Peter Baker has written an article in the Washington Post about loyalists turning on President Bush. That puts an official stamp on what I've been saying since the elections.
There's a long list of former believers renouncing their faith in the President. I've gleaned some choice quotes.
"People expect a level of performance they are not getting." - Newt Gingrich
"There are a lot of lives that are lost. A country's at stake. A region's at stake. This is a gigantic situation. . . . This didn't have to be managed this bad. It's just awful." - Neoconservative Kennith Adelman who in 2002 described the task of liberating Iraq as "a cakewalk."
"If I had known that the U.S. was going to essentially establish an occupation, then I'd say, 'Let's not do it." - Richard Perle who once said, "The first time I met Bush 43 … two things became clear. One, he didn't know very much. The other was that he had the confidence to ask questions that revealed he didn't know very much," about George W. Bush, leader of the war in Iraq.
And last week John McCain found new religion too. He announced his intentions to run for president in 2008 by saying, "We lost our principles and our majority. There is no way to recover our majority without recovering our principles first."
Now, I'm trying to figure out what these principles are. Spending is up, the debt is up, the government is bigger than ever. All of these principles were slain at the alter by Republican adherents. And all of these things are, of course, the result of an illicit affair with the seductress from Babylon--Iraq.
But let's backtrack for a second. In 2000 these believers in principles nominated Bush, who had almost zero government experience. He won the election and surrounded himself with people like Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. Everyone seemed pleased. 12 months after 9/11 the rush was on to invade Iraq. Still, no worries. Iraq was invaded and the mission was announced as accomplished two months later. Three years later we are still there and a few weeks ago you'd be hard pressed to find any Republicans who thought their principles were violated.
But McCain is now doing what is politically prudent, employing the Rush Limbaugh defense that he will no longer carry Bush's water. So, I suppose we will hear no more rhetoric like this:
"I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short.” - McCain on March 23, 2003
"They fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity. We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible. Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong. Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight." - McCain's 2004 RNC speech.
“Overall, I think a year from now, we will have a fair amount of progress [in Iraq] if we stay the course.” - McCain in December 8, 2005
Call me crazy but I feel like the Republicans are only sorry that they lost their principles because they got caught. People had finally had enough of corruption, lies, aggression, thoughtlessness, conceit, and contempt. It was like being married to a cheating spouse who also pathologically lies about while promisesing the moon. You're a good person, you want to believe in people, and that trust got abused. After six years we finally threw the bums out. Now people like McCain are tired of selling their services?
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Senator McCain is a good man. I once heard him on NPR talking about Ernest Hemingway and he was thoughtful and pleasant. But I do have to question his sincerity and judgment, the way I must question anyone who still has a Bush / Cheney bumper stiker on their car. Are they insane? Are they blind? Do they just not care?
I saw McCain on "This Week" and George Stephanopoulos asked if we should continue the Bush tax cuts. McCain believes we should. Then Stephanopoulos pointed out that McCain voted against the tax cuts. McCain admitted he did, for good reason--you can't cut taxes during war, and there was no curb on spending. Stephanopoulos then wanted to know how those two principles are consistent--voting against tax cuts for good reason but then wanting the tax cuts extended. And McCain said that's how things currently are and they should stay the same.
I suppose when you get down to it, that is what conservativism is all about--fear of change. And in that sense McCain may be staking out bold new ground, years behind any potential Republican candidate. Top that, Giuliani!
What Republicans don't get is that it's their lack of hindsight that people find dangerous. Their lack of an ability to take a complex and changing world and formulate a pragmatic position for tomorrow, is a dangerous framework to formulate policy from. This is all evident by their inability to see the principles behind the war in Iraq as the real problem. Illogical is the desire to cut taxes while fighting a war. Impudent is the belief that we can nation build and disregard the very root of terrorism. And irreconcilable is the notion that smaller government is better but the government should also be spawning new governments.
The Republicans can be likened to the new Bond in Casino Royale. You can't stop them. They churn forward, through walls, over barriers, past explosions, never looking back. But when the goals themselves are so easily betrayed by their own adherents, what does that tell you? When the resulting action is a mismatch of fundamentalism, stubbornness, and failure, the machine must be terminated.
Don't believe the hype, all this talk about defending principles. While they were busy defending marriage, they traded their own true love for a charlatan from Texas.
Any other thoughts?