Saturday, August 2, 2008

Quiet political FUs as bad as loud ones

By Rick Morris

EDIT: I have reworked this piece to focus more on the political point that I am making here and less on the personalities involved. Frankly, that angle was a distraction from the actual issues at stake here.

You can't throw a dead rat anywhere on the Internet without hitting some Bush-worshipping Republican still stuck in a time machine set to 2002. To spare you excessive exposure to them, we'll limit our examination to two sites as we diagnose the wider problem on the right side of the political landscape.

1. This first site loves them some George W. Bush

2. So does this second site.

Site #1 quotes approvingly from a sub-literate missive about how this country's gonna miss a great, misunderstood man like George W. Bush when he's gone, dagnabbit, and says the following:

"Note to readers [sic] I didn't write this [sic] but I wish I had [sic] the authours [sic] name is at the end of the page [sic] I posted it because it is brilliant and I hope it sinks in [sic] I am in the 28% [sic] always have been [sic] the rest of you loosers [sic] could get alot [sic] out of this [sic] but your brain is AWOL!!!"

Site #1 also says this of McCain:

... he will not reach across the isle [sic] to the social conservative side of his own party."

Site #2 features a gentleman willing to throw his frame in the path of George W. Bush to stop the nonexistent impeachment bullet he alleges that a Republican congressman from Dayton of all people is willing to fire. After providing contact info for Mike Turner's offices, he belches proudly:

"This will NOT stand."

OK, tough guy.

But what do they think of Bush's would-be GOP successor in the White House?

John McCain is neither Republican nor conservative."

Now, as much as I would like to maintain otherwise for the sake of modesty, these above examples illustrate why The FDH Lounge Multimedia Magazine should be required reading for anyone wishing to opine on modern politics. For anyone who wants to understand the landscape of the last eight years, we broke it down for you almost a year ago.

You see, for as much as the above folks (and their many, many, many doppelgangers "on the right") fulminate about the failings of McCain and slavishly praise "The Decider," they fall prey to the kind of shallow surface mentality that they decry in the hippies of the left. Anyone, I daresay even my preschool nephew, could rattle off McCain's many shortcomings (Gang of 14, cap'n'trade, McCain-Feingold, votes against tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, posturing on Gitmo/waterboarding/etc.). We get it. He's not a great choice for president. I crusaded loudly here for Fred Thompson, but I will hold my nose and vote for McCain in a spirit similar to those from the pro-Bush sites.

But for whatever reason, the Bush-as-deity crowd ignores his many failings, again cataloged so eloquently on this here site:

* the attempted Dubai ports sellout
* the attempted travesty of Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court
* the attempted immigration amnesty monstrosity
* aiding and abetting the drunken-sailor spending and pathetic pork-barreling of the Congress when it was under unified Republican control
* aiding and abetting the Congress in running from any shred of the Contract with America reforms when it was under unified Republican control
* this administration's passive tolerance of Iraq's slide into chaos and the complete collapse of our capacity for military deterrence before this year's troop surge
* the No Child Left Behind boondoggle and the double-cross of poor families who voted for Dubya believing his rhetoric about fighting for school vouchers
* a fight for Social Security reform waged with such ineptness and such a political tin ear that the resulting rout has poisoned the waters for needed reforms for at least the next decade
* the Medicare prescription drug boondoggle that didn't even succeed in its only cynical goal: bribing a decent number of old people to switch to the Republican party
* a federal response to Katrina that somehow managed to match, if not trump, the incompetent local and state efforts and which the Bush crew decided to whitewash by pushing reckless and loosely regulated federal spending

What accounts for the ability of the 28% of the American people still in the George W. Bush Fan Club to ignore all of the above? It's a simple matter of style vs. substance.

Stylistically, Bush always identifies with conservatives. He throws them under the bus with regularity, but he does so quietly, somewhat apologetically, and always with a "Gee, what can I do about it?" shrug. Substantively ... well, check the above list again and tell me how much of the above agenda was once envisioned by the likes of Bill Buckley.

Stylistically, McCain seems to flip conservatives the bird with regularity. He has long cherished the affection of the national media, and flaunts his breaks with the right-wing base proudly. Substantively? Well, notwithstanding his "maverick" image, he's down-the-line pro-life, unwavering on national security and defense and one of the biggest spending hawks Congress has ever seen (way, way to the right of Dubya on this).

Now, my point is not that Bush has never done anything well (the tax cuts were good if somewhat wimpy in their focus and expiration dates, judicial candidates aside from Miers have been some of the best ever, and in a huge accomplishment, we have not been attacked on American soil since 9/11) and McCain never does anything wrong (see above list of failings). But my point is that the NET EFFECT OF THEIR CUMULATIVE POLICIES would end up producing roughly the same amount of conservative results. Actually, I think that there is a decent chance that McCain could end up governing somewhat to the right of Bush (admittedly, that's kind of like being inducted into the "Taller Than Mickey Rooney Club").

Above all, remember this: when one politician delivers a quiet FU to his base and the other delivers a loud one, it doesn't mean that the loud one is worse. The FU that results in more reprehensible public policy is worse, regardless of any of the surface noise that is the theme music of so many Republican-oriented websites.

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