September 29, 2003

Reasons Not to Be a Republican

Jacob Levy takes a look at the Plame Affair, and finds:

The Volokh Conspiracy: Indeed, no one seems to be engaged in any denial [that a serious crime has been committed by multiple high administration officials] or defense [of the Bush White House] here other than saying "We don't know and we don't want to know so we're not going to try to find out so that we can continue to say with a straight face that we don't know." This is ugly...

He goes on to say that were he a Republican, this is the fourth sufficient reason George W. Bush has given him to quit the party:

Unlike Dan, I'm not a Republican to start with, so I'm not going to stop being one in disgust. (If I had been, I probably would have quit over the steel tariffs and/or the farm bill and/or the US-EU deal prior to Cancun.) But this is really, really not good...

Come on, Jacob: why only four? Why not the lies about stem cells that may turn out to crimp U.S. biomedical research? Why not the smearing of John McCain in South Carolina? Why not the playing footsie with people who don't like Black people during the campaign? Why not the long-run unbalancing of the federal budget? Why not the backtracking on the AIDS-funding promise? Why not (whatever you think about the desirability of overthrowing Saddam Hussein) the maneuvering of the United States into a war under false pretenses? Why not the failure to try to manage the macroeconomy but instead using economic distress as an excuse for yet more tax cuts for the rich? Why not the bizarre use of the Patriot Act in non-terrorist related cases? Why not the threats of military tribunals to curb the defenses of those still in the normal justice system? Why not the failure to plan for postwar Iraq? Why not the effective abandonment of the hunt for Osama bin Laden? How about John DiIulio's descriptions of policy making within the Bush White House? How about the total absence from the scene of the Republican grownups (where are Baker, Scowcroft, and Kissinger on the security side; where are Feldstein and Boskin on the economic policy side; where are God-knows-who (they've been so silent I don't even know who they are) on the social policy side)?

Surely some of these are additional reasons to stop being a Republican?

Posted by DeLong at September 29, 2003 08:34 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Nice long list, Brad, but the more fair comparison includes what the dems say they want to do, instead. Being against tax cuts for the rich sounds OK, but is unlikely to help the short term economy as much as (just about any) tax cuts.

Farm & steel were econ monsters - but reps won some close key state elections. The theory of democracy sort of says that the measure of good gov't is winning elections, doesn't it?

All of the terrorist related items, even the terrible uses of the Patriot Act, mostly make most folk think Bush is trying to do a pretty good job. And having all the other reps quiet means that everybody has to focus their attention on Pres. Bush; prolly not so bad for his reelection.

I'm not disagreeing with you -- I'm laughing ... at you, and the dems, and voters, and the system (instead of crying or raging or, oh wait, I guess I am ranting a bit, too.)

His dirty tricks aren't so different than Clinton's against Starr (and defending in Whitewater). All pols are corrupt ... blah blah.

Dems need to admit that it was good Bush booted Saddam; but most of the rest from Bush has been lousy. As long as dems can't accept anything good by Bush, the long list, or an even longer one, just confirms (near-?) irrational Bush Hatred.

And I suspect most folk would oppose irrational more than lousy, real lousy, or even really, really, lousy. And maybe not be wrong.

Posted by: Tom Grey on September 30, 2003 01:38 AM

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>> the measure of good gov't is winning elections >>

Hitler won the German election in 1933 (OK with a the help of violence against political opponents).

There are independent tests of good government; Pareto efficiency is one. Can you devise a set of political principles, other than revolutionary pessimism, under which hyperinflation, mass unemployment, unsustainable public debt, insecure streets and crowded prisons, are to be welcomed? (OK, the Bush administration hasn't got into hyperinflation yet, but that's the logic of unsustainable debt).

Democracy isn't the test of good government, it is merely the best chance of getting it. Provided that the voters understand the policies and character of parties and candidates.

Posted by: James on September 30, 2003 03:26 AM

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>> the measure of good gov't is winning elections >>

Hitler won the German election in 1933 (OK with a the help of violence against political opponents).

There are independent tests of good government; Pareto efficiency is one. Can you devise a set of political principles, other than revolutionary pessimism, under which hyperinflation, mass unemployment, unsustainable public debt, insecure streets and crowded prisons, are to be welcomed? (OK, the Bush administration hasn't got into hyperinflation yet, but that's the logic of unsustainable debt).

Democracy isn't the test of good government, it is merely the best chance of getting it. Provided that the voters understand the policies and character of parties and candidates.

Posted by: James on September 30, 2003 03:28 AM

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Since Uncle Milton never worked in the White House, he doesn't really count, but there he is. Not on economic policy, but using economics to craft better social policy, for goodness sake. Isn't he the daddy of the EITC? Matthew Miller ("The Two Percent Solution") shows how Friedman's ideas are being extended here:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2003/09/28/the_wages_of_luck/

Part of the problem is that Republicans now in power have turned their backs on the more moderate solutions offered by Friedman, Goldwater, Reagan and others. Remember a couple of decades back (some of you, anyway) when Republicans were claiming to be the party with all the new ideas? These new chumps don't even bother to think past spinning the latest headline.

Posted by: K Harris on September 30, 2003 05:27 AM

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>>Part of the problem is that Republicans now in power have turned their backs on the more moderate solutions offered by Friedman, Goldwater, Reagan and others>>

Referring to this bunch as "moderate" is truly frightening.

Posted by: richard on September 30, 2003 07:19 AM

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I declared Godwin's Law null and void some time ago. I really think the fate of the country is in the hands of the "rational conservatives" and whim moderates. So far they've been all too willing to play along with Bush's "let's pretend" fraudulence.

There's always been this enormous discrepancy between what the administration is saying it's doing and what it's really doing, and a lot of people are willing to go along with that in order to satisfy of their own agendas (e.g. lower taxes).

I think that the boldness of Bush's fraudulence, and his frequent attempts at verbal indimidation of opponents with charges of disloyalty are proto-fascist, and that people who play along with him (or sit on their hands) are like various categories of people who played footsy with, for example, Mussolini or Franco. (Many of whom regretted it once they realized what they'd done, but by that time they were powerless and unnecessary).

I'm perfectly willing to be the poster boy Bush-hater. I realize that it's uncool to say what I'm saying, but I'm right. It's not worth being part of polite society if you have to pretend to ignore the 500-lb. gorilla in the room with you.

Posted by: Zizka on September 30, 2003 09:38 AM

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I declared Godwin's Law null and void some time ago. I really think the fate of the country is in the hands of the "rational conservatives" and whim moderates. So far they've been all too willing to play along with Bush's "let's pretend" fraudulence.

There's always been this enormous discrepancy between what the administration is saying it's doing and what it's really doing, and a lot of people are willing to go along with that in order to satisfy of their own agendas (e.g. lower taxes).

I think that the boldness of Bush's fraudulence, and his frequent attempts at verbal indimidation of opponents with charges of disloyalty are proto-fascist, and that people who play along with him (or sit on their hands) are like various categories of people who played footsy with, for example, Mussolini or Franco. (Many of whom regretted it once they realized what they'd done, but by that time they were powerless and unnecessary).

I'm perfectly willing to be the poster boy Bush-hater. I realize that it's uncool to say what I'm saying, but I'm right. It's not worth being part of polite society if you have to pretend to ignore the 500-lb. gorilla in the room with you.

Posted by: Zizka on September 30, 2003 09:43 AM

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In fairness, these are not reasons to stop being Republican ... they are simply reasons to stop supporting this ridiculous excuse for a President.

will all good republicans come together and challenge Bush in 2004 primary?

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on September 30, 2003 09:49 AM

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Suresh Krishnamoorthy writes:
>
> In fairness, these are not reasons to stop being Republican
> ... they are simply reasons to stop supporting this ridiculous
> excuse for a President.
>
> will all good republicans come together and challenge Bush
> in 2004 primary?

In one sense you're correct: Bush was chosen by certain elite groups as being their best chance to project a moderate face and he was encouraged to have "tried and true" (e.g., Ford era) types surrounding him so that it didn't matter what he did. Clearly, this hasn't worked out exactly as planned.

The problem now is that Bush has raised *so* much campaign money to spend in the primary season that nobody could really compete with him in a conventional media campaign. Now, attempting to compete with him in an unconventional campaign carries a high likelihood of failure, and with that failure, basically career suicide at the hands of Rove and company. The only person who could compete at this point is somebody who is truly in a "nothing to lose" position. McCain is sometimes painted this way, but for him to run effectively would keep him out of D.C. a lot, and he's one of the few unafraid grown-ups left in his party there. The only other choice would be to start running favorite son (and daughter) candidates in many early states, and hoping that this creates enough division and controversy that somebody else can be convinced to step in and run in Bush's place. So you'd get Warren Rudman to run in New Hampshire, Grassley to run in Iowa, etc. Obviously, that's really unlike to work, and has the more likely outcome that if it worked partially, it would help elect a Democrat in November. No, I think we can be pretty sure who the GOP will feel they have to stick with, and that does have to be alarming for many in the party.

Posted by: Jonathan King on September 30, 2003 10:22 AM

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>>His dirty tricks aren't so different than Clinton's against Starr (and defending in Whitewater). All pols are corrupt >>
Bad example - Whitewater and Starr's prosecution were essentially a baseless "dirty trick" attack on Clinton. The last statement should be politics is as dirty as the populous permits it to get. And as for the tax cuts - several Democrats did advocate for tax cuts targeted to stimulate the economy. So when it comes to pols, these days its a choice between bad and very, very much worse.

Try this stream of conciousness on for size: Want to see our future on the current trajectory? - Look to Putin and Russia, a nominal democracy with a ruling class oligarchy that controls the wealth. A strong leader, puhing the fight against terrorists (Chechyn in his case). A struggling working class with poor health care and diminshed life expectancy. Limited civil rights. Media under control of the ruling oligarchs.

Capitalism won out over the Communistic Soviet system but we are losing out to the Russian Oligarchic model.

Posted by: apav on September 30, 2003 10:30 AM

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It seems that the Republican Party under Bush has become what its most self righteous supporters accuse the Dems of.

Treason by Ann C.
Yep the Republican party picks leaders who play fast and lose with the constitution and aren't afraid to break a few laws.

The Right Man by David Frum
This one is really funny. Has the United States ever been cursed with a President who was so unequal to the challange before him? I think the Republican believers are terrified to admit this becasue they fear that if their man goes down their ideas and policies will go down with him. I think they need to be a little more secure.
Hell, if the 1960s Democrats where able to purge themselves of the racist Dixiecrat element, can't the Republicans purge themselves of their wing nuts? I guess this is where the debate is actually at. Is the Republican party redeamable as a force for good in the United States? Can the fanaticism that emerged under the leadership of Goldwater and now enjoying the highs of power, be transformed into something more responsible, less corrosive to America. Or are the Republicans stuck as the party of anger, the party of quiet racism, the party of priviledge under the mask of free market "equality for all".

Will the Republican party please reinvent itself because the current model is destroying America. (And they call it PATRIOTISM)

Posted by: Scott McArthur on September 30, 2003 12:07 PM

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Another reason is the terrible economic news coming out of the MidWest. Why did Bush think that steel tariffs would not repeat the same damage to autos and steel manufacturers that steel tariffs 40 years ago caused?? All the China bashing and Yuan revaluation in the world is not going to revive American manufacturing if they are placed at a competitive disadvantage by tariffs on their raw inputs and runaway health care costs.

The National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago said its business index fell to 51.2 in September from 58.9, revealing a much slower pace of growth and much worse than forecasts of a smaller slip to 57.0. Any reading above 50 suggests expansion.

The employment component of the index dropped to 45.3 from 51.2 in August, erasing hopes that a turnaround in the labor market was on the horizon.

A breakdown of the Chicago PMI indexes threw into question the sustainability of the recent bout of expansion among Chicago-area businesses from Illinois to Wisconsin and Michigan. New orders growth was sluggish, suggesting demand slowed abruptly, and inventories were built up at a faster pace. That means less production will be needed to meet future demand.

Posted by: bakho on September 30, 2003 12:59 PM

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Scott, the purging of the Dixiecrats might be the example motivating the GOP to do what it has done. LBJ was supposed to have said while signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act 'I've handed the presidency over to the GOP for a generation' (quote from memory).


The rise of Newt accompanied the taking of Congress from the Democratic Party. In the case of the House, breaking a 40-year hold.

With Bush II, the GOP took the presidency during economic flush times, altered the tax structure of the country towards the rich, trashed a chunk of the federal civil service, handed untold sums over to crony capitalists, and has in general had a heck of a party. There's no reason why they should stop now.

Posted by: Barry on September 30, 2003 01:04 PM

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Zizka: great post.

The problem is that Republican opinion has been almost completely monoloithic since at least December 2000. Since then something like 80%-90% of all Republicans have continually drunk the kool-aid, and they are personally invested in maintaining the Bush facade. If Bush goes down, so do the pretensions of millions of conservative fucks. And ALL of the Republican pundits definitely face this problem. For them to admit that Bush was a phoney would be to admit that they themselves are phonies. They have no choice but to go down with the ship. Its a question of character and I maintain that it is objectively true that the average American Republican has serious character deficiencies.

Posted by: The Fool on September 30, 2003 02:57 PM

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James:
Hitler did not win a majority in the 1933 elections, but attained the chancellorship in a back-room deal with conventional conservatives, under the tutelage of then President Von Hindenburg, who, IIRC, died a short time later.

And just how would Pareto efficiency, a measure of optimal market exchanges, constitute a political critereon?

apav:
Excellent point! Now I understand why, when Bush first looked into Putin's eyes, he could see his soul.

The Fool:
Have you read Kafka's "In the Penal Colony"?

Posted by: john c. halasz on September 30, 2003 03:33 PM

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In his errors a man is true to type. Observe the errors and you will know the man.

Posted by: Barzel Tamar on December 10, 2003 04:11 AM

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Man is the missing link between apes and human beings.

Posted by: Gaige Karina on December 10, 2003 11:26 AM

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The shifts of Fortune test the reliability of friends.

Posted by: Rosenthal Marc on December 20, 2003 03:41 PM

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Dreams are made to be destroyed. Nightmares are forever.

Posted by: Johnson Andrea on January 9, 2004 03:50 AM

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