Sunday, October 22, 2006

The fantasy of a conservative return to the glory days of the Reagan Revolution.

With the collapse of the Bush 43 administration into well-deserved ignominy, Conservative writers are beginning to abandon the ideas that passed for conservatism under Bush 43, Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich. There seems to them to be nothing else to do but to resurrect Reagan and try to again dye his hair and paint his smile back on to make Conservatism again attractive to the voters.

The problem is, the so-called Reagan Revolution is not what conservative writers imagine that it was. Strong assertion, I know, but what backs it up? Stirling Newberry offers the facts. Here are some samples:
With George Bush's personal approval numbers at 39%, and job approval numbers wallowing in the mid 30's all the theories about American anti-intellectualism, the hava beer effect and Texas envy are out the window. Seems like Americans just like a guy who promises something for nothing and pretends to the tell the truth, that is, until the multi-trillion dollar bill for nothing comes in the mail. Bush's belief - that the right wing could aggressively use the accumulated military power to transform the nation into a reactionary extension of Texas, has failed, and with it the stars of people like Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz have fallen. The neo-cons, like Sullivan, have jumped off this bandwagon rather quickly. They never really believed in the long slow slog theory of changing the world with military power, they believed that Iraq was Panama with oil. It wasn't. It was Vietnam with oil.

And the second part of that did not make things easier. Americans like steadfast and courageous. They don't like stubborn and stupid.

However the breaking of the Bush boulder is not isolated, the end of the Gingrichite "Republican Revolution" is also at hand. Nancy Pelosi is set to become Speaker of the House, and end the entire closed system that Gingrich and Hastert have built.

In truth the revolution part ended with "Freedom to Farm" and its failure to produce wins for agriculture. After that flirtation with the free market, the Gringrichites went back to the tried and true job of congress - which is to dispense pork based on political power, and not economic power.
So of course, with the latest incarnation of the conservative revolution collapsing at their feet the conservative writers need to return to when conservatism had a winning hand to play. That was the legend of the Reagan Era. Stirling takes that myth apart piece by piece.

The essay is well worth reading.

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