Friday, April 06, 2007

Having lain down with his Master, Dowd scratches an itch

The three big Bush stories of 2007--the decision to "surge" in Iraq, the scandalous treatment of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for tawdry political reasons--precisely illuminate the three qualities that make this Administration one of the worst in American history: arrogance (the surge), incompetence (Walter Reed) and cynicism (the U.S. Attorneys).

That's brutally unqualified language; criticism that is as accurate as it is surprising, considering the source and given what effect it may have on the access of Time reporters to the Administration. Perhaps they have realized that source is only useful in a geothermal sense.

Time Magazine has always been center - right with an reflex toward conservatism, dispute rumors to the contrary - though of course it IS to the left of places such as Newsbusters, which seems to have fallen of the edge of the spectrum, a reality that is underlined by increased defections by former "hard core" supporters such as Matthew Dowd and the reaction of the echo chamber.

And despite what the echo chambers reverberate, I don't think coming out against the administration is evidence of a "shift to the left," save in the Colbertian sense, that "reality has a well-known Liberal bias." In a truly Conservative, classically Republican world-view, results count more than words. And the Administration's record on delivering any promised reality has been dismal.

Traditionally, Conservatives are fonder of facts on the ground than pie in the sky, of established and proven procedure to grand and glorious socio-economic theory. The caveat is that you must not confuse "Conservatism" with "Social Conservatism," a mindset which is much more accurately described as "reactionary" or "radical," depending upon the issue.

Read the comments - and indeed, the article itself. It's revealing of the very mindset that did in fact lead to the administration's collapse. First, a complete inability to recognize reality, a callus disregard for the feelings and indeed, the well-being of people who disagree, and of course, a stunning arrogance based upon willful ignorance.

As many actual Conservatives have come to belatedly realize, there is a huge amount of karma waiting around the corner with brazen knuckles, intending to extract a long-term payback for short term strategies. While those strategies were effective, far too many were making good livings furthering them, and too many winning elections and contracts based upon the polices of fear and loathing (as set forth in this Salon article.)

[Matthew] Dowd had been central in formulating the 2002 midterm campaign that zeroed in on the Democrats' patriotism. In 2004, he and Rove crafted the negative attack on Kerry as a "flip-flopper." Asked about the TV ads ripping Kerry, Dowd said on Sept. 22, 2004, on CNN, "I think it's totally tasteful. And the American public is going to be fine with it." He also blithely defended the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth defamation of Kerry's sterling Vietnam War record. "I think the Swift boat ads were part of that dialogue," he said in a 2005 PBS "Frontline" documentary, "but it was more important in that they pointed out something about John Kerry, which is, all this guy's talking about is his Vietnam record. What does that have to do with the war on terror?"

Dowd believed he was designing a permanent Republican majority, but, working alongside Rove, his short-term winning tactics built enormous pressure that produced an implosion. During the 2006 midterm campaign that lost the Republicans control of Congress, Dowd worked as a consultant for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican running as a virtual liberal Democrat. "I think we should design campaigns that appeal not to 51 percent of the people," Dowd told the Times, "but bring the country together as a whole."

But Dowd neither detailed nor did the Times mention his consulting work in the campaign last year of Richard DeVos, billionaire heir of the Amway fortune, for governor of Michigan. DeVos is a zealous follower of and major donor to the most extreme organizations of the religious right. His campaign against incumbent Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm was marked by nasty ads falsely stating: "Under Governor Granholm's administration, you can stay on welfare as long as you want." These weren't a new paradigm but old racial code words.

Despite having won - so to speak - two elections and having near absolute control of the nation and it's policies for six years, there are no fruits of victory - no achievements to commemorate the triumph. And all that "Republican Revolutionary Spirit," all the fruits of the Gipper; all have resolved with seeming inevitability, into one massive, miserable and undeniable failure.

To the surprise of no-one at all, mercenary opportunists such as Dowd will be the first "dedicated supporters" to discover that - to their astonishment - George Bush has committed impeachable offenses, not so much due to a crisis of conscience - though that may indeed play a role, but due to the fact that calling for the blood of the leader may have the effect of shielding the followers from accountability as well as possibly preserving a shred or two of self-respect.

With the sheer number of Nixon and Regan retreads in this administration, the strategy is probably obvious to everyone.

So once again, the usual suspects will be "shocked, shocked to find that there is gambling in this establishment!" And once again, the real lesson of the price of stupid, precipitous and unethical conduct will be lost. We teach our kids in T-Ball and Pop Warner that winners never cheat because cheaters cannot win. Maybe the Mommy and Daddy Parties should remember that simple, kindergarten lesson in practical ethics.

Illustration: Bush Puzzled as to what went wrong by webcarve

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