A tale told by a neocon

I hate to dwell on Bobo too much, but tomorrow’s piece is sure to get a lot of play among the chattering classes, in large part because of the title, “Liberal Suicide March”. Brooks engages in some remarkable revisionism:

It was interesting to watch the Republican Party lose touch with America. You had a party led by conservative Southerners who neither understood nor sympathized with moderates or representatives from swing districts.

They brought in pollsters to their party conferences to persuade their members that the country was fervently behind them. They were supported by their interest groups and cheered on by their activists and the partisan press. They spent federal money in an effort to buy support but ended up disgusting the country instead.

No mention of the Iraq war — that’s bold even for Bobo. Let’s say this plainly: the country initially turned on Bush — and by extension the Republican party — because of the Iraq war. bush43jobapprovalr600

He was in negative territory by early 2005 and there’s little doubt that it was primarily because of the war. What else could it have been? The economy wasn’t bad, the press still loved him, Katrina hadn’t happened yet.

There is no way the Republican electoral disasters of 2006 and 2008 would have happened if Bush had had a healthy approval rating. And there’s no way his approval rating would ever gone so low without the Iraq war.

Southern conservatives make an easy target. They have funny accents, they’re brazenly hypocritical, they use colorful expressions like “hiking the Appalachian trail”. But the decline and fall of the Republican party was caused as much by bespectacled U. of Chicago grads as by helmet-haired good ole boys. Brooks must know this.






82 replies
  1. 1
    ADM says:

    I’ve always figured it was the anti-SS campaign Bush went on in what, November 2004? It came out of nowhere – for the first time here was this semi-sorta trusted, liked president railing on about the evils of a popular program making people feel threatened and estranged. Also, the SS campaign is the first time liberal coalitions actually challenged Bush.

  2. 2
    drillfork says:

    Don’t think it was any one thing that turned the Majority against Bush. The war was certainly the biggest thing, but not the only thing.

    Katrina certainly punctured the Bush facade of compassionate conservatism, but, as Digby has pointed out, one event that took place after the war and before Katrina, Terri Schiavo, is an underrated factor. For W. to fly in in the middle of the night from one of his six-week long brush-clearing excursions to sign legislation that basically pronounced this poor brain-dead woman alive knocked lots of well-meaning but ignorant people on their asses…

  3. 3
    demkat620 says:

    I always think of it like this Schiavo was a jab that knocked peoples heads back. Social Security was a gut punch and Katrina was the knockout blow.

    Iraq started the decline, but these three things accelerated it.

  4. 4
    Redhand says:

    Don’t think it was any one thing that turned the Majority against Bush. The war was certainly the biggest thing, but not the only thing.

    There is an embarrassment of riches here in terms of what caused the decline. I agree the Iraq fiasco was cause #1, but I also think the cronyism, corruption and sheer incompetence of countless Bush appointees, from “Brownie” to Gonzo, took a big toll over time.

  5. 5
    Pat says:

    My recollection was it was a combination as some have mentioned above.

    SS privitization –> Schaivo –> Katrina.

  6. 6
    Napoleon says:

    I always felt the SS privatization drive was the straw that broke his popularity for all time, but the other things mentioned above were the other items that contributed, and undoubtedly the war was the biggest.

  7. 7
    Ann B. Nonymous says:

    A succession of irreversible steps. For some people, it was Social Security privatization. For some, Schiavo. For some, Katrina. For some, Iraq. And so on.

    Bush and the Republican Party repeatedly blundered in such a way as to permanently lose the public trust of large components of the electorate. Rove and others thought they could regain it by media spin (as Brooks believes). The spin never gained traction.

    Ask yourself: after each plunge deeper into the abyss, what public relations campaign could the Republicans have made to get back their previous appeal? Because of the brief rise in Bush’s popularity before the 2004 presidential elections, Rove thought he had the answer. He didn’t know it was the last gasp of a tiresome ideology, directed against weak opposition.

    Now the opposition is strong, in power, and making remarkably few missteps. The last arrow in the Republicans’ quiver is race baiting, a strategy that appeals primarily to bigots and the borderline mentally ill. Even should Obama fail — and it’s hard to see how he could fail as badly as Bush, since a “failure” in reform means a return to the status quo — the Republicans have no positive appeal left.

    What are they going to do? Campaign on a platform of, “I obstructed NegroCare?” It might convince Brooks, dining at the Applebee’s imaginary salad bar. Will it convince non-imaginary Americans?

  8. 8
    PeakVT says:

    And there’s no way his approval rating would ever gone so low without the Iraq war.

    Mebbe. One can always make the argument that a lot of people continued supporting Bush because the country was “at war” (in reality only the military and their families were and are). I think low-info swing voters are so clueless no one thing made a difference to them. If you look at his whole presidency you see that the Iraq War temporarily interrupted a general downward trend, but there was no single event that changed people’s perception overnight.

    Added: The rest of the column is much, much worse than the revisionist part. The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts, who neither understand nor sympathize with moderates. Gag.

  9. 9
    A Mom Anon says:

    Did he type this with a Senator’s hand on his inner thigh? That might explain the babbling nonsense,a little at least.

  10. 10
    FMguru says:

    1) Summer 2005 was also the summer of Cindy Sheehan. Bush did himself no favors by blowing her off the way he did.

    2) The unpopularity of the Iraq War has disappeared from the Official Village History before. Remember all those post-mortems of Hillary’s primary campaign, not one of which mentioned her refusal to apologize for her Iraq War authorization vote as they key opening that it gave Obama?

    3) That’s some quality wishcasting and concern-trolling by Brooks in that article. Six months into his administration, with his popularity holding at 60%, yet Obama is already on the road to ruin with his dangerously radical policies (like “let’s reform the health care system” which 70% of Americans support) that will inevitably alienate moderate voters – unless those brave Blue Dogs can hold the line. Puh-lease.

    Obama ran as a change agent and now voters are going to turn against him because he’s trying to carry out the very popular policies that he ran and won on? That’s the suicidal march that he’s engaging in? And it’s exactly comparable to Bush’s Social Security/Shiavo/Katrina trifecta?

    The NYT sure knows how to pick ’em.

  11. 11

    Oh goodie, in-fighting! My money’s on the Southerners (more fire power).

    Other people have mentioned the Schiavo Fiasco, which is one reason our own John Cole is now a DFH. However, a fair number of people were turned off by his promise to amend the Constitution to ensure that only straight people could engage in ugly divorces. Even the Log Cabin Republicans couldn’t ignore that one, plus the idea of fucking around with the Constitution … just because, turned off the more moderate types.

  12. 12
    dan robinson says:

    If I had enough hair left to make a helmet, I would.

    The Iraq war was a bad idea, but what they conservatives, neo or not, are missing is a clear vision of America moving forward. The ideas they had for America do not fit into the broader idea of Western Civilization that is moving forward. Their ideas were regressive and flew in the face of scientific research. For example, on a daily basis, there were news reports about the rest of the world agreeing on aspects of global warming, of our scientists being muzzled because of politics and the Bush Administration staking a ‘go it alone’ position.

    Conservatives would get up in Congress and fulminate about how gay marriage or flag burning was the most important thing to talk about and the rest of the country knew better.

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    O noez! David Brooks best frend of librulz has teh cry bekauz hiz best frendz not follow hiz smrt advis!!! O noez pleez Nobama lissen David Brook or at lees put hand on thigh for whil so David feel betr.

  14. 14
    mistermix says:

    Nancy Pelosi has lower approval ratings than Dick Cheney and far lower approval ratings than Sarah Palin. And yet Democrats have allowed her policy values to carry the day …

    Democrats let their leadership’s policy carry the day? How could that have happened?

  15. 15
    El Cid says:

    Nancy Pelosi has lower approval ratings than Dick Cheney and far lower approval ratings than Sarah Palin.

    Because all of America loves Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham and Max Baucus? WTF?

    Harry Reid doesn’t have too high of approval ratings either, yet I can’t mention off-hand — I know there were one or two — an occasion of Harry Reid not giving in to the Republicans and the Brooksian super-wize centrists.

    By this calculus shouldn’t various centrist Congresspeople and Senators have super-high approval ratings?

    What? They don’t? OMG AMERIKA IS DED!

  16. 16
    brantl says:

    When Brooks hears echos of his own voice, he thinks it’s God talking, repeating his words, in admiration.

  17. 17
    satby says:

    Bobo is a f*cking liar with a vested interest in making sure any policy changes the Dems try to push through are watered down enough not to upset his secure little world. After all, he’s got a safe job, excellent health insurance, and he gets to go on teevee to tell the peons how we should think in spite of our experience telling us how screwed we’ve been.

  18. 18
    Demo Woman says:

    “Liberal Suicide March” David’s been writing about the liberal suicide march for a long time. Liberals were elitist at that time. The last time I read one of his columns, it had to do with Candidate Obama not understanding the average citizen of PA. Only bobo could relate to him/her.

  19. 19
    Michael says:

    Actually, the economy was pretty shitty unless you were a connected insider, like Erik Prince. Wages weren’t keeping pace with inflation, but it was a “frog in a pot slow boil”. We were used to it and only vaguely unhappy.

    Bankruptcy “reform” (the act of selling us into debt peonage so that credit card issuers could make even more money, as they weren’t losing) accelerated the unhappiness, along with Katrina, along with the war, along with Terri Schiavo.

    Another factor was catering to the racists on immigration. That side of the GOP turned the volume to 11, and that caused further issues and contributed to some economic negativity.

    Assholes. I may never vote GOP again in my lifetime.

  20. 20
    steve s says:

    The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts,

    ZOMG the democrats live where most Americans live! Sacre bleu!

  21. 21
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Brooks displays the patience you would expect from a well-to-do middle-aged white male.

    So, does Obama only get 6 months to fix the Greatest Clusterfuck Of All Time before we hand things back over to the idoits who fucked it all up to begin with?

    This country will give the world’s most ignorant wanna-be redneck 8 years to wreck the place, and we give the black guy 6 months to fix it before we all start bitching and moaning.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    @Napoleon:

    Napoleon, if you’re still here, I’d be interested in finding out why you’re so down on Obama. Is it the (lack of) prosecutions?

    Make a list. I’m genuinely interested.

  23. 23
    sparky says:

    Mistah Brooks hit on a theme that has served him well over the years. as another U of C grad from the same period i am sorry to say that somewhere along the line what was supposed to be a healthy skepticism devolved into knee-jerk contrarianism and glibertarianitis. perhaps we should blame A. Bloom.
    edit: Brooks, however, has become a developer of disingenuity. yuck.

    as for what did Bush in it’s true there were enough missteps for anyone to be unhappy, but what did the machine in was Katrina. for the first time since Vietnam people saw unfiltered images of the nightmare the US had become. like people dying in the jungle or being set on by dogs while marching in the South, the pictures said all that needed to be said. ironic justice, perhaps: Bush’s power died when the myth the GOP created was exposed for all to see as a corrupt uncaring joke on its own citizens.

  24. 24
    IndieTarheel says:

    Cognitive dissonance, thy name is David Brooks.

    Idiocy, also.

  25. 25
    Ted the Slacker says:

    Bobo’s column is only meaningful if you believe questions of ideology define the political map.

    Repubs lost power when they put forward the Boy King and his venal coterie to lead the country, and they proceeded to fuck up literally everything they touched. The country eventually cottoned on, and from 2006 onward the GOP has been in an electoral cliff-dive.

    If Obama and his coterie, plus the Democratic majorities in Congress, fuck up eveything they touch, most importantly in trying to right the economy, then they will suffer a similar fate.

    But if they execute well, Bobo’s “Liberal Suicide March” will be another supremely excellent Neocon prediction, topping even Bill Kristol’s greatest hits.

  26. 26
    2th&nayle says:

    “Brooks must know this.” You’re kidding, right? Do you think for an instant that Brooks has the self awareness, or depth of character, to acknowledge, even to himself, that he was a part of the Republican shipwreck he describes; much less the honesty to admit it if he did? He says himself, “It was interesting to watch the Republican Party lose touch with America.” Interesting huh? Like he was observing an ant farm from outer space. An innocent bystander, high above it all. I can’t see why anyone on either side of the political fence, would take anything Brooks says seriously. I sure don’t.

  27. 27
    El Cid says:

    Nothing gets Democrats more excited to support their candidates and politicians than when those candidates and politicians always strive to make ‘moderate’ Republicans happy, no matter how shitty the policy or outcome.

  28. 28
    Michael says:

    Brooks displays the patience you would expect from a well-to-do middle-aged white male.

    Its the same kind of patience that a guy who screwed up his airline booking has at the airplane counter. Having screwed up and having an unhappy wife and kids standing behind him, he’s yelling at the gate agent about their responsibility to get him to his cruise departure port by 2 PM in the afternoon, while the gate agent calmly explains to him that the flight is already oversold, that he booked his flight for the following week, and he’s not getting out of there for another 2 days.

  29. 29
    ploeg says:

    Bush’s popularity declined at a steady rate from January 2001 onwards, apart from spikes of popularity at 9/11, “Mission Accomplished”, and the capture of Saddam. He was going adrift from the very beginning, as people slowly but surely figured out that his “compassionate conservative” and tough guy acts were steaming piles of crap.

  30. 30
    kay says:

    I didn’t come up with this idea, but I’m starting to think it’s crucial.

    If I were Queen, I’d pull Congressional health care benefits until they get a bill passed.

    They can then sign up for whatever plan they produce.

  31. 31
    Persia says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor: I do have to wonder– aren’t Southerners about the only group they haven’t alienated yet? Man, I thought Democrats were champions at eating their own, but these guys are topping it.

  32. 32
    Econwatcher says:

    Slightly OT, but Roubini says unempoyment will be 11% next year. If that’s true, the Dems will lose big in the mid-terms, no matter how crazy their opponents. Obama really has a very narrow window. It isn’t fair, but it’s the truth.

  33. 33
    different church-lady says:

    Schiavo. Duh.

  34. 34
    DougJ says:

    “Brooks must know this.” You’re kidding, right?

    He must know that the war is the number one thing that made Bush unpopular.

  35. 35
    Napoleon says:

    @kay:

    It is not one particular thing but a whole host of things, mostly not being aggressive enough in pushing things like health care and real financial reform and help for ordinary folks and being nothing more then another Eisenhower Democrat (he just now in the last few days has come out swinging on helathcare). I am almost 50 and this is only the second time in my life a real window to work change has appeared and all Obama is doing is shoveling money to the richest .001% of this country through Villagers Tim Gietner and Larry Summers sweetheart deals and sitting on his hands.

    I can live with no prosecutions for now (I think it is something you would do after the midterms or after reelection) but the fact that he all but announced that he will not makes him in my opinion no better then the other Villagers.

    PS, I think to sum it up he is just not a leader and I think he is in over his head.

  36. 36
    sparky says:

    @Napoleon: what you said excepting the PS–too early to tell on that point, IMO. but as to policies, i agree. i would also add that keeping the unfettered executive notion but renaming it so as to pretend it aligns with the Constitution isn’t my idea of change.

  37. 37
    kay says:

    @Napoleon:

    I completely agree on the economy. I don’t think he’s responsible for unemployment.
    I do think he’s responsible for completely ignoring foreclosure. Banks and lenders (predictably) did nothing, and taxpayers had and have enormous leverage with banks and lenders: we’re propping them up. I think he could have succeeded in forcing them to take some responsibility for the mess they made. I think he should have called them out. He didn’t.
    I also agree on Wall Street. I don’t think we’re going to re-regulate at all.
    As to the larger “leader” question, I’m still waiting and seeing.
    Obama particularly and Democrats more broadly are going to be in serious trouble if they don’t pass concrete policy measures that benefit the lower and middle class.
    They don’t seem to get that, and it worries me. Pelosi actually used to get it. Minimum wage, student loans, she got it in 2006. She’s forgotten.
    Remember the “laser-like” focus on the middle class? That was 6 months ago.

  38. 38
    2th&nayle says:

    @DougJ: Oh! Sorry Doug, must have taken that out of context. Maybe. Thx for the clarification, but I’m still not sure I agree. Brooks probably considers it “Obama’s War” now, so, you know, why lay this at Bush’s feet. Let’s just move along. No need to get caught up in the details, right?

  39. 39
    Neo says:

    Can Obama manage to euthanize the Democratic Party ?
    Yes He Can.

  40. 40
    kay says:

    @Napoleon:

    I would also disagree on Geithner. I know he’s wildly unpopular. He was given a narrow goal, and I think he probably succeeded at that goal.

    His job was to find a way to avoid a financial system melt-down. He wasn’t given a mandate to remake the financial system, and he didn’t.

    That our current system is completely compromised by lobbyists and a corrupt and complicit media was not part of his analysis, nor should it be, in my opinion.

    I think he did the job he was given, and I’ve always felt that assuming he was corrupt (which is what we’re saying, if we’re saying he hands money to “friends”) is unfair and not supported by anything we know.

    But, your larger point is well-taken.

  41. 41
    Napoleon says:

    @kay:

    I don’t think he is corrupt, in the typical sense of the word, just way too likely to go along with what his buddies in finance want him to do. The acid test will be what he does with the warrents the government holds on a bunch of banks. They now want to renegotiate the deal but he has yet to tell them to go f— themselves, they made the deal they made and that is it.

  42. 42
    Shygetz says:

    The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts,

    says the wealthy man from a big city on the coast. Why did it take the internet to force the development of a phrase that sums up an activity that has gone on for as long as we’ve had public debate?

    Concern troll is concerned.

  43. 43
    sparky says:

    @Napoleon: one other thing: Afghanistan, which is Vietnam circa 1963 right now. people should (IMO) be jumping up and down and screaming about WTF the US is doing there but no one is. instead the US is pouring money and people into a rathole (faster! faster!) in a locale where the US is going to be hated for a long long time.

  44. 44
    ed says:

    It was interesting to watch the Republican Party lose touch with America. You had a party led by conservative Southerners who neither understood nor sympathized with moderates or representatives from swing districts.

    Remember when Mr. Brooks so sagely predicted the demise of the Republican Party back in 2004? No? Me neither?

  45. 45
    forked tongue says:

    Among the factors that disillusioned people with Bush, one thing that never gets mentioned along with Social Security/Schiavo/Katrina was the flap over outsourcing port security to that company in Dubai. Not sure why it’s been forgotten, as there was quite an uproar at the time, possibly even more on the right than on the left. I remember being not 100% convinced that it was as big a deal as people were making of it, but I figured what the hell, by that point he’d been given a pass on so many things I did think were big deals that I enjoyed watching the pile-on.

  46. 46
    malraux says:

    And there’s no way his approval rating would ever gone so low without the Iraq war.

    I just want to point out that this is wrong. The real oddity of the Bush administration is why his approval rating was so high. If you look at his approval ratings from Jan – Aug 01, they started around 50% and trended downward, with nothing really doing anything to push them back up. Had 9-11 not happened, there’s no reason to think that Bush’s approval rating would have ever come out of the downward spiral that marked the entire rest of his presidency.

    As mentioned by many others, Bush has a version of midas touch, but with poo instead of gold. Of course his approval rating would have dropped low without the iraq war, it just would have been over something else instead.

  47. 47
    sparky says:

    @malraux: yes, all true, but i think you are omitting Alan (I dream of Ayn) G who pumped up ze bubble (again). if there’s anything that Americans can be counted on to wrongly ascribe, it’s “good” economic times to the current occupant of the WH. the inflate-a-bubble machine was going full-tilt in 2004 and while there was plenty of evidence that things were awry most people didn’t pay attention.

  48. 48
    kay says:

    @Napoleon:

    You’ll hate it but I don’t even buy the “buddy” idea. Geithner spent most of his career working in the public sector. He hasn’t made scads of money on Wall Street. He’s probably “conservative” in the sense that he shies away from big changes, but I don’t think that’s a function of “buddies” or the fact that he was at the NY Fed. Those are just several resume facts that point to the easy answer that he’s complicit or compromised. That’s not enough.
    Is he “pro” Wall Street? Sure. But so is Elliot Spitzer. Geithner can do the job and be pro Wall Street. He can be both pro Wall Street and pro “Main Street”.
    I’m looking for a better balance, not a revolution.
    I haven’t looked at the warrants issue at all so I won’t comment on that.

  49. 49
    malraux says:

    the inflate-a-bubble machine was going full-tilt in 2004 and while there was plenty of evidence that things were awry most people didn’t pay attention.

    A president in wartime almost lost an election. Ignoring everything else, that’s crazy. That isn’t supposed to happen. Sure, not enough people noticed to kick bush out, but 49% of the country sure noticed by that point.

  50. 50

    But the decline and fall of the Republican party was caused as much by bespectacled U. of Chicago grads as by helmet-haired good ole boys. Brooks must know this.

    Brooks doesn’t care. The various instances cited in comments above all capture the same Republican anti-Midas touch, in that they pretty much wrecked everything. The Iraq war was far and away the worst offense, compounded relentlessly by the Rovian Theory of Governance: that which cannot be twisted to suit political gain must be broken such that none other may use it.

    The lesson for voters of all stripes is crystal clear, that putting people in charge who believe “government is the problem” is bad for everyone.

  51. 51

    @kay:

    If I were Queen, I’d pull Congressional health care benefits until they get a bill passed. They can then sign up for whatever plan they produce.

    WIN.

  52. 52
    WereBear says:

    This is like divorce court; it wasn’t this thing or that thing, it’s everything.

    As malraux pointed out @46, Bush was never that popular. Both elections were squeakers they had to cheat at to put over the top. With 2000, they started out fresh, and STILL only half the country fell for it.

    It was all downhill from there.

  53. 53
    matoko_chan says:

    I’ll see your David Brooks , and raise you Ruy Teixeira.

    Brooks is just another bourgie conservative strokin’ his e-peen.

  54. 54
    Persia says:

    @forked tongue: I’d forgotten all about that one, but I think you’re right. It’s the first thing that sort of publicly gave the lie to his ‘foreigners are bad, US good’ rhetoric. (Which was fine, because I never believed that, but when you campaign on that theme….)

  55. 55

    He was in negative territory by early 2005 and there’s little doubt that it was primarily because of the war. What else could it have been?

    Social Security privatization. Remember, that’s what he came out and spent his “political capital” on immediately after beginning his second term.

    Put him right through the floor. Sure, the Iraq War didn’t help, but it was Social Security privatization that was the turning point.

  56. 56
    John PM says:

    “bespectacled U. of Chicago grads”

    Hey, most of us wear contacts now. And David Brooks needs to have his degree revoked. However, isn’t that the irony that several U of C grads got us into the Iraq mess, yet Republicans were calling Obama a liberal Hyde Park Commie Athiest Muslim. A professor at the U of C law school being a liberal? WTF? While the undergrad population tends to be more liberal, the graduate schools are definitely conservative.

  57. 57
    Tsulagi says:

    the country initially turned on Bush—and by extension the Republican party—because of the Iraq war.

    Don’t think it was that. The country isn’t necessarily anti-war. Doubt Bush’s poll numbers were any higher than when Saddam’s statue fell in Firdos Square.

    I’d go with those steadily declining numbers on the chart being the growing realization that the plain talkin’ cowboy man of honor and integrity sold to them they’d like to have a beer with was in reality a smirking frat boy asshole and incompetent. With strong secondary traits of stupid and lying.

    Months after Saddam’s statue hit the ground, all of those traits were reflected in Iraq. The six month war that would pay for itself that wasn’t. The feared smoking gun mushroom cloud and other WMDs? Public found Saddam had deadlier farts than what Iraq had in their WMD arsenal. Tying Iraq to 9/11—Cheney wet dream fantasy.

    Katrina displayed the stupid and incompetent traits. Schiavo brought out the asshole to bear. Fiscal conservatism and limited government? DOA.

    All that stuck to the Republican party too. And who can forget the fun, comedy filled month or two leading up to the 06 midterms when their claimed moral superiority face planted? When each morning you got to look forward to learning which Pub was either going to do a perp walk or drag a wife up to a podium to repent his sins.

    The stupid, the incompetence, and the hypocrisy did in the Party of Bush.

  58. 58
    Tiger Tom says:

    What caused the collapse of Bush? Other then the fact that he was unintelligent, the list is really long. The media did its best to keep his head above water but you can only hold a bag of rocks above the waves for so long.
    Try thinking of anything George did that was considered a success. Wars, the economy, regulation of banking, taxes, none could be called successful. As to keeping us all safe, which he constantly reminded us was hard work, almost as tiring as cutting brush. Then you must forget that he was president on Sept 11.

  59. 59
    SGEW says:

    A professor at the U of C law school being a liberal? WTF?

    Scene, 2005 or so (paraphrased):

    Friend: So this Senator Obama fella sure is great! All human rights and transnationalism and living constitution and stuff!

    Me: Wait, isn’t he, like, a U of C guy, with their “the Law is just like economic analysis” schtick?

    Friend: No no no! Well . . . I mean, yes. But he’s the liberal at U of C! As in, the liberal. The other profs probably steal his lunch and hide his syllabi and whatnot.

    Me: I don’t know . . . how do you know what his constitutional theory might be like? Hasn’t he, like, never published anything?

    Friend: Well he’s been busy writing autobiographies and stuff, but Samantha Power thinks he’s the bee’s knees. And I heard Koh likes him too. Like, likes him likes him. And Koh only likes liberals, so there you go.

    Me: That’s pretty convincing, actually. Kind of. I guess I hope he’ll get a good Senate committee chairmanship or something eventually.

    Friend: What, are you kidding? They’re not gonna give a black guy named “Hussein” a chairmanship anytime soon.

    Me: Yeah, you’re probably right.

  60. 60

    Bush lost a LOT of Repubs with Plan D. (Remember that one?) I seem to recall l’affair Schiavo as the coffee that a lot of so-called Country Club Repubs woke up and smelled.

    But, yeah, W’s presidency was, essentially, a downward march from the git-go, excepting a huge blip, courtesy of 9/11. From there, he had the temporary good will to give him cover to set the goalposts a-movin’ for most of the next five years.

  61. 61
    catclub says:

    I got it! I got it!
    I got the reference.

    “…it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying… nothing.”
    from either King Lear or Macbeth. (I lean towards Lear.)

    One Dostoyevsky and one Faulkner title thrown in for good measure.

    Or good measure for measure.

    I’ll be here all week, try the veal.

  62. 62
    A Cat says:

    @kay:

    You’ll hate it but I don’t even buy the “buddy” idea. Geithner spent most of his career working in the public sector.

    The NY Fed Board is made up of people on Wall St. The Fed Board socializes together. Its a little clubhouse.

    I will make an assumption you’ve worked with the same people for 5+ years and lets pretend you are the NY Fed Chair. If those people who you’ve been to their houses, invited them over for dinner, tell you with a straight face that if you don’t loan then 1Trillion dollars they’ll go out of business and take the whole world down with them, you wouldn’t give their opinion serious consideration?

    Gietner doesn’t strike me as a big enough jerk to tell his friends to sleep in the bed they made for themselves and find a solution that doesn’t save his friends but saves the rest of the world.

  63. 63
    Ash Can says:

    @catclub:

    (I lean towards Lear.)

    Nope, it’s Macbeth; it’s from Macbeth’s soliloquy upon learning of Lady Macbeth’s death.

  64. 64
    kay says:

    @A Cat:

    You’re tarring him with the association, but not giving him any credit for the knowledge he gained in the course of making the association. The dreaded “expertise” or “experience” has to mitigate the downside possibility that he’s swayed by personal associations.
    I grant you the potential conflict. But I’m also willing to extend him the benefit of the experience he gained in the course of the association, and assuming he makes decisions based on (perhaps) undue influence granted former associates and his real understanding of how the thing works.
    There’s an upside to practical experience, and practical experience necesarily comes with associations.
    My hypothetical association with Wall Street bankers wasn’t all dinners. I learned something about how it works.
    I can be pure as the driven snow with no connection to banking or finance or Wall Street, and you’ll trust my motives. But that purity comes with a price, and the price is practical experience.
    You can question his motives. What you can’t do is both question his motives based on his experience AND give him no credit for the worth of the experience.

  65. 65
    catclub says:

    forked tongue@45

    I watched that Dubai Ports thing and knew that the stupid party
    would win. In this case it kicked Bush in the teeth at the same time.

    A bumper sticker moment where the appearance matters more than any facts.

    Six months later it was probably transferred to a Yemeni group instead and
    not a word from anyone.

  66. 66
    SGEW says:

    Quoting King Lear would be more appropriate for criticizing certain pundits’ propensity for admitting that they were very, very wrong about invading Iraq.

    Never, never, never, never, never.

  67. 67
    Mike P says:

    David Brooks is so full of shit. He’s either wrong or lying about the stimulus bill (which he supported and he’s smart enough to understand that the money was not going out en masse, but was being doled out in phases).

    Using minute by minute polls to track the health care debate is damn near useless given that the vast majority of the public (and, obviously, a lot of Congress) doesn’t fully understand what’s going on and Brooks, again, should know that both Obama and Orszag are promising a deficit neutral plan and that they are using the CBO’s figures and recs. to help them get there.

    Better concern trolling please. This was a crap column from top to bottom.

  68. 68
    A Cat says:

    @kay:

    You’re tarring him with the association

    No, I’m tarring him with being a human being. By all accounts he got along well with other members of the NY Fed Board, I may have missed some, but I’m fairly confident I haven’t. Human being make allowances for their friends they wouldn’t for strangers.

    There are conflicting strategies of how to handled this situation. Some of them came from people without such obvious conflicts and just as much knowledge. My first instinct is to trust people without these conflicts first and the way its been handled so far just reeks of cronyism which just reinforces my opinion.

    One last thing about character, someone who blames Turbo Tax for not reporting his income from the World Bank when the World Bank tells all its employees several times they have to pay taxes on your income from the World Bank is either dumb, lacks attention to detail, or corrupt.

  69. 69
    goblue72 says:

    And this is news how? Parties – majority and minority – are pulled/pushed by their wings – that’s where the politically motivated (and quite frankly, politically informed) base is.

    Swing voter independents are the most self-centered, least informed voting bloc out there. This is the group that doesn’t make up its mind on who to vote for until the last week or so before an election – not because they are the most well-considered and want to take their time – its because they don’t pay attention to anything until the last minute.

    So who cares what they think in the day-to-day micro-polling? Keep Barry’s personal intangibles positive, keep the base motivated and do the hard sell shortly before the critical votes.

  70. 70
    A Cat says:

    I hope the bush years opened up the eyes of middle america as to what the New Republican party stood for.

    The party stands for religious intolerance, if you don’t practice Christianity you aren’t an American.
    The party stands for racial prejudice, if you aren’t a white you aren’t American.
    The party stands for government interference in your personal decisions, if you want to have an abortion you aren’t an American.

    Though I’m not so sure the rest of America woke up to this or its just the demographics have changed so that America isn’t as white as it used to be. These new American’s are taking what the founders wrote at face value. I don’t believe the Republican shares any of the values the framers words convey. If the framers intent was to have America to be ruled by rich white males they sure did a bad job of explaining that.

    Of course if that was the framers intent we owe the Republican party an apology and I’ll get right on giving up my rights.

  71. 71
    dcostolo says:

    I don’t know, i kind of agree with Brooks’ main point, which you seem to be ignoring completely. On my block in suburban Chicago, surely an Obama hotbed, we had a dinner party one night just after the election and the attendees had voted 11-1 for Obama. Now, when you ask the same people how they feel about the job he’s doing, you get about 4 in favor, 8 opposed. Almost all of them believe he is doing EXACTLY what Brooks writes today, that Obama is just letting the traditional partisan Democrats like Pelosi overinterpret their majority in Congress. Obama wanted to reign in health care spending, and now instead finds himself promoting a bill that will see spending go through the roof but increase coverage via more tax increases. Really, are the Democrats so stupid that they are going to go right back to making the exact same mistakes that got them voted out of office for so long after Carter? If you’ve lost your majority on a street in a suburb of Chicago that hasn’t voted for a republican representative, senator, or president in quite a while, you might really be misreading the tea leaves.

  72. 72
    tavella says:

    @Econwatcher: Slightly OT, but Roubini says unempoyment will be 11% next year. If that’s true, the Dems will lose big in the mid-terms, no matter how crazy their opponents. Obama really has a very narrow window. It isn’t fair, but it’s the truth.

    Truth, unfortunately. This is why I don’t join in the general assumption that the total Republican idiocy on display will result in good Dem midterms or easy Obama re-election in 2012. The American public have the political memory of mentally-challenged mice; they’ll happily turn the country back over to the people who broke it.

  73. 73
    tavella says:

    @dcostolo: I don’t know, i kind of agree with Brooks’ main point, which you seem to be ignoring completely. On my block in suburban Chicago, surely an Obama hotbed, we had a dinner party one night just after the election and the attendees had voted 11-1 for Obama. Now, when you ask the same people how they feel about the job he’s doing, you get about 4 in favor, 8 opposed. Almost all of them believe he is doing EXACTLY what Brooks writes today, that Obama is just letting the traditional partisan Democrats like Pelosi overinterpret their majority in Congress.

    Uh-huh. So in your solid liberal-land, none of them are bothered by his backing down on gay rights? None of them are bothered by him covering up for the Bushies on torture? None of them are bothered by him going along with Wall Street? No, they are all just terribly, terribly alarmed that Nancy Pelosi might give them health care.

    How conveniently *tidy* and aligning to the Republican talking points, rather than reality.

  74. 74
    Tongue of Groucho Marx says:

    @dcostolo:

    I’m sure that the Democratic Party strategists are rushing to factor in your personal anecdote.

    @article: Americans base their opinions of politicians on results, especially if those results give immediate short-term benefits. So, for example, when Bush invaded Iraq, the results looked good, considering the information the American people were given (now known to be false). The tax cuts produced short-term results that Americans were pleased at. The war stopped producing results around 2005, and the media had trouble finding a story to promote the war. The result from Bush’s handling of Katrina was an unmitigated disaster; Terry Schiavo was a considerably awkward affair for the Republicans because most people felt that it aimed to produce BAD results(just ask John!).

    People will be happy to vote for southern conservatives if they produce results, or promise to produce results. Right now, they’re doing little more than being obstructionists.

  75. 75
    Napoleon says:

    For whatever it is worth I saw James Carville weigh in on this subject in the last month and he thought it was Schiavo that did him in.

  76. 76
    kay says:

    @tavella:

    I just don’t think you can compare Bush having success at pushing through a 1.3 trillion dollar tax cut with Obama pushing health care.
    Of course they all voted for the Bush tax cut. Christ. THAT’S a huge risk, huh?
    They also voted for the next Bush initiative, which was a huge unfunded Medicare prescription drug deal.
    “Free drugs!” That must have been agonizing to back.
    Democrats are pushing initiatives that involve some RISK for the members of Congress, in terms of both campaign donations and re-election chances. Comparing that to the Bush agenda of “free drugs! free wars!” is just silly.

  77. 77
    malraux says:

    For whatever it is worth I saw James Carville weigh in on this subject in the last month and he thought it was Schiavo that did him in.

    I think that any one action being the prime causal link is frankly stupid. check out: http://www.hist.umn.edu/~ruggles/Approval.htm
    Looking at that graph, is there any particular point that stands as a precipitous drop following a relative flat line? If no, then talking about any one event is crazy. There’s nothing there except something looking like an exponential decay with the flat line at about 25%.

    edit: Compare that to Reagan’s popularity following Iran Contra. That’s a case where obviously some particular thing happened.

    http://online.wsj.com/public/r.....05-31.html

  78. 78
    Steve in Sacto says:

    Extremism (Schiavo, Social Security privatization) and incompetence (Dubai Ports, Katrina, Iraq truths*) finally took hold. You don’t drop to 28% without losing a chunk of Republican leaning independents.

    * In defense of Doug’s premise, best selling books like “Fiasco” and “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” (both 2006) hammered the nail into Junior’s legacy of incompetence. For Bobo to ignore Iraq is, indeed, impressive.

  79. 79

    […] it’s “NEWS”; Doug J. of Balloon Juice points out the fall of the G.O.P. was not only due to the Southern “country boy” Republicans, it was also due to the Ivy Leagu…; Maha of The Mahablog says he couldn’t even bring himself to read a piece entitled […]

  80. 80
    Aunt Moe says:

    Got to agree with drillfork, and whoever made the same point following his first post (didnt’ read the thread). Terri Schiavo – for my money, that was the exact moment that Americans recoiled, drawing back from ALL the fools who acted it – the Congress itself and Bush coming back from Tx to sign the bill. Bush et all did a lot of hideous stuff in the name of governance (just a word to them), but the one that repulsed everyone was Terri Schiavo.

  81. 81
    gVOR08 says:

    On the one hand – it was certainly not one thing. Bush and his friends in congress broke everything they touched, except Al Quaeda.

    On the other hand – Obama won by, what, 7%? After the cluster**** that was the Bush administration any D should have beaten any R 2:1.

    The established wealth and power gops have a built in funding advantage, they’ll find a way to appease the “base”, and there is a real risk we’ll get someone like Bush or McCain in ’12 or ’16. Maybe Jeb, or Sarah.

  82. 82

    His policies, while often misrepresented by the press, became pretty unpopular.

    The way Obama is heading it seems as though there are simply so many no win decisions that must be made by presidents that it may never be possible to remain as popular as presidents once did.

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