George W. Bush may be the only person in human history who actually says on his deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
And the MVP (Most Vacationed Preznit) ever cannot reconcile the volume of down time with the momentous events and upheavals that have taken place during his time in office both here and abroad. Imagine if John F. Kennedy was sailing in Hyannisport or playing touch football at the family compound during the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis or the US Steel strike.
The cancerous cells that were radical Republicans like Goldwater, who wanted to nuke Vietnam, would have probably metastasized to the point of virtually replacing the host body sooner than it had.
And the CPAC conference that took place last week in our nation’s capitol represented the very best (read: worst) that this virulent strain of conservatism had to offer. Sen. John McCain, slowly reliving his failing momentum of 2000, didn’t even bother showing up, it was so intolerably conservative.
McCain, an ordinarily affable but unforgivably calculating guy, is very well aware of the small but growing movement in his home state of Arizona that’s working like coolies with guns to their heads to keep him off the GOP presidential ballot. He must’ve known there would be more of the same awaiting him in DC.
And he would’ve been right. Because this virulent strain of conservatism would’ve shunned him as surely as Phyllis Schlafly body-slammed George W. Bush, hereafter referred to as Dick Cheney’s Insignificant Other and, as with Richard Viguerie, all the GOP presidential contenders.
The neocon repudiation of George W. Bush and his pork-packed budgets over the last six years and bloating the size of the government past the size that it was under the Clinton administration on the face of it sounded reasonable and justified. Conservatives like Schlafly traditionally champion ideals such as smaller government, greater states rights to govern themselves, less taxes, less spending.
However, we weren’t seeing moderate conservatives railing against Bush and his neocons. We were seeing neocons railing against a George Bush whom they think has abandoned neoconservative ideals on issues ranging from government spending to immigration (perhaps Bush’s sole true attempt at appeasing both sides of the aisle). And it showed an emerging Uber-Republican party struggling to rise from the ashes of Iraq.
If you were to take Richard Viguerie’s skewed poll as to what hamstrung the GOP in the ’06 elections, you’d see a conservative grassroots that seems to be more in touch with what toppled the Republican party from power (Bush himself, GOP leaders remaining silent when they became the party of big government, scandals, etc.).
If you ask maniacs like Newt Gingrich, it’s the Democrats’ fault that the Republican party was repudiated by the voters. As Gingrich wrote in a mass email last week, it was our impatience with them for not doing something about that damned welfare state that the Democrats had bequeathed to them (although they had twelve years in the House and still couldn’t do shit. I guess that’s our fault, too.).
This position isn’t very far from what Viguerie said in claiming that the Republicans allowed themselves to become as corrupt as the Democrats, which is a real hoot, since moral rot, as far as I know, isn’t communicable, and since every corruption scandal for the last several years save for one has involved at least one Republican, two of whom former Congressmen going to prison.
What was notable, aside from the glaringly obvious fact that recruiters seem to have forgotten about the annual conference that regularly promises thousands of college kids of prime recruiting age, was that the very same politicians who’d embarrassed the GOP over the last several years were loudly absent. Gone were longtime CPAC fixtures like Tom DeLay (although, to be fair to Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney, they had a good excuse not to be there) and George Allen.
So you see, it’s all our fault for corrupting them there pure-hearted conservative civil servants who discovered that Washington, DC wasn’t the sewer that they came to clean up but “a hot tub” (Inserting snide Tom DeLay reference in… three… two… one… Now.).
If you thought that the 1992 Republican National Convention was a viper pit of nastiness, the CPAC conference was at least five times as venomous. The Republicans, they were saying, just aren’t Republican enough.
This coming on the heels of six consecutive deficits that were nonexistent for several years before 2001, a rising debt approaching nine trillion, neverending tax breaks that are breaking the bank, literally, in a time of war. A corrupt, unwinnable quagmire in Iraq with Afghanistan beginning to circle the drain. A spy outed simply out of retribution for her husband threatening to discredit an administration that lied us into war, an outing that (sort of) resulted in a conviction.
Throw in illegal, extra-FISA warrantless wiretapping, financial datamining, a USA PATRIOT Act that allows the FBI to seize book purchase receipts and library records to see what we’re reading, a signing statement authorizing Bush to read our mail, our Internet activities reported to the feds by search engines, tens of thousands of American citizens put on No Fly Watch Lists and international terrorist alerts for no apparent reason.
Extraordinary rendition where people disappear into literal black holes, detainee torture, rape, murder and maiming of Iraqi and Afghani civilians. Huge detention centers built by Kellogg, Brown and Root. A starved and neglected city in the Gulf coast. The repeal of clean air and water standards and outrageous tax breaks for the benefit of petroleum cartels during a time of record profits.
A cutting of funds for the VA and countless social service programs. The Walter Reed scandal. Rampant cronyism that actually resulted in the deaths of thousands, malfeasance of Iraqi oil revenue and taxpayer dollars. The list of high crimes and misdemeanors is almost literally endless.
And the problem? The neocons aren’t conservative enough.
Apparently the immediate immolation of all gays and illegal aliens is too conciliatory. Maybe the neocons at CPAC couldn’t find it in their black little hearts to forgive the Republican party for not completely disbanding the IRS and putting an end to the NEA, Head Start and Social Security. As if George W. Bush hadn’t destroyed us enough both domestically and abroad, this new, even more fascistic strain represented by Phyllis Schlafly, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich says they can do better.
Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation actually said that the rich are getting screwed. Yes, he actually said that.
If CPAC 2007 isn’t a ringing endorsement for the Democratic party and a call to arms to keep us in the majority in Congress and to put us back in the White House, then nothing is.
The ironic thing is that both liberal progressives and conservatives of all stripes are in the same position they were in six years ago: Nobody is in sight to lead their party and their nation and both sides are largely cynical if not outright contemptuous of its leading standard bearers.
In the balance, I have to say that the Republicans are even more lost and anarchic than we are, which is saying a fuck of a lot.