The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 May 2006

New and improved gridlock

What if the Democrats actually retake the Senate? Fine, says Bill Quick:

From some conservatives' point of view, making sure that Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush are occupied with defending themselves from investigations and impeachment attempts for the next two years is a win-win: Bush will be too hamstrung to do much more damage, and the Democrats will be so occupied with trying to destroy him that they won't be doing much damage either.

For this to work, we need one branch of Congress in Republican hands. I vote to keep the House — much more conservative than the Senate — under GOP control, and use the Senate to teach the RINOs — including the RINO in the White House — a much-needed lesson about remaining loyal to the principles and the voters who put you in office.

The current conventional wisdom seems to be that yes, there's a chance the Democrats can unseat enough GOP Senators to take over, but no, they have no real shot at regaining control of the House.

My own idea — paying the entire sorry lot to stay home for two years — probably won't fly.

Posted at 10:56 AM to Political Science Fiction

"The RINO in the White House." The very idea that you can quote this without irony leaves me to wonder if you need your meds adjusted, Jess.

Digby, four months ago:

My point was not that Grover and company were going to leave the Republican Party, but that they were laying the groundwork for purging others from the coalition. They will not do this while Bush is in office, for obvious reasons, but they are beginning to make the case that Bush was not a "real conservative" and therefore anything he did while in office cannot be defined as "conservatism." They do this whenever a politican becomes unpopular.

Rick Perlstein, five months ago, addressing conservatives:

[This is] the part where you argue that malefactor A or B or C, or transgression X or Y or Z, is not "really" conservative. In conservative intellectual discourse there is no such thing as a bad conservative. Conservatism never fails. It is only failed.

And for the hat trick, Perlstein quoting Digby on the same page:

As the Internet's smartest liberal blogger, Digby, puts it, tongue only partially in cheek: "'Conservative' is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives' good graces. Until they aren't. At which point they are liberals."

George W. Bush, hero and deity of the Republican Party for the past five years, has suddenly become a "Republican In Name Only" when his popularity rating dropped below 35% for four solid months. Quick has been saying Bush is "might not be a conservative" for quite some time, so he's no johnny-come-lately to the idea, but it's still quite amusing to see him following Perlstein's formulation to the letter.

It's especially funny here, when Quick slams Glenn Greenwald for pointing out that the conservative movement in this country uses the word "liberal" to tout anyone who disagrees with far right-wing politics (or George W. Bush himself), when Quick does almost the exact same thing in labeling the most GOP of GOoPers as "RINOs" for disagreeing with him. Just because Quick isn't a member of the Cult of Bush Personality doesn't mean he's not doing the same thing - he's just idolizing conservatism instead of the person of GWB.

Quick proves Perlstein right: Conservatism can never fail, even with the most conservative president of the past century in office. Conservatism, like God itself, can only be failed by mortals. No matter how disastrously it fails, it was always some weak person's fault, so we just need better people to try it again.

(BTW, on The Colbert Report, Bill Kristol said the Democrats would take the House but not the Senate. This was just after Colbert effortlessly manipulated him into saying that sometimes you just have to beat your wife, though, so maybe Bill wasn't on his best game.)

Posted by: Matt at 1:19 PM on 8 May 2006

No matter how disastrously it fails, it was always some weak person's fault, so we just need better people to try it again.

Which undoubtedly is why we keep seeing socialists around.

Bill Kristol hasn't been on his best game in quite some time, but I've never thought that his best game was all that good, myself.

As a practical matter, though, GWB is about as conservative as, say, Richard Nixon, which is Not Very; whatever rightist tendencies he may have in foreign policy are counterbalanced by his apparent willingness to outspend the same Democrats he likes to complain about. And at least the Democrats are paying a smidgen of lip service to the matter of the deficit.

So I think of Quick's reaction here as being basically that of the girl discovering that her prom date was actually kinda creepy; it may be a shame, from some standpoints, but she's the one who agreed to go out with him.

Interestingly, John McIntyre thinks that it would be good for the GOP to lose the House this year.

Posted by: CGHill at 2:00 PM on 8 May 2006

There may be something to Bill Q's notion -- except for the fact that nothing actually got done, the Bush Administration was much more reliably on the conservative side of most issues between the Jeffords Jump and the 2002 congressional elections. Then in 2003 the war drums were beating. And beating. And beating. And beating. By Month 14 of the "Rush to War," that was about all the administration was focused on that could be called conservative.

As for the odds, I haven't actually seen anything that indicates the Democrats have a workable chance of winning the Senate. I have seen arguments to the effect that if the Senate doesn't go D, the House certainly won't -- the explanation having to do with demographics being more changeable among states than among congressional gerrymanders -- er, I mean districts. But if the idea is to get impeachment as an issue, the D's would have to take the House. No House, no impeachment.

Re deficit -- may I interest you in a grain of salt? The deficit is one of those issues that the out-of-power party always suddenly discovers when they become the out-of-power party. And when they become the back-in-power party, they just as suddenly forget such a concept exists.

And I find it hysterically funny that Bill Quick is being accused of idolizing conservatism. Such an assertion can only come from someone who doesn't know the meaning of the word. I think if Bill is throwing around the label "RINO," it's a sure sign the Bush Administration has gone way off the rails on issues that fiscal Republicans can actually bring themselves to care about.

Posted by: McGehee at 6:01 PM on 8 May 2006

As distinguished from the social-conservative flavor, no doubt.

The Democrats won't make much headway in Soonerland. Ernest Istook is vacating the 5th District to run for governor, and you'd think the departure of an incumbent, especially a GOP incumbent, would encourage the Democrats to find someone a bit higher on the food chain than "sacrificial lamb." Didn't happen. (In the governor's race, however, Istook will lose to Democratic incumbent Brad Henry, which is fine with me.)

And I think 1990s Democrats paid a reasonable amount of attention to the deficit, or would have had we, you know, had one.

Posted by: CGHill at 6:26 PM on 8 May 2006

And I think 1990s Democrats paid a reasonable amount of attention to the deficit, or would have had we, you know, had one.

Um, which party had the majority in Congress when the deficit "disappeared?"

Posted by: McGehee at 10:18 PM on 8 May 2006

As distinguished from the social-conservative flavor, no doubt.

Many anti-conservatives do like to portray everyone to the right of Joe Lieberman as being in thrall to Jerry Falwell...

Posted by: McGehee at 10:20 PM on 8 May 2006

Um, which party had the majority in Congress when the deficit "disappeared?"

The same one that had it when it ballooned. Go figure.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:10 AM on 9 May 2006

Yes, Charles, which is my point. You said,

And I think 1990s Democrats paid a reasonable amount of attention to the deficit, or would have had we, you know, had one.

During most of the '90s, they were not the majority party in Congress.

Posted by: McGehee at 11:31 AM on 9 May 2006

The Democrats held sway, 1990-94; the GOP was in control, 1995-99. No way you can get "most" of the decade out of that for either side.

If the Republicans deserve credit for giving Bill Clinton a series of more-or-less balanced budgets for the last half of the 90s — if I remember correctly, the first budget with a surplus was FY 98, which began in 1997 — they certainly deserve discredit for aiding and abetting GWB's spendthrift ways.

Whether the Democrats actually care about deficits, or merely want to use them as a campaign issue, is really another matter, though I suspect that it's a mixture of both with a preponderance of the latter.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:57 AM on 9 May 2006

CGH-Sure, the Dems are paying lip service to the deficit; this isn't unusual. Their proposed remedy, as always, is to raise (or avoid cutting) taxes. But absolutely no spending should be cut. As bad as Bush is on spending, the Dems are worse.

Posted by: John Salmon at 6:54 PM on 9 May 2006