look at it over time, since 1979. We had tax rates of 70%, oil shortages, high interest rates, high inflation, high unemployment, high regulation, too few prison cells, Willie Horton type free passes, unlimited welfare, a demoralized military and were getting pushed around by the USSR and Iranian students.

It's all changed and it started changing the day Reagan took office.

Tax rates are half previous levels.

We have low interest rates, low inflation and low unemployment.

We have many more prison cells (Thank you Bill Clinton) and much, much tougher sentencing. Ask Tookie!

Our military is the finest in all of History and proud of it.

USSR????

GWB has greatly accelerated this path. Todays 5-4 Supreme Court decision restoring a death penalty with John Roberts in the majority is a great sign. Sam Alito will of course move the court further right. It's good to see the death penalty strengthened. This is also the court which has upheld all of the 3-strike appeals.

GWB has also moved the US out of the AMB treaty and far away from Kyoto, the EU and the UN.

In addition thanks to GWBs leadership we have more seats in Congress than at anytime in the last 75 years.

Posted by: rdw on January 11, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Karl,

You're dreaming. Sam Alito is about as liberal as Clarence Thomas. John Roberts is only slightly less conservative. These men will serve for a solid 30 years. Scalia and Kennedy seem to be good for a solid 15 more years. Give GWB another shot and we'll get another 52ish rock solid conservative.

BTW: GWB has done a very good job at the lower levels as well. He will appoint at least as many judgess as Clinton and his picks have been more conservative than Reagans.

Posted by: rdw on January 11, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

In addition thanks to GWBs leadership

This country is going down the shithole faster than anyone could have imagined.

Democracy. Prosperity. Equal rights under the law. They were nice while they lasted.

Posted by: tam1MI on January 11, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

The question is which direction has "moderate" been moving. The real myth would be to assume that "moderate" is stable and unaffected by the larger societal trends.

Also, I don't believe the conservative movement and wurlitzer thing is a myth at all, but I do believe it's inevitably doomed to collapse on itself through the individual players' individual greed and self-interest.

All we need to ensure is that we always the power and constitutional means by which when this collapse occurs we will have an orderly transition of power and political rebalancing.

Posted by: Jimm on January 11, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

(we pause while rdw fetches another box of Kleenex)

Posted by: cleek on January 11, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

kevin is either clueless or an incorrigble dissembler.

The great pretender.

Posted by: vote fo Kevin to go on vacation on January 11, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

but I do believe it's inevitably doomed to collapse on itself through the individual players' individual greed and self-interest.

You have far more faith in a just and sane world than I do. Here's hoping you are correct.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 11, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

in practice, Republicans haven't actually moved all that far to the right.... the Republican caucus has indeed moved radically to the right, but at the same time they all know perfectly well they can't govern from there

I don't have the slightest idea what you're trying to say here. There's some set of radical policies the GOP caucus wants but hasn't tried? Like what? Seriously. What are you talking about?

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 11, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans havent' moved all that far to the right??? That's true only if you measure since last Tuesday.

But some of us remember when the shining lights of the party wouldn't truck with the likes of the John Birch Society. Today, the Bircher agenda - US out of UN, liberals are slime, etc etc - is considered centrist.

Posted by: tristero on January 11, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

It's just another piece of evidence that the "conservative revolution" is, and always has been, a myth.

The major justifications for the Iraq war turned out to be somewhat mythical as well, but they may end up costing us two trillion dollars...

Posted by: Bud on January 11, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Goodness gracious Secular Animist. Calm down. Do you actually talk to people like this in real life? Democracy may not have been in the congressional authorization, but that doesn't mean it wasn't used as a talking point by the administration and its supporters to soften the opposition of liberal Democrats to the a reckless war. Also, I think that ConspiracyNut made it obvious that he was using the word liberal in the Wilsonian sense. That is a different use of the word liberal, but it is nonetheless valid.

In that vein, it is also important to remember that conservative means different things to different people. I was reading Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative the other day. What he calls conservative has almost no resemblance to the policies of hte Bush administration and the Republican congress. Their idea of conservatism is really closer to state socialism.

Posted by: NeilS on January 11, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think the problem here, Kevin, is that the myth isn't about the 'conservative revolution'. The myth is the myth of 'moderate'. The Conservative Revolution hasn't been the acceptance of conservative ideals in whole. It's been the acceptance of those ideals as "Moderate" positions. It's the shift of the 'moderate' label so far to the right, that EVERYTHING to the left of your Scalitos, Bushes, Cheneys, and Limbaughs is downright liberal.

Posted by: Kryptik on January 11, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold"
----
Yeats

Posted by: Thinker on January 11, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, the good old days of the Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting have returned. May we all sing:

"There is power, power, everlasting power in the blood of the Bush,
There is power, power, everlasting power in the precious blood of the Bush".

Posted by: stupid git on January 11, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Democracy may not have been in the congressional authorization, but that doesn't mean it wasn't used as a talking point

Yeah, the Bush liars did say that too once in a while; and now it's the only lie they have left. They've wanted a puppet dictatorship in Iraq all along. They don't even want democracy here in America. They just want as much power for themselves as they can get.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 11, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I should have said 'state capitalism' instead of 'state socialism'. My knowledge of 20th century politics is weaker than it ought to be. In any case, Republicans support the businesses that support them (see the K Street poject). They choose the economic winners and losers and give tax breaks and write laws intended to favor the constituencies that support and kick back money to them. Unfortunately, many Democrats aren't a lot better. We certainly could use Paul Wellstone's inluence in times like these.

Posted by: NeilS on January 11, 2006 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't governed from the right?

Are you insane

A couple trillion in tax cuts for the rich -- and they haven't governed from the right?

They tried to kill Social Security and that's not governing from the right?

You need a vacation, Kevin.

Posted by: The Fool on January 11, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

NeilS: ConspiracyNut made it obvious that he was using the word liberal in the Wilsonian sense. That is a different use of the word liberal, but it is nonetheless valid. ... conservative means different things to different people. I was reading Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative the other day. What he calls conservative has almost no resemblance to the policies of the Bush administration and the Republican congress.

In other words, the terms "liberal" and "conservative" mean nothing. In practice they're simply team names. I'd prefer "blue" and "red". At least that way we could distinguish ourselves by wearing jerseys.

Posted by: alex on January 11, 2006 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

You need a vacation, Kevin.

With all due respect, and I do share your outrage, I believe Mr. Drum's point is that the Republican party cannot operate from as far right of an agenda as they have without losing their majorities, as well as the presidency. I think he is probably correct, given the latest polling numbers (Bush unchanged at 38% in the AP/Ipsos IIRC). I could very well be wrong, given historical patterns of societies degenerating into plutocracies, but maybe Jimm is right and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 11, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Bushites have taken a very slight electoral "victory" and governed like madmen nihilists who don't worry for tomorrow cause they're gonna live today. They're governing like outlaws on quaaludes and bennies and a bank to rob. They're governing like Hell's Angels with shotguns and a shot of bourbon. They're governing like the very fire of Hell, but without the marshmallows. They're governing like someone who's left arm was ripped off by a bear. They're governing like a cokehead with $50,000. They're governing like a 3-year-old with an ice cream bar (well, maybe not that).

C'mon Kevin, wake up. They're dangerous criminals.

Posted by: MarkH on January 11, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

> without losing their majorities, as well as the
> presidency. I think he is probably correct, given
> the latest polling numbers (Bush unchanged at 38%
> in the AP/Ipsos IIRC).

Bush isn't running for anything ever again. All the Radicals need is another front man to reset the base and scare the moderates. I understand Romney will be the guy, as he goes against the Dem strength in the Northeast.

Admittedly, with Rove preparing for his trial it might not be as easy.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 11, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

By and large on issues hidden from public view the Administration has been very far to the right (regulatory issues, wiretapping, bankruptcy reform). On that small number of issues which gain public attention (Medicare, tax cuts, NCLB, Iraq) the Administration has hewed to the center of the electorate or at least convinced the center of the electorate that these actions serve their preferences.

Posted by: Stuart on January 11, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

MarkH: They're governing like a 3-year-old with an ice cream bar (well, maybe not that).

As the father of two small children I must take exception. While ice cream isn't their weakness, my sense of self preservation prevents me from standing between my two year old and a cookie, or my five year old and a slice of pizza. However, neither of them would piss on the Constitution.

Posted by: alex on January 11, 2006 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: ...in practice, Republicans haven't actually moved all that far to the right.

Funny stuff. Funny too how whenever you make one of these pronouncements regarding the true state of affairs in this country as it relates to the left/right political spectrum, it is readers such as Al or Conspiracy Nut who ring in with strong endorsements. They're hard-right conservatives, to be sure, but amazingly, they agree with you that the U.S. political climate is moderate.

But you're not hard-right, are you. And clearly, you're not hard-left. A centrist is what you call yourself, right? Or a moderate. But you say the country is moderate! What in the world do you have to complain about?

Were you ever a liberal, Kevin? If so, no matter whether the Republicans have "actually moved all that far to the right," it's abundantly clear that you have.

Why don't you retire?


Posted by: jayarbee on January 11, 2006 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

jayarbee's post was very nicely put. "Moderate"? Compared to what? If determined to destroy what's left of the New Deal tradition counts as moderate. I suppose it is moderate, by 19th century standards.

Posted by: shoebeacon on January 11, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Alex-- It is not that liberal and conservative have no meaning, it is that they are very imprecise. They have come to mean many different things.

But more to the point, it makes no sense to call Bush's policies conservative. He has involved us in two wars, both of which were followed by nation-building. Republicans are spending money at a faster rate and have added more long term debt than any congress since 1960's. They have given federal government dominance over the states and are trying to give the executive branch powers that are almost uncontested. In what way are these policies conservative?

Posted by: NeilS on January 11, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

"There was not one single word about "democracy" in the October 2002 Congressional authorization for Bush to use military force to address the nonexistent "continuing threat" from Iraq. Not one single word."

Um, youve got it wrong SecularAnimist. There was mention of spreading democracy in that October 2002 Congressional authorization.

Let's try and keep the facts correct so that we are all on the same page. I almost doubted myself for a moment.


Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

Posted by: will_b on January 11, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I should have said 'state capitalism' instead of 'state socialism'.

No, it's 'state' that's slightly off. Bush supporters brag about how patriotic they are, right?

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 11, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

But Kevin's whole point is that the Republicans have all the procedural ability to destroy the New Deal--and they still haven't done it. They control the White House, both houses of Congress, and have at least roughly pulled equal in the Supreme Court, and they still haven't managed to pass legislation:

1. Gutting Social Security and Medicare
2. Eliminating the EPA
3. Eliminating the federal minimum wage
4. Privatizing the post office, Amtrak, the road system, etc.

Still, I think Hacker and Pierson are onto something with the whole idea of subterfuge. The GOP seems to be working on many of these things - it just doesn't go about them in the usual way we all learned in high school Civics class. Want to privatize public education? Better to avoid the mess of passing legislation explicitly doing so, when you can pass it by stealth via the details of something like No Child Left Behind. Want to gut the EPA? Don't worry about passing laws doing so - you can accomplish the same thing by just eroding the agency's powers of enforcement, and (I wonder if some reporter will look into this) slowly stacking the civil service rank-and-file with hard-core conservatives, to make the dysfunction enduring. You still get your results, while exposing yourself to far less risk. It just takes patience.

Posted by: B on January 11, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

NeilS:In what way are these policies conservative?

They're not. Good luck selling that to a True Believer though. They're only interested in the brand label, not the contents.

As far as being "imprecise", I think that they've become so imprecise that they're worse than meaningless. They suggest some meaning, but are so flexible that it's like trying to nail jello to the wall. Better to ditch them.

Frankly I never gave a rat's ass anyway whether something was liberal or conservative. I only care whether it makes sense and whether it works. That's why I love the term "reality based".

Posted by: alex on January 11, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Revolution? Hmm... I prefer something like the Conservative Relapse.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 11, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

If liberal and conservative are vague words, there's still left and right. Kevin says Republicans aren't governing from the far right; but America is more economically unequal than it has been in nearly a century, and is by far the most economically unequal of any rich country in the world.

Posted by: Gary Sugar on January 11, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

NeilS - "But more to the point, it makes no sense to call Bush's policies conservative. He has involved us in two wars, both of which were followed by nation-building. Republicans are spending money at a faster rate and have added more long term debt than any congress since 1960's. They have given federal government dominance over the states and are trying to give the executive branch powers that are almost uncontested. In what way are these policies conservative? "

In the case of the nation-building, it is conservative in the sense that it represents an attitude that the U.S. has both the power and the right to rule on the international seen rather than simply lead. While the John Birch wing of the conservative movement has always been explicitly isolationist, there has long been a strong element of imperial ambition within the Republican party in general and the conservative wing of the party in particular. It was been somewhat present in the Democratic hawks during the cold war but not nearly to the same extent.

Support for a strong executive branch over the other two goes along with this viewpoint. Howver, president's of both parties have routinely sought to tip the balance their direction and the only unique thing in the current situation is the degree to which congressional Republican have caved in.

As for the record spending, including discretionary domestic spending, they clearly regard that as the cost of doing business while they go about the more important (to them, at this time) business of re-writing the tax codes to favor the wealthy, gut regulatory enforcement and otherwise give the business lobby everything they can get.

Grabbing power for the federal government at the expense of the states contradicts long-standing conservative talking points, but in practice this has always been an issue where both sides support increased federal power when it can support their agenda and opposed it otherwise. It is worth noting that for the most part, this current administration and Republican congress have mainly interfered with the states in order to limit those states ability to pick up the slack on decreasing federal oversight on safety, labor and environmental issues.

Posted by: tanj on January 11, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats have moved to the right because the center has moved wildly to the right. The Republicans govern from the center because the Center is near where the Goldwater Right was a generation ago. King George W. the First now tries to despotically drag the right to plutocracy and the rightocrats salute him as they pocket an extra $2 saving in their taxes and spend an extra $200 to keep the barbarians out of their houses. Despair noble Romans. The enemy is within your own gates and is armed with a vote.

Posted by: murmeister on January 11, 2006 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "... it's worth noting that whenever Republicans try anything big, like Social Security reform, they fail miserably. The best they can do is stealthy, small bore stuff."

I don't know. Those tax cuts weren't exactly small potatoes. And do I need to remind anyone about this war of aggression we have yet to wrap up?

Posted by: chaunceyatrest on January 11, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Revolution? Hmm... I prefer something like the Conservative Relapse.

Ahh Snick, that's because you're down under, and enjoying the height of summer. You can laugh at we poor souls trapped in winter's darkness. All you have to put with is a few poor fools like McA. Lucky sot.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 11, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Put whatever label you want on how the radical Republicans govern: From a liberal perspective, they've already massively fucked us over.

If they keep on not-governing-from-the right in Bush's term the way they didn't-govern-from-the-right in Bush's first term, we will be even more seriously fucked than we already are.

Posted by: The Fool. on January 12, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

The above should say "Bush's 2nd term" where it says "Bush's term"

Posted by: The Fool on January 12, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Great work mate. Check out this awesome blog here.

Posted by: ernest on January 12, 2006 at 4:54 AM | PERMALINK

murmeister: The enemy is within your own gates and is armed with a vote.

LOL!

Posted by: Diebold on January 12, 2006 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

Tanj and Alex,

There is nothing in what you wrote with which I disagree. Its difficult to give Bush's policies traditional labels. Perhaps they could best be described as greedy, stupid and shortsighted.

Posted by: NeilS on January 12, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans have been able to move right because of the incompetence of Democrats.

I agree with the ideals of the Democrats, but their policy and positions are often impractical, irresponsible, partisan rather than idealogical, not well reasoned or thought out, and illogical.

Posted by: aaron on January 12, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, with the firing of David Gunn the Radicals are 90% or better toward their goal of terminating Amtrak, so I am not sure why that is listed as a "haven't been able to".

Yes, a few runs have been turned over to the states and will continue as long as the states fund them, but the national system is just about gone.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 12, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Play a mind game with yourself. What if 9-11 had never happened? You will remember that the "conservative revolution" had gone nowhere by 9-10, with Bush having the lowest approval ratings of any new president in modern history. The people weren't even much interested in tax cuts. Then, shazaam! the wussy Americans made him Father Bush, the Leader Who Can Do No Wrong and the Repuglies were able to sneak their agenda through, piece by piece, while the people hid under their beds.

That is pretty much the story of the "conservative revolution." As 9-11 fears recede, the revolution stalls. If we don't get another big attack soon, we will be back to business, stumbling, slogging toward the future. We can count on a steady increase in rights, world oneness and, as the song says, love between our brothers and our sisters. Thus has it always been so.

Posted by: James of DC on January 12, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

The move right took a step forward yesterday. Senator Graham took a page out of Slick Willies playbook by becoming choked up and causing Mrs. Alito to cry and leave the room on Democratic charges of racism. The man knows how to get all over the news.

The result of all this is that Sam Alito has become a lock. There will be no filibuster. He's likely picked up 5 to 10 votes and will take his seat as one really pissed off conservative. With Clarence and John Roberts we have a 30-yr core of 3 arch conservatives. Scalia gives us 15 years as a strong conservative and Kennedy 15 as a moderate conservative.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK
Since freeing Iraq from a tyrant would obviously occur, it did not "become" liberal. Posted by: conspiracy nut
Nonsense. The intent was always to install Achmed Chalabi as the "American-friendly" ruler. The democracy bit only arose on the insistence of Sistani, without whose cooperation the occupation would be untenable. It was sold to the country as a WMD issue, not a "democracy" issue. No sane person would say the mere removal of a toothless dictator like Saddam was worth 16,000 American causalities and $500,000,000,000. There is no net positive effect if a brutal, corrupt dictator is replaced by an even more brutal, even more corrupt occupation.
It's all changed and it started changing the day Reagan took office...Posted by: rdw
Tax rates are lower, the national debt is vastly higher. Lower interest rates to stimulate the economy, and higher unemployment than during the Clinton era. Remember back to the Reagan era? The worst recession since the Great Depression? The time when the United States changed from being the world's largest creditor nation to become the world's largest debtor? The biggest tax increase in history (adjusted for inflation). Remember the fiasco in Lebanon, the 240 dead marines? Remember the "Great War" against Granada? What a military triumph that was. Remember the 32 Reagan administration members indicted for crimes (30 found guilty)? But most of all, do you remember the Iran-Contra Affaire? Reagan was sponsoring death squads in Nicaragua. Priests were being shot in their churches, peasants were made to dig their own graves, lie in them, be murdered in them. Nuns were raped and murdered by Reagan's proxy troops. Congress cut off funding these atrocities and Reagan did an end run around them by selling arms to Iran, the very same mullahs who held our embassy officials hostage.

The army that won the war in Iraq was Clinton's army, not Rumsfeld's.

The death penalty is barbaric and has been outlawed in most of the civilized world, although it is prevalent in the US, China, and other authoritarian lands.

we have a 30-yr core of 3 arch conservatives. Posted by: rdw

Which means votes for corporate and executive branch power against individual liberties and rights. Why would anyone call these Falangist policies "conservative"?

Posted by: Mike on January 12, 2006 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

'Its difficult to give Bush's policies traditional labels. Perhaps they could best be described as greedy, stupid and shortsighted.'
--NeilS

I might add incoherent, Neil. But, you are right. Increasing the national debt by 40% in four years is not what you would expect from a "traditional" conservative.

Look, George W. Bush is a very dysfunctional man from a very dysfunctional family. I oppose him on personal grounds, as I think he is severely brain-damaged from long-term alcohol and cocaine abuse. It is apparent from his actions, reactions and demeanor. Regardless of what you think of his politics, and I agree that they are screwed up beyond all description, the man should be removed from office on medical grounds. He is a sick and broken man, and our great country is at risk every second he is in a position of power.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 12, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK
The result of all this is that Sam Alito has become a lock. There will be no filibuster.

If, as you say, the result of this is that he has become a lock, so there now will be no filibuster, does that mean that your previous statements that he was already a lock and there was no possibility were wrong?

And, if you were wrong then in your unsupported, baldly stated conclusion, why should we believe you are right now, with the same type of claim?

Posted by: cmdicely on January 12, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if you read the book, you didn't grasp much of it:

...the Republican caucus has indeed moved radically to the right, but at the same time they all know perfectly well they can't govern from there lest they be tossed out of office en masse.

We all know the stories about Orwellian attacks on government (Healthy Forests, etc.) that obscure the functional details of governance. What the GOP has mastered, as the authors point out, amounts to deception and sabotage that would never mase it past a fully-informed electorate. Take the series of huge tax cuts on upper-incomes scheduled for the out years: by de-linking cuts in services from revenues, the GOP avoids the mistake of relative honesty from the Clinton-era.

The center fully supports middle-class entitlements, the 8 hour day, increased worker safety, increased environmental regulation and increased energy conservation. In none of these areas has the GOP left its activists and donors.

As the authors clearly demonstrate, the one-party government aligned with the financial interests of media corporations is able to make the government seem moderate.


Posted by: Pacific John on January 12, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

mike,

You and I are obviously of very different minds but the facts are very clear regarding the discussion. We are a more conservative nation and have been trending more conservative since 1981.

In 1992 the democrats had 267 Congressmen. Today you have 202. You had 57 Senators and now 44. These are facts, not opinion.

We DO have the death penalty and it is popular. We DO have 3 strikes and it is popular. We DO have mandatory sentencing and it is popular. We do have a totally different approach to criminality as exemplified by the famous 'broken windows' theory practiced in NYC under Rudi. We DO have many more can carry laws and we DO have the bizarre situation where the NRA has disappeared from the news because they don't have anything to fight.

John Kerry banned the term liberal from his vocabulary and made sure to make a series of high visible hunting trips. He posed more often with guns than the last 5 Republican Presidents combined. Clinton broke off a campaign appearnce to rush home to Arkansas and ensure a retarded man was executed.

The MSM is dying. The NY Times had two downsizings last year and virtually every liberal paper & magazine has had at least one the last two years. Talk Radio, Fox and conservative outlets are flourishing. Limbaugh has a larger audience than ALL 3 networks combined and he's hardly the only talk radio voice with a huge audience.

George Clooney has been whinning the term liberal has collected a negative connotation and wants to change that. So the hottest star in Hollywood puts out two movies to push liberal causes and they've done poorly. Even they cannot help.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans' advance has stalled because they have completely abandoned their strongest principles on smaller government. It may be that those in office never really believed those principles and feel free to do what was always their desire- grow government for their special interests and stay in office until they die. There are a core of voters in their base that will never vote for Democrats, but are so turned off by what they see the Congress and the Executive branches doing, that they may well sit on their hands in November rather than vote.

However, the Democrats are fighting an uphill battle since redistricting has made it far more difficult for them to win control of the House (it has also made it difficult for Republicans to increase their majority-even if they weren't sailing into political headwinds). The Democrats have a better chance of taking the Senate in November than winning the House.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 12, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: We DO have the death penalty and it is popular. We DO have 3 strikes and it is popular. We DO have mandatory sentencing and it is popular. We do have a totally different approach to criminality as exemplified by the famous 'broken windows' theory practiced in NYC under Rudi. We DO have many more can carry laws and we DO have the bizarre situation where the NRA has disappeared from the news because they don't have anything to fight.

We DO have social security and it is popular.

We DO have medicaid and it is popular.

We DO have medicare and it is popular.

We DO have a president that sent 2000 plus American soldiers to die for nothing beneficial to America and it is NOT popular.

We DO have a GOP that has expanded federal government, intruded into privacy, and ballooned the deficit and it is NOT popular.

We DO have a GOP that is being indicted right and left and those indictements are popular.

Keep smokin' the good stuff and lying to yourself as much as you lie to others - you help the liberal cause tremendously, because no moderates are going to want to be associated with race-baiting, totalitarian loving, hypocritical and mendacious conservatives like you.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: . . . the fact that Iraq is a liberal war.

Obviously conspiracy nut does not understand the meaning of "fact."

Something we've known for a long, long time.

But we do see the new conservative strategy - distance themselves from the man they championed for the last five years and elevated to godlike status by claiming that Bush is a liberal disguised as a conservative.

The public isn't buying it though . . .

Bush's rasmussen approval: 43%

Mired ten points below Clinton's lowest second term approval rating.

And the criminals in the GOP aren't faring any better.

Just ask Conrad Burns.

And btw, hattip to Josh Marshall . . .

New Alito character witness testifying today, Peter Kirsanow, has ties to Jack Abramoff.

Gotta love it.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

The best they can do is stealthy, small bore stuff.

You're confusing small with petty and corrupt.

Posted by: Matt Stoller on January 12, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a nice factoid for those who think the GOP will eventually win out on the Patriot Act and the NSA thing . . .

Last July, the Justice Department told the House Judiciary Committee that only 12% of the 153 "sneak and peek" warrants it received were related to terrorism investigations.

Yet more evidence that the Bush administration is using terrorism as a cover for more intrusive spying on American citizens than conservatives would have us believe.

Indeed, it would appear clear that the primary purpose of the Patriot Act and NSA programs is not to fight terrorism, but to gain a partisan advantage by using the authority to spy on domestic opposition figures and citizens who protest the administrations flagrant abuse of the oval office.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely,

Sam keeps getting better. Moreover sleezy Democrats like Kennedy and Schumer keep on suggesting this clearly honest Italian-American is a liar and a racist. Below the attached 3 clips relatedto the hearing is a clip from David Brooks related to an indirect but more pervasiveeffect. This is about more than Alito. It's about liberal condescention toward honest people who might disagree with them.

CNN's Ed Henry: "It Speaks Volumes That The First Two People To Lose Their Cool In The Room Behind Me Turned Out To Be Two Senators, Not Judge Alito ..." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 1/11/06)

Fox News' Chris Wallace: "I Think We Would Agree That This Nomination Is Sailing Through." (Fox News' "Fox News Live," 1/11/06)

CNN's Jeff Greenfield: "In Talking To Some Folks On The Democratic Liberal Side Of Things Last Night, There Is A Palpable Air Of Frustration And Depression. They Don't Think That The Senators On The Judiciary Committee On Their Side Have Come Close To Making A Case That Would Justify A Filibuster And Really Mount Public Opposition." (CNN's "The Situation Room," 1/11/06)

It's titled "Losing the Alitos" but it might as well be titled "Why Democrats Lose National Elections:"

If he'd been born a little earlier, Sam Alito would probably have been a Democrat. In the 1950's, the middle-class and lower-middle-class whites in places like Trenton, where Alito grew up, were the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

But by the late 1960's, cultural politics replaced New Deal politics, and liberal Democrats did their best to repel Northern white ethnic voters. Big-city liberals launched crusades against police brutality, portraying working-class cops as thuggish storm troopers for the establishment. In the media, educated liberals portrayed urban ethnics as uncultured, uneducated Archie Bunkers.

The liberals were doves; the ethnics were hawks. The liberals had "Question Authority" bumper stickers; the ethnics had been taught in school to respect authority. The liberals thought an unjust society caused poverty; the ethnics believed in working their way out of poverty.
In 1971, Fred Dutton, an important Democratic strategist argued.....the New Deal coalition, including Catholics and white ethnics, was dying......and should be replaced by a "loose peace coalition" of young people, educated suburbanites, feminists and blacks.

That plan wasn't stupid, but it didn't work. The party has been in a downward spiral ever since. John Kerry lost the white working class by 23 percentage points. He lost among his fellow Catholics. He lost the election.

After every defeat, Democrats vow to reconnect with middle-class whites. But if there is one lesson of the Alito hearings, it is that the Democratic Party continues to repel those voters just as vigorously as ever.

The big story of American politics, which was underlined by every hour of the Alito hearings, is that sometime between 1932 and 1968, the DNA of the Democratic Party fundamentally changed. In 1932, the Democrats had working-class DNA. Today, the Democrats have different DNA, the DNA of a minority party.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey,

Democrats don't really have a better shot in the Senate. Getting the house will be impossible thanks to redistricting but that doesn't mean a real shot in the Senate exists although it's possible. You are defending too many seats yourself and only a few of the GOP seats are really in play.

Among the most useless polls are these advance party versus party polls. People vote for candidates not parties. Plus as we saw in the last election the GOP has dramatically improved it's get out the vote efforts.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

We DO have a GOP that is being indicted right and left and those indictements are popular.

There is no comparison between this administration on the last on indictments. The more important consideration is convictions and this WH is clean.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's post and a lot of the replies illustrate what a trap of using "conservative" and "liberal" can be.

Because clearly Bush has done many radical and aggresive things. And so did Woodrow Wilson (instituted military segregation, invaded more countries than any other President before or since, etc.) But Bush is seen as a "conservative" and Wilson as some kind of "liberal" idealist.

What Bush clearly has successfully done is arrange for rich people to keep a heck a lot more of their own money, and set up an astonishing gravy train for government contractors.

What he hasn't done is dismantle the New Deal, or impose much of the "social" agenda that they talk about on campaigns. And if you accept Thomas Frank's thesis the reason for that is clear: they care about the cash, but don't really care about those who they consider religous loonies. Nor do they want to commit political suicide and they have reasonable idea of how far they can push.

I think that gives a better idea of what's unfolding then buying all this hype about some mythical conservative intellectual revolution.

(BTW - I believe that Wilson was the worst US President in history - a disaster in race relations, economics, diplomacy, and for civil rights. Check out his real record sometime, and I think you might find a pretty good analogy for Bush.)

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 12, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

New Alito character witness testifying today, Peter Kirsanow, has ties to Jack Abramoff.

Gotta love it.

I have no idea what your point is here but it does not matter. Samuel is in for 30+ years and he is pissed. If he ever forgets the cheap shots the liberals delivered I suspect his wife will remind him.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

(BTW - I believe that Wilson was the worst US President in history - a disaster in race relations, economics, diplomacy, and for civil rights. Check out his real record sometime, and I think you might find a pretty good analogy for Bush.)

You'll be happy to know Wilson is getting another look at by Historians and his star has diminished dramatically. You've got to be care in looking at how history has been written about in the 40's, 50's and 60's when so much of the writing was done by liberals who wanted to give fellow academic Wilson credit for the UN and enlarging goverment. 15 years ago it was not uncommon for Wlson to be ranked in the top 5. Today he never makes the top 10 althought is usually within the 11 - 15 band. It's only a matter of time before he drops further as we get away from faculty based historians.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Samuel,

When all is done GWB will have lowered top rates 3%. Reagan lowered them by 42%, From 70% to 28%. GWB, like his father and Bill Clinton, has only payed at the fringes.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Not only are conservatives in power but even liberals are moving to the right. This is from national review oline where they are questioning the 'problem' with alito's non recusal on vanguard.


Justice Breyer has been called one of the 'parents' of the federal sentencing guidelines by one commentator. In 1984, as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was deeply involved in crafting the Sentencing Reform Act that gave birth to them. Later, as a Circuit Court judge, he was a member of the first Sentencing Commission which promulgated the guidelines and gave them their structure. In 2004, with Breyer now an Associate Justice, cases squarely challenging the constitutionality of those guidelines were accepted by the Supreme Court for review. Justice Breyer not only declined to recuse himself; last term, he wrote the 5-4 majority opinion in the portion of the Booker and Fanfan cases that preserved the guidelines from what would otherwise have been complete oblivion.

I had no idea Breyer was so influential in mandatory sentencing.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

rdw - the comparison of the 70% to 28% drop under Reagan to "only" a 3% drop under Bush II is deceiving since Reagan also shut a lot of loopholes.

And if you look at what Bush II has continued to do to erode enforcement of tax laws that would just add to the discrepancy.

But Reagan and Bush do share the remarkable achievements of exploding the deficit while talking 'tough' about it.

Also, don't forget the gravy train, that's been pretty good for a few companies, eh?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on January 12, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

The tired old dichotomy (Hegelian maybe?) of right/left, conservative/liberal clouds our ability to see what is actually going on.

If I had to pick a label to put on this bunch of fear-mongering rip-off plutocrats, it would be "fascist." Fearmongering to obtain and hold power and amass as much personal wealth as they can possibly get their hands on is their m.o. They have no true "values." They certainly aren't "conservative" in the root sense of the word, "conserve." They spend other people's money wantonly to line their own pockets and don't give a fig for personal OR social responsibility.

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 12, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Sam,

Tell me which companies and then tell me how well they did compared to other non-defense companies. This is why the constant Halliburton refrain has been so weak politically. People know much more about stocks and business than 30 years ago. Halliburton has not done especially well.

I agree Reagan did much more than just cut rates but so has GWB. GWB has done more in the way of incenting investment. The relative size of GWBs tax cuts are less than half the size of Reagans. Reagans reformation of US tax and economic policy was more dramatic that the last 3 President combined and that was my point.

One of the fun ironies of 2005 not mentioned on any year-end lists but referred to by Fred Barns (Old Europe as the big loser of 2005). Both Chirac and Schroeder started the year blasting the US for it's budget deficit. They end the year with much worse deficits. Both France and Germany have higher total debt and higher annual deficits and it will get worse for them.

BTW: I don't defend GWB or the GOP Congress even a little bit for the spending side of the ledger. They've been pigs. Tom Delay, until now a stud, lost conservative support a few weeks back when he said there was no fat in the budget. That's why the National Review and others came out saying he had to go, before he went. These guys are scared and it has nothing to do with the liberal press.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, Sam,

From Powerline:

Yesterday I wrote about Judge Alito's former law clerk Susan Sullivan (1990-91). Susan has kindly forwarded us a copy of her op-ed on Judge Alito's nomination. While we don't share Susan's political perspective, the recollections of her work for Judge Alito are timely:

Most efforts at evaluating the nomination of Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court have fallen along predictable party lines. By opposing the nomination however, my fellow liberals and I run the real danger of shooting ourselves in our own left foot.

I was one of Judge Alito's law clerks in 1990-1991, the year the Casey decision was decided. I consider myself a social progressive. I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, a liberal pro-choice advocate who supports abortion rights. I favor gun control support gay marriage and oppose the death penalty. I don't have a problem if you want to take "God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. In short, no one is likely to mistake me for a conservative any time soon. Yet, I support the nomination of Judge Alito because I know from having worked closely with him that he is not a political ideologue and is not intent on advancing a conservative political agenda.

As a liberal, what scares me is not the prospect of having Sam Alito on the Supreme Court; what scares me is the way my fellow Liberal Democrats are behaving in response to the nomination. Im appalled and embarrassed by the fear mongering, the personal attacks and what I see as an irresponsible and misleading distortion of his real judicial record as well as his character. Now the threat of a filibuster lurks and Senator Kennedys tirade about documents being concealed, seems like little more than a pretext to justify a filibuster.

Susan Sullivan is an attorney in San Francisco. She was Judge Alito's law clerk in 1990 - 1991, the year in which Planned Parenthood v. Casey was decided.
****************************

The full text is on powerline. Now remember Susan wrote this BEFORE Mrs Alito was chased from the room. There were two reasons Joe Biden is now recommending an end to these Judicial committee hearings.

1) He's getting killed. He can't control his mouth and he can't compare intellectually to the candidates. It's a bad setting for him.

2) The party is getting killed. Average Americans are appalled such an obviously honest and decent man can be abused and treated so shabbily. The impression of elitist liberals calling ethnic Americans racists on zero evidence is totally destructive for liberalism. This is specifically why John Terry banned the term from his campaign and Hillary has done the same.

What I find so odd is this isn't new news. Democrats just can't change.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

The primary reason I voted for Bush over Gore was that Bush's budget made much more sense to me. Bush advocated paying down the national debt, as did Gore, but Bush's plan payed down more and started out more slowly. It just seemed more considered.

Gore's paydown, on the other hand, was front loaded. It didn't make sense to may to pay down the national debt at a time when interest rates were at/below inflation, the job market had evaporated, and we were clearly about to enter a recession.

The thing I've come to realize is that deficits matter when interest rates are high. It's the cost of capital that matters. It almost doesn't make sense to run a surplus or balance the budget when rates are so low. What we should really be concerned with is what the money is spent on. Is it being used for education and infastructure, or is it being wasted on inflationary, non-value added projects?

Only recently have interest payments on the debt began to increase as a percentage of GDP (there was a large drop after interest rates dropped). Question is, as interest rates rise, can the budget deficits be cut before interest payments excede 1990s levels.

Posted by: aaron on January 12, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: There is no comparison between this administration on the last on indictments.

You're right. This one is much worse. And the WH has been touched and will continue to be so.

BTW, Clinton wasn't indicted either.

I have no idea what your point is here but it does not matter.

No truer words were ever spoken. You never have any idea.

Samuel is in for 30+ years and he is pissed. If he ever forgets the cheap shots the liberals delivered I suspect his wife will remind him.

Then he must be insane and delusional, enough reason to reject him, since there were no cheap shots.

Now remember Susan wrote this BEFORE Mrs Alito was chased from the room.

Yes, Thomas proved that conservatives are crybabies who throw tantrums to get attention - why should we expect less from Alito and his wife.

That you praise these antics says a lot about your utter lack of intellectual or political integrity and how you favor governing by and through dishonesty.

Average Americans are appalled such an obviously honest and decent man can be abused and treated so shabbily.

I guess that's why the vast majority say the Democrats haven't been too hard on Alito.

Well, the truth was never your long suit, rdw.

Democrats just can't change.

A statement contradicted only two sentences prior in your post (the reference to Sen. Clinton and John Terry).

You can't even be intellectually consistent within the same comment.

Again, says a lot about where you are coming from and what your real agenda is - shotgun disinformation and stupidity.

Keep it up - you are killing conservative credibility even better than Bush!

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, rdw, if Alito is the kind of person who would hold a grudge and vote on the Supreme Court such as to exact revenge on his political appointments, that alone is a sufficient reason that he should not be appointed and sufficient proof that conservatives don't want real jurists on the court, merely partisan conservatives, and that they are lying (who would have thought!) when they opine on wanting independent, objective justices who follow the law instead of their emotions.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

from Mark Kleiman . . .

Now the Concerned Alumni for Princeton, to which Alito belonged, was about as paleo as they come, this side of the KKK. It explicitly opposed equal-opportunity admissions to Princeton for fear that the place would be overrun by women and minorities.

Alito, as a student and recent alumnus, was a member of CAP. That reflected bad judgment, at best; Bill Frist, at roughly the same time, was denouncing the group for its extremism and dishonesty.

Yeah. All those attacks against Alito for being a racist and misogynist, being true and all, were just shameful.

After all, conservatives consider lying to be the value of highest order and truthfulness a satanlike sin.

No wonder they think Alito is getting screwed.

Fortunately, most Americans do not agree with conservatives.

Note that those conservatives defending Alito are doing so with the express admission that the Swift Boat Vets lied about Kerry and unfairly attacked him . . .

from Volokh Conspirators: That was the bogus [Swift Boat libel] about John Kerry in the 2004 election, and that is the bogus [libel] about Samuel Alito now.

Of course, predictably, they are right about the attacks on Kerry and wrong about those on Alito.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, rdw, more bad news for the GOP . . .

Rasmussen: The race to succeed Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack remains one to watch, with Republican Congressman Jim Nussle, the likely Republican nominee, capturing at best 40% of the vote against any one of four possible Democratic opponents.

Who wouldv'e have thought it with all the good news you've been spreading around about how GOP fortunes have never looked better.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Rasmussen: Forty-four percent (44%) of Americans say that the year 2005 was a good year.

Smokin' performance by the GOP, rdw.

They delivered a "good yar" to 44% of Americans.

With a ton of help from Diebold, that might just win them a handful of elections in 2006!

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate,

read and weep.

As I've mentioned before, Im a fan of TradeSports.com. This Web site lets investors buy "futures contracts" on real world events. In addition to many sports and political events, they also have contracts on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

There are currently two sets of contracts on Alito. One is simply "Will Alito Be Confirmed?" That contract is currently running at 94.5%. So the market seems pretty confident that hell pass.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

advocate,

Check out the post of 1:42 or better yet read the entire thing at realclearpolitics.com.

David Brooks thinks the image of liberal elitists like Kennedy, Schumer and Leahy implying this ethnic italian son of immigrants is the worst kind of racist just won't play very well among Italians as well as other ethnic middle class groups.

I'm with David. There's no more repulsive figure than Teddy Kennedy in American politics.
The man never worked a day in his life. He had everything handed to him and even then cheated his way thru life even killing an innocent young girl while cheating on his kids. Then he bought his way out of it. The man is disgusting.

To have him attack anyone on any basis is bonehead stupid. But attack this hard-working highly successful son of immigrants who unlike Teddy had to work for everything. What is bonehead stupid to the power of 10?

There is no man more valuable to American Conservatism than Edward Kennedy. No many oozes sleeze like Teddy.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate,

It's cool you've been excited by the current election prospects. I love how this works. Every other year the Dems show well in the polls. It's useful to the GOP to sound the alarm for fund raising and get out the vote efforts. Then on election day they kick your ass.

By all means enjoy your polls. Print them in large type and post them on your way. Have a glass of wine and toast them. I'll ave my wine for the actual electon.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kennedy belongs to exclusive university club of his own
By Charles Hurt
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
January 12, 2006


Sen. Edward M. Kennedy belongs to a social club for Harvard students and alumni that was evicted from campus nearly 20 years ago after refusing to allow female members.

According to the online membership directory of the Owl Club, the Massachusetts Democrat updated his personal information -- including the address of his home that is in his wife's name -- on Sept. 7.

*************************
ON Fox,

After Sago mine disaster the NYTs wrote a blistering editorial blaming Bush. Fox picked up a blog report showing mining deaths have gon down EVERY year of GWBs Presidency and average 30% lower than the Clinton Presidency. This is despite much higher mine output.

They also played the Mrs. Alito crying scene again. Can't play that too often for my tastes.

Mort Kondrake is now predicting 70 votes for Sam. Mara is saying we learned more about Alito than Roberts and Sam is much more conservative. Entire sees slam dunk.

GWB signed a free trade deal with Bahrain expected to be the 1st of several trade deals with middle eastern nations. A small economy but very symbolic.

Posted by: rdw on January 12, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: read and weep.

Why should I weep?

Bush will appoint a conservative.

I'm okay with that, Alito or not.

You are the one obsessed with Alito, not me.

David Brooks thinks the image of liberal elitists like Kennedy, Schumer and Leahy implying this ethnic italian son of immigrants is the worst kind of racist just won't play very well among Italians as well as other ethnic middle class groups.

David Brooks?

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

rdw: . . . even killing an innocent young girl . . .

Kennedy's actions aren't even as remotely disgusting as your lies and defamations regarding him.

He killed no one.

Which makes you a lying bastard.

No news there, however.

. . . who unlike Teddy had to work for everything.

Ted Kennedy has worked very hard, notwithstanding your mendacity regarding his work ethic.

rdw: Then on election day they kick your ass.

What a hoot from someone supporting a party that can't come close to competing when it comes to winning elections over the last 50 years.

Call us back when you've actually controlled Congress for as long as the Democrats have.

You'll have a long, long wait.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy belongs to a social club for Harvard students and alumni that was evicted from campus nearly 20 years ago after refusing to allow female members.

You mean another lie by the Times like their lie about Reid being in the "top tier" of Congress members being investigated in connection with Abramoff, a claim already debunked?

The fact that you would cite the Times says a lot about why you continually lie and get your facts wrong.

Can't play that too often for my tastes.

Glad to know you enjoy watching women fake cry and support crybaby Republicans who want to obtain their creds through the very affirmative action they and you say you and they detest.

I love it every time your spout your hypocrisy.

It will be a fun election cycle.

But not for you.

Just ask Conrad Burns.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 12, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Glad to know you enjoy watching women fake cry and support crybaby Republicans who want to obtain their creds through the very affirmative action they and you say you and they detest.

I actually liked the voice over of Senator Graham getting choked up even better as an emotional punch. The combination of his audio and her video is sweet.

Teddy Kennedy is a piece of garbage.

Posted by: rdw on January 13, 2006 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

rdw: Teddy Kennedy is a piece of garbage.

Then you must be the sh*t within the garbage.

BTW . . .

The White House said on Thursday deficit spending in the 2006 budget would soar above $400 billion, well over a July forecast . . .

Bush can't hold 50%.

The DOW can't hold 11,000.

And rdw can't hold the truth.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 13, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

rdw: I actually liked the voice over of Senator Graham getting choked up even better as an emotional punch. The combination of his audio and her video is sweet.

Just as you rejoice with every American soldier lost because it provides another opportunity to claim that terrorists are responsible, even though you know it is really Bush.

And you think Kennedy is garbage?

You are the bowl calling the basin white.

Posted by: Advocate for God on January 13, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

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