Our ninja Frank Rich does it again:
TOMORROW night is the fourth anniversary of President Bushâ€™s prime-time address declaring the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the broad sweep of history, four years is a nanosecond, but in America, where memories are congenitally short, itâ€™s an eternity. Thatâ€™s why a revisionist history of the White Houseâ€™s rush to war, much of it written by its initial cheerleaders, has already taken hold. In this exonerating fictionalization of the story, nearly every politician and pundit in Washington was duped by the same â€œbad intelligenceâ€ before the war, and few imagined that the administration would so botch the invasionâ€™s aftermath or that the occupation would go on so long. â€œIf only I had known then what I know now …â€ has been the persistent refrain of the war supporters who subsequently disowned the fiasco. But the embarrassing reality is that much of the damning truth about the administrationâ€™s case for war and its hubristic expectations for a cakewalk were publicly available before the war, hiding in plain sight, to be seen by anyone who wanted to look.
(Times Select subscription required)
But everything that Reagan said in 1985 about “the other side” could easily apply to the conservatives of 2007. They are handcuffed to a political party that looks unsettlingly like the Democrats did in the 1980s, one that is more a collection of interest groups than ideas, recognizable more by its campaign tactics than its philosophy. The principles that propelled the movement have either run their course, or run aground, or been abandoned by Reagan’s legatees. Government is not only bigger and more expensive than it was when George W. Bush took office, but its reach is also longer, thanks to the broad new powers it has claimed as necessary to protect the homeland. It’s true that Reagan didn’t live up to everything he promised: he campaigned on smaller government, fiscal discipline and religious values, while his presidency brought us a larger government and a soaring deficit. But Bush’s apostasies are more extravagant by just about any measure you pick.
See also: The Coulterization of the American RightÂ
“Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?” [NYTimes]:
A new oil law set to go before the Iraqi Parliament this month would, if passed, go a long way toward helping the oil companies achieve their goal. The Iraq hydrocarbon law would take the majority of Iraqâ€™s oil out of the exclusive hands of the Iraqi government and open it to international oil companies for a generation or more.
In March 2001, the National Energy Policy Development Group (better known as Vice President Dick Cheneyâ€™s energy task force), which included executives of Americaâ€™s largest energy companies, recommended that the United States government support initiatives by Middle Eastern countries â€œto open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment.â€ One invasion and a great deal of political engineering by the Bush administration later, this is exactly what the proposed Iraq oil law would achieve. It does so to the benefit of the companies, but to the great detriment of Iraqâ€™s economy, democracy and sovereignty.
“Three cheers for Iraq’s new hydrocarbon law” [Slate.com]:
The recent hydrocarbon law, approved after much wrangling by Iraq’s council of ministers, deserves a great deal more praise than it has been receiving. For one thing, it abolishes the economic rationale for dictatorship in Iraq. For another, it was arrived at by a process of parley and bargain that, while still in its infancy, demonstrates the possibility of a cooperative future. For still another, it shames the oil policy of Iraq’s neighbors and reinforces the idea that a democracy in Baghdad could still teach a few regional lessons.
To illustrate my point by contrast: Can you easily imagine the Saudi government allocating oil revenues so as to give a fair share to the ground-down and despised Shiite workers who toil, for the most part, in the oil fields of the eastern region of the country?
Pennsylvaniaâ€™s Democratic Representative Mike Doyle made a moving statement on the congressional floor last week in defense of music mashups and mix tapes.Â Â Doyle discussed remix artist Girl Talk, arrested mix tape maker DJ Drama and even Paul McCartneyâ€™s admission that he used a bass line right out of a Chuck Berry song.Â Â The statement was made as part of the very important (and frightening) congressional debates about the future of radio.Â
Video and more at the link below:
Gary Kamiya puts it perfectly:
American conservatism sold its soul to the Coulters and Limbaughs of the world to gain power, and now that its ideology has been exposed as empty and its leadership incompetent and corrupt, free-floating hatred is the only thing it has to offer. The problem, for the GOP, is that this isn’t a winning political strategy anymore — but they’re stuck with it. They’re trapped. They need the bigoted and reactionary base they helped create, but the very fanaticism that made the True Believers such potent shock troops will prevent the Republicans from achieving Karl Rove’s dream of long-term GOP domination.
It is a truism that American politics is won in the middle. For a magic moment, helped immeasurably by 9/11, the GOP was able to convince just enough centrist Americans that extremists like Coulter and Limbaugh did in fact share their values. But the spell has worn off, and they have been exposed as the vacuous bottom-feeders that they are.
It will be objected that Coulter, Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage and their ilk are just the lunatic fringe of a respectable movement. But in what passes for conservatism today, the lunatic fringe is respectable. In the surreal parade of Bush administration follies and sins, one singularly telling one has gone almost entirely unremarked: Vice President Dick Cheney has appeared several times on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. Think about this: The holder of the second-highest office in the land has repeatedly chummed it up with a factually challenged right-wing hack, a pathetic figure only marginally less creepy than Coulter. Imagine the reaction if Al Gore, when he was vice president, had routinely appeared on a radio show hosted by, say, Ward Churchill. (The comparison is feeble: There really is no left-wing equivalent of Limbaugh, just as there is no left-wing equivalent of Father Coughlin or Joe McCarthy.)…Yet the grotesque Cheney-Limbaugh love-in doesn’t raise an eyebrow. We’re so inured to the complete convergence of “respectable” conservatism and reactionary talk-radio ravings that we don’t even deem it worthy of comment.
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