Sunday, October 09, 2005

On Republican Tricks

This is a response to Carpetbagger weekend substitute Morbo’s post on the Miers nomination, and the idea that conservative opposition to Miers is a trick to lull Dems into supporting an incompetent nominee.

I reject much that was written in that post, mostly because it gets too deep into the reverse-reverse-reverse psychology, over-analyzing stuff that totally impairs our ability to make decisions in a timely fashion.  

But here's something to think about: Many conservatives really are upset about this nomination.  It's quite easy to find conservative bloggers who are honestly upset about all this, and I kind of doubt that Rove included them in on the supposed switcheroo that we're worried about here.  Even if this is a trick, these people were not given the memo and aren't trying to trick us.  They are honestly upset.

Burning the Base

And the question is: Is it worth it?  Assuming that this is a trick, and that conservative leaders were told to cast doubts on Miers; and that the followers took the baton and are now running with it: Is it worth it?  This makes Bush look bad to the very people that Bush needs.  Are they really going to risk burning these people and having them think ill of the President, all so they could trick the minority party into supporting her?  It’s possible, but is it likely?  

And even if this is true, and they really were so worried about us that they set-up this elaborate ruse (yet somehow screwed-up by giving the good word to Dobson); should we really worry?  The smarter conservatives (relatively speaking, of course) were already upset about many different issues, including endless budget deficits, Iraq, and Katrina, and this really seemed to be a final straw for many of them.  

And let’s not forget that, despite appearances, these people are human; and it’s just not fun to defend a leader sitting at 40% approval ratings.  Bush has put them through a lot of hell, and I’m sure they’re getting a wee bit tired of it.   Everyone has their limits, and defending lies on WMD’s, terrorism, taxcuts, and Katrina incompetence (just to name a scant few) must really push those limits to the max.

I’m not saying that they’ll turn Democrat en masse.  But they might start looking elsewhere, and third-parties can look damn attractive when your party starts dissing you.  And many conservatives have taken this nomination to be a slap in the face of everything they stand for.  If nothing else, they might turn apathetic towards the conservative agenda and just give up.  And any of these three outcomes benefits us significantly.  

The Republicans have a majority and could approve any nominee they set their hearts to.  And they’ve burned a lot of good foot soldiers over this, and it’s not even close to being over.  So should we really worry too much over this?  They would have gotten their nominee in almost any case, and now they’ve alienated people they need.  So even if this is a trick, I say bring it on.  We could use a few more tricks like this one.

And Another Thing

Another reason I doubt this super-secret trick theory is that it completely goes against the Republican's standard operating procedures.  Their version of a trick is the straight-forward "let’s put out something conservative enough to be opposed by leftish Dems, but moderate enough to swing a few borderline (cowardly) Dems".  And so they hang their hats on a "bi-partisan" label by including a few Dems, and thus can demonize the majority of Dems who opposed it.

And it's worked gangbusters for them.  They absolutely count on the idea that almost all Dems will oppose them.  And now we're supposed to worry because they might have gone against the trick that's been kicking our ass?  By doing something that is genuinely pissing off the conservative base?  That makes no sense, and we shouldn't waste our time trying to super-secret-decode this kind of stuff.

And it’s obvious that the Republicans use Democratic opposition to whip the followers into line.  In fact, one of their best marketing gimmicks is to insist that Dems are attacking them over something, and the followers will quickly jump in line (as is their wont).  So we’re to believe that they’ve completely reversed course on this one issue?  They’ve given up their best trick, and are now seeking Democrat support?  That they actively told conservative leaders to act upset or unsure, all for a trick?

And for what?  So the Dems would support Miers?  Why would they want that?  They don’t need it, and it undermines everything they’ve been doing for years.  They’ve spent a lot of time convincing conservatives and moderates (especially media moderates) that Dems are loony extremists who oppose everything, and now they’re banking on the idea that we’ll support Miers??  Again, this supposed trick undermines their Bush-hater “with us or against us” rhetoric, and thusly has seriously damaged their best material.

This was a stupid thing for them to do for the right reasons, but if it’s a trick, it’s a mighty dumb trick.  With Bush at 40%, a moderate candidate makes sense.  And if we see this as a Bush decision, it makes even more sense.  The man’s a dunce and really doesn’t understand what it takes to be a Supreme Court justice.  But as a trick, it’s pretty risky and doesn’t have much long-term advantage.  They’d get their judge, but they’d probably have gotten her anyway.  And they lose much more.

Eggshell versus Ivory

Overall, I think Miers is a great choice if you're a fundamentalist Christian and a decent choice if you're a Bushie who worships the guy.  But it's crap for everyone else, including fiscal conservatives, constitutional "originalists", anti-feminist bigots, and just about any other conservative who doesn't fit into the Fundie or Bushie categories.  And that's a big percentage of them.  

I know that we like to pretend as if these people are monolithic, but that's part of the problem.  If we could stress the differences between the different types of conservatives, we could help pull their shitty little coalition apart.  They might not be a rainbow coalition, but there are certainly a lot of different shades of white on their team.  And many of them wouldn’t have anything to do with the others, if they really knew what it was all about.  And the Miers nomination might bring a lot of contrast into the picture.

So if this is their idea of a new trick, I welcome it.  But I suspect that it wasn’t a trick at all.  I think that this was the nominee that the Big Guy settled on, and his team is just trying to make the best of a bad choice.  And with all the distractions going on in the Whitehouse, they probably miscalculated how upset their base would be.  But the base has already been through a lot, and is now expressing those feelings.  

But if Dems aren’t careful, we might end up extinguishing this outrage through our opposition.  I’m not coming close to suggesting that we outright support Miers.  I just think we need to play it cool and take all of this at face value.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and I think this one is blowing up in their face.  

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