Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Famous pundits weigh in on Karl Rove

By Rick Morris

Rush Limbaugh interviewed Karl Rove today, "interviewed" actually being a kind euphemism for the most shameless sucking up since the last time he had an Establishment Republican on his show. The next time Limbaugh starts with his "conservative grass roots" charade, remember this display when he whiffed on his chance to confront George Bush's main man about:

* 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

In other words, Limbaugh, who shilled for Bush during the 2000 primaries and made fun of Pat Buchanan for leaving a Republican party which was stacking the deck in W's favor, did exactly what you would expect.

Next, we come to some amusing wishful thinking from the Ragin' Cajun, James Carville. Here, he opines that Bush and Rove's many blunders have led to a Republican "lost generation." Now, I have long been a skeptic that a figure as politically polarizing as Carville's girl Hillary Clinton could be elected. But with the "Reagan precedent" of 1980 looming increasingly large -- a scenario in which a woefully unpopular incumbent can cause the nation to turn to a candidate of the opposite party previously dismissed as unelectable -- Hillary stands a good chance of becoming the next president, if for no other reason than the fact that the Republican nominee will have to work a John Kerry-esque straddle between denouncing Bush's above-noted failures and praising his successes (the tax cut-fueled economic expansion, two Supreme Court justices who interpret and don't legislate, the success of the Global War on Terror in most areas except Iraq). But nothing will bring back Republicans and independents chased away by Bush and Rove like the presidency of Madame Hillary, a figure already reviled in much of Middle America. Carville is greatly exaggerating the shelf life of the Republicans' toxic unpopularity in a nation with such a short attention span. Will he overreact with similar vigor to a second President Clinton presiding over the Democrats' second loss of the Congress in the 2010 midterm elections? Somehow, I doubt it.

Finally, we come to the analysis of one of my all-time favorites, Pat Buchanan. Unsurprisingly, I find his thoughts closest to the mark. I should note also that I am glad that his many years of well-received exposure on MSNBC since his presidential campaigns have exposed the lie about his brand of politics being hateful and destructive to the public interest. He is a true patriot, and is entitled to the "I told you so's" that he does not stoop to taking in this fine assessment of Bush and Rove's unpleasant legacy. As noted above, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the Republican Establishment were in the tank for Bush in the 2000 primaries and were working feverishly against Pat in 1996 when he appeared for one brief shining moment to be on the verge of sparing the party from the specter of horror known simply as "Republican Presidential Nominee Bob Dole." Were Rush and the rest of the backroom Republican elite capable of learning from their mistakes, one might well ask if they're happy they got what they wished for, but that would of course be an exercise in futility.

But for all of Buchanan's many cogent points, he hints at but does not actually state the heart of the matter about the Bush and Rove mistakes. He denounces the Wilsonian neoconservatives who co-opted the Bush presidency after 9/11 and led our country to increase our over-commitment around the globe and he also excoriates their insane immigration policies, but he does not mention the solution. It's called paleoconservatism, a school of thought to which he and I both subscribe and the Bushes and Roves of the world have tried in vain to exterminate. It places the needs of the Old American Republic over those of the New World Order, whether it be by resisting the efforts to erase our borders and submerge our people into an amorphous North American Union or by fighting only the battles vital to our national security. It is a coherent and brilliant theory of who we are as a people and a celebration of how we got to this point. It is intellectually consistent and honest, unlike the Bush crowd, which sees nothing contradictory in decrying the bigotry of low expectations for schoolkids in the underclass and toadying to Hispanic voters by assuming that those who got here legally will vote Republican if they abandon control of our borders. And it is the true reflection of where the American people are, post-Rove. While the alienation this country feels from the Republican party and what has come to be defined as conservatism is deep and true, it is most assuredly not a repudiation of what conservatism has historically been and could be again. The assumption that Bush and Rove have inadvertently driven this country to the left could not be more false, as voters continue to express disillusionment with Washington from the right on a fairly regular basis. While the Republican elite has quashed Buchanan and any other adherents of paleoconservatism in the past, in part because they tolerate no dissent on an absolutist free trade agenda that does not take into any account the predatory trade policies of other countries, they may not always be in position to do so. What we need is for a prominent presidential contender to find the guts to pick up Populist Paleocon Pat's megaphone and rally the people with his memorable cry from the '96 primaries: "Mount up, everybody, and ride to the sound of the guns!"

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