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April 26, 2012 10:10 AM The Cabal

By Ed Kilgore

I’m guessing that Sam Stein’s vivid excerpt from Robert Draper’s new book on the inner workings of the 111th Congress is going to get a lot of attention as it sinks in among the progressive chattering classes. Pardon the extended quote, but it’s worth it if you haven’t read it:

As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.
The event — which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured — serves as the prologue of Robert Draper’s much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives.”
According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.
For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform.

In Draper’s account, these schemers decided on three very immediate steps: a campaign of villification aimed at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, an effort to obtain a unanimous vote in the House against economic stimulus legislation, and an early initiation of attack ads. The larger philosophy was very Gingrichian:

“If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority,” Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. “We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

By calling this “Gingrichian,” I am alluding not only to the fact that the Newtster was present at this dinner, but that it reflected a combat style that House Republicans had been largely pursuing since Gingrich replaced Bob Michel as Leader in 1994. So Stein raises the obvious question: Does this scenario shock you?

Whether or not that’s shocking depends on the degree to which one’s view of politics has been jaded. What’s certainly noteworthy is the timing. When Mitch McConnell said in October 2010 that his party’s primary goal in the next Congress was to make Obama a one-term president, it was treated as remarkably candid and deeply cynical. Had he said it publicly in January 2009, it would likely have caused an uproar.

Actually, I don’t know if that is true. Sure, it is generally not considered seemly to publicly admit that partisan politicians think about partisan politics 24-7. But they do, and it’s hardly a new development. When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. What is somewhat new, however, is a political atmosphere in which partisanship can be depicted as identical to civic virtue: that “saving” the country from its president is viewed by the rank-and-file of a major political party, and by its servants and masters in the chattering classes and activist circles, as a necessary and sufficient agenda. That, along with the ability to convince the news media that this attitude of 100% opposition was actually a frustrated effort to cooperate, was key to the GOP’s ability to maintain a united front against anything Obama proposed, even if it was the GOP’s talking points from the day before yesterday.

What’s more interesting to me than the evidence of a cabal to plot against the president (what does anyone suppose Republicans would be doing on the night of their opponent’s apotheosis, raising toasts to his success?) is how effectively dissenting voices were obscured or rubbed out. I mean, when, exactly, did Republicans as a group repudiate the Keynesian economics that had been the bipartisan background for how Washington dealt with rececssions going back to the 70s, reinforced by the supply-siders’ hatred for “root canal” austerity policies? How did they so quickly convince hundreds of people leaving jobs in the Bush administration to agree that their former boss and one-time maximum leader of the conservative forces was in fact an unprincipled Big Spender who had sold out The Cause? And at what point, exactly, did the Move Right To Win strategy that had always existed on the fringes of conservative political science circles become uniform orthodoxy, to the point that the 2012 GOP nomination contest because strictly a matter of identifying the maximum conservatism the political markets could bear?

All this happened very fast, and that’s what I’d like to know more about. Sorry, maybe I’m cynical or jaded, but I’m not shocked to hear that Republicans decided at the very beginning of the Obama administration that they weren’t going to wait around for months to devise a strategy for 2010 or 2012. It’s how efficiently they executed it that is interesting.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Anonymous on April 26, 2012 10:21 AM:

    I'd bet, if we looked deeply enough, we'd find the hands of Koch and ALEC deep down in the muck.

  • jprichva on April 26, 2012 10:23 AM:

    Call me naive, but I find it shocking that this is considered acceptable. They didn't gather to oppose the new President's policies---they hadn't even yet heard what they were going to be. They gather to delegitimize him from the outset. The GOP is no longer about any particular set of principles, it is about getting and holding power. It is not shocking that these animals behave this way; it is shocking that people don't find this appalling---as apparently you do not, Ed.

  • Jimo on April 26, 2012 10:27 AM:

    So in sum, when the "ink" on the election ballots was barely dry, when the economy was plunging into the abyss, at this point in time the GOP elected for a scorched earth approach of total opposition regardless of how meritorious any Obama Administration proposal might be.

  • SYSPROG on April 26, 2012 10:34 AM:

    Sorry Ed but I find it shocking. They have no principles and decided from the outset that the country could stand 4 more years of gridlock while they lied to the American public. That is not all they wrought. They also made it 'acceptable' to lie in public and for people to shrug their shoulders. They should be exposed and thrown out of government.

  • Objective Dem on April 26, 2012 10:34 AM:

    I agree with jprivchva. The actions of the Republicans borders, if not crosses, the line towards treason. Now lets see if any Sunday Morning programs asks one of these leaders about this story.

  • Hedda Peraz on April 26, 2012 10:46 AM:

    Ho-hum. Nothing new here, just another book about "Beltway Politics."
    OOOH! LOOK! Sex! Sex! Over There! Quick, book McCain for Sunday.

  • boatboy_srq on April 26, 2012 10:49 AM:

    @jprichva:

    The shock value of this behavior, I think, faded after 1994, and almost certainly diminished past measure after 2002. By now it's pretty-much business-as-usual.

    What's striking this time around is the speed with which the GOP pivoted. In this case, though, I think they learned from the Clinton years, and from 9/11: Clinton was allowed to build momentum, which took a lot of energy to combat, and the moves after 9/11 were allowed because the initial shock prevented meaningful dialogue and resistance. Move quickly, and you prevent your opposition from gaining traction; move quickly enough and you can bring along a lot of baggage that isn't obviously part of your agenda until the pieces are in place.

    There was a LOT accomplished between the fall of 2001 and January 2009. How much of what was pushed through would have been accepted without "with us or with the terrorists" jingoism and the drive to strike back? Would we have a Department of Homeland Security? Would we have the massive private security apparatus vying with defense contractors for influence and public dollars? Would we have a Democratic party so awestruck by the force of the war machine that they hesitate to criticize (let alone oppose it effectively)? It seems unlikely.

    The Gingrich years were a wake-up call. The US hit the snooze button after that episode, which was in hindsight a big mistake. 18 years after that election we have a cadre of GOPers who are used to those tactics, and enough followers who don't know anything but this kind of soft warfare.

  • stormskies on April 26, 2012 10:59 AM:

    The story within this of course is the almost absolute corruption of our national / corporate media who serve not only as megaphones for the propaganda and lies of the corporate/ Repiglican party, but also as the very vehicles that repress stories equaling reality of this kind.

    As Bush's former press secretary, Scott McClellan, said the corporate media is in 'active collusion' with the Repiglican/ corporate agenda. To me these corporate media elite in the form of David "I am not a used corporate condom" Gregory, et-al, are just as guilty of the treason that they Repiglican creeps in this story.

  • Anonymous on April 26, 2012 11:03 AM:

    I agree with Ed that I do not find the cabal at the top of the national Republican Party put regaining power far above the good of the nation. I live in Texas and I am surrounded by this level of Republican partisanship. But I also agree with Objective Dem that this crosses the line towards treason.

    Ed, I think, reflects the media attitude that what the inside the beltway types think is normal really is normal. I don't think this is normal. I keep seeing big echoes of America during the 1840's and 1850's, with the Republican Party playing the part of the Confederate States in thrall to the wealthy plantation owners. I should remind everyone that during that period the majority of wealthy men and families in America were in the South, and their wealth was largely measured in slaves - at market prices. That's what the Southern politicians were fighting to defend.

    Today the equivalent of the slave-owners are the big Wall Street Banks, the various conservative wealthy families (most of which dominate the politics of the state they live in, as do the oil millionaires in Texas, the Amway millionaires in Michigan, the Coors family out west, etc.), and the majority of big company top executives. Those people make up the 1% and they are funding the Republican Party and selecting its leaders.

    The followers in the party are conservatives who are hopped up on propaganda-based-fear of Communists/Blacks/Socialists/Liberals. (Allen Wes and Herman Caine are bought-and-paid-for conservative house Blacks.)

    Until this report I have hesitated to say this was a tightly planned and controlled anti-American conspiracy. It might have just been a "movement." This report by Draper lays out the evidence that it is a national conspiracy and centrally directed. It is refusal of the Democrats to treat it as such that has left them acting so weakly and ineffectively.

    We progressives and Democrats need to recognize that there really is an active conspiracy against us and against modernism and urban industrialism in America. We need to fight it as such.

  • Jim on April 26, 2012 11:05 AM:

    Not to be simplistic, but IOKIYAR. In a world where the Iraq War is just something that kinda happened, where the man who picked Palin is still treated as a statesman and foreign policy sage, why would this surprise or shock anyone? David Broder and Tim Russert were both on record as saying that Clinton's blow jobs caused a greater national crisis than Bush's war, and probably 75% of the people you see talking politics on Sunday morning would agree.

    I think to complete the context of this cabal, you have to remember the one Evan Bayh tried to form in the Dem Senate caucus, to reassure the people who had just gotten $750 billion that Democrats still had their backs.

  • david1234 on April 26, 2012 11:05 AM:

    What is shocking to me is how Obama kept on trying to compromise with these people, long after their strategy was obvious. They were not interested in compromise, because they thought that would help Obama.

  • ckelly on April 26, 2012 11:07 AM:

    I'm not shocked, I'm totally disgusted. This explains the impotent, worthless Congress we have and the damage it has inflicted. @Jimo is right, this scorched earth Republican policy of knee-jerk opposition to everything "Obama" is insane and utterly counter productive except for the overarching goal of "making Obama a one-term Prez" as was launched the night of his win. It has been abundantly clear that Repubs have no interest in the good of the country. As always, Republicans choose Party and Power over Country.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 26, 2012 11:15 AM:

    I'm with Objective Dem. When I initially read the bit about "saving" the country from its president, I really thought, "Holy hell, this isn't TREASONOUS?"

    Seriously, to get a security clearance for federal positions one would have to successfully pass the "has ever conspired to overthrow the government" question. I beg pardon, but someonehow I don't think what the GOP is doing is outside of what would be virtual treason. True, they're more or less using an around-about, abstract sabotage-through-psuedo-political douche-baggery. But I still think it qualifies. I could be naive, though.

    I'm not so much upset that they were trying to "submarine" the Obama presidency, but that the GOP was quite happy to sink the American people and the economy with it. The more damage, the better... Collateral damage, friendly fire, and such... That's the sad part.

  • Kathryn on April 26, 2012 11:18 AM:

    Off course it's shocking all of it, including the lack of shock. An opposition party plotted from inauguration day to oppose and defeat the duly elected president of the United States with the help of the gullible/complicit corporate press. They didn't use force by staging a junta but the cabal plotted to overthrow Barack Obama nonetheless. It's just a slower sneakier process but probably more useful because it puts the elections all over the country at play, as 2010 proved, and the cancer spreads by the actions of state governors and legislators. If Pres. Obama manages to get re-elected, they will double down.

    One consequence I think is the campaign of Romney, the hallmark of which is constant lying with little to no challenge by the media. The horror from the tundra was right to call them the lame stream media but not for the reason she perceived.

    Now, what do we do about it? Wisconsin's elections loom large I think.

  • stormskies on April 26, 2012 11:19 AM:

    Anonymous.......to me you are exactly right ....

  • DisgustedWithItAll on April 26, 2012 11:20 AM:

    Anybody shocked by this hasn't been paying attention for 20+ years. Nor have they any insight over the last three. To be shocked is to be flat-out politically stupid.

    It's way past time for Dems/liberals/progressives to understand that what we're in is not a debate; it's a war. A war that will be won by numbers. If the Republicans take control in November, the war for the country will be lost just as the war for climate control and the future of the planet has been lost. Get used to it folks because I have no confidence that spineless Democrats will be able to muster any moxie to fight fire with fire.

  • Jim on April 26, 2012 11:37 AM:

    t's way past time for Dems/liberals/progressives to understand that what we're in is not a debate; it's a war
    It all depends on how you define your terms, but I think most engaged liberals/progressives get that. Dems? No way. Jimmy Carter of all people was saying that while he prefers Obama, Romney wouldn't be so bad. Russ Feingold said pretty much the same thing about McCain in 2008. The whole etch-a-sketch concept is all about persuading 'swing voters' that Romney isn't one of those Republicans, the people who told themselves that about Bush then can't figure out how things like Citizens United happen. And that's without getting into those Dems who are pretty much actively fighting for the other side

  • TCinLA on April 26, 2012 11:58 AM:

    Anonymous is dead-on right:

    Until this report I have hesitated to say this was a tightly planned and controlled anti-American conspiracy. It might have just been a "movement." This report by Draper lays out the evidence that it is a national conspiracy and centrally directed. It is refusal of the Democrats to treat it as such that has left them acting so weakly and ineffectively.

    We progressives and Democrats need to recognize that there really is an active conspiracy against us and against modernism and urban industrialism in America. We need to fight it as such.

    As is DisgustedWithItAll:

    Anybody shocked by this hasn't been paying attention for 20+ years. Nor have they any insight over the last three. To be shocked is to be flat-out politically stupid.

    Regardless of how this election comes out, we are very close to a second civil war. It will happen one of two ways:

    They win and a Resistance Movement eventually builds from our side to stop them.

    We win and a Resistance Movement begins fairly quickly to drive for overthrow.

    What we're looking at is more like the Spanish Civil War than the earlier one here 150 years ago. And the other side is rich enough they likely don't need a Hitler for outside support.

  • T2 on April 26, 2012 11:59 AM:

    so many of the comments on this are right on the money that its hard for me to say much...except that from the start we were told by Republican leadership that they intended to obstruct everything Obama did for the purpose of denying him a second term. So when the leadership tells you something, you can assume it is a plan from the top down.
    The interesting thing about it to me, is how the Republican Party can attract a particular personality trait group...a group of people that will march lock-step even in the face of 1)public dislike of their stance, 2) truth/facts. That a whole segment of our neighbors and fellow Americans can decide a path and stay on it regardless of the implications is quite amazing. Then, of course, you look at the makeup of that group and find it is overwhelmingly white and male. Suddenly, things get clearer in the context of Barack Obama.

  • schtick on April 26, 2012 12:54 PM:

    IOKIYAR

  • LJL on April 26, 2012 1:25 PM:

    The speed with which Republicans pivoted to repudiate everything that Obama proposed even when he presented them with policy wins can be explained, not by ordinary partisanship, but by the deep seated racism of the new GOP.

  • Rick B on April 26, 2012 1:48 PM:

    @T2

    I think the answer is found in Dr. Bob Altemeyer's book The Authoritarians (online.) He points out that you have to analyze the behavior and motives of the leaders separately from the behavior and motives of the followers. Yesterday Dr. Jonathon Haidt was being interviewed on the Fort Worth/Dallas NPR station and he rather clearly explained the difference between conservatives and liberals psychologically. It all goes back to liberals preferring new and different things and conservatives preferring the tried and the true. There is a relatively reliable measure of this continuum and it can be measured shortly after birth, although education and experience has a big impact on that tendency. But that's just the followers.

    The leaders can be either like the followers or they can be opportunists who prey on the followers. I'd say that Michele Bachman was like the tea partiers and religious bigots who support her, while Romney is a very pure example of the opportunist leader.

    As for that old white male group of Republicans, it's my opinion that they are from the top ranks of the American culture as it existed in the 40's, 50's and 60's. They really feel that the Civil Rights Movement and Feminism destroyed their safe and predictable class-ridden world. They have reached as high in American status as they will get, and it all seems to be going to Hell or to Hippies around them. The US Constitution was designed to give the Agricultural planers in the late 18th century control of the new American government and to protect them from the rabble of the cities. That's the reason for the Senate and the Electoral College (extra power to small rural states to overwhelm the city mobs.

    Only America is now mostly an urban big city industrial (and post-industrial. Socially they are the same) nation with only about 3% of the population on farms. The slow-moving agricultural life has been destroyed by consumerism and now the politics has to catch up. The old white males will be left behind when that happens because the newer generations have no clue what they are yammering on about. Today's conservatism is on its last legs and they are getting quite radical in fear of the coming change.

    The conservative followers will, by their nature, march lock-step to prevent change. That's just the way conservatives are. They dislike changes. But the leaders are using money and propaganda and FOX News to file up the fear of conservatives and direct them how to attack those they blame for causing the changes they hate so. Draper's Cabal describes the organization of the central committee of the conservative movement as it directs the conservative followers.

  • golack on April 26, 2012 2:00 PM:

    Obama is taking a page from Jackie Robinson's playbook--and I don't know of any other way to play it and keep the country together. The Republican attacks were and are vile and denigrate the office of the President, not just the man, and truly undermine our system of government--for their own petty political games, all the while claiming to be the "real Americans".

    There was a lot of justifiable anger at Bush's failed economy (can you say banana republic?),and that was focused on Obama. No way to reason with the that kind of hatred--you just have to let it play out. Luckily Obama didn't take the bait--and people are coming around to see how spiteful and hateful the republicans really are-and some are even questioning the tea partiers they sent in to congress.

    The first black President--and it's not the end of the world. A Democrat in office, and there finally is a "Mission Accomplished" (without the banner). And jobs are actually coming back, albeit slowly and against a head wind of Republican opposition, but it's still happening.

  • SouthernDem on April 26, 2012 2:01 PM:

    So, the question is, what do we do about it?

    I moved from NJ to South Carolina about 1.5 yrs ago. A majority of the people I meet are from NY, NJ, PA, OH, RI, MA, DC area, all white and sadly, all die-hard Rebublicans, dare I say, racist, as well. They hate Obama, many of them, because he is black. They really believe that Obama has destroyed the country. They follow Jan Morgan and her vitriolic rants. Bumper stickers like OBAMA, One Big Ass Mistake are common. They actually like Newt Gingrich. They will vote for Romney because they would rather die than vote for Obama. You can't have a conversation with them, they spew Fox News talking points. And then they will not engage in a legitimate discussion. They do not want to hear anything from the other side. That is what we are up against.

    How do we proceed? How do we get them to listen to anything that is not pure Obama hatred? Do we stay Obama positive or get down in the dirt and trash Romney and the GOP Congress? My guess is, we're going to have to do both.

  • Rick B on April 26, 2012 2:06 PM:

    @TCinLA

    I agree that there will be a tendency to move to a Spanish Civil War model, but that was set off by Franco using the Spanish Army to attack the new Republican government from Morocco during the Great Depression. It was also rather soon after WW I so that the use of military force was still seen as acceptable.

    I am retired military and I do not see the US military participating in such insanity. The tradition in America is that the military does not overthrow governments. It is subordinate to civilian leadership.

    I suspected that Nixon was going to attempt a coup rather than resign but the flag officers in the Pentagon set things up so that no order from the President could be carried out by the military without being countersigned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There is also no existing right-wing military outside the Pentagon control that could successfully conduct such a coup attempt.

    At worst I see militia violence and possibly guerrilla-type asymmetric warfare actions; A mostly non-violent and targeted response will totally set them up in public opinion as outlaws to be hunted down. I do not see a military civil war in the cards in the US.

  • Kathryn on April 26, 2012 2:30 PM:

    Good post Rick B, will read The Authoritarians. Maybe it will explain to me how people who are intelligent but in their political views are aligned with FOX and Rush Limbaugh can find such hateful, over the top positions persuasive. We all know people who we like, with whom we agree on most issues who subscribe to extreme right wing views and believe what they hear is true. Some we consider friends but it's getting harder to do that and the divide is feeling pretty Civil War deep. They, in fact, believe that they have the truth and no amount of evidence from politifact or snopes move them, they have their own truth sources, our facts don't penetrate.

  • MuddyLee on April 26, 2012 2:57 PM:

    Let's do consider it TREASON. Remember Bush's press secretary who tried to equate having questions about Bush's policies to being Un-American. Republican obstructionism in Congress has basically taken away the votes of those who supported Obama (yes, I know there's an electoral college so my vote for Obama in SC didn't count anyway....), and I don't appreciate the efforts to paint Obama as different, strange, Un-American, elitist, anti-colonial (this IS America, the former British colony so how is that un-American?), socialist (this one is really crazy - where's single payer health insurance if Obama is a socialist?). And note to Kathryn, I too have started avoiding old friends who are suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome, trying to find a "liberal" church in SC, looking for a new financial advisor and a new doctor too (do these guys expect me to PAY them and listen to stupid anti-Obama propaganda?).

  • jprichva on April 26, 2012 3:19 PM:

    @ Rick B: Two points. 1) I agree that no matter how deeply reactionary the military will be, they will never participate in a coup. That doesn't mean that there can't be street rioting, the likes of which will make 1967 look tame.
    2. Minor quibble: My recollection of the reporting at the time is that it was not the Joint Chiefs that had to sign off on any orders from Nixon, it was then-SecDef James Schlesinger, who on his own authority informed the Pentagon that they were not to act on any orders except with his concurrence. I agree that Nixon was seriously contemplating bringing the military in.

  • SouthernDem on April 26, 2012 3:39 PM:

    @ MuddyLee. It's nice to know I'm not all alone in South Carolina:-)u

  • DisgustedWithItAll on April 26, 2012 6:25 PM:

    @MuddyLee: Even single-payer is not socialized medicine, much less Socialism.

  • gus on April 26, 2012 11:26 PM:

    From 2001-2002 the Democrats had Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt.
    Does anyone remember the joint rebuttal to Bush’s SOTU in 2002?

    There was no resistance that I could see. There was no pushback from over reach. And, I doubt that there was much over sight. It was a time when every little thing tipped in favor of the GOP in terms of pushing through policy. Somehow, even Jeffords tipping the Senate didn’t stop the first round of tax cuts. It was a tie vote and Dick Cheney broke the tie.

    Oh, my? How is it possible that 51 votes in the Senate can be considered a majority?

    But, that was then. Somehow, the GOP politicians still get a lot done if only by making sure little gets done or that what gets done is Bad Because of Obama. For a while they even had Nancy Pelosi to tie onto that chain.

    So, the plan for obstruction doesn’t surprise me a bit. It’s been going on in some form since Jan. 2007, when the Congress flipped.

    What gets me is similar to what DisgustedWithItAll wrote. People really, truly haven’t been paying attention for a long time. Pre-FOX News and pre-WWW, you had to want to know more. And, even then, it has taken years for the marginally informed (who have half-witted opinions) to even piece together an idea of the scope of the Big Picture. So many only see, only know, bits and pieces of recent political history. Yet, they’ll tell you what they think and who’s to blame.

    Low Information works well for the GOP. The truth can be tamped down as being partisan because of Low Information Voters’ knowledge and awareness.

  • Anonymous on April 27, 2012 12:09 AM:

    I'm almost at the point of wanting Romney to win, AND the Senate to flip Publican.
    And that's not *just* in the basis of wanting everything that happens to be inescapably, ineluctably, and undeniably chained to the Publicans...
    Tho clearly that's the primary motive.
    It was not even a full 4 years ago that every element of Publican ideology had failed so spectacularly, and in every sphere, that even the Foxfan mouthbreathers couldn't hide from it. The resulting liberal resurgence, and accompanying Dem wave election, should have been no less than a generational realignment paralleling that from the New Deal to the mid-60s breakup over Vietnam and Nixon's Southern Strategy.
    Instead, we've seen "our own" President, and the at-best-feckless (and at worst treasonous) Dem party throw away all that advantage, and not just fail to counter, but often actually support, the corporate / plutocrat narratives and lies that have brought on the worst political and economic catastrophes of over half a century.
    The conclusion is rapidly becoming unavoidable that Americans won't get it until they again live thru a set of situations that the Publicans and corporate media combined can't possibly put off on socialist elitist liberals.
    I really, really don't want to be right about this.
    But I see nothing out there to suggest that I'm not.

  • Anonymous on April 27, 2012 2:36 AM:

    @Kathryn

    Regrettably I didn't find the reason why conservatives think the way they do in the Authoritarians. I mentioned that book because he made the point that you have to analyze the leaders differently from the followers.

    I think that Jonathon Haidt's book The Righteous Mind explains a lot about the conservative vs the liberal mind, but I am basing that on hearing him interviewed on NPR. I haven't read his book yet.

    It is interesting that both authors are social psychologists. I am beginning to suspect that there is some real insight into politics in social psychology.

  • Rick B on April 27, 2012 2:58 AM:

    @jprichva

    We agree on the violent actions we can expect. Riots would, I think, require too many people to participate. An oppressed and desperate minority like the American inner city Blacks might do that, but the conservatives tend to be the upper middle class. They aren't likely to take to the streets. They will not be that personally desperate.

    But I expect provocateurs to conduct small unit guerrilla type actions similar to the Islamic suicide bombers, but with different weapons. That's part of the militia/survivalist mythology. They think they can instigate a much wider revolution. Terry McVeigh seemed to believe that, for example.

    As for the countersigning on Nixon's orders, you could well be correct. I never saw it reported. I was told third or fourth hand from people who got it from the Pentagon. Rumors of that type suffer the flaws of the game of telephone at least in the details, but I got it from several different people and they all agreed on the basic story. The Pentagon wasn't going to conduct Nixon's coup.

  • Sean Scallon on April 27, 2012 8:22 AM:

    I mean, when, exactly, did Republicans as a group repudiate the Keynesian economics that had been the bipartisan background for how Washington dealt with rececssions going back to the 70s, reinforced by the supply-siders’ hatred for “root canal” austerity policies? How did they so quickly convince hundreds of people leaving jobs in the Bush administration to agree that their former boss and one-time maximum leader of the conservative forces was in fact an unprincipled Big Spender who had sold out The Cause? And at what point, exactly, did the Move Right To Win strategy that had always existed on the fringes of conservative political science circles become uniform orthodoxy, to the point that the 2012 GOP nomination contest because strictly a matter of identifying the maximum conservatism the political markets could bear?

    When there are no "moderate/liberal" Republicans or even establishment types who would be identified as willing to work with the new President or share such views, then what do you think you are going to get? All of the members of Congress mentioned were bomb throwers and young back-bench radicals held down in previous Congresses and now they were running the show in their caucus because their less radical elders were gone. The fact that Gingrich was invited to their gathering should tell you what their mentality was going to be circa 2009. To them it was 1993 all over again and they wanted to listen to someone trained in the art of political insurgent warfare, their Che.

    Put yourself in their shoes if you want to understand their thinking. A lot of these people signed onto things No Child Left Behind and the war and Medicare Part D and TARP and going against their own stated principals as part of Karl Rove's grand design for a "permanent" Republican majority. That was the bill of goods they were sold. Vote for this even though you don't like it but you will rule forever. From 2005-07 we had unified Republican government for the first time since 1954 and yet what did they do? Expand the government in ways which unthinkable as "conservatives". But they did it anyway because they were told it was good politics by Bush Administration, which pretty much gave them their marching orders for eight years.

    By 2009 they were no longer in power, they had a bigger government than in 1995 or even 2001, a new president far more Leftist than the Clintons or even Jimmy Carter for that matter and a lot of angry, disillusioned constituents back home losing their jobs, losing their homes and joining something called the "Tea Parties" calling for radical action. They were being lambasted in the Right-wing press and by Conservative INC. for their heresies which gained them nothing but minority status. And if you've ever been in the minority, especially in the House, well frankly it sucks. They didn't want to stay there.

    So what would they gain by working in a spirit of bi-partisanship? What's in for them? Help the country? If they thought voting for more government would help the country they would be Democrats. They already got fooled once by a Republican President, you think someone like Barak Obama was going to fool them twice? Especially when Conservative INC. was fully funding unheard of primary challenges to less than ideologically pure or committed members?

    Or look at it this way, was there a spirit of bipartisanship in the Left blogosphere in 2005 after Republicans won control over everything? Any spirit unity in the middle of a war? No! I all heard is how the Democrats had no backbone and were weak and weren't willing to fight and how we bloggers need to put a spine in them. Howard Dean and his allies were plotting too during the Inaugural balls of 2005. Well, the same thing was going on on the Right in 2009. And if anything its worse on the other side because Democrat politicians don't have talk radio hosts on their ass and a massive ideological-political apparatus fir

  • Patango on April 27, 2012 9:10 AM:

    stormskies on April 26, 2012 10:59 AM:

    "The story within this of course is the almost absolute corruption of our national / corporate media who serve not only as megaphones for the propaganda and lies of the corporate/ Repiglican party "

    Exactly , none of this agenda would have gotten much traction at all without the corporate media , the gop run the economy and budget off the cliff , then the press hand THEM the microphone and ask what we should do about , this will go down in history as one of the most appalling media quirks of the usa free press system imo , when looked back at years from now .

    The successful marriage between the american government , the gop/ fox news network , and the corporate media moguls who helped destroy the independent free press

    You do not here the press asking themselves WHY ? They fell for a pretend , and failed political movement called the tea party , and you here nothing from the american press about mr corruption RUPERT , all you here is how he claims he is innocent , and little else , the corporate press take care of their own