Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Multiple Personality Disorder

I find myself endlessly fascinated by the international coverage of our election. The rest of the world pays much more attention to our campaign shenanigans than most Americans pay to other countries' national elections. I suspect that is due in large part to the "American Exceptionalism" meme, although the last eight years should have discredited that myth forever.

At any rate, I found a rather perceptive analysis of the current disarray in the Republican Party in The Times of London this morning.

A party that only four years ago appeared so disciplined and dominant as it delivered President Bush a second term is now divided in the face of an anticipated rout that may give Democrats unfettered power across Washington.

Mr Bush's legacy — unfinished wars, a tainted reputation for competence, record high spending, a global economic crisis and the effective nationalisation of the financial system — have shaken loose the ideological cement that once bound the Republican party together.

This has left national security realists at odds with “neocon” hawks over Iraq, fiscal conservatives railing against the bailout of Wall Street, and the Religious right — “theo-cons” — skirmishing with the party leadership over what it regards as a too-timid approach on issues such as abortion, civil partnerships and illegal immigration.

Such fractures in the coalition, apparent in a primary campaign which John McCain won despite securing significantly less than half the vote, have become infected with gangrene during the presidential election.

Threatened with open revolt if he picked the independent Democrat Joe Lieberman as his running-mate, Mr McCain hoped to galvanise his party by choosing Sarah Palin. The result has been a dysfunctional campaign.

That certainly is a nice, tight, and accurate summation of the last eight years, but I think the problems facing Republicans had their roots much further back, at least as far back as Reagan when that presidential campaign and the subsequent administration put into play such tactics as the Southern Strategy and relied more on wishful thinking than actual reality. What we are seeing is the logical conclusion of those startling extremist policies.

And then along came George W. Bush, whose incompetence in business matters had been well-documented but totally ignored by his party and the US press. He was charming, folksy, somebody one could have a beer with. He was also "smart" enough to "select" Dick Cheney as his Vice President, thereby opening the doors to the White House for the Neo-cons to stroll through with their plans for a war, any war, to make the US the sole imperial presence in the world.

We should have seen the disaster coming, and many of us did, but it took Bush and his cohort eight years to bring the country to its knees economically, militarily, and constitutionally. That is the reality that Bush "created."

A pretty sizable chunk of the country has figured all of this out. Any candidate the GOP put up would have had a tough time, but the one the party ultimately decided on (because he wasn't the Mormon) not only was incapable of running a decent campaign, he also isn't charming or folksy. And his selection of a running mate, his nod to the "theo-cons" (a term I find stunningly brilliant), has backfired big time.

It appears, at least at this point, that the genie is refusing to return to the bottle for the GOP, so the wailing will continue long after the election.

Consequences: the Republican Party haz dem.



Blogger Koshem Bos said...

The interest of the Western world in the US goes way further than "American Exceptionalism" may imply. The world music is American, the movies are American, TV is American; art, money, technology are all, mainly, American.

The Democrats are as guilty as the press and the center for Reagan and Bush as well as the colossal failures of the conservatives.

Providing unlimited funds for the war in Iraq was done by Democrats. The terrible bailout, the banks that got it already started to buy other banks and increase bonuses, was fully and forcefully enabled by the Democrats.

People in glass houses ...

6:03 AM  
Blogger Avedon said...

The rest of the world is more interested in our elections than we are in theirs because what the United States does is more likely to have a direct impact on them than what they do is likely to impact us.

We can wreck their economy much more easily than they can wreck ours. We can drop bombs on them and their neighbors much more easily than they can drop bombs on us - and we're more likely to do so.

They're watching a mad dog walking down their street and hoping it doesn't head for them.

6:38 AM  

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