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Tilting at Windmills

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March 8, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BUSH BASHING FROM THE RIGHT....Apparently conservative Bush basher Bruce Bartlett will be blogging at the New York Times for a month. That should be fun. I hope it's not behind the subscription wall.

For a preview, see here.

Kevin Drum 1:06 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Who are these 38% who still think Shrub is doing a good job, and why can't they afford medical attention?

Posted by: craigie on March 8, 2006 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

He is, unfortunately, mistaken about Bush's motives.

No, see, this is where Barlett and us guys meet. We get that he's a conservative. But we all have a huge problem with Bush's "motives", because they are clearly
- to remain in power
- to plunder the government and favour his pals with booty

That's it. He has no other "motives", no "principles," no nothing. He is an empty suit. Apparently, 2/3 of the country now gets that. Too bad it took them 5 years.

Posted by: craigie on March 8, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

How does Bush "remain in power" after January 20, 2009?

I dread to think. If he simply refused to go, who, exactly, would stop him now?

Posted by: craigie on March 8, 2006 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK
Author of the new book "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," Bartlett called the administration "unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive" and "inept."

He also said many fellow conservatives don't know about the "quite dreadful" traits of the administration, such as the absence of "anybody who does any serious analysis" on policy issues.

"If Bush were running today against Bill Clinton, I'd vote for Clinton," Bartlett served.

I say let the man write.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 8, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK
...Sullivan was on hand to second the critique. "This is a big-government agenda," he said. "It is fueled by a new ideology, the ideology of Christian fundamentalism." The bearded pundit offered his own indictment of Bush: "complete contempt" for democratic processes, torture of detainees, ignoring habeas corpus and a "vast expansion of the federal government." The notion, he said, that the "Thatcher-Reagan legacy that many of us grew up to love and support would end this way is an astonishing paradox and a great tragedy."

His critique is right on. If only Sully could bring himself to be more consistent with that message.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 8, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

i swear to god: just when you think cheney can't get more ridiculous, he/she gets more ridiculous! it's impressive in a perverse sort of way....

the thing about bruce bartlett is that he is one of a vanishing breed: he is an honorable conservative. i, for one, support honorable conservatives because, although we may disagree on policies, we at least agree on reality, unlike the delusional bush-enablers who constitute the 38% that craigie is asking about.

what the times should regret is giving valuable real estate to a moron like john tierney and a boot-licker like david brooks. there is nothing to regret about giving space to an honest man.

cheney's reactions show how unfamiliar the notion of honesty is to the little right-wing propaganda robots.

Posted by: howard on March 8, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

It is not just Bruce, but William is trying to back the National Review out of the socialist camp.

I dunno what happened? I guess the conservatives got tired of fighting the big government liberals and joined the ranks.

Posted by: Matt on March 8, 2006 at 6:32 AM | PERMALINK

Altogether now. Blame the libs!

Meanwhile, what's the matter with Texas? I guess when you're a made guy the party's got your back.

Posted by: Lucy on March 8, 2006 at 7:18 AM | PERMALINK

Let me know what it says. I won't go looking for it.

Since Times Select began, the NYT is dead to me.

Posted by: howie on March 8, 2006 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Nothing exclusive, just:

"DeLay Handily Defeats 3 Rivals in Texas G.O.P. Primary"

Posted by: Lucy on March 8, 2006 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Nice to see, from his Sullivan remark, that cheney is so rational in his critiques -- even more so than his namesake. (Not that that wasn't obvious when he eagerly looked forward to the imminent "peace in the Middle East" that would keep the Dems out of power for "20 years or more", which is touchingly reminiscent of all those bumper stickers urging us to "Visualize World Peace".)

As for Bartlett, though: just remember that he voted for John Schmitz in 1972 -- the American Independent Party's substitute for George Wallace, who had strong John Birch Society ties. If anyone can make Bush look attractive by comparison, it's probably Bartlett.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 8, 2006 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Barlett continues to worship at Ronnie's altar and that pretty much does it for me boys and girls.

Rome... at its most decadent, had never thought of hiring an actor to go through the motions of being an emperor while the Praetorian Guard ruled.
Gore Vidal

Posted by: CFShep on March 8, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with all this "small-government conservative" critique of Bush and the current Republican leadership is that they just don't get that the Republican party has never, never, ever been about small government. Republicans were the first to start up big government programs after the Civil War. Republicans rubber-stamped the great social programs of the 20th century.

It's only after "small businessmen" started fearing communism and saw their bottom lines getting eaten away by taxes and unions that the modern strain of Republicanism took solid hold. Before that, people like Barry Goldwater were outsiders, rebels, in the Republican party.

There is no "small government" GOP to "return to" like Andrew Sullivan wishes. There are no "small government" glory days to go back to.

Government itself favors big government. Whoever you put in power is going to want to use the power of government to DO something. The question is, what do you want them to DO. Do you want them to do something intelligent? Or something Republican?

The only real hope for these "small government" types is to find a new land to move to (I suggest Antarctica or Mars) and to set up a stricter constitution. I think they'll find, however, that before long, the exploited underclasses will demand reforms and they'll end up eventually getting at least half the things they didn't want in the first place.

Posted by: Adam Piontek on March 8, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Just started to read Bartlett's book. First friggin pages, paraphrased as follows:

George Bush is not a conservative he is a liberal, blah, blah, (kiss Reagan's dead ass a little bit) blah, blah, blah, (generalization about how liberals are unresponsive to the people and this will lead us to totaliarianism), blah,blah,blah (more kissing of Reagan's dead ass).

That is as far as I have gotten. Maybe there will be some better stuff later.

Posted by: j swift on March 8, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

There is not a single person I've ever met with more substance and integrity.
Posted by: Cheney

Rolling on the floor.

I'll file that with this howler: "This is one of the most intellectually gifted presidents we've had."
-- Karl Rove

Posted by: CFShep on March 8, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

That's exactly what I was afraid of, judging by your comments up to now. Reagan's early writings, by the way, included his 1960 statement that JFK was a Communist, his 1962 statements expressing sympathy with the John Birch Society, and his statement in 1966 that the proper way to end the Vietnam War was to "bomb North Vietnam into a parking lot" regardless of whether it brought China into the war on their side. Fortunately, by the time he actually made it to the White House he had acquired somewhat more brains than "cheney" -- or the Barry Goldwater of 1964.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 8, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

If Cheney was using words like "nigger" or "kike" would people keep talking civilly to him? So what is up with people having a civil conversation with an angry, disgusting homophobe?

If Kevin doesn't have the ability/desire to ban a person like Cheney at the very least we should all ignore him. The #1 rule to dealing with trolls is to stop feeding them, right?

Posted by: hello? on March 8, 2006 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

"he wants a MORE conservative nominee in 2008
Posted by: Cheney"

for god's sake, Cheney, Hillary Clinton is more conservative than Bush. That radical attacks countries without prvocation, tortures prisoners, screws with the rights of citizens, etc., etc.

Any "conservative" who doesn't want Bush to be impeached is as stupid as you. Go fuck yourself again.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 8, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately his blog is indeed behind the evil times select wall. So as a public service here are a few snippets. On Bush's tax cuts and the booming economy:

Thus we see that real G.D.P. is very slightly higher, but all the other numbers are substantially worse in this expansion compared to the last one.
Therefore, I do not see how President Bushs tax cuts can be given any credit for the booming economy. All we have seen is the upturn we get after every recession. In other words, without any tax cuts at all, we would be pretty much in the same place economically. [ed. except without those massive budget deficits]

On Bush's total incompetence:

So for many Republicans, the ineptness of the Bush administrations response to Katrina was deeply disturbing. After all, the disaster in New Orleans could just as easily have been caused by another terrorist attack as a hurricane.
In coming months we are likely to see more and more reports like this from Congressional committees as Republicans seek to distance themselves from the Bush administration on a variety of issues going into the November elections.

I would also note that, unlike most conservative bloggers, his blog has comments.

The corner will no doubt soon be denouncing him as a liberal (if they haven't already).

Posted by: David P on March 8, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Adam Piontek

Astounding isn't it. The republicans have outspent the democrats administration in and out since Johnson. Yet the republicans get plaudits for fiscal responsibility.

Back on thread:

The whole left/right thing is weak and ineffective. And it got us Bush. Thats what Bartlett means.

This president could only have to come to power if democrats were asleep - and they were. The real point about Bartlett is not the Cheney-point scoring scenario or whether Bartlett is actually a stealth conservative.

The point is that Bush is a twit and he is the product of political conversation between what we call the left and right which is finallly not a real conversation about anything.

Niether side presents an agenda for anything other than the present and near future. Niether is particularly analitical or invested in an idea.

Bush rides rough-shod over conservative and liberal ideals because those ideals don't really have any deep roots anymore. They can't stop him. The idea that Bush is controlled by deep conspiratorial thinkers is ridiculous. If he's a mouse in a maze, the walls are made of tissue. Instead of being smart he wanders through them leaving havoc in his wake.

There are no deep thinkers. Cheney ( the real one) and Rumsfeld? Can anyone tell me in what part of thier history they proved to be real brains? A deep thinker has to whet his talent with great competition. Where do the conservatives get that? Who on the left shows that?

For a recent instance - NPT. Why did Bush get this so wrong? Because no one cares. Americans do not give a damn about nuclear proliferation on the left or right. If they did they would demand a comprehenisive international approuch - new regime and treaty structure. But no, the Bush-mouse wanders off to India, China and Pakistan, with no guiding walls and makes a complete mess.

The whole left/right thing is weak and ineffective. And it got us Bush. Thats what Bartlett means.

Posted by: exclab on March 8, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

The important thing to remember about Bartlett, according to his interview on Fresh Aire, is that he intentionally chose not to release this book last year because it may have harmed Bush's reelection chnaces.

So, even though he hates Bush and calls him a false conservative, he is still entrenched in that "any Democrat would automatically be worse" camp. Let's not consider him too close an ally.

Posted by: Doug-E-Fresh on March 8, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

for god's sake, Cheney, Hillary Clinton is more conservative than Bush

it's not about political philosophy; it's about partisan identity. Cheney was probably one of those people who picked Kerry's platform over Bush's, when the names were left off, but voted for Bush anyway because he couldn't overcome his programming.

Posted by: cleek on March 8, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he was working with other GOP leaders to amend the $70 billion Iraq war-spending bill to include language that addresses security concerns raised by the deal. He did not elaborate Tuesday in his statement.

Meanwhile, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit foreign ownership of "critical infrastructure," including the six cargo terminals at the center of the controversy.

So, all this bloviating about the Democrats simply using the ports deal as a partisan political issue is just that, bloviating.

Enquiring minds want to know why the GOP lemmings who visit here from time to time are insisting that Democrats are racists and political opportunists while ignoring these anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, anti-American, anti-Bush, anti-free-market Republicans.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 8, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The ports deal is classic left/right nonsense breeding. The issue is as irrelevant as the left/right distinction. The Twit's deal with India is far more dangerous and important. It will recieve skant attention.

Posted by: exclab on March 8, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush administration is like the plot of the first Bruce Willis "Die Hard" movie:

A group of political terrorists occupies a high-rise office building, takes the occupants hostage, and communicates to the FBI and police who have surrounded the building that they will kill all the hostages unless thousands of their fellow terrorists are released from prisons all over the world.

However, it turns out that the "terrorists" are not really "terrorists" at all. They are simply crooks, who want to break into the high-tech vault in the office building and steal billions of dollars worth of loot. The pretense of being political terrorists is simply a scam to confuse the FBI and the cops and keep them occupied negotiating over the "demands" to give the crooks time to crack the safe.

Similarly, the Bush administration is really just a gang of crooks -- career white collar criminals and war profiteers -- who gained power by pretending to be "conservative" or "neo-conservative" politicians.

But their political posturing is just a ruse, to keep both conservatives and liberals confused and busy debating the fake, phony, completely incoherent pseudo-ideology of the administration, to give the Bush gang time to raid the treasury and plunder the country's wealth for the personal profit of themselves and their cronies and financial backers.

Cheney, Bush et al are not "conservatives." They have no "ideology" or "political philosophy", conservative, neo-conservative or otherwise. They are simply crooks.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 8, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"You all know that am a moronic hack, but I just thought I'd remind you that I'm also a serial liar who continues to post his moronic comments here even after I was told that I'm not welcome by Kevin."

Why is it that this is the first thing I've seen "Cheney" write that rings completely true?

Posted by: Uncle Jeffy on March 8, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney, Bush et al are not "conservatives." They have no "ideology" or "political philosophy", conservative, neo-conservative or otherwise. They are simply crooks.

SecularAnimist, I think you have succinctly summarized (in your whole post, not just this excerpt) the truth in a way that everyone can understand. Excellent.

Posted by: Adam Piontek on March 8, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Might be on to something there, maybe they are just political parasites. They will latch on to any political ideology or a part thereof in order to gather money and power, if not for themselves then for their hive.

Posted by: j swift on March 8, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

cheney: "I didn't become a gay basher until Andy dumped me and stopped returning my phone calls!"

Sounds entirely plausible to me.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 8, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Secular nails it:

"Similarly, the Bush administration is really just a gang of crooks -- career white collar criminals and war profiteers -- who gained power by pretending to be "conservative" or "neo-conservative" politicians."

Basically an organized criminal conspiracy with breath-taking consequences.

Posted by: CFShep on March 9, 2006 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

Just so people know, I did not break with Bush until after he rammed the Medicare drug benefit through Congress. That was late November 2003. Even if I had written at breakneck speed, there is no way I could have gotten a book out before the election. Nor is my ego so large that I think it would have had any effect on the outcome. Pat Buchanan and Jim Bovard both published books before the election attacking Bush from the right and no one read them.

Furthermore, my conversion to a Bush critic did not happen all at once. In the course of writing the book, I discovered many things I either didn't know about Bush's mistakes or had forgotten. However, I would note that I did give a rather scathing interview to Ron Suskind that was published in the New York Times Magazine just before the election that clearly indicated my unhappiness with Bush.

Finally, I would note that despite my displeasure with Bush, I did vote for him in 2004 because Kerry failed to convince me that he would do better. I think Kerry was a fool not to throw a bone to disaffected conservatives somehow or other. Bush ended up getting a lot of votes from people like me who voted against Kerry, not for him.

Posted by: Bruce Bartlett on March 9, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Bartlett's comment above on how easy it would have been for him to vote for Kerry last time bears a distinct resemblance to Ralph Nader's loony insistence in 2000 that there was "no significant difference between Bush and Gore". Correct me if I'm wrong, but I have serious trouble trusting the judgement -- on any subject -- of anyone capable of jumping that easily from John Schmitz to Kerry.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on March 9, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK



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