Someone Had a Book To Sell

Again, not at all surprising:

In his much-discussed mea culpa about the reality-denialism of movement conservatism, Bruce Bartlett made a striking claim: He wrote that he was not allowed on Fox News — where he had previously been a regular guest — to discuss a book he’d just published that was highly critical of George W. Bush.

I’ve just received confirmation of this episode on the record from Bartlett’s publicist at the time.

In the article, Bartlett charged that he’s had multiple firsthand experiences of the ways in which Republicans are “closing their eyes to any facts or evidence that conflict with their dogma.” As one of many examples, Bartlett recalled his personal experience of conservative intolerance of criticism of Bush.

Bartlett wrote that he’d published a book in 2006 called “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,” and said it had cost him his job at a conservative think tank — a widely discussed episode at the time. Bartlett also wrote that the book got him blacklisted at Fox News:

    Among the interesting reactions to my book is that I was banned from Fox News. My publicist was told that orders had come down from on high that it was to receive no publicity whatsoever, not even attacks. Whoever gave that order was smart; attacks from the right would have sold books. Being ignored was poison for sales.

Bartlett’s publicist at the time was Nicole Dewey, who was then at Doubleday. She is now the executive director of publicity at Little, Brown and Company, and in a telephone interview this morning, she confirmed Bartlett’s recollections. She said she’d tried extensively to get him booked on Fox to discuss the book — to no avail.

“It was surprising to me that no one would book him,” Dewey told me. ”He had been a regular on Fox News prior to that. He had been interviewed on any number of Fox News shows before that.”

Again, not surprising.

87 replies
  1. 1
    muddy says:

    La la la la they can’t hear you…

  2. 2
    Zifnab25 says:

    “Miss me, yet?”

  3. 3
    ruemara says:

    But don’t you dare say they are an arm of the Republican Party.

  4. 4
    Enhanced Mooching Techniques says:

    It’s so warm and comforting having your head up your own arse, isn’t it Fox?

  5. 5

    Stop posting so much John. We won’t believe that you hate us Obots if you keep up this pace. You’re only encouraging the hive mind.

  6. 6
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Feast or famine, dude. No middle way.

  7. 7
    mai naem says:

    I listen to the Pete Dominic show on XM and he has Bruce Bartlett on often. If only his party would listen to him. They may have even pulled off a 2012 victory. Keep on fvcking that chicken Republicans. It’s getting you places.

  8. 8
    David in NY says:

    Kevin Drum was struck by another Bartlett anecdote — when he was quoted by Ron Suskind in the NY Times as being critical of Bush and the GOP and was expecting, at an affair a day or two later, to be criticized by his right-wing colleagues. But he heard nothing and eventually learned that they never read the Times, viewing it, literally, as no more reliable than Pravda.

    No wonder they all thought Romney would win.

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    Frankly, the fact that both Bartlett and Dewey were at all surprised by Fox’s reaction says a lot more about them than about Fox. Maybe from now on they’ll pay attention and understand that Fox is nothing but a reincarnation of the old Soviet Tass.

  10. 10
    mark says:

    Republicans are cowards. Any uncomfortable/conflicting information, they cover their ears and run away crying. Cowards.

  11. 11
    MikeJ says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Some day they’ll get the meds dialed in.

  12. 12
    Turgidson says:

    @ruemara:

    Apparently Ricks said the same thing to MSNBC when they tried to get an interview with him.

    I’ll buy that premise as soon as MSNBC stops devoting their entire morning to Joe “anyone who can do math and says Obama is favored is a left wing ideologue” Scarborough and his merry band of morans.

  13. 13
    TooManyJens says:

    Speaking of books to sell, Todd Akin is considering writing a book. Which really is the epitome of white male privilege, isn’t it? His sole claim to fame is losing a Senate seat by 15 points to a candidate nobody in the entire state of Missouri (except possibly her own family) likes, but he still thinks he’s qualified to tell anybody anything.

  14. 14
    the Conster says:

    I also love that he hates being attached at the hip with Krugman, now that he sees that Keynes was right in the 30s, and is right now. You gotta give the guy props. It’s not easy to admit that you’ve been really, really wrong about something.

  15. 15
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    You know, normally I’d warn against telling the wingnuts that their epistemic closure is making them losers and jokes, based on the maxim that “when your enemy is making a mistake, let him”.

    But the whole point is that no matter what we tell them about the real world, they’ll ignore it.

  16. 16
    Greg says:

    @Ash Can:

    Frankly, the fact that both Bartlett and Dewey were at all surprised by Fox’s reaction says a lot more about them than about Fox. Maybe from now on they’ll pay attention and understand that Fox is nothing but a reincarnation of the old Soviet Tass.

    To be fair, this episode was six years ago. Fox News was obviously right-leaning then, but the head-in-the-sand reality denial wasn’t quite so clear back then.

  17. 17
    aimai says:

    @Ash Can:

    I read the entire interview with Bartlett. I always despised him before and thought he was a self important, sanctimonious, and extremely stupid guy on the strength of his false statements about economics but that article proves that he was at least twice as stupid as I ever dreamed he was. Previously I had assumed that he was acting in bad faith and his inability to recognize how truly evil and misguided his policy proposals were was, well, the result of mendacity. But the article proves that you can hit this guy on the head with a fucking two by four every few years, he will write a book that–while he researches it-should educate him and then he will publish the book and discover that everything in it is wrong and then go out and do the whole thing over again a few years later. He has the steepest learning curve of anyone who is not a unicellular organism that I’ve ever seen. You get the feeling, reading the article, that he takes himself aside and explains that 1 plus 1 is 2 and then he lies down until he has forgotten this fact. Over and over and over again. Only the fact that his former buddies at Fox can’t stand even to be tweaked slightly by reality has caused him to discover how nutty they are.

  18. 18
    Brachiator says:

    Again, not surprising.

    Also not surprising that this is not more openly acknowledged.

    You would think that in the Village and the Washington/New York/Los Angeles media axis, producers would be able to seduce guests away from Fox by promising to let them be more open in discussions and interviews.

    You would think that some guests would flat out turn down Fox when they came calling. And that their agents and publicists would not agree to this kind of nonsense when they see it happening time and time again.

    But I guess that some people will do anything to be on the teevee.

  19. 19
    EconWatcher says:

    @Greg:

    Not sure I agree. I think Fox may have hit its lowest point in reporting on the Iraq war. There’s a reason why most Fox views think there were WMDs in Iraq.

    I wouldn’t say it’s improved much since then, but maybe just the tiniest bit.

  20. 20
    Violet says:

    Fox News now = Soviet-era Pravda.

  21. 21
    muddy says:

    @David in NY:

    But he heard nothing and eventually learned that they never read the Times, viewing it, literally, as no more reliable than Pravda.

    My dad used to love the old joke, No pravda in the Izvestia, and no izvestia in the Pravda.

    These jokers get neither.

  22. 22
    Turgidson says:

    @Ash Can:

    Yes. That whole Bartlett piece is most interesting, in my view, because it shows just how deep the hole of willful ignorance goes.

    Bartlett believes himself to be intellectually honest and rigorous. And compared to his former comrades, he is, and he had good intentions in trying to nudge the GOP away from supply-side extremism and toward fiscal responsibility. Bravo for that.

    But he said he didn’t realize until sometime in the middle of Obama’s term that Obama wasn’t a leftist. Are you fucking kidding me? One of the “good ones,” who has proven to be redeemable, and actually has two firing synapses, didn’t notice this until so recently?

    All this time, I thought the GOP opinion-makers and policy people – such as they are – realized that Obama is in reality a mainstream, center-left at most, politician and were just feeding the rubes the idea that he’s a Kenyan socialist monster the likes of which the world has never seen, to scare a bare majority into voting him out. Because they knew a successful Obama presidency would end what’s left of the age of Ronaldus Magnus.

    If someone with at least some sense, like Bartlett, actually thought he was a “leftist” until recently, that tells me that whatever’s left of the GOP’s braintrust really believes some of the crazy things the base has been told to believe. Maybe a more sanitized version, but still.

    The election showed it too, of course. Even the old-timers like Nooners, who at least pretend to have one foot in the reality-based community, really thought they could just create the reality of a Romney win by just talking about it enough, saying “Obama’s failed policies” enough times, and ignoring the polling consensus showing Obama favored.

    It’s going to take decades to draw the conservative movement’s poison out of the national bloodstream. Maybe longer. The meteor may very well get here first.

  23. 23
    EriktheRed says:

    For all the kudos this guy appears to be getting, one thing in his article stood out for me:

    The best way to get Republicans to read a book about reaching out for the black vote, I thought, was to detail the Democratic Party’s long history of maltreatment of blacks. After all, the party was based in the South for 100 years after the war, and all of the ugly racism we associate with that region was enacted and enforced by Democratic politicians. I was surprised that such a book didn’t already exist.
    I thought knowing the Democratic Party’s pre-1964 history of racism, which is indisputable, would give Republicans a story to tell when they went before black groups to solicit votes.

    He seems to be saying here that he wrote a book hawking the worn-out wingnut talking point (which refuses to die) about how the Dems are the real racists and that their pre-civil rights era past is a relevant talking point for GOPers to use when trying to appeal to African-Americans today.

    Nothing in his article after that suggests he changed his spots as far as that issue is concerned.

  24. 24
    trollhattan says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Most feastiest during each time Cole declares a “break from blogging.”

  25. 25
    scav says:

    Was he really ignorant or is ignorance just the easiest coupling to a new gravy train given the old one has sprung leaks in its boiler and is huffing steam? We’re sorta in a big switching yard here so I wouldn’t want to guess just yet. Damascus conviently follows Defeat in some dictionaries.

  26. 26

    I wonder how far this is going to go in the Republican Party. My guess is that it’ll drive them into being nothing more than a regional party based in the south with a few outposts like Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma Utah and Idaho.

    They really are in an awful bind. McConnell and Böehner aren’t all that smart, but they’re good politicians, and they must know that the Republicans are never going to win a national election again if they don’t cut the freaks loose. But they also know that if they did anything to try to broaden the Republican base, the wingnuts would turn on them, run even freakier Republicans in their primaries, and they’d likely lose their seats. So they’ll keep their mouths shut and watch the party shrink into irrelevance.

    It is true, though, that McConnell’s 70, and he’s been in the Senate for 28 years. He might not want to stick around beyond 2020, when he’d be 78. If he didn’t run in 2020, he’d be free to shake things up for the six years of his last term. I don’t see him as a boat-rocker, though, so maybe he’ll do what every other retiring Republican has done for the last ten years–nothing at all.

    It’s hard to know what becomes of our two-party system if the Republicans keep going the way they’re going. Our system really isn’t set up to have three national parties. My guess is that if the Republicans dwindle the way I think they’re going to, sooner or later, more conservative Democrats will leave the party and set up some new one that would run against the Democrats as the conservative party–conservative in that they’re like the Republicans of the 80 years between 1900 and 1980, more or less. This could work in presidential politics at least, since the winner only needs a plurality of the vote; it’s fairly easy to win 270 or more electoral votes with a plurality. Clinton did it twice, and both times he won something like 370 electoral votes.

    The only risk there is that if neither party can rack up enough votes for a majority in the House or Senate. Then there would be scrambling to put a coalition together, and my fear is that the new conservative party would see no way to win but by sucking up to the very losers and racists and fuckups who have run the Republican Party into the ground.

  27. 27
    JPL says:

    @EriktheRed: The democrats that he speaks about are the new Republicans. His buddy Reagan made sure of that.
    Since I didn’t read the entire article, did he mention Terry Schiavo?

  28. 28
    Violet says:

    At what point are people like Bartlett, Frum, Sullivan, etc. going to form some kind of “We’re the Real Conservatives” party and split from the GOP?

  29. 29
    Culture of Truth says:

    I’m sorry, who is this George W person? Was he a character in a tv show or something?

  30. 30
    andy says:

    @TooManyJens: They could spread paper all over the floor in front of the TV and he can fun drawing all day long! I do hope somebody helps him sharpen his pencils. He might get hut!

  31. 31
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @aimai:

    I’ll take “smart but evil” over “dumb and sincere” any day of the week.

  32. 32
    Turgidson says:

    @Violet:

    Whenever people start giving a shit. Because they’re already saying that, and no one really cares.

    Frum talks a good game sometimes, but all he really wants is to be invited back into the herd. He’s still conditioned to say something stupid and false about Democrats before offering any criticism about a Republican. And he still found a hilariously tortured, incoherent reason to vote for Romney despite the fact that Romney was a complete fraud and disaster in waiting.

    Frum is the semi-famous version of the guy most of us know who, at some point between 2003 and now, realized Bush and the GOP are a fail parade of epic proportions, but still says “well I can’t vote for the Democrat, they’re even worse!” because hippies, or whatever. Frum is the same as he ever was. Only thing that changed is that his “100% allegience to GOP talking points” brain implant got damaged at some point.

    anyway that’s a tangent. I just hate that guy is all.
    /rant

  33. 33
    Biff Longbotham says:

    @the Conster:

    It’s not easy to admit that you’ve been really, really wrong about something.

    Just ask John.

  34. 34
    Citizen_X says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Todd Akin is considering writing a book.

    Let me guess: on gynecology?

  35. 35
    NotMax says:

    Using FOX to promote a book?

    Learn something new every day.

    Had no idea that sheep could read.

  36. 36
    jl says:

    But, Bartlett turned into a commie traitor. Everyone knows that. How could he appear on Fox News?

    BTW, Cole has a such a warm cuddly personality, so good at being nice and politic with people, I think he would make a great campaign PR consultant for the GOP.

    Cole should think about it. Tank a bunch of GOPers next election and pick up some walking around money. Sounds like a win win to me.

  37. 37
    scav says:

    @NotMax: don’t need to read, just need to buy.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    But I guess that some people will do anything to be on the teevee.

    I have a theory, not a very solid one, more of a bout of wishful thinking, that there are a sizable number of people out there (in teevee land and elsewhere) who seem to think that unless you’ve been on teevee, you’re not a real person.

    This explains people jumping up and down for the jumbotron, this explains the Jerry Springer Show, this explains Wapner and Judge Judy.

    People willing to degrade themselves just to be on fucking teevee.

  39. 39
    eemom says:

    @aimai:

    I always despised him before and thought he was a self important, sanctimonious, and extremely stupid guy on the strength of his false statements about economics but that article proves that he was at least twice as stupid as I ever dreamed he was.

    Agree, especially re self important and sanctimonious, and I say fuck all the kudos he’s been getting. One thing he said that jumped out at me was something to the effect that he was willing to shut up about the batshit crazy long enough to see if Karl Rove’s strategy for eternal republican rule just might work.

    They’re all fucking evil, and he’s no exception. And insufferaby full of himself.

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    Frankly, the fact that both Bartlett and Dewey were at all surprised by Fox’s reaction says a lot more about them than about Fox. Maybe from now on they’ll pay attention and understand that Fox is nothing but a reincarnation of the old Soviet Tass.

    Some of them acknowledge this, but fall back on “ALL media is biased. What you’ve got to do is look at all the points of view and decide for yourself.” Which invariably brings them back to Fox.

    Not the only thing where they do this; decide on something, then, when you can no longer deny that what you’ve decided has no foundation in fact, attack the factual foundations of everything else.

  41. 41
    Tonybrown74 says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Indeed! Piggy was happy feeding at the Fox/Wingnut trough.

    But then he had to go toot in the elevator. Should he be surprised that they would throw him down the shaft?

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Turgidson:

    But he said he didn’t realize until sometime in the middle of Obama’s term that Obama wasn’t a leftist. Are you fucking kidding me?

    He’s kidding me as well. I knew going in that Obama was exactly as he ran…as a centrist who wasn’t going to do the things I’d like to see, like the pillaging of Wall Street board rooms and the heads of banksters on pikes right outside the NYSE, as a warning to the younglings there who slave away on the trading floors.

    What a fucking retart, as they say in WoW trade chat.

  43. 43

    @David in NY:

    No wonder they all thought Romney would win.

    While GOP soul-searching is all well and good, IMO folks should be quite scared at just how ‘In the Bubble’ Rove, Romney and all the rest turned out to be. And even more scared at how close they came to winning. Even I had assumed that the grifters running the show had at least some grip on actual Reality.

    But instead of dealing with the actual problem, most of the GOP soul-search seems trapped in the same mindset– how to “recraft the brand” or “change the message” or “reach out to minorities”, etc.

    Look, GOP: Your policies are a bowl of shit, and apparently (at least) 50+1% of the country is finally sick of being forced to eat from it. Slapping a Coca-Cola label on the bowl isn’t going to change a damned thing.

    Then again, soul-searching presumes a soul…

  44. 44
    El Cid says:

    @Culture of Truth: Exactly. There was Bill Clinton, and then there was this Commander Guy who was around for a while Keeping Us Safe after Bill Clinton let Al Qa’ida attack us, and then Barney Frank crashed the economy by giving free homes to lazy black people, and then Obama came in and soshullized the entire economy and created US federal debt.

  45. 45
    catclub says:

    @EriktheRed: 1. The principled blacks in the south registered with the republicans.

    2. Of course, that is the craziest possible lesson to try to teach. Democrats have screwed the blacks in the south ( but not quite as much in the north) for decades, then around 1964 they decide they are no longer the party that will be screwing blacks in the south, and blacks choose to switch, en masse, to being reliable democrats north and south.
    How does this help the GOP? Are they going to stop being the party that screws the poor, nationwide? How?

    Also the other part of the 1964 and on lesson is that the GOP takes on the role of the Democrats as race baiters
    (see Helms, Jesse and MANY others) in the south, with gusto!

  46. 46
    bemused says:

    @David in NY:

    And that’s the majority of them, not just the gullible rubes in fly over America. No wonder, so many Republicans were totally gobsmacked when Mitt lost. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

  47. 47
    MattF says:

    FOX’s aim is to get its viewers as riled up and as misinformed as possible. Who doesn’t know this? I feel some sympathy for Bartlett– discovering that you’ve been wrong about everything political and economic that has mattered to you for the past 30 years can’t be fun– but c’mon.

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @catclub:

    The fact is, the Democrats were starting to change in their attitude toward blacks in the 30’s. Harry Truman is the guy who rammed through desegregation of the military in the late 40’s. Lyndon Johnson, a guy from a state in the old Confederacy, is the guy who pushed through Civil Rights in the 60’s knowing full well that it would cost the Democrats the South for at least a generation.

    Never mind that the guy who started the defense of segregation movement, Strom Thurmond, became a Republican in the 60’s, which kinda opened up the gates for all those old racist Dems to abandon their traditional party and bring their poison to the Party of Lincoln.

  49. 49
    catclub says:

    @Violet: As soon as they find a sugar daddy. Which I think is what they are trolling for.

    On another note, someone posted that Rove was in the bubble and also flabbergasted by the results. I am not sure. He is in it for the long con, so cannot break character by admitting any unapproved knowledge. Or he is in the bubble. I do not know for sure.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @catclub:

    Agreed on Rove. It’s just not possible to discern if he’s maintaining character to sustain the con, or if he’s an actual true believer, one who won’t let actual math interfere with his wishful thinking math.

  51. 51
    schrodinger's cat says:

    All these “reasonable conservatives” are like particularly slow children, do they want a cookie for finally realizing how monstrous their party has become?

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @NotMax:

    Had no idea that sheep could read.

    What gave you the impression that Fox watchers were reading those books? The authors’ goal is to get people to buy them so they can get paid, and the buyers’ goal is to leave them in a prominent place so other wingnuts can see that they are a member in good standing of the tribe. The only reading involved is the cover.

  53. 53
    MikeJ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    All these “reasonable conservatives” are like particularly slow children, do they want a cookie for finally realizing how monstrous their party has become?

    Dumber than that. Frum spent years railing against the mendacity of the Republican party and still backed Mitt.

  54. 54
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @MikeJ: May be he was angling for a speech writing gig.

  55. 55
    calabi-yeow says:

    RE: # 17

    aimai says:

    “He has the steepest learning curve of anyone who is not a unicellular organism…”

    Exactly.

    While I applaud Bartlett’s apparent epiphany (cheek-to-jowl with Krugman, to his dismay), the reader of his current article has the impression that his epiphanies are always the same…..and then he forgets them until it’s time to write a new book to explain the mind-blowing revelations of his latest epiphany.

    The only epiphany that he really needs to remember is that studying objective research really goes a long way in figuring out reality and life…..political or otherwise.

  56. 56
    Bill Arnold says:

    @ruemara:
    But don’t you dare say they are an arm of the Republican Party.

    Wasn’t Roger Ailes pitching the idea of a Republican news channel prior to the launching of Fox News?
    (I didn’t find a cite in a brief search but am certain this was discussed somewhere in the last year.)

  57. 57
    El Tiburon says:

    After excoriating Republicans and professing his utter hatred for Bush, he writes

    Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat.

    Then exactly what the fuck are you?

    Look, I don’t have a hard-on for single-payer or socialized medicine or a decent living wage necessarily because I am a liberal. I have a hard-on for these things because they make the most economical sense. So, in a way I guess that makes me a conservative. Who the fuck knows.

    If initiating a socialized healthcare system cost TWICE as much with worse results, then I wouldn’t want it. If paying a decent wage REALLY made US corporations unable to compete, then perhaps I wouldn’t care so much. But we know, WE ALL FUCKING know we can provide healthcare cheaper. WE ALL FUCKING know that providing a decent wage makes the entire country stronger.

    And Bruce Bartlett must know this. I don’t want my government to make big-screen TVs. I don’t want socialized shoe stores. I only want socialized medicine because it makes sense. That I happen to be a liberal is beside the point.

  58. 58
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    This explains people jumping up and down for the jumbotron, this explains the Jerry Springer Show, this explains Wapner and Judge Judy.

    I don’t know about the other ones, but I had some sympathy for the people who wound up on The People’s Court. They got to have about the same kind of justice they would have gotten with a regular small claims court, but they were paid enough for appearing to cover any judgment. I never got the impression that they were a bunch of publicity hounds the way people who appear on Springer are.

  59. 59
    Chris says:

    @Judas Escargot, Bringer of Loaves and Fish Sandwiches:

    IMO folks should be quite scared at just how ‘In the Bubble’ Rove, Romney and all the rest turned out to be. And even more scared at how close they came to winning. Even I had assumed that the grifters running the show had at least some grip on actual Reality.

    At some point in the months before the election, I came to the conclusion that the popular stereotype of Republican leaders and financiers as evil masterminds tricking the hapless rubes into voting against their interest was completely wrong, and that in reality, the elites were just as fucking insane and blinded by ideology as their marks. Maybe even more so, when you consider the extent to which money and power can insulate you from reality.

    The aftermath of the election confirmed it. From Mitt Romney to Karl Rove to virtually everyone, they completely fell for their own con. All of them. Hook, line, and sinker. They really believed that all they had to do was point at Nate Silver’s polls, scream “LIBERAL!” and reality would just obligingly bend to their will the same way Fox News’ image of it does. Oops.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Then exactly what the fuck are you?

    Thank you.

    I fucking hate these people who’re out there wailing “oh, if ONLY the Republican Party wasn’t so crazy – I wish I could vote for them, I really do!” – ran into a couple more of them over Thanksgiving.

    Why? They’ve proven to you that they’re completely full of shit. The other party isn’t. Maybe, just maybe, that’s a sign that the Democratic Party has a better grasp of reality and that instead of holding your nose and praying that you can get back to the GOP as soon as possible, you should be taking another look at the party and looking at what it is that made them right while the people you’re pining after were wrong.

  61. 61
    MattF says:

    @Chris: It’s pretty well known that ‘evidence’ is low on the list of things that changes people’s minds. Much higher on the list is dysfunction in the social structure that enforces belief. FWIW, that’s what I think we’re starting to see.

  62. 62
    FairEconomist says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S.:

    It’s hard to know what becomes of our two-party system if the Republicans keep going the way they’re going. Our system really isn’t set up to have three national parties.

    The normal situation in the United States is a one-and-a-half party system. One party dominates, the other wins only occasionally, mostly due to screwups by the main party or major external events. The country was Democrat-Republican from Jefferson through Monroe, Democratic from Jackson through Buchanan, Republican Lincoln through Hayes and McKinley through Hoover, and Democratic FDR through Carter. The current system, where both parties have been in the running for 32 years, is unprecedented. The Republicans fading to a whiny minority which obstructs and wins only due to major catastrophes for the Democrats would just be a reversion to normalcy.

  63. 63
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris:
    I have a tiny shred of sympathy, but not much. They’re basically stuck in the tribal view of politics, but in the unpleasant position of recognizing that their tribe is out of touch with reality. They can’t stand to stick with their tribe because of the crazy, but they hate the idea of joining another tribe even more, so they’re left out in the open with no friends. It’s a sorry position to be in, even if they could solve it by giving in and accepting membership in the other tribe.

  64. 64
    Svensker says:

    @Chris:

    From Mitt Romney to Karl Rove to virtually everyone, they completely fell for their own con. All of them. Hook, line, and sinker. They really believed that all they had to do was point at Nate Silver’s polls, scream “LIBERAL!” and reality would just obligingly bend to their will the same way Fox News’ image of it does. Oops.

    Yes.

  65. 65
    Mike in NC says:

    @ruemara:

    But don’t you dare say they are an arm of the Republican Party.

    Well how about armpit or asshole?

    “We report, you decide.”

  66. 66
    David in NY says:

    @muddy: Thanks. I’d never heard the joke.

  67. 67
    Chris says:

    @MattF:

    It’s pretty well known that ‘evidence’ is low on the list of things that changes people’s minds.

    To that extent, though?

    Personally, I actively seek out shit like Nate Silver’s polls, and I would think any human being with a shred of sense would too. Not because I want to be told my side is winning, but because if my side isn’t winning, I want to fucking know. One, it lets you know whether your side is doing things right, and if it’s not (and you read the polls early enough), you can change course. Two, it lets you emotionally prepare for election night, so that you’re not bitch-slapped with a defeat and left shell-shocked and gasping for breath like Rove was on TV.

    Facts matter. Even if you’re a complete asshole trying to pursue a selfish and antidemocratic agenda, facts still matter, and you’re not going to get very far if you don’t respect them.

  68. 68
    muddy says:

    @David in NY: Nothing funnier than the Cold War!

  69. 69
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    They’re basically stuck in the tribal view of politics, but in the unpleasant position of recognizing that their tribe is out of touch with reality.

    I was in that position as a late teenager in the mid-2000s, having been a Republican for the previous few years of my politically aware life, but being showered with proof after proof that the people I thought I should support were unqualified charlatans, people who weren’t even remotely interested in performing their duties and who couldn’t find their own hands if you started them looking at their wrists.

    So what did I do?

    I went over to the Democrats. Because they were making a shred of sense, and the other party wasn’t.

    If the Democrats ever go as far down the insanity-hole as the Republicans had and have, I’ll probably switch sides again.

    And I will never understand people for whom it’s some sort of unthinkable heresy.

  70. 70
    Turgidson says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It’s a sorry position to be in, even if they could solve it by giving in and accepting membership in the other tribe.

    They don’t even have to do that. Take me, for example. I’m not a registered Democrat because they disappoint me regularly and I don’t want to be as easy to find for mailing lists, etc. I’m also to the left of the national party at the moment. But I vote straight Democratic ticket because they’re sane and the other party is not – other than local San Francisco races where I often choose between a Democrat and a Green party candidate.

    I’m not reflexively opposed to voting for a Republican for all time, but they have to become sane as a party first. And I won’t be the moran who votes for the semi-sane Republican against a flawed but still better Democrat (see Coakley v Brown) when the rest of the party is so fucking nuts and a vote for that person is by extension a vote for McConnell as majority leader, etc. It might feel good to reward them for running a barely-acceptable candidate, but all it does right now is allow the lunatics to tighten their stranglehold on power.

    Anyway, my point is, these idiots can just vote for Democrats for the time being without becoming a member of the party, if that makes it easier for them to get over their tribalism. But so few do it. They just say “but the Democrats are even worse!” without being able to enunciate a single good reason why.

  71. 71
    Steeplejack says:

    @catclub:

    Also, all the racists who had been in the Democratic Party pre-1964 stampeded over to the Republicans after the civil rights legislation was passed. That was the genesis of the GOP’s Southern strategy.

  72. 72
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I liked Bartlett until this piece when he revealed how incredibly stupid he is in real life. Too stupid to even understand how stupid he was portraying himself through his “journey”.

    We don’t stand a chance with the other 27% if they’re all this fucking stupid.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @Turgidson:

    And I won’t be the moran who votes for the semi-sane Republican against a flawed but still better Democrat (see Coakley v Brown) when the rest of the party is so fucking nuts and a vote for that person is by extension a vote for McConnell as majority leader, etc.

    1) I agree.

    2) Related: knowing what we know now, can anyone think of a single election, from 1932 onwards, where they would’ve voted for the Republican over the Democrat?

    Because I can’t. In local elections, sure, there’s probably plenty of elections where I would’ve voted for the Republican, but for president? I can’t think of a single one. Every last one, to my way of thinking, the country would have been better off, or at the very least no worse off, if it had voted for the Democrat.

  74. 74
    NCSteve says:

    Far less shocking, and far, far, far less consequential than the way the supposed real networks blacklisted Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein after they wrote “It’s Even Worse Than it Looks.”

    One day, they’re on the Sunday Show speed dial, then they write a book saying the Republicans are almost entirely at fault for DC’s dysfunction and *poof,* they’re unpersons.

  75. 75
    Roger Moore says:

    @Chris: @Turgidson:
    I think the major point is that some people are so tribal that they still identify with the tribe they were born into even after they’ve been shunned. They care so much about the tribe that they keep trying to get back in even though they know they were thrown out for heresy for telling the truth. It’s crazy, but it’s also deeply human and deserving of some small measure of sympathy.

  76. 76
    MattF says:

    @Chris: But, seriously, it shouldn’t be so hard to find a good Democrat. That’s what finally worked in my Congressional district (MD 8), where Connie Morella, a Republican who was well to the left of most Democrats on social issues, was finally defeated by Chris Van Hollen. Before that, frankly, she faced a series of lousy candidates and beat them easily.

  77. 77
    Turgidson says:

    @Roger Moore:

    but it’s also deeply human and deserving of some small measure of sympathy.

    Yes, I suppose so. But that sympathy is hard to maintain when this instinct compels them to vote for irredeemable fuckups like Bush or frauds like Romney just because they have the right party affiliation, even though they realize the candidate and/or the party they seek to lead is fucking insane.

    Tossing their vote to a 3rd party nobody whose platform they probably don’t even know or understand is less-bad, but still unfortunate.

    But I guess it’s easy for me to say. I grew up in a house where my dad didn’t vote and my mom was pretty liberal but occasionally voted Republican (not in presidential elections though, I don’t think). There was no tribal indoctrination.

  78. 78
    Turgidson says:

    @Chris:

    2) Related: knowing what we know now, can anyone think of a single election, from 1932 onwards, where they would’ve voted for the Republican over the Democrat?

    I don’t think so. My younger politically oblivious self from many years ago might have voted for Ike, but my less-oblivious adult self would be for Adlai all the way.

    That’s the only choice that’s even remotely a question, and just barely at that.

    There are some GOP candidates/presidents who wouldn’t have scared the bejesus out of me like the recent ones would have, did, and do. Landon, Dewey (maybe), Ike, Ford. HW Bush and Dole, almost. But Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Bush 2? Nutjobs the lot of them.

  79. 79
    WereBear says:

    @Roger Moore: They care so much about the tribe that they keep trying to get back in even though they know they were thrown out for heresy for telling the truth. It’s crazy, but it’s also deeply human and deserving of some small measure of sympathy.

    I think it’s also a self-esteem problem; they are going to go crawling to a LESSER tribe? Better to crawl to what they see as the BETTER one…

  80. 80
    EriktheRed says:

    @JPL:

    No, that little episode didn’t get a mention, which is kinda curious, since it was a big turning point.

  81. 81
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Chris:

    The aftermath of the election confirmed it. From Mitt Romney to Karl Rove to virtually everyone, they completely fell for their own con. All of them. Hook, line, and sinker.

    It resembles an end-of-the-world cult after the predicted end date has passed and the world is still present. A scramble to redo the calculations, reinterpret the scriptures, etc.

  82. 82
    EriktheRed says:

    @Chris:

    At some point in the months before the election, I came to the conclusion that the popular stereotype of Republican leaders and financiers as evil masterminds tricking the hapless rubes into voting against their interest was completely wrong, and that in reality, the elites were just as fucking insane and blinded by ideology as their marks. Maybe even more so, when you consider the extent to which money and power can insulate you from reality.

    That would probably explain why the wingnut owner of the Cubs initially had the idea that having his name attached to a plan designed to smear the President would be a good idea – even if said President’s home town happened the same one his team played in.

  83. 83
    Triassic Sands says:

    Sorry, but bankrupting America is not betraying the Reagan legacy. By claiming that, Bartlett is just as guilty of closing his eyes to reality as are other Republicans.

    I don’t know if there has ever been more damning commentary on a presidential strategy than that offered by David Stockman concerning Reagan’s plan to cut taxes and increase defense spending. The end result was to be deficits so large that Congress would have to gut one program after another (social safety net programs of course). They got the huge deficits part right, but disregarded the desire of representatives (and senators) to get re-elected. Reagan’s fiscal policies were the true beginning of genuinely grotesque fiscal irresponsibility, since they inaugurated the Republican dont’ tax and keep spending era.

    If Bartlett is claiming that Reagan had a responsible fiscal policy, then he is just one more dishonest member of the club to deify Reagan for imaginary policies and accomplishments.

    As David Frum has shown repeatedly, a willingness to criticize certain Republicans or aspects of their policies is not proof of honesty or sanity.

  84. 84
    EriktheRed says:

    @Turgidson:

    Hell, my younger, politically oblivious self voted for Reagan in ’84 (first time I was old enough to vote). Definitely wouldn’t do THAT again, I can tell ya.

  85. 85
    Chris says:

    @Triassic Sands:

    As David Frum has shown repeatedly, a willingness to criticize certain Republicans or aspects of their policies is not proof of honesty or sanity.

    This. Reminds me of a wingnut relative who recently told me “you’ve got to look for objective and honest news even if you don’t agree with it!” and pointed to Instapundit as his holy grail for such news. Never mind that IP fell for the Iraq bullshit hook, line and sinker, never mind that it spawned the “literally sent brownshirted enforcers!” meme… etc.

    It’s one of the many problems with people who’ve lived in the bubble for so long. For a lot of them, even when they’re dimly aware that they’re being lied to and should probably seek some alternative viewpoint somewhere, there are sharp limits to how far and in what directions they’re willing to venture outside the bubble. Roger Moore’s point about tribalism, I suppose.

  86. 86
    pattonbt says:

    @Greg: Fox News has been obvious since the 90’s. Maybe they’ve gotten worse each year and now have dropped any pretense whatsoever, but they’ve been awful for a long time.

  87. 87
    RayFerd says:

    Fair and balanced (if we want to hear what you will be saying)

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