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Why Republicans Can't Govern

The Bush administration has been such a total disaster at governing, that Tuesday's debate saw all the Republican candidates competing to distance themselves from Dubya... even when he retires.

Still, the candidates are running on the same tank of adrenaline, and the same acceptance of our side's brutality. It's what Susan Sontag described as the "politics of psychotherapy". The anger of conservatives remains unabated; perhaps has even increased with, or despite, Bush's incompetence.

Brad DeLong goes further. He says that Brink Lindsey -- "an honest conservative - argues that the appalling insanities and malevolences of the Bush administration are not an argument against but an argument for true conservatism."

Lindsey charges the administration that on:

"the basis of six solid years (and counting) of virtually nonstop blunders...the strongest case for strict limits on what government can do... [is that] in the real world... political expediency, as determined by unprincipled hacks, will usually carry the day. And the Bush administration's sorry record now serves as People's Exhibit A"

So, hey the "conservatism" barrel isn't rotten, just all of the apples in it, because they were politically expedient hacks. I suppose that is a good as any defense the Bush administration has that they were faux conservatives, or were not up to the mantle of carrying traditional small government, Hamiltonian conservatism (and it goes without saying, we were hijacked by the Jacobins or neocons, and should never have invaded Iraq).

Brad DeLong thinks Lindsey has a point, but most of his commenters, who are considered among the most literate in the blogoshere, disagreed. Let me highlight a few:

Sorry, Lindsey. You, like all conservatives, must now wear the albatross that is George W. Bush around your necks for the next generation or more. YOU helped create him, YOU helped get him installed, YOU kept your mouth shut during these six disastrous years. You cannot now whimper that conservatism did not fail, but Bush failed conservatism. Bush IS conservatism--and the panoply of dolts, dunces, morons, and imbeciles currently seeking the Republican presidential nomination will be the next face of conservatism.

Posted by: Derelict | June 05, 2007 at 09:30 PM

But since contemporary conservatives get their political energy from angry voices of rage and revenge, they will always blame others for the failures built into their ideology. That is why conservatism so rarely makes for a good governance party. As far as conservatives are concerned, it is always someone else's government, one reason they can be so indifferent to their own mismanagement.

from "Alan Wolfe. Why Conservatives Can't Govern"
Posted by: bakho | June 06, 2007 at 05:33 AM

describe and explain the social/psychological/political tendency of American conservatives to drift towards both authoritarianism at home and a fascist foreign policy abroad (and yes, an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq based on dishonest and flimsy pretexts is fascism--if the shoe fits, wear it). In short, conservatism if it is to survive needs (a) at the political level, a strong politician who is willing to give the equivalent of Khruschev's not-so Secret Speech, this time denouncing the Bush/Cheney administration. And who is willing to prosecute and/or exile politically former members of the criminal regime, just as Khruschev executed Beria and exiled Malenkov and Molotov, and (b) an intellectual who is willing to engage in a self-indictment of conservatism in the same way that Milovan Djilas and Roy Medvedev engaged in such an indictment of communism...

Posted by: andres | June 06, 2007 at 12:20 PM

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