“Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their
minority status, they will have no problem socializing with [the
majority.] Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and
are unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and
sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don’t go around peeing on
the furniture and such.”
Tom Ricks has been one of the most trenchant observers of the Iraq War and -- by extension -- a major writer for the Washington Post and author of a pair of books about Iraq. The latest, "The Gamble," has been up for discussion atForeign Policy. Ricks was asked why, if he's been so firmly against the war, he now sees removing all troops as a bad move.
I think that invading Iraq
preemptively on false premises, at the time that we already were at war
elsewhere, was probably the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign
policy. Everything we do in Iraq is the fruit of that poisoned tree.
But I think also that there are no good answers in Iraq,
just less bad ones. I think staying in Iraq is immoral, but I think leaving
immediately would be even more so, because of the risk it runs of leaving Iraq
to a civil war that could go regional. That is, I don't expect much to be gained
by staying, but I think much, much more could be lost by leaving right now.
Just pulling out unilaterally reminds me of Jerry Rubin's comment back in the
1960s that after the revolution, he would just "groove on the rubble."
I'm old enough to remember Jerry Rubin, and Barack Obama is
no Jerry Rubin. So I think he will have troops fighting and dying in Iraq for
many years to come. Yes, he will get the troop numbers down. But no, he won't
It's hard not to believe that, step after step, the Bush administration, for all of its incompetence was very competent in creating a no-win situation for its predecessor. We've all felt that from time to time. Now, given the incomplete rebuilding of Iraq, the apparently deliberate and dangerous neglect of Afghanistan, and of course the economic crash, it's impossible to avoid concluding that the Republican party has created a black hole from which this country may never emerge intact. If Obama manages to get us out of this, he'll have been more than just a damn good president. I hope his more thoughtless supporters won't make it even harder for him.
There really is a difference. You just have to go looking for it and (hint) you're more likely to find it in print than in blare. Rule of thumb: The louder and more frequently heard voice is like to be a "conservative." That's a conservative wannabe, a narcissist who's found his groove. The Republican party has been offering grooves real cheap for about 20 years. You sign on to shout; they'll arrange emoluments.
Ergo Rush, Sean, et al.
Much as their blind loyalty discredited the Right, perhaps the worst effect of Limbaugh et al.
has been their draining away of political energy from what might have
been a much more worthwhile project: the fostering of a middlebrow
conservatism. There is nothing wrong with lowbrow conservatism. It’s
energizing and fun. What’s wrong is the impression fixed in the minds
of too many Americans that conservatism is always lowbrow, an
impression our enemies gleefully reinforce when the opportunity arises.
Thus a liberal like E.J. Dionne can write, “The cause of Edmund Burke,
Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the
hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. … Reason has been overwhelmed by
propaganda, ideas by slogans.” Talk radio has contributed mightily to
does so by routinely descending into the ad hominem—Feminazis instead
of feminism—and catering to reflex rather than thought. Where once
conservatism had been about individualism, talk radio now rallies the
mob. “Revolt against the masses?” asked Jeffrey Hart. “Limbaugh is the
In place of the permanent things, we get Happy Meal conservatism: cheap, childish, familiar. ... John Derbyshire,The American Conservative
Not to mention deadly. Happy Meals and their equivalents are responsible for how much disease and death in America?
Betcha there are lobbyists lined up ready to prevent the answer from getting out. You could say ersatz conservatism like Limbaugh's (which too many liberals treat as the real thing, thus preventing any substantive progress) is also known to be a carcinogen. It's not doing us any good and, as John Derbyshire points out, it's positively wrecking the right.
Update: In a comment at Political Animal, Steve writes: "I propose that the Republican Party henceforth be referred to as the Rushian Party and Republicans be called Rushians."
Update: Marc Cooper writes: "The Republicans, meanwhile, have officially become the Party of No.... The Conservative Movement has now become an ongoing Clown Show, assuring that the so-called Republican base will steer its party into short and mid-term irrelevancy. That is, unless, you think that given the national mood that Mike Huckabee, Joe The Plumber, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh are credible figures to lead the opposition to Obama."
It's astounding to watch the avalanche of hate ooze from conservative media quarters. And why? Because Obama passed an economic recovery bill. Good Lord, imagine if he had failed to win the popular vote and then led the country into a pre-emptive war based on faulty intelligence, a war that lost thousands of American lives, and tens of thousands of foreign lives, while milking the U.S. treasury out of a few trillion dollars in the process. ... Eric Boehlert
Theological question: Why did God take eight years off? Or -- wait! -- was he behind the whole thing?
The twin towers are no more. And gone along with them are opportunities for Phillipe Petit to walk a carefully tensed rope between them -- a sight really hard to watch. Instead we have (shiver!) Barack Obama taking a no less perilous walk on a rope stretched between hope and reality, between banks and government, between economic adviser and economic adviser. For the time being, this tightrope walker understands that maintaining hope and a little obfuscation can affect reality positively. Well, maybe.
I heard a senior Administration official remark that seventy-five per cent of the country’s banks are probably upside down. Since, as with home mortgages, this is a condition of unrealized loss whose implications (i.e. bankruptcy) can be artfully postponed in many instances, there is an understandable desire to see if the economic downturn can be somehow finessed—or if the banks can simply be talked back into health. The viability of particular banks will be determined not only by the mathematical facts of the value of their holdings and debts, but also by the less easily measured ebb and flow of national confidence. Geithner et al must simultaneously produce a reliable accounting of bank balance sheets while simultaneously doing all within their honest powers to preserve and promote confidence in the banking system and the economy. This is a prescription for self-contradiction and we’ve been getting plenty of it.
So what's the solution? At least, what could get us safely off the tightrope? Temporary receivership?
... Geithner, Bernanke, and the President seem to
have organized themselves as a determined minority in resistance to the
gathering view among mainstream economists, even Alan Greenspan, that
the best solution to the bank problem, at this point, is, in fact,
temporary receivership—on the model of the Resolution Trust Corporation
that cleaned up the savings-and-loans industry in the early
nineteen-nineties, or the more routine receivership processes of the
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The reasons for the apparent struggle within the administration is described by Coll.
As an outsider to Wall Street and corporate life, Obama presumably
does not suffer from what I recently heard Paul Krugman refer to as
“cognitive regulatory dysfunction,” which is the tendency of Washington
regulators with Wall Street backgrounds and connections to overestimate
the value of Wall Street expertise. Obama did, however, take a great
deal of Wall Street money while running for President. He has
surrounded himself with both Wall Street mandarins and others (Gene
Sperling, Peter Orszag, and Jason Furman) whose careers and thinking
are free of such cant. I hope this is the deepest cause of the
Kremlin-like signals: A hidden struggle within his councils between
competing perspectives about the proper relationship between Washington
and Wall Street in the midst of this crisis.
There is an understandable anger brewing in the country against Wall
Street and the big commercial banks. During his speech Tuesday night,
Obama tried to position himself ahead of this anger—his political
advisers certainly recognize that if he doesn’t occupy this cultural
ground, the Republican Party will try to do so. Perhaps, in time, the
President will trust his instincts and take his chances with his civil
service, supplemented by the out-of-work bankers it can retain. In a
situation with no great choices, this seems the better one—and much
truer to the President’s campaign.