A far, far worse thing that they do

Steve Benen asks:

Where would the GOP’s hostage fiasco rank on the list of modern Republican misdeeds?

The list, alas, isn’t brief. We could go through Hoover’s failures of the late 1920s, or perhaps Joe McCarthy’s crusade in the 1950s. Nixon’s crimes in the early 1970s are legendary, as are the many Reagan-era scandals — Iran-Contra, criminal fiasco at H.U.D., the Savings & Loan debacle — of the 1980s.

The more contemporary offenses are no doubt fresher in everyone’s minds: the Gingrich/Dole government shutdowns, the Clinton impeachment debacle, the Bush v. Gore scandal, the politicization of the Justice Department, the Plame scandal, the fiscal recklessness, the financial industry negligence that contributed to the 2008 crash, etc.

I think that many of these things honestly are things that both sides do. Yes, the S&L scandal took place under Republican presidents, but four of the Keating Five were Democrats. Iran Contra was bad, but not as bad as the things LBJ did in Vietnam. Clinton reappointed Greenspan and signed the repeal of Glass-Steagal.

Impeachment, the Gingrich shut down, the politicization of the DOJ, and the debt ceiling hostage fiasco, however, are uniquely Republican acts to me, because they are the acts of Machiavellian radicals for whom the means always justify the ends. Many (not all) in the Republican party believe that when the Glorious People’s Conservative Revolution comes, all their sins will be washed away by the clean water of Galt’s Gulch. Very few Democrats think this way.

Anyway, for me, impeachment and the debt ceiling hostage fiasco are the two worst things among the ones Benen mentions.






138 replies
  1. 1
    TD says:

    My top 5 uniquely conservative misdeeds, in no particular order: Impeachment, McCarthy, Debt Ceiling, Torture, DOJ politicization.

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    The S&L debacle, IMO, was the forerunner for the most recent looting and world destabilization.
    It was proof of concept.

  3. 3
    MattF says:

    I would add the 2000 Florida voting fiasco to the list of misdeeds. And I think that the contempt Republicans express towards Al Gore is due to his giving up the Presidency (which, as we know, he won) for ‘the good of the country’. How weak can you get?

  4. 4
    srv says:

    This strikes me as a very intellectual list, perhaps you should put the tea cup down and pinky back.

    All these pale in comparison to letting Milton Friedman run amok (dereg, privatize, normalize huge deficits, cut taxes), the covert war against workers and crap like “Free” Trade.

  5. 5
    wrb says:

    It was proof of concept.

    As was the mergers and acquisitions pig-out.

  6. 6
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    Elsewhere, the Kaplan Post just introduced Eric Cantor to the bus’s undercarriage.

  7. 7
    Linnaeus says:

    I’d have to put Hooverism pretty high up on that list, if not at the top, because it’s the substratum out of which emerges everything (or nearly everything) the modern Republican Party does. The New Deal was about to marginalize Hooverism for a few decades, but conservatarian operatives were able to take advantage of the crises of the 1970s to revive and repackage it. Now in this new form, it’s taken seriously as economic model even though it was a failure.

    It’s not a uniquely Republican misdeed, but it’s overwhelmingly so.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    Re-reading Benen’s post, I see that Bush v. Gore was in there. It’s still appalling.

  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    @wrb:

    As was the mergers and acquisitions pig-out.

    More a part of the destruction of unions, IMO.
    When they were ruled against re: pensions as a lootable asset of the LBO company, it was over.

  10. 10
    Tom Q says:

    I think people are grappling with what standard to apply — inflicting the most damage on society, or on the political system? The debt ceiling ploy has the advantage of being vile on both levels.

    The economic royalism is probably most significant of the first group. The second group has so many candidates, beginning with McCathyism, including the racist appeals, and, now, the broad attempts at disenfranchisement — and of course the groundless impeachment.

    But if I had to pick one, I think I’d go with Florida 2000, because it’s the root of so much more. Once you’ve stolen an election and persuaded the media guardians to not only not care but actively support you…all else follows like the night the day.

  11. 11
    The Dangerman says:

    Focusing on impeachment misses the Forest for the Trees; impeachment was at least partially justified because Clinton did get serviced by Lewinsky and then (arguably) lied about it. Disgracefully stupid, all things considered.

    No, the foundational aspect of that scandal was the bullshit lawsuit by PCJ (I wonder where she is working or living these days) that allowed Starr to run wild about who was blowing Bill.

    I will go for debt ceiling to be the stupidest thing the Right has ever done; most evil is harder to argue in the decade after Iraq.

  12. 12
    Tony J says:

    No mention of the whole ‘Southern Strategy’? When the Republican Party (Lincoln’s Party, FFS) made a conscious decision to go after the votes of former Dixiecrats and turned Civil Rights into a partisan issue.

    Repercussion wise, that’s a big one.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I say it is all a function of Thatcherite “There is no such thing as society” thinking gaining prominence.

  14. 14
    beltane says:

    It’s good so many of you brought up Florida 2000, because that was the first thing that came to mind for me. The fact that the media was complicit with this subversion of the democratic process made the rot that lies at the heart of this country plain to any thinking person.

  15. 15

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Eric Cantor, under the bus?

    Well, they certainly pinned the debt ceiling issue securely on Cantor.

    Where this leads, I don’t know. I think that the whole debacle isn’t over yet. Cantor may yet come of a hero to some as well as a villain to many. It’s too soon to tell.

  16. 16
    Alain says:

    One quibble with Dangerman’s point. Clinton didn’t lie – I was in DC at the time, and oral sex was not classified legally as sexual relations in DC law. Although his words were untrue in the vernacular, he was protecting his ass legally, which you gotta respect. He didn’t give in and won.

  17. 17
    dj spellchecka says:

    our gop scotus deciding cases for partisan advantage..ie: “citizens united”

  18. 18
    Mike in NC says:

    Speaking of the Keating Five scandal, good ol’ John McCain was on TV this morning lecturing co-host David Gregory about how “both sides were to blame” for the phony debt ceiling crisis: as in, both Obama and the dastardly Democrats in Congress.

  19. 19
    srv says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    For Republican leaders, there was pride in a hand well played. “I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.”

    There you go.

  20. 20
    Alex S. says:

    I like to think that Republicans commit fewer but bigger crimes. It’s usually one big conspiracy that involves everyone at once, like the Abramoff scandal or the Bush election (SC and the Bush Family and this fake riot of party operatives)
    The Democrats commit their crimes locally and independent from each other. These crimes are smaller but there are more of them because of the murky relations between unions, the public sector and the party machine. However, the decline of unions and party machines has probably decreased the number significantly. The Republican Party is basically one big machine that extends from the blogosphere and media to the courts and big business.

  21. 21
    Emma says:

    The Florida debacle during the Bush-Gore election. Maybe it’s because I was here and I saw my vote washed away in republican tricks.

  22. 22
    wrb says:

    The regulatory changes that led to the rise of News Corp.

    Citizens United

  23. 23
    me says:

    No love for Iraq-WMD?

  24. 24
    vtr says:

    The worst thing the Republican Party has ever done, at least since the Eisenhower Administration, is to have existed.

  25. 25
    The Dangerman says:

    @Alain:

    Clinton didn’t lie – I was in DC at the time, and oral sex was not classified legally as sexual relations in DC law.

    Perhaps, but there is lying (legally speaking) and then there is lying (in a more general sense given IANAL). The impeachment occurred because the right could say that Clinton “lied” and could sell it to the public at large.

    The bottom line is that getting polished by an intern given his enemies were digging under every rock was criminally stupid. This led to Gore having to run away from BC and the “loss” to Bush.

    It was the digging under every rock, however, that was the problem, not the impeachment.

  26. 26
    Chris says:

    I want to toss up Reagan firing the air traffic controllers back in the eighties. Aside from its immediate effect on that particular job, it was also the signal to corporate America that the government would no longer step up to protect workers’ rights the way they had for the last half-century.

    Anti-labor activism in the GOP had been gathering strength for a while, but after that moment, it was open season on the unions all over America. And the collapse of the union movement has been a huge factor in the decline of the middle-class society we used to have.

    (Not saying it’s the worst thing they ever did. They’ve done so much harm on so many different levels that I wouldn’t even know how to find the “worst.” But it deserves to be thrown up there).

  27. 27
    Professor says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Hey, but society is looking after Thatcher in her old age.

  28. 28
    Chris says:

    It was the digging under every rock, however, that was the problem, not the impeachment.

    Right. Kent Starr was basically told “find something we can use to impeach the president.” The fact that he had to go with the POTUS lying about a sexual affair irrelevant to any and all functions he had in politics speaks volumes for how far he dug and how hard it was to find any dirt.

  29. 29
    The Dangerman says:

    Another submittal for the worst; as I recall, the Fairness Doctrine was repealed during the Reagan era…

    …bequeathing us with the harping fat fucks like Limbaugh and the stunningly dishonest Fox “News”.

    A large portion of the voting public buy the shit these outlets spew and it has caused grievous harm.

  30. 30

    It all comes down to the Republican mindset that A) no one but a Republican should be in the Oval Office and B) they don’t want to govern, they want to rule. That’s been their story since 1932 at least.

  31. 31
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    (Hey, what happened to my comment?)

    Maybe not the absolute worst, but Katrina/Heckuvajob Brownie and Terri Schaivo need to be on the list.

  32. 32
    Reality Check says:

    Good God you’re still re-living the 2000 election?

    Bush won. Get over it.

  33. 33
    Corner Stone says:

    I just have nothing to learn from anyone who says Clinton “deserved” impeachment.

  34. 34

    @Reality Check: Back at ya:

    Good God you’re still re-living the 2008 election?

    Obama won. Get over it.

  35. 35
    The Dangerman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I just have nothing to learn from anyone who says Clinton “deserved” impeachment.

    I’m not saying he “deserved” impeachment; I’m saying it could be reasonably argued that he deserved impeachment. It was a something that COULD be sold, not that it SHOULD have been sold.

  36. 36
    jwb says:

    @Reality Check: If by “won,” you mean awarded by a SCOTUS ruling that even SCOTUS was embarrassed enough by that they didn’t want to be used in the future as a precedent.

  37. 37
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    “still re-living” No, Cubby, we’re not reliving the election but we are living, every day, with the results, just as every day we live with the results of evangelicals getting involved in government policy, just as I am now dealing with the results of Limbaugh, Gingrich, et alia, allowing fucktarded mouthbreathers to think they should have a say in our political discourse.

  38. 38
    jwb says:

    @The Dangerman: If you look at the polls, it didn’t even sell very well except perhaps to the Village.

  39. 39
    Reality Check says:

    @Mustang Bobby:

    Have I ever whined that Obama “stole” the election?

  40. 40
    trollhattan says:

    It’s hard not to piggyback on stuff already mentioned, but I’ll pitch in a few:

    The 2000 Gramm Commodity Futures Modernization Act
    Iran-Contra
    Thomas, Scalia, Roberts confirmations
    Broadcast license deregulation-corporate concentration of
    Gelding of EPA, Justice, OSAHA, Minerals Management Service, Interior…

    Must stop, don’t want to spend Sunday pissed off.

  41. 41
    Reality Check says:

    @Q.Q. Moar:

    Shorter Q.Q. Moar: WAAAH! WAAAH! WAAH!

    Come on, threaten to move to Canada! That’s my favorite part!

  42. 42
    The Dangerman says:

    @jwb:

    If you look at the polls, it didn’t even sell very well except perhaps to the Village.

    True, but it sold well enough to cause Gore to run away from Clinton … and the rest is History.

  43. 43
    Tom Q says:

    Actually, Reality Check alerts us to another truly corrosive aspect of the current Republican party: their absolute ability to believe their own bullshit to the exclusion of all contrary facts.

  44. 44
    trollhattan says:

    @Reality Check:

    And if we were to tally all elections wherein the “winner” lost the plurality and was “elected” by the Supreme Court, we’d come up with some long, long list, eh?

  45. 45
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I just have nothing to learn from anyone who says Clinton “deserved” impeachment.

    He outright lied in a deposition. Deservin’s got nothing to do with it.

    Now asking about a President’s private affairs in the middle of a blatant witch hunt, that’s another matter entirely.

  46. 46
    Reality Check says:

    AND WHAT ABOUT TEH DIEBOLD IN 2004?

  47. 47
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Tom Q:

    their absolute ability to believe their own bullshit to the exclusion of all contrary facts.

    It worked wonders for Hitler and the Soviets right up until reality smacked them in the face. Fortunately for us, Americans by nature are slightly more adverse to bullshit and blind obedience.

  48. 48
    Bob says:

    Don’t forget the impeachment of Andrew Johnson was a purely manufactured Republican event.

  49. 49
    Lolis says:

    How about the Bush tax cuts? I think the debt ceiling is number one though.

  50. 50
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    @Reality Check: Too many big words for ya there, tiger?

  51. 51
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    Or unfortunately in some cases.

  52. 52
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: Then why are you confusing the two?

  53. 53
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Professor: Of course. Unlike Thatcher and her ilk, I recognize that society exists and that we exist within it and as a part of it. Of course, I am a liberal.

  54. 54
    The Dangerman says:

    @Lolis:

    How about the Bush tax cuts?

    True and I’ll take it a bit further (with the noted proviso that this from memory and I’m kinda hungover).

    Didn’t the Bush Tax Cuts get passed through reconciliation because they didn’t have the votes AND wanted the cuts to expire in 10 years? It went from bad to worse now that the previously temporary cuts are now semi-permanent (see S&P).

  55. 55
    A Mom Anon says:

    This isn’t a specific event or crime,but it’s IMHO one of the worst things that’s happened as a result of right wing extremism in both religion and politics. It’s the sowing seeds of distrust and hatred among neighbors,friends and family members. It’s worse now than I ever remember in my 51 yrs of being on this planet.

    It’s not like the country was ever 1950’s Leave it to Beaver or whatever but I have lived in places where there was a sense of community and giving a shit about one’s fellow citizens.

    I knew the place I find myself now(NW metro Atlanta)was conservative,but 15 yrs ago,you could talk to conservatives and not have them scream and fear monger you. That stopped within weeks after 9/11. And I do blame wingnuts on the radio and teevee and the Tea Party for that because it WAS NOT LIKE THAT before they started openly declaring liberals to be enemies of the country. You cannot turn on the radio here or go to a town hall meeting,or listen to people talking politics without hearing how liberals don’t hold jobs,don’t value family,don’t love their country etc,etc. I have been screamed at for wearing a Rosie the Riveter t-shirt for heaven’s sake. All of my friends went full wingnut after 9/11 and refused to even sit down for dinner with me. Because of shit they heard on the radio and tv,in church and all around us. It’s not me being hypersensitive either,it has changed,dramatically.

    My parents and siblings have disowned me and my kids because their freaking pastor(who NEVER met us)told them we were evil and intent on destroying the country. Dangerous. In league with Satan. They don’t care who they hurt,they simply don’t. And yes,I fucking take it personally.

    I live in a town where there is a little shop in the Historical District with a sign on the front door that says “White History Year”. It’s an Herb Shop that sells Civil War memorabilia. You can see the black and white photos of lynchings proudly displayed on the walls through the shop windows. You can by reproduction post cards of those photos for 5 dollars. Our mayor just named the owner of that shop a citizen of the year for his work running a Civil War reinactment camp for little white boys.

    How the hell do you fight that? How does a community stand a chance of coming back together when there is so much hatred and fear? I have had a really hard time explaining to my son that the reason the neighbor kids aren’t his friends anymore because their families think we’re awful people for no real reason except ignorance and fear. We’ve been good neighbors,and yet that counts for nothing.

    So yeah,the bastards have done alot of shit wrong,but they might not have got away with so much if we were not so frozen in fear of one another and divided so intensely. And I do blame the GOP for this,I watched it happen in my own back yard. I tried to stop it,I fought it,and in return I was threatened with physical harm and so was my kid. WTF can one person do against so much hate? I have no idea anymore. All I know is it makes me angry and truly sad.

  56. 56
    chopper says:

    @The Dangerman:

    (in a more general sense given IANAL)

    I guess you’d know a lot about sex then. anal, eh? not too many people admit that.

  57. 57
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Corner Stone: Not confusing anything. The Starr Report was a mockery, but that doesn’t excuse Bill for getting busted when it turned out he was lying through his teeth.

    Unless you’re saying its OK for Presidents to blatantly lie to the American people.

  58. 58

    @Reality Check: Everything I’ve ever read that you’ve written is one big petulant whine masquerading as either bullying or concern trolling, so, yes.

  59. 59
    Kyle says:

    Reality Chook celebrates the triumph of mendacity, authoritarianism, corruption, willful ignorance and moral cowardice.

    You have to wonder where he would move to if he went Galt. Apartheid-era South Africa and Pinochet’s Chile no longer exists.

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Unless you’re saying its OK for Presidents to blatantly lie to the American people.

    Isn’t it?

  61. 61
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Kyle: I’m sure Putin would open the gates to Moscow for him.

  62. 62
    Reality Check says:

    @Kyle:

    Says someone who no doubt thinks Chile would have been better off with a Castro clone and licks Chavez’s boots.

  63. 63
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Corner Stone: You tell us.

  64. 64
    Reality Check says:

    Putin has actually said some astute things recently–like America is living beyond its means, and he also instituted a flat tax.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: You know, if it is something that is none of anyone’s business, I really don’t have a problem with someone lying about something.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Reality Check: Bwahahaha!

  67. 67
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: Obviously it is. Or we would have prosecuted Bush by now for blatantly lying us into Iraq.
    But we aren’t, are we?
    Then I guess President Obama and his DOJ agrees with me.

  68. 68
    Reality Check says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Laugh if you want but the Russians know better than anyone that Soc1alism doesn’t work.

  69. 69
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Reality Check: And there we go, authoritarianism in defense of crony capitalism.

    Or as we like to call it: Fascism. Sieg Heil!

  70. 70
    kay says:

    Impeachment was the worst because Republicans and media destroyed the mechanism. They took that tool and rendered it useless, because they sought to remove a president that they disagreed with, or disliked. Impeachment is discredited as a process. “High crimes” are a laughingstock. The words are meaningless, once they’re used to those ends. They mean “defined in such a way as to remove a duly elected President one Party disagrees with”.

    We could conceivably have an ethical SCOTUS, at some point in the future, with some staffing changes. The institution was damaged by Bush v Gore, but it could still recover.

    Impeachment, however, is forever sullied. Gone.

  71. 71
    quannlace says:

    like America is living beyond its means, and he also instituted a flat tax.

    Did he make the trains run on time?

    Personally I think Obama looks better shirtless than Putin.

  72. 72
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Corner Stone: I didn’t say ‘we’, I said you. Is it OK for the President to blatantly lie to the American people?

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Reality Check: Who is advocating for soshulism? No one here. Not the President. Ok, I’ll give you Bernie Sanders, maybe. Protip: neither a functioning social safety net nor regulation of business constitutes soshulism.

  74. 74
    Reality Check says:

    I didn’t say I agree with everything Putin does, but he does know that Soc!alism doesn’t work, and we should listen to him on that point.

    And I stand by the fact that right wing dictatorships aren’t nearly as damaging to society in the long run as left wing dictatorships. Would you rather in live in South Korea today, or North Korea? Brazil, or Cuba?

  75. 75
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    “He outright lied in a deposition.”

    That depends on what your definition of “lied” is.

    Ken Starr’s $70 million investigation could only charge Clinton with not fully cooperating with Ken Starr’s $70 million investigation.

    This despite the fact that the investigation started with Whitewater and metastasized to include the White House travel office flap, the “misuse” of FBI files, and the Paula Jones lawsuit.

    It was a $70 million fishing expedition into the President’s underwear, and the alleged ‘perjury’ was some pretty weak sauce, as the kids used to say. On the scale of One to Nixon, I’d give it a three.

  76. 76
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Is it OK for the President to blatantly lie to the American people?

    If it’s good enough for President Obama and the DOJ, then it’s good enough for me!

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Q.Q. Moar: FWIW lying in a deposition does not necessarily amount to perjury. Also too.

  78. 78
    Corner Stone says:

    On the upside, looks like we’ll have Lil Timmy Geithner to kick around for a while!
    Yay!!

  79. 79
    Chris says:

    @ A Mom Anon,

    This isn’t a specific event or crime,but it’s IMHO one of the worst things that’s happened as a result of right wing extremism in both religion and politics. It’s the sowing seeds of distrust and hatred among neighbors,friends and family members. It’s worse now than I ever remember in my 51 yrs of being on this planet.

    This.

    The central problem in today’s politics is that conservatives consider this to be their country and their birthright, and of course their government – THEIRS, and none other’s. The rest of us are guests and unwanted ones at that. Read any comments section from any conservative website and it’s not hard to see that they don’t even consider us fellow citizens. We’re ill-tolerated foreigners desecrating their pretty, pristine America.

    Everything else flows from that. We, the people who aren’t conservatives, cannot sit down and have political negotiations with people who don’t even consider us American and therefore don’t think we have a right to be negotiating in the first place.

  80. 80
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Fantasy Fascist:

    I didn’t say I agree with everything Putin does, but he does know that Soc!alism doesn’t work, and we should listen to him on that point.

    But you already advocated Pinochet’s methods for dealing with ‘socialists’. How about Putin’s? They work better for you?

    Would you rather in live in South Korea today

    How about South Korea between, say, 1953 and 1987?

    And I’d ask again about Brazil, but then I just have to scroll up and realize you’d be an A+ helicopter door gunner for Pinochet, so no sense asking there.

  81. 81
    Corner Stone says:

    Thank God President Stuck was able to talk Geithner into staying around for a while, and “calming” market uncertainty.

  82. 82
    Chris says:

    Laugh if you want but the Russians know better than anyone that Soc1alism doesn’t work.

    Soshulism = state control of the means of production.

    Obama’s had three opportunities to nationalize important sectors of the economy (the banks, the car industry, health are). All three times, he’s declined to do so.

    Next.

  83. 83
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    @Corner Stone: “we’ll have Lil Timmy Geithner to kick around for a while!” Thank God. He’s done such a great job so far. This time it’s Sure to work!

  84. 84

    Doug, that you for reminding us that Neo Liberalism is a bi-partisan pathology.

    The economic elites–the people who can bend the ears of leaders of both parties–think American workers are entitled and spoiled for not embracing the idea that we are in competition with Indonesians in sweat shops.

    That’s just the natural order of things. It’s just reality. And they have thousands of economists on payroll to keep reinforcing the belief that workers simply expect too much by international standards.

  85. 85
    Reality Check says:

    The lesson from Clinton is this: don’t nominate what amounts to a lying scumbag used car salesman from the trailer park for your Presidential nominee.

    Clinton is trailer trash with a degree from Yale. If you had nominated Jerry Brown in ’92 you could of avoided the whole thing.

  86. 86
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Corner Stone: Translated: “Its OK to lie to the American people just as long as its lies I’m personally comfortable with.”

    Good, congratulations and welcome to the reality-based party again.

  87. 87
    Mark S. says:

    Torture is number 1 in my book by a landslide.

    I could see future generations voting for global warming denialism. Depends on how bad that ends up being.

  88. 88
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Translated: “Its OK to lie to the American people just as long as its lies I’m personally comfortable with.”

    Yeah, I guess. Or alternatively, “it’s OK to lie to the American people just as long as I don’t find it politically convenient to investigate further.”
    I mean, the outcome is the same, eh?

  89. 89
    joel hanes, sp4 says:

    I think the worst thing the Republicans have done since 1865 is the institution of physical torture of prisoners as national policy.

    I notice that no one has yet mentioned Karl Rove’s brazen defiance of Congressional subpoena. I don’t know of a precedent, but I’m no expert. Had that been done before? (I note that Clinton may have lied, but his administration duly complied with all 2000-plus subpoenas issued by Congress during the investigation).

    And I think Iran-Contra should be high on the list: not only did the Executive Branch form and maintain a private military in direct defiance of Congresssional lawmaking, using funds produced by trading weapons with an identified enemy of the US, but that private military’s conduct constituted outright terrorism — not just a few acts, but years of deliberate murder and destruction, all completely and deliberately unConstitutional. Also, Oliver North is a world-class dick.

  90. 90
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Reality Check:

    I didn’t say I agree with everything Putin does, but he does know that Soc!alism doesn’t work, and we should listen to him on that point.

    But you already advocated Pinochet’s methods for dealing with ‘soc!alists’. How about Putin’s? They work better for you?

    Would you rather in live in South Korea today

    How about South Korea between, say, 1953 and 1987?

    And I’d ask again about Brazil, but then I just have to scroll up and realize you’d be a first-rate helicopter door gunner for Pinochet, so no sense asking there.

  91. 91

    Reality Check, what’s the most complex argument you’ve ever made on Balloon Juice?

    It seems like one to two lines is your max post.

    If other people are having a discussion where they integrate ideas and arguments, it seems like once in awhile you could make the effort to rise to the level of discourse of the rest of the community.

  92. 92
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    @Reality Check: Americans sure do love their lying scumbag used care salesmen from the trailer park : “Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II.[16]”

    Your authentic cowboy action figure and Conservative Wunderkind George W. Bush left office with the same approval rating as Jimmy Carter. Ain’t that an ass-biter?

  93. 93
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Reality Check: Nah, Jerry Brown lived in sin with Linda Ronstadt. You fuckers would have been up in arms about that.

    BTW it is nice to see you letting your authoritarian, anti-social mobility freak flag fly.

  94. 94
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Q.Q. Moar: Who would Obama be able to get through the nomination process with the current crop of Republicans though? I’d love to see Geithner gone but how can you get anyone through this madness?

  95. 95
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mark S.:

    Torture is number 1 in my book by a landslide.

    What are you talking about? The US does not torture.

  96. 96
    Reality Check says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    South Korea between 1953 and 1987 was better than living under the Kims at ANY time.

  97. 97
    Reality Check says:

    @Carl Nyberg:

    No thanks I don’t like pie. I prefer cake.

  98. 98
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Reality Check: And there’s no third option, its either Castro or Pinochet -errr- Hitler or Stalin -oops- Park or Kim. Gotcha.

  99. 99
    Reality Check says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Well, since I was comparing left wing dictatorships to right wing dictatorships, you’re correct. There’s no other option in that argument.

  100. 100
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    @A Mom Anon: Excellent point, now that you mention it. I can’t imagine the gibbering loons in the House would approve anybody except Ayn Rand’s dessicated corpse.

    ETA: Or is it just the Senate she/he’d have to make it through? This damn hashish has destroyed my memory.

  101. 101
    Elie says:

    @A Mom Anon:

    Well, you can leave that place. Certainly one solution. Otherwise, hold your head up and know that you represent the majority in a lone outpost. Talk to your kids about your values and convictions about what “liberal” really means: tolerance, ability to accept differences – and the important role that plays in representative democracy. Project calm, assertive energy and hopefully they will mostly leave you alone.

    I am sorry that anyone has to live in those circumstances.

  102. 102
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: Complexity, nuance, and the like are an undiscovered country for our trolls.

  103. 103
    Reality Check says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    And I wouldn’t call Park Hitler. If you stayed out of politics in South Korea pre-1987 they left you the fuck alone, and even grumbling about them government didn’t really matter as long as you didn’t organize. Meanwhile in North Korea one spilled coffee drink on the Dear Leader’s photo and its off the gulag.

    What’s more, South Korea was able to successfully transition from dictatorship to democracy, while North Korea went off the deep end into a nightmare world during the same period.

  104. 104
    Elie says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    Why do you and the others talk to this creature? Ignoring it weakens it. Instead you make it stronger by answering it. YOU are making it be there as it affirms its existence and relevance with every reply. Stop it! Please.

  105. 105
    A Mom Anon says:

    @Elie: I can’t leave,our house won’t sell and my husband’s job is here. I wish we could go,but unless the job market changes and/or we can sell our home,it would mean financial hardship. It’s not always as cut and dried as just leaving. If that were the case we would have left by now. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that things really escalated when the economy started to crash in 07/08. The hate’s gone through the roof since then.

  106. 106
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Elie: Sorry, I just have a weakness for fascist punching. I was about to go find something more constructive to do anyways.

  107. 107
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Reality Check:

    Clinton is trailer trash with a degree from Yale.

    The honor of his family begins with him.

    The honor of yours ends with you.

  108. 108
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    @Elie: Well, sometimes you feel like kicking the cat for no good reason, but you know the cat doesn’t deserve such treatment. Then you stumble into a comment section and discover a small creature that not only deserves to be kicked but wants to be kicked. It’s therapeutic for everybody involved except casual observers.

  109. 109
    Chris says:

    Clinton is trailer trash with a degree from Yale.

    I *do* find it funny that the word “trailer trash” is being used by someone whose side of the aisle constantly whines about how “elitist” liberals are and how they don’t appreciate all those good salt-of-the-earth people in “flyover country.” Apparently, IOKIYAR.

    And coming from a trailer trash background means nothing. It’s what you do with it that counts. Making it from “trailer trash” to Yale isn’t to Clinton’s discredit, even if the Bushes of the world would probably have preferred to keep the peasants out.

  110. 110
    Reality Check says:

    @Chris:

    The problem with Clinton is *he kept acting* like trailer trash even when he was in the Governor’s Mansion and White House. Using state troopers to round up girls for him. Snooping on people’s FBI and travel files. Getting a BJ from a fat ass half his age in the Oval Office while on the phone discussing Bosnia with a congressional Republican leader. Trashy, low behavior.

  111. 111
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Chris: I don’t think that we should forget Georgetown and Oxford either.

  112. 112
    Q.Q. Moar says:

    “Using state troopers to round up girls for him. Snooping on people’s FBI and travel files.” Wow, it seems like Ken Starr’s investigation would have found some, you know, evidence of this awful, trashy, behavior.

  113. 113
    Tony J says:

    @Chris:

    The central problem in today’s politics is that conservatives consider this to be their country and their birthright, and of course their government – THEIRS, and none other’s. The rest of us are guests and unwanted ones at that. Read any comments section from any conservative website and it’s not hard to see that they don’t even consider us fellow citizens. We’re ill-tolerated foreigners desecrating their pretty, pristine America.

    That is the thing. Ever since the GOP decided to jettison the memory of Lincoln and marry Gilded Age plutocracy with old-fashioned Confederate race loyalty as a political force, American society has suffered the consequences.

    How do you talk to someone who thinks the history of the last hundred+ years has been an organised conspiracy to do them down and steal their heritage? To them, you left your American citizenship behind when you aligned yourself with the race-traitors and crypto-commies who don’t understand what it really means to be a patriot.

    And to them, that last paragraph of gibberish makes perfect sense.

  114. 114
    Elie says:

    @A Mom Anon:

    I understand. Most of my comment related to dealing with it while you stay there.

    Stand tall, look them in the eye and stay peaceful inside and in your messages to your kids (I know that is really hard — REALLY hard).

  115. 115
    Elie says:

    @Tony J:

    Yes, they are defending their territory psychologically. But think about it. They are scared and threatenned by the advancement of demograpics and the march of history. Of course they will fight! And fight hard — even as they are in retreat. They are in retreat. Like a vicious dog that is cornered, it will fight hard. But look where it is. In the corner. That is where they are. Yeah, they will bite and bite hard. They still have nowhere to go.

  116. 116
    Chris says:

    How do you talk to someone who thinks the history of the last hundred+ years has been an organised conspiracy to do them down and steal their heritage?

    I’ve never thought of it quite that way, but that’s extremely well put.

  117. 117
    Kane says:

    The worst thing the GOP has ever done?

    There are so many scandals to choose from and the list is quite long.

    Perhaps a better question to ask is, What is the best thing the GOP has done in the past 40 years? What single policy are Republicans entirely responsible for that Americans wake up to everyday and give great thanks for?

    These are far more difficult questions to answer, but at least the list to choose from is much smaller.

  118. 118
    Elie says:

    @Chris:

    How do you talk to someone who thinks the history of the last hundred+ years has been an organised conspiracy to do them down and steal their heritage?

    How did the Neanderthals feel with the advancement of modern Homo Sapiens? Not good I am sure. Like their semi more modern right winged counterparts today, they probably didnt have too much language to express themselves too well either. I bet they put a few leg bones against Homo Sapiens’ skulls also. But lookee — where are they? I’m sure they liked their “heritage” too… such as it was.

  119. 119
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kane: Well, we weren’t attacked during W’s preznitzy.

  120. 120
    Aaron says:

    To me the worst thing republicans have done is their war on America and its government.
    They have done everything possible to undermine the us government from Reagan (govt., isnt the solution, its the problem) through today (e.g. refusing to appoint qualified people).

  121. 121
    Chris says:

    @Kane:

    Perhaps a better question to ask is, What is the best thing the GOP has done in the past 40 years? What single policy are Republicans entirely responsible for that Americans wake up to everyday and give great thanks for?

    I think that’s the key – not just “when have they done something good” but “when have they contributed something of their own to the national discourse.” As opposed to simply being a more moderate version of the Democrats, which is what most “good” Republicans in the last hundred years have been.

  122. 122
    Aaron says:

    Chis: The EPA and section 8 housing. by reagan and nixon.

  123. 123
    Bethany says:

    @CarlNyberg, why do you still support Democrats?

  124. 124
    joel hanes, sp4 says:

    Clean Air Act extensions 1970 Nixon
    Clean Water Act 1972 Nixon
    EPA 1970 Nixon

    Title IX 1970 Nixon

    I would have to say that Title IX may in some ways be the most important: an enormous and under-appreciated progressive stride — over the course of a generation, it has broadened our culture’s gender role norms dramatically.

  125. 125
    fourmorewars says:

    The Keating Five – this drives me fucking crazy. Of all the bullshit myths/memes the right and the corporate media has put out, almost all of which leftwing blogs like this one cut through like a scalpel, exposing them for the nonsense they are…for some reason there’s no pushback regarding ‘The Keating Five.’

    The S&L scandal was coast-to-coast, involving hundreds (thousands?) of institutions systematically looted, and when it gets brought up why does it get encapsulated into ONE goddamn crook and ONE S&L? Couldn’t have anything to do with the 4-1 Dem-to-Repub Senator thing, could it? So that now whenever the media is compelled (which is hardly ever) to touch on the scandal that involved so many malefactors, they can safely run to this infinitesimal corner of it that cordons off the gargantuan reality of the Reagan/Bush administration’s laissez-faire/gangster-enabling responsibility?

  126. 126
    ChrisB says:

    Three comments on the list. First, as someone who watched them carefully, I’d say that Nixon’s Watergate crimes are way up there for me, and I’m surprised to see little mention of them here.

    Second, I don’t give Hoover a pass for his response to the Dust Bowl, stock market crash, and Great Depression but I think it can be argued that he didn’t really know better (see also the Smoot Hawley Tariff). Can’t say that about Republican policy now.

    Third, nothing is as bad as the South’s antebellum record on slavery and its secession from the Union. And nothing reminds me of the South’s attitude then as the Republicans’ attitude now.

    @Kane: I’d have to say that Bush 41 handled the first Gulf War pretty well.

  127. 127
    kansi says:

    Aaron,
    I agree the GOP war on America is a long-runnig conflict. But, it started before Reagan. Nixon’s Watergate was the epitome of a constitutional crisis. The worst thing, domestically, any Republican President has ever done. Real crimes and obstruction. Worse still, this planted the seeds for so many of the wrongs that followed, including up to W’s imperial presidency.

  128. 128
    Tom Q says:

    It’s certainly true that Nixon, in the rear view, looks like a marginally liberal-leaning president, but two things about the accomplishments attributed to his administration: 1) they were often watered-down versions of policies for which there was massive public support and 2) he had strongly Democratic Congresses pushing much of this on him throughout his time in office.

    Which is to say, yeah, these things came in his time, and he gets some credit, but it’s not like they were things he was dying to do.

  129. 129
    Chris says:

    @ChrisB:

    Second, I don’t give Hoover a pass for his response to the Dust Bowl, stock market crash, and Great Depression but I think it can be argued that he didn’t really know better (see also the Smoot Hawley Tariff). Can’t say that about Republican policy now.

    I agree. There wasn’t a history of Keynesian policies back then like there is now (the fifties and sixties) to guide us, and I’m okay with writing off their ignorance as, well, ignorance, and caution.

    Republicans today have no such excuse. Economics-wise, they’re as much in denial as people who refuse to acknowledge evolution or global warming.

  130. 130
    Chris says:

    @kansi:

    Nixon’s Watergate was the epitome of a constitutional crisis. The worst thing, domestically, any Republican President has ever done. Real crimes and obstruction. Worse still, this planted the seeds for so many of the wrongs that followed, including up to W’s imperial presidency.

    In a college paper I had once, I compared Nixon, Reagan and Bush’s abuses of executive power (Watergate, Iran-contra, and Bush’s little screwups like Gitmo, wiretapping and cooking the books on intelligence).

    The thing I got out of it? It’s a story of Congressional control over the executive branch getting weaker and weaker over time. Nixon’s crimes were punished appropriately; they were uncovered and he was removed from office. Reagan got off a lot easier; Iran-contra was never tied to him the way Watergate was to Nixon, and everyone involved ultimately got off free. And then there’s Bush, who got away with practically everything with barely a slap on the wrist.

    Nixon’s crimes may have been exceptional at the time, but by today they’re just routine.

  131. 131
    Tom Q says:

    @Chris: The lesson the GOP took from Watergate was not that such things shouldn’t happen, but they should find a way to see they weren’t punished in the future. FOX News up-is-down-ism is a major step in that direction.

  132. 132
    Chris says:

    @Tom Q:

    It’s certainly true that Nixon, in the rear view, looks like a marginally liberal-leaning president, but two things about the accomplishments attributed to his administration: 1) they were often watered-down versions of policies for which there was massive public support and 2) he had strongly Democratic Congresses pushing much of this on him throughout his time in office.

    Which is to say, yeah, these things came in his time, and he gets some credit, but it’s not like they were things he was dying to do.

    See… that’s what I’m talking about.

    Yes, there was about a three-decade window from 1952 to 1980 in which Republicans had sane, liberal ideas… but only after Democrats had spent twenty years fighting tooth and nail to get those ideas into the national discourse (and the people kept voting for them, leaving Republicans no choice but to give ground). In other words, the best thing they’ve done in the last hundred years was to temporarily model themselves on the party they were trying to beat.

    Yippee for them: me, I think it’s fair to say that a party like that doesn’t really add anything to the nation’s politics.

  133. 133
    A Mom Anon says:

    This thread may be dead by now,but what if we moved the discussion away from GOP presidents and just look at what useful policies the GOP in general have either implemented or at least introduced in the last 50 yrs. I get that the prez is the party leader,but has there been anything in their party platform and policy initiatives that would be considered useful or constructive to America as a whole?

  134. 134
    joel hanes, sp4 says:

    has there been anything in their party platform and policy initiatives that would be considered useful or constructive to America as a whole?

    In the last 50 years ?

    I got nuthin’

  135. 135
    Heliopause says:

    No, Iran-Contra was by far the worst misdeed of the last few decades. It established the precedent that a quasi-governmental cabal could establish a policy, follow through on it, fund it, and regardless of its relationship with elected representation or the rule of law largely get away with it.

  136. 136
    Monkey Business says:

    I can’t speak to anything before 1984, as I wasn’t alive before then, but I feel like there’s a healthy list just for my lifetime.

    Let’s start with Iran-Contra. Reagan knew, or was so out of it that he didn’t.

    Then the Clinton Impeachment. A total partisan witchhunt and a gigantic waste of taxpayer time and money. Forced Gore to not be Clinton, and gave us GWB.

    Then Florida 2000. The bastards STOLE a Presidential Election, and had the Supreme Court back them up.

    Then the war in Iraq. Untold amounts of blood and treasure sunk into the sands of the Middle East.

    Finally, the Bush Tax cuts. They almost singlehandedly erased all the gains from the Clinton era, and paved the way for everything that happened after.

  137. 137
    Monkey Business says:

    @A Mom Anon: Nothing that I’m aware of. Every GOP policy in my lifetime has been regressive.

  138. 138
    chmatl says:

    @A Mom Anon: Don’t know if you’ll see this but:

    Holy sh*t. You live in Kennesaw. The man who owns that shop is Dent Myers, and he’s a raving lunatic. I haven’t been in the shop myself, but I understand he has a fair amount of Nazi memorabilia for sale. I can’t believe he was named citizen of the year. He’s a known crackpot and Nazi sympathizer. WTF is wrong with the people running Kennesaw?

    I am a native of Kennesaw myself, and I can confirm everything you claim about the abuse of liberals around here. My daughter was harassed by members of her entire Girl Scout troop back during the Bush/Kerry campaign because I intended to vote for Kerry (she was eight at the time). I was also cornered by one of the troop leaders and verbally assaulted for having a different set of political views from hers. The crazy woman was literally IN TEARS over my horrible judgment in supporting the Democratic candidate. I finally had to literally leave the building to get her to leave me alone. I have been blacklisted from substitute teaching in the 5th grade classes at my son’s elementary school for daring to suggest during the last election that Sarah Palin wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. I did this VERY cautiously and politely because I know my views are in the extreme minority here, and I was afraid of a backlash. But I just couldn’t bit my tongue anymore and now I’m no longer welcome to teach in those classes. My son has had other kids say things to him along the lines of “Obama lies all the time,” and I’ve told him never to argue, but that it’s okay to say “In my family, we support the President” and leave it at that.

    I feel as you do that I’m under siege all the time for my political and social views. As the climate has become more and more poisoned, the weight of being hated for my beliefs and values is sometimes overwhelming. I’ve just learned to keep my head down and my opinions to myself.

    I remember having a conversation with my husband many years ago that Rush Limbaugh was a terrible threat to this country because he didn’t just disagree with liberals, he painted them as enemies to be destroyed. Now that is the mainstream view on the right. I don’t see this ending well, and I agree that this is probably the worst thing Republicans have done to our country.

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