Paranoia self-destroyer

TNR has another round-up of what various Vichy liberal pro-war toadies say about Operation Iraqi Freedom now. They’re almost all pretty bad (though in fairness, TNR did mix in a few actual anti-war people, who wrote intelligent things about why they were right), but Michael Ignatieff’s might be the worst; he mostly discusses how even though Iraq didn’t go perfectly…..SYRIA MOTHERFUCKERS.

It amazes me that Canada’s Liberal party put this guy up as their leader in the last election. I certainly wasn’t surprised that the party did 8 points worse than they had in the previous election.

I feel the same way about what’s happening to the Lib Dems in UK politics. If you watch the polls and compare them with the last election (here’s a great chart of UK election results over the years), you’ll see that the combined Labor/Lib Dem percentage has remained roughly constant since the last election; the Lib Dems have lost about ten percent and Labor has gained about ten percent. (Meanwhile, the Conservative percentage has gone down as the far right UKIP party has gained, but that’s a different discussion.) No one seems to dispute that this is because Nick Clegg went along with Cameron’s crazy, unpopular economic policies.

I’m always wary of comparing politics from different countries, but I do think there’s a lesson here and it’s the same lesson Democrats who supported the Iraq War (out of fear of being mocked as unserious) should have learned: Don’t lose your nerve and start going along with right-wing policies. Don’t make neocons and crypto-conservatives the leaders of your party if you’re a party on the left.

It’s easy for people on the left to be paranoid, especially in the US, after the last 40 years of craziness. But right-wing policies — stupid wars, austerity, cuts to entitlements — are unpopular in the long run, so stay the fuck away from them if you want to win elections.

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66 replies
  1. 1
    Culture of Truth says:

    Obama just gave a historic speech in Israel, also handed Bibi Netanyahu his ass.

  2. 2
    Loviatar says:

    Don’t lose your nerve and start going along with right-wing policies. Don’t make neocons and crypto-conservatives the leaders of your party if you’re a party on the left.

    Hmmm, I wonder who this quote could describe
    .

    Obama: More Moderate Republican Than Socialist

    “I don’t know that there are a lot of Cubans or Venezuelans, Americans who believe that,” Obama said. “The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

  3. 3
    Scott P. says:

    Why are you stepping on mistermix’ post?

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist ;-)

  4. 4
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    The Iraq invasion was really just the cherry on the shit sundae of Democratic capitulation – The whole DLC Democrat scene was about kowtowing to the right.

  5. 5
    srv says:

    Don’t lose your nerve and start going along with right-wing policies.

    I think that boat sailed in the late 70’s.

  6. 6
    Mike E says:

    There’s a Red under my bed
    there’s a lil’ yellow man in my head

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Whose idea was it for him to go to Israel anyway?…Oh…

    But right-wing policies — stupid wars, austerity, cuts to entitlements — are unpopular in the long run, so stay the fuck away from them if you want to win elections.

    We have federal elections in this country every two years, however. There is no long run without winning the short run also.

    The best four years of the last forty were 1993-94 and 2009-10, when the Democrats controlled all of the political branches, and they were rewarded for their efforts by Republican wave elections. Until that dynamic changes, the Democratic Party will continue to go on in a muddled state.

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    They can’t get over the fact that the DFHs were right about Iraq from the beginning.

    It drives them crazy.

  9. 9
    JustMe says:

    Clegg has had the power to stop austerity in its tracks at any moment simply by leaving the coalition, and I don’t understand why he hasn’t done this, unless he actually agrees with it. And in that case, the dropping support for the LibDems is completely understandable and justified. But Clegg has to realize that he has nuked his own party.

  10. 10
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Baud:

    The best four years of the last forty were 1993-94 and 2009-10, when the Democrats controlled all of the political branches, and they were rewarded for their efforts by Republican wave elections. Until that dynamic changes, the Democratic Party will continue to go on in a muddled state.

    Yeah, it’s kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, isn’t it? Are we fucked up because the Dem leadership can’t figure out what they want to be, or because the voters can’t make up their fucking minds what they want?

    It also doesn’t help that our cyclic pattern of having distinctly different electorates show up for Presidential-year and midterm elections is a recipe for gridlock. The US political system is like a dysfunctional family stuck in the McDonald’s drive-thru going nowhere arguing over what to order from the menu while Mom and Dad trade blows fighting over whose turn it is to be in the driver’s seat.

  11. 11
    the Conster says:

    Atrios linked to this piece of awesomeness kicking that self-important wanker Ignatieff right in the junk. Chait did a lame mea culpa too. What a bunch of fucking FAIL in all directions.

  12. 12
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    But right-wing policies — stupid wars, austerity, cuts to entitlements — are unpopular in the long run, so stay the fuck away from them if you want to win elections.

    That’s pretty much why Markos started DK.

  13. 13

    @Xecky Gilchrist: The whole point of the DLC/Turd Way/New Dems is to kill the Democratic Party and move this country to the right. After all, who funds most of them? Who funds turds like Rahm Emanuel? Corporations and rich people. Chicago is getting a lesson in the fact that just because you call yourself a Democrat doesn’t mean you are one.

  14. 14
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I think the ice has cracked if it hasn’t broken up, but for almost twenty years, the hierarchy of Seriousness was Democrats chasing the approval of Tim Russert and David Broder, while Broder and Russert chased the approval of Tom DeLay and Rush Limbaugh.

    The Israel trip underscores this, I think it was Rachel who had a clip last night of Brian Williams, the son of Brokaw and Russert, asking Obama last May, in a tone of scolding disappointment, “Why haven’t you visited Israel in your first term?” Neither Reagan nor Bush nor I think Clinton visited Israel in their first term, but the Noise Machine decided this was the greatest insult to our greatest ally, so the MSM chased that butterfly. Also, too, White House tours.

  15. 15
    scav says:

    scusi, therspeutic OT linkage to Joliet Diocese document dump (writeup).. Our moral betters and their not to be infringed upon freedom.

    Reached at his home in New Lenox, retired Bishop Joseph Imesch, 81, said he didn’t want to discuss details of the revelations in the documents.

    “I’m not going to rehash all of this. I know what I did; I know what I should have done,” he said, expressing frustration with the way news reports portrayed his conduct.

    When a reporter informed him that a Tribune story was being prepared to report on the newly released documents, Imesch said, “Sure. Sex and the priests, let’s blast it all over the place. Never let it go.”

    Berthiaume, an old acquaintance of Imesch, had served prison time in Michigan for a child molestation conviction in 1977. Imesch has acknowledged that he was aware of his friend’s past when he brought him to the Joliet Diocese.

  16. 16
    Mike E says:

    @the Conster: That was great, but I really miss The Editors with the Winger, cowbell, and grip ‘n’ sip themes. Gotta call the crazy self delusion for what it is.

  17. 17
    Bighorn Ordovian Dolomite says:

    Wow. Some of those pieces of after-the-fact rationalization were not good for my blood pressure. Basically I’d sum it up like this: if you were just a common shmoe and were in favor of the Iraq invasion you were either a gullible moron, or simply bloodthirsty; if you were a member of the national media and were in favor of the invasion, you were either a gullible moron, a cynical careerist, simply bloodthirsty, or a some combination thereof.

    If you were one of those things ten years ago and still can’t own up to it, you are basically an evil narcissist who should avoid passing go and just fuck straight off.

  18. 18
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Why haven’t you visited Israel in your first term?

    Fuck Israel. Seriously, they can just go to hell so far as I’m concerned. If any other nation state spied on us, meddled to an outrageous degree in our domestic politics, and did as much damage to American geopolitical interests, consistently and repeatedly over a period spanning multiple decades, as Israel has done, we’d be talking about putting them on the Axis of Enemies list and fantasize about bombing them. Remember the fucking Liberty, godammit.

  19. 19
    Svensker says:

    @the Conster:

    I love that Ignatieff essay. Heh. Also, hah.

  20. 20
    the Conster says:

    @Svensker:

    …a collection of vague aphorisms and bong-poster koans. It hums with the comforting murmur of lobotomy.

    That’s some good shit.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    the Conster says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    So are you an anti-semite or a self hating Jew? [snark tag]

  23. 23
    patroclus says:

    If Nick Clegg knew what was good for him and his party, he would tank the coalition with the Tories soon. The minute they refused to go along with even partial proportional representation should have been the trigger, but student fees and all those austerity cuts could have been the tipping point as well. But they’re thinking short term – the Lib Dems won the most recent by-election – and they apparently believe that the national polls are not indicative of where the voters “really” are and will reward them for actually being part of a governing coalition for the first time since WWII. And, they made some promises about how the coalition was going to last for five years because…well, just because.

    My guess is that the Lib Dems will be laid low (again) in the next general election (2015, presumably).

  24. 24
    gene108 says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    The DLC was awful. They should’ve copied Mondale’s winning formula from 1984 or Dukakis’s from 1988.

  25. 25
    Craigo says:

    @JustMe: If the Lib Dems leave the coalition, it will lead to an election in which they will inevitably be annihilated – they’re currently polling at about half of what they achieved in the last go round. Clegg would rather stay handcuffed to a corpse than become one himself.

  26. 26
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Craigo:

    Clegg would rather stay handcuffed to a corpse than become one himself.

    I imagine the German General Staff circa 1917 would have some useful advice for him, then. Maybe he can send Lenin to Edinburgh in a sealed train.

  27. 27
    scav says:

    @Craigo: Good for the short term for Craig (in certain limited circles), damn the party, glug glugglug ahead, with even more glugginess.

  28. 28
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @gene108: I’m not going to claim the DLC didn’t have reasons for doing what they did – but I’m going to guess that Mondale’s and Dukakis’ problems – as well as Kerry’s in 2004 – had a lot more to do with charisma than policy.

  29. 29
    Jay C says:

    @Craigo:

    Isn’t Clegg’s (and the Lib Dems in general) problem that they are basically the third party in a fundamentally two-party system? ISTM that their electoral support derives not so much from their own Party’s policies (and/or the popularity thereof), but mainly from distaste/disappointment with one or another of the other two (Labour, mainly).

    This situation might make for some interesting coalitions now and again, but doesn’t create a lot of long-term political stability. Which two-party systems, for all their obvious flaws, tend to do…

  30. 30
    Culture of Truth says:

    Charisma might have helped a little, but nowhere near enough in 84 or 88. We always remember the winners this way, but really, how charismatic was George Herbert Walker Bush?

  31. 31
    NonyNony says:

    @Jay C:

    My read is that Clegg’s problem is that he and the other Liberal Dems wanted to be the UK’s Libertarian Party and thought they had won their seats based on that, while in fact they won their seats on the perception that they were a Liberal Party that wasn’t New Labour.

    As it dawns on UK voters that the Lib Dems are not actually a Liberal party despite their name, they leave.

  32. 32
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @Culture of Truth: Compared to Dukakis, rather.

  33. 33
    Culture of Truth says:

    That’s not to say Dems needed to shift right, but that 1984 was a pretty much hopeless cause, for cyclical reasons, probably.

    That said, I cringed at his delivery, from ‘where’s the beef’ to ‘I like Ronald Reagan’ to his promise to raise taxes.

  34. 34
    scav says:

    @Jay C: Don’t confuse stability with sanity.

    The current two-party extravaganza isn’t exactly covering itself in existential glory.

    To a certain degree, it’s all just rearranging when compromises are made and how directly voters can express preferences, before pimaries or later. Neither way is perfect. LibDems and Concervatives aren’t exactly a natural fit (at least for a large strain of what LibDem supporters wanted, it had never been tested) and Clegg seems to be a little giddy with being elected and self-serving, not an unexpected trait in a politico.

  35. 35
    Culture of Truth says:

    The Duke was no less charismatic, though shorter and more swarthy. Rather, as he acknowledged, he ran a terrible campaign.

  36. 36
    gene108 says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    Bush, Sr. ain’t that charismatic.

    Americans really liked what Bush, Sr. and Reagan were saying about American exceptionalism, individualism and law and order.

  37. 37
    Nemo_N says:

    But right-wing policies — stupid wars, austerity, cuts to entitlements — are unpopular in the long run, so stay the fuck away from them if you want to win elections.

    But that’s so naive because fairyland! And ineffective! Lefties should be practical and do and say nothing, or better yet, do and say everything rightwingers say and do!

    It’s the mature, rational thing to do.

  38. 38
    Mike in NC says:

    Michael Ignatieff’s might be the worst; he mostly discusses how even though Iraq didn’t go perfectly…..SYRIA MOTHERFUCKERS.

    Krauthammer was pushing that crud back in 2004: “We got Baghdad, now on to Damascus!”

  39. 39
    gene108 says:

    @gene108:

    Also, too we all have “skeletons in our closets”, whether it’s the fact we spilled milk on mommy’s papers and never told her or crashed a car or something worse, we all have shit we’ve done we aren’t happy about and damn near no one I know likes to be reminded about that shit.

    If you look at an American’s relationship to U.S. government/history from this perspective the fact many Americans really don’t want to discuss the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow, sexual discrimination, Vietnam etc. and focus on the happy memories makes a lot more sense, as well as following paths they think would bring about more happy memories like fighting another “just war” of “liberation”, like WW2.

  40. 40
    Suffern ACE says:

    I’m always wary of comparing politics from different countries, but I do think there’s a lesson here and it’s the same lesson Democrats who supported the Iraq War (out of fear of being mocked as unserious) should have learned: Don’t lose your nerve and start going along with right-wing policies. Don’t make neocons and crypto-conservatives the leaders of your party if you’re a party on the left.

    O.K. But who are we talking about here? Did the Democrats who supported the invasion and occupation offer different reasons for doing so than the Republicans? Were they really acting out of fear losing face or elections, or did they actually believe that the occupation was the right thing to do? Our leaders in both parties aren’t peaceful people who get caught up in war mania from time to time. I think they are a very bellicose set who occasionally get peace mania.

  41. 41
    Chris says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    I’m going to guess that it had to do with the eighties being the absolute culmination (at least in presidential elections) of the Republican strategy of “bring in all the white people who still have racial hangupts out the wazoo,” done at a time when white people were still enough of an overwhelming majority in this country that playing on their prejudices was all it took.

    If the ratio of white-to-nonwhite-Americans had been the same in 2008 as it was in the eighties, McCain would be president right now. If the ratio of white-to-nonwhite-Americans had been the same in 2012 as it was in the eighties, Romney would be president right now. And all of Obama’s charisma wouldn’t have done a thing to change that. The personality of Mondale and Dukakis doesn’t come into it.

    (Which largely why Republicans’ minds are so boggled by the election results – they did exactly the same things that got Reagan and Bush elected, why didn’t it work this time?)

  42. 42
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    More simply, “Reagan made white people comfortable with their prejudices again, and they loved him for it.”

  43. 43
    Turgidson says:

    Wow, some of the people in that TNR symposium are real fucking assholes. Particularly Paul Berman:

    America was drawn into these conflicts of past and present because, in both cases, the isolationist alternative was fantastical nonsense.

    Burn that strawman! Burn it good! Fucking moron. Yes, the only alternative was isolationism, dipshit.

    Some people argue that al Qaeda in its global version underwent its most grievous defeats during the Iraqi surge

    Who says that? The little woodpecker drilling a hole in McCain’s head?

    Egads.

  44. 44
    Tom Q says:

    1) Responding to the original point: Now that Iraq is officially in the books as a disaster, it’s a bit easy to say all Dems should have been against it. One might remember that the immediate antecedent for this vote was the Gulf War I vote in 1990, where many Dems felt they got burned because they imagined a quagmire and instead ended up on the wrong side of an immensely popular slam-dunk military operation. Max Cleland, for one, likely lost his seat over that vote, so I’m not quite as instantly condemnatory ovre purple-state Dems hedging their bets in ’02 — even though it turned out as horribly as is imaginable, that wasn’t clear ahead of time.

    2) Re: The DLC in the 80s – There’s a story about Jack Nicholson during the 60s, when he couldn’t hired to save his life. His agent — breaking the news to him that he’d missed out on yet another job — said “They don’t want you. But if the time comes they DO want you, they’ll want you and nobody else”. The DLC wasn’t that patient. They came along when the voters didn’t want Democrats, and, instead of waiting out the inevitable shift (Republicans, of course, had been equally unpopular for 35 years mid-century, but eventually returned), concocted a method by which nominal Democrats could be elected in a time when voters weren’t keen on real Democrats.

    The problem is, now that the pendulum has swung, and the country wants real Democrats again, these pretend Democrats are still in there, weakening policy (like the stimulus & health care) that might have been more popular if full-throated, and always hesitant about further pushes in progressive direction even when the public (by polling) fully supports it.

  45. 45
    Chris says:

    @Turgidson:

    Some people argue that al Qaeda in its global version underwent its most grievous defeats during the Iraqi surge

    Al-Qaeda underwent grievous strains in Iraq because a couple years of their presence there convinced the Sunni militias who’d partnered up with them that “these people really are completely fucking crazy” to the point that they didn’t want to work with them anymore.

    If that’s your objective – al-Qaeda was already similarly “strained” by the 9/11 attacks and the reaction of disgust they provoked all over the Muslim world. All the Iraq War did was provoke a similar reaction of disgust towards the U.S, which gave al-Qaeda a second chance at hearts and minds by posing itself as a defender of the people against unhinged American imperialism. (They blew that one, too, but that’s not exactly a credit to the Bush administration).

  46. 46
    Chris says:

    @Tom Q:

    2) Re: The DLC in the 80s – There’s a story about Jack Nicholson during the 60s, when he couldn’t hired to save his life. His agent — breaking the news to him that he’d missed out on yet another job — said “They don’t want you. But if the time comes they DO want you, they’ll want you and nobody else”. The DLC wasn’t that patient. They came along when the voters didn’t want Democrats, and, instead of waiting out the inevitable shift (Republicans, of course, had been equally unpopular for 35 years mid-century, but eventually returned), concocted a method by which nominal Democrats could be elected in a time when voters weren’t keen on real Democrats.

    But what would’ve happened to the Republicans during those mid-century years of unpopularity, if Eisenhower and his moderates hadn’t been able to salvage the Republican brand and keep it alive, albeit in a moderate and almost liberal form, while the National Review and John Birch Society sat in the corner and howled? If the Republican Party had remained full metal wingnut instead of adapting to the times, would they even have been able to have their comeback in the seventies, or would the party have simply disappeared completely, taking the chances of a revival with it?

  47. 47
    Jay C says:

    @Turgidson:

    OK, I know he’s been typed as “the liberals’ favorite conservative” – mainly for his takedowns of right-wing foreign-policy shibboleths – but Daniel Larison has been all over this “isolationism” nonsense on his blog; and has, as usual, deflated said bogus neocon arguments with panache.

  48. 48
    Turgidson says:

    @Chris:

    That it happened “during the surge” I can buy, which is what he said. I took that to imply he meant “because of” the surge. To that, no.

  49. 49
    Tom Q says:

    @Chris: I’m not sure the Eisenhower administration wasn’t anomalous. A great many people who supported Ike (including Edward R. Murrow) were people who’d been staunch FDR folk, but saw that Truman’s staggeringly low popularity had made a party change at the presidential level inevitable, and they worked to make the guy closest to their tolerance level the GOP candidate. And, of course, Ike spent most of his White House years in the thrall of a strongly Democratic Congress.

    Nixon is another matter, and an interesting place to ponder your argument. Nixon is by all modern measures a moderate, but, given how he broke apart the post-FDR consensus, I think you’d have to say he pushed his party to the right more signficantly than the DLC wanted Clinton or even Obama to do for the left — in his Supreme Court appointments, and even the simple gesture of having Reagan chair the ’72 convention, he opened the door for the final takeover by the very National Rview/Bircher crowd you mention.

  50. 50
    mikej(droid) says:

    Most of the lib dem voters I know were just k3wl kids who didn’t vote Labour because badasThatchersoldusoutunderthebus. I think they were all a lot happier when they couldn’t get anywhere near government.

  51. 51
    Fair Economist says:

    @Chris:

    If the ratio of white-to-nonwhite-Americans had been the same in 2008 as it was in the eighties, McCain would be president right now.

    And if the ratios in the 80’s had been what they are now, Dukakis would have won, and Reagan’s 1980 win would have been a squeaker (about 51-49%, by my quickie spreadsheet). And while Reagan would have been elected, he probably wouldn’t have had the votes in Congress to accomplish the Reagan “Revolution”. Basically racist whites used to be a majority compared to non-racists whites plus denigrated minorities; now they’ve become a minority.

    It seems the entire period of Republican renaissance was driven by racism, not policy. The “what’s wrong with Kansas” problem seems to be that a significant proportion of white voters will vote for the party favoring white privilege and they’ll espouse basically any nonsense necessary to do it.

    A side note is that politicians should advocate good policies, not what polls as popular, because people aren’t voting on policy. When the Republican pale male group is completely and hopelessly out of power, *then* will be the time to tailor policies.

  52. 52
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Tom Q:

    The Nixon-Reagan relationship is fascinating. Nixon despised Reagan and thought he was a simple-minded cretin, while being jealous of Reagan’s obvious political gifts and fearful that Reagan might somehow stampede the 1972 convention into stealing the nomination (which goes to show just how insecure and paranoid Nixon was). There was an interesting vignette during Reagan’s 2nd term when he and his foreign policy team were debating which way to go in the upcoming arms limitation talks with the Soviet Union, in which Nixon was invited to the White House for a meeting with Reagan, but they had to sneak him in the back so nobody in the press would notice it, and then the two of them talked past each other during the actual meeting.

    You could write an interesting 1-act play with Nixon and Reagan in hell stuck together in a closed and locked elevator, and Nixon is the only one who realises where they are while Reagan refuses to believe him and thinks everything is peachy, just a little on the warm side.

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    I think Kerry’s troubles in 2004 had a whole lot more to do with his vote in favor of the Iraq War than with any charisma problem. That was a very, very close election — remember that the Republicans had to put anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballots of every swing state to get their voters to turn out for Bush.

  54. 54
    ArchPundit says:

    ==JOHN B. JUDIS: “This kind of rhetoric about America’s special role … most resembles the kind of moral-ideological rationale used by Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia.”

    Fucking amen. Also, too, see CPAC.

  55. 55
    David Koch says:

    Vichy liberal pro-war toadies say about Operation Iraqi Freedom now.

    You mean John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

  56. 56
    Downpuppy says:

    @the Conster: Chait’s “I knew they were lying but..” had me spitting nails.

    In what possible world is following a liar into a war sensible? And people read this clown?

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @Tom Q:

    Ike (and, arguably, Nixon/Ford) were anomalous because a Republican had to be anomalous in order to get anywhere in politics at that time, is my point. People like that allowed the Republican Party to survive instead of going the way of the Federalists, Whigs and Know-Nothings… which in turn meant that when the seventies rolled around, the truly crazy Gilded Age nostalgists (whom moderates like Eisenhower never cut their ties to even if they didn’t let them run the party anymore) still had a party through which to run their revolution. It wouldn’t have been impossible, but probably much harder, for them to make a comeback if they hadn’t had the GOP to work with.

    And the reason I brought it up was that the same could probably be said of DLC/Third Way Democrats in the post-Reagan era.

  58. 58
    Chris says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Well, couple points;

    1) Nixon hated everybody. Absolutely everybody. Well, certainly everybody in politics.

    2) Reagan was a simple-minded cretin, so it’s easy to see how Nixon could’ve taken him for one… :D

    and most importantly, 3): wasn’t Reagan’s “obvious political talent” pretty much 100% aping or going along with the Southern Strategy Nixon and his people invented? That’s certainly what allowed him to win so big both in California and in the national elections.

  59. 59
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Chris:

    3): wasn’t Reagan’s “obvious political talent” pretty much 100% aping or going along with the Southern Strategy Nixon and his people invented?

    If you read Nixonland in detail, paying attention to the Nixon-Reagan dynamic, you’ll notice that Reagan succeeded with this approach first (albeit with a regionalized CA-inflected flavor), before Nixon did it at the national level, and thus it was Nixon who was copying Reagan, not the other way around. Perlstein devotes an entire chapter to this.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    That’s what I get for not reading Nixonland, then. I always thought Nixon was the inventor of that campaign strategy and Reagan was just following his lead. I may have to reassess my opinion of Reagan (or at least whoever his campaign manager was :D) considerably in light of that.

  61. 61
    Tom Q says:

    @Chris: The difference as I see it is that the DLC (or blue-dog-ism, which is much the same thing) continued to try and assert itself during Obama’s first two years to the detriment of the party in a way that GOP moderates (at least to the eye of a horrified Democrat) didn’t during Reagan’s comparable period. Even today, with polls practically screaming to concentrate on job creation and soft-pedal the deficit, it’s hard to get Democratic unanimity on that because of DLC hangover. I think Obama has moved the window more than Progressives give him credit for (and more than a confirmed DLC-er like Hillary would have), but I think at least in these past few years the DLC has been a hindrance in a way the GOP establishment wasn’t for Reagan once they’d accepted him as the 1980 nominee.

  62. 62
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Tom Q:

    I think at least in these past few years the DLC has been a hindrance in a way the GOP establishment wasn’t for Reagan once they’d accepted him as the 1980 nominee.

    I agree with your summary.

    I think there a historical reasons why GOP moderates were not an albatross around Reagan’s neck to the same degree, which go back to Nixon.

    Nixon hated those people. Not just garden variety Nixon-hate, he really hated them. To him, they were just as much a part of the pointy headed elite liberal establishment which had persecuted him for all of his life as any Democrat, and while Nixon adopted a moderately liberal domestic policy as a matter of tactical convenience, and had little choice in the matter given the composition of the Congress during his admin, he worked tirelessly and ruthlessly to purge the ranks of the executive branch of anybody with a taint of the liberal establishment about them, regardless of party affilation, and he did the same thing with the institutional structure of the GOP. Basically Nixon cut the nuts off of the liberal/moderate wing of the GOP and then when Reagan came around later, they didn’t have the institutional power base in the RNC and other internal party bodies needed to effectively oppose him. Add in a pinch of authoritarian follower behavior, and there you are.

    The DLC on the other hand has not been purged from the instutional ranks of the Democratic Party by Obama, they are still around and kicking.

  63. 63

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: The DLC on the other hand has not been purged from the instutional ranks of the Democratic Party

    Wow, no shit not purged with Hillary the odds on favorite to show the GOP that their Bush fetishism can be outdone. Or maybe the hero WJ Clinton winning the election for Obama theme? That would be the guy that signed a number of the GOP wetdreams that came back to haunt us with a vengence and are conveniently brushed aside.
    On another side of the equation lies the little detail that measured by results the DLC still runs the show in Congress.
    (if by DLC one means the Democratic version of plutocrat enabling)

    (but then maybe I missed the part where the Obama Admin and political apparatus have been progressive and forward leaning – beyond “look forward, not back”)

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    mclaren says:

    @Chuck Butcher:

    Not to mention the most toxic and authoritarian of all the venomous DLC-approved insects, Joe Biden — author of the most treasonously unconstitutional blueprint for authoritarianism in American history, the USA Patriot Act; author of the legislation that first set up a national Drug Czar, and the legislator who called openly for the War on Drugs to escalate to “a D-Day,” and an eager advocate for staying in Iraq for 4 long bloody pointless insane self-destructive years.

    If there’s a neocon policy that will wreck America, Joe Biden loves it. If there’s a piece of legislation that will brutalize American citizens and strip them of their rights, chances are Joe Biden authored it (or co-authored it). If there’s an evil insane war of aggression, Joe Biden has signed onto it, and wants to expand it.

    Joe Biden is the American Stalin. He needs to be tried for treason. The only question at this point is what the punishment should be when Joe Biden is found guilty by a jury of his peers: firing squad? Hanging? Electric chair? Gas chamber? Reasonable people can disagree.

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    mclaren says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    If you read Nixonland in detail, paying attention to the Nixon-Reagan dynamic, you’ll notice that Reagan succeeded with this approach first (albeit with a regionalized CA-inflected flavor), before Nixon did it at the national level, and thus it was Nixon who was copying Reagan, not the other way around. Perlstein devotes an entire chapter to this.

    Exactly right. Reagan remains the most sinister and destructive figure in American political history precisely because he managed to implement such a wide variety of sadistic and brutally destructive policies, while remaining a beloved public figure.

    Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon were never well-liked, though they had supporters. But Reagan was adored even by people who should have known better.

    Reagan had the remarkable gift of getting the people whose lives he destroyed to cheer him until their throats were raw. I remember seeing this vividly up close and personal during the 1980s: fellow college students whose federal grant money got slashed courtesy of Reagan’s regressive policies nonetheless turned out to applaud Reagan’s speeches until their hands were raw.

    It was a spectacle so hallucinogenic that it put me in mind of Voltaire’s adage about “Flies voting for the spiders even as they were caught in the web and slowly consumed.” (Or words to that effect.)

    Word has it that Perlman’s next book will be about Reagan. Let’s hope he reveals Reagan’s poisonous legacy as clearly as he laid bare Nixon’s.

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    mclaren says:

    @Chris:

    If the Republican Party had remained full metal wingnut instead of adapting to the times, would they even have been able to have their comeback in the seventies, or would the party have simply disappeared completely, taking the chances of a revival with it?

    Uh..what?

    Did you live through the same history in America I did?

    The Republican party was reasonably moderate up till the late 60s, and then the entire goddamn party turned full metal wingnut. Goldwater started the ball rolling by advocating nuclear-bombing Vietnam in 1964, Nixon cranked up the crazy with his “Southern Strategy” in which Spiro Agnew went out to suggest that antiwar Demos were traitors and Republican radio commentators openly cheered the Kent State murders of unarmed students by National Guardsmen while Ronald Reagan in 1970 proclaimed that in order to get rid of the pesky American antiwar protesters, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with.”

    Then Reagan ratcheted up the lunacy with welfare queens in Cadillacs and fairytales about how “forest fires have caused more pollution than all the smokestacks in America” while he slashed student aid and gutted welfare and openly sequestered funds appropriated by a Democratic congress to the point where American citizens had to sue the Reagan EPA in order to get it follow its own regulations and Ed Meese went to jail as attorney general while the assistant U.S. attorney wrote obscene graffiti about him in the hallways. Along the way, Reagan’s massive military buildup got so out of hand that Reagan joked on the radio that “the missiles are flying,” scaring the spit out of everyone in the studio.

    The cycle of Lovecraftian madness hit its nadir when the drunk-driving C student and his torturer sidekick trashed the U.S. economy with corrupt crony-capitalist tax cuts for billionaires while ramming through an illegal war of aggression and stripping away the financial regulations that had kept America from turning into a sinkhole of corruption.

    That’s a history of far-right extremism gone wild that’s so extreme, it sounds like an acid trip. In what sense did the Republican party “adapt to the times” between 1964 and 2000? The Republican party went insane, and got worse, for 40 years.

    This isn’t a story of a political adapting to the times, it’s a tale of a mental patient who starts out hearing voices and winds up on the roof with a sniper rifle taking out pedestrians.

    The success of the Republican party isn’t proof that realism triumph, it’s evidence that craziness sells like hotcakes in Shithole America.

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