Thursday, November 13, 2008

Conservative Catastrophe: Bigger Than Bush

One common meme I've noticed emerging from conservatives, liberals, and the media is the idea that Bush is to blame for everything that's gone wrong with the Republican Party. But that is entirely absurd. Bush didn't invent conservativism. He wasn't the one who decided that diplomacy was for losers. The Iraq war wasn't his idea. He didn't invent tax cuts or cronyism.  These were all trademarks of the Republican Party, going back for decades.  Not only is the entire Republican Party to blame for the woes that now beset them for having enabled Bush, but these weren't even his ideas to begin with.

From top to bottom, every stupid decision he made was handed to him by somebody else. The "Mission Accomplished" banner didn't originate with him. He didn't come up with the idea of appointing Harriet Miers on his own, and if he did, he could easily have been stopped. And I'm sure he wasn't even aware of how thoroughly Dick Cheney controlled his administration. No, these were all really bad ideas that were handed to him by people he trusted. Sure, he deserves the ultimate responsibility, whatever that means.  But he was just a dope who went along with what he was told.  

It's the ultimate cop-out, particularly when talking about a president, but he was just following orders.  I'm sure he doesn't see it that way, but that's what happened.  He had people he trusted who fed him specific information in order to get him to agree to a specific set of decisions, and he did.  And had he had Obama's advisors feeding him information and advice, you can be assured that things would have turned out much better.  

And whether or not he deserves the blame for trusting the people he trusted, the fact that he listened to these people and he failed is an indictment of their entire system.  Bush didn't create anti-intellectual conservativism; he was its creation.  

Blame the Man, Not the Movement

And this is an important distinction.  Because the people pushing the "It's Bush's Fault" meme are trying to sell you something.  The conservatives who say it are trying to use this as the explanation for why their dreams failed.  Conservativism didn't fail; they'll argue.  It was failed, by one man.  And the liberals who say it are no better, trying to convince you that the results of the last two elections aren't part of a trend, but rather a mere fluke; again, created by one man.  And they'll assure you that some day soon, America will return to insanity and start being stupid again.
And both sides are convinced that this is a mere blip in an epic struggle that conservatives are still winning, and use it as the only explanation for why all their predictions for the past few years have proven incorrect.  It's not the model that's to blame, they'll say.  It's the man.  Oddly, these same folks also believe that history is shaped by events and not individuals, but somehow this is forgotten about.  To them, one single incompetent man can be responsible for large unpredictable shifts in historical winds.

But again, all of this is wrong.  Bush wasn't some tyrant who decided on his own to betray conservativism.  Nor was he its creator.  He did what it told him to do, and it turned out to be a huge failure.  And all Republicans are to blame, as they, at one point or another, boosted him up and supported his every move while denouncing anyone who dared oppose him.  Even now, the wingnuts at RedState will attack anyone who bad mouths Bush from the left; while agreeing with anyone on the right that Bush failed conservativism.

Talking to Satan

And I was thinking about this while reading Carpetbagger's post on how Iran is worrying about how to deal with Obama, now that Obama wants to meet with them without preconditions.  Because one of Iran's strongest moves was to blame The Great Satan for all their woes, and suddenly, Satan wants to open a dialogue.  And now they're worried that they actually have to negotiate, which isn't what they wanted at all.  And all thanks to Obama's foreign policy stance.

And one of the commenters there insisted that Obama had nothing to do with this, and that this was merely a rebuke of Bush and his gut-based diplomacy.  But that's entirely incorrect.  Bush didn't invent our hard stance towards Iran.  We've always had that.  Even Clinton had a hard stance against Iran.  

And the hardliner conservatives and neo-cons ALWAYS wanted them to do more, as a way of pushing us into war.  This policy didn't originate in Bush's gut.  It was handed to him by foreign policy "experts" who have made it their life's work to push such policies.  And if anything, they think Bush didn't do enough.  As a British official said before the Iraq invasion: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran."

And it's not just Iran.  While Bush ratcheted things up a little, we've had these same stupid policies with Iraq and Cuba and North Korea and many other "rogue" nations for decades; including under Clinton.  It's as if we've all forgotten that Clinton was constantly saber-rattling with Iraq and bombing them and trying to provoke them into war.  And while I don't doubt that he was simply doing this to remove the pressure from the hardliner warhawks, that's the whole point.  Clinton's appeasement of the warhawks helped grease the way towards eventual war.

Between Containment and War

This wasn't just Bush or the conservatives.  This was standard foreign policy going back to WWII.  On the one end of the spectrum of accepted policies, we had "containment," which meant economic embargoes and funneling money to our enemy's enemies.  And on the other end, it was outright war.  And anyone who didn't chose some option in-between these two stances was an unrealistic peacenik wimp who didn't understand how the world worked.  

And again, even the Clintons bought into that line of thinking.  It should always be remembered that Republican hardliners denounced President Reagan for even visiting Soviet Russia.  And all Bush did was follow the advice of the hardliners.  This isn't a rebuke of Bush and his gut.  This is a rebuke of the entire foreign policy community; which was largely egged-on by the hardliners.  And so Obama has actually done quite a bit by even talking about negotiating without preconditions.  This isn't a return to normal.  This is a first in sanity.  

And if it works, it will be yet another nail in the conservative coffin.  We're not just writing Bush's epithet, but that of an entire ideology.  Rather than this being a speedbump towards conservative domination, conservativism will be seen as a horrible detour away from reality-based decision-making.  If liberals are to blame for anything, it's for being too successful and getting lazy and fat.  Conservatives will get the blame for everything else.  And Bush was their mascot, not their creator.


ronny said...

hey biobran,

Iran will nuke D.C. because of Obammy's appeasement.

Not that you care -- the only thing you care about is getting welfare handouts.

Get a job and elect a Republican, fool!

admin1 said...
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Doctor Biobrain said...

Thanks for the career and voting advice, Ronny. And for the prediction on appeasement. I'll make sure to steer clear of D.C. until after the nukes fall. That way, I won't get nuked.

ronny said...


Keep worshipping your celebrity pro-babykiller messiah, Obammy. The gates of hell have opened wide for you.

And it may be too late for the USA. God will punish the voters for choosing a Demoncrat!

As a man of principle and conviction, I'm sticking with Jesus Christ.

smerls said...

Sometimes I think you are on drugs. No really!! You are right that it is not just Bush that has destroyed the republican party. It is all those around him and all those in congress who supported him.

In your mind the problem seems to be conservatism, that is, it does not work and that people reject it.

And that is where you are on drugs.

The problem is Bush and all those around him talk like conservatives but then they set policy like liberals. Most people like the idea of conservatism at least on economic issues. On social issues in general they tend to be more liberal.

Most people except for you can see that Bush has not held to
the economic principles of conservatism.

The bailout, the prescription drug plan, no child left behind, the massive and spending, the wars. These are not conservative principles and bush has embraced all of these.

The republican party is no longer a party of conservatives. They have been taken over by the old liberal democrats, today we call them neocon's.

Most people but you can see this and that is why the republican party is in trouble.

If the republican party goes back to it's roots then it will re-emerge, otherwise it is dead and in my mind that is a good thing.

So please do not give us that bull about conservatism and please lay off the drugs!!

Doctor Biobrain said...

But smerls, one big flaw with your argument is that conservatives were never making this argument until it was obvious that Bush was a hugely unpopular failure. But for at least the first six years (if not longer), they completely supported Bush on almost every issue; especially the wars. And there's a reason why you can pinpoint a few issues like the bailout, drug plan, and NCLB: Because those were the few political panders that didn't follow conervativism. But had Bush and Congress truly governed as liberals, we'd have seen Universal Healthcare, a more sweeping education plan, more government regulation, and of course, tax increases to pay for it all. The Bush Administration was firmly against all of these things, and even wanted to go as far as privatizing Social Security; which is considered by many to be our most successful government program.

And the reason why they gave us massive spending is because that's what voters want. They never even tried to cut spending, because they knew how incredibly unpopular that is. I have no idea where you got the idea that voters are economic conservatives, as that only applies when it comes time to pay the taxes. Because people LIKE government regulations and spending and being taken care of during natural disasters. Just ask a farmer whose crops are wiped out by one. They might not like paying the bill, but they sure as hell expect the services to be provided.

The reality is that voters only liked conservative rhetoric, which consisted of feelgood vagueness like "Family Values" and "Personal Responsibility." But when it comes to actual policies, they want a government that works for them. That provides the services that they can't provide for themselves. History has shown this again and again. The reason Bush and the Republicans betrayed conservativism is because that's the only way they can stay in office. Voters might vote for you because you made them feel like rugged individuals, but they won't vote for you again if you don't take care of their needs. The Republicans were failures because they didn't do enough to help people; not because they did too much.

But hey, keep up with the "We just need to get nuttier" argument. You're just making your own grave deeper. Perhaps Obama will be able to increase his victory margins in all the moderate red states that don't look so red anymore.

Jon Lester said...

Just letting you know I'm adding you to my blogroll. I wish I'd done it a long time ago but I hadn't found your blog before today. I had a serious falling out with RedState myself and now I'm proud that America has voted for reason.