(Ed. Note: It’s late and I’m tired, but I haven’t posted in a few days, so I’m sending this out without a proper final editing. If you think it’s too long, just skip every other word and it won’t take nearly as long to finish.)
A thought on Josh Marshall’s Reformapalooza, I just wanted to point out that this isn’t just that Republicans are taking the reformist stance as political cover. That certainly is one aspect of this, but this also ties-in with overall conservative stance towards the proper place of government, and specifically the oversighty-regulatory kind of government that these people hate; much the same way that criminals hate cops.
But the issue isn’t whether they’re earnest in this reform talk or if it’s just political ass-covering, because the Republicans look bad in either case. Either they’re corrupt creeps lying to us about their own corruption, or they’re total dipshits who don’t understand the first thing about oversight. They can pick whichever side they want, but in neither case is this something to brag about on election day. In essence, their defense may be as bad as the accusation.
And this does fit with their anti-government stance. For them, you first have to prove that lack of government oversight is a problem. That’s because a true conservative (not to be confused with the social conservatives, who are very pro-government interference) believes that government itself is a problem. As such, they assume that the government will screw it up and make any problems that may need to be solved worse (assuming you can even convince them that any problems exist). And so their natural tendency goes towards waiting until a problem arises that non-governmental agencies can’t handle. And only after that do they start to talk about what role government should play in process (which is always as little as they can reasonably get away with). And maybe that’s just a rouse they use to defend their corrupt practices, but their rouse isn’t much better than a simple plea of incompetence.
And there’s more to this than the basic corruption or incompetence. This really is how they think. Bullmoose showed us that the other day, by suggesting that we first have to prove that Bush abused the illegal wiretaps before we should act like this might be a problem. To him, we should assume that Bush acted solely to defend our nation, until we can prove otherwise. The same goes for their ostrich routine regarding the environment. Nobody is really “anti-environment”, but they use this philosophy to justify waiting for more results, or waiting for abuse or waiting until a magic fairy makes everything better. And that’s what we saw for Katrina, and Iraq WMD’s, and Halliburton’s no-bid contract, and just about everything else. For Republicans, it’s not enough that abuse could happen, you have to actually prove that it is happening and will continue to happen with government interference.
And yet do they take this approach with everything? Of course not. Most criminals are assumed guilty, unless they’re Republicans, in which case they are the mere victims of partisan Dems. And Clinton couldn’t be trusted for jackshit, and even years after Clinton was exonerated for most everything, they still believe him to be guilty of everything. And needless to say, government and liberals aren’t to be trusted, as both are doing what they do in order to increase their own power; which is exactly why they think everyone does everything. And for them, they’d rather trust the people who are openly deceitful and greedy, over people who claim altruism or public service. For conservatives, everyone’s a crook; they just prefer the ones who are honest about it…relatively speaking, I assume.
But this other stuff is different, because they already know these things to be true. They know that a Republican president wouldn’t abuse wiretaps, and hurricanes can be dealt with by private organizations, and that God will protect them and everything will be alright; if they could only get those pesky libs and their rotten government out of the way. They don’t need proof or evidence; they know these things to be self-evident. And that’s one of the problems with dealing with Republicans, as trust their own instincts far more than they could ever trust anything outside of themselves. So how could your feeble arguments and proof possibly influence them on anything?
And so when Hastert says “Well, you know, a year ago most people around Congress couldn't tell you who Jack Abramoff was and didn't know who his associates were or what connections there are. As this thing unrolls, people understand that we need to learn from what happened in the past and try to rectify that if we can.” Maybe that’s not completely face-saving bullshit. Maybe that’s really how they think it’s supposed to work. Hastert says that we didn’t need these reforms until after the current system is undeniably being abused, and maybe we should assume that this really does reflect his beliefs.
But if that’s the case, then that’s exactly why these people shouldn’t be given the reins of government. They act as if their ostrich routine is supposed to demonstrate their great restraint and wisdom. But all it does is demonstrate what corrupt numbskulls they are and why America needs to get rid of them. Maybe they’re corrupt liars, and maybe they’re incompetent boobs, and maybe it’s a mix of both; but in no case are these the people we should trust with our precious government.