Paul Krugman has an excellent op ed in today’s New York Times (Times Select) that echoes a lot of what Glenn Greenwald has been saying about what the Republican Party has become. Glenn, whose latest example profiles almost-candidate Fred Thompson, has been arguing for months that today’s GOP has been completely transformed from the party that once warned against bigger government and its intrusion into our personal lives into a party that embraces the most egregious invasions of individual liberties and the imperialist fantasies of the party’s extreme right wing.
In their zealous and delusional crusade to topple Saddam Hussein and transform the Middle East into the ideal partners in America’s global war on terror, the Bush/Cheney regime effectively destroyed the party that eschewed foreign interventions and nation building. The Fox-spread beating that Ron Paul has been taking for his remarks are proof of this. Krugman’s point is that Bush is no longer the aberration, but rather the model for most of the current crop of Republican Presidential candidates. Have we been too harsh in blaming just Bush/Cheney, he asks?
No, I haven’t lost my mind. Mr. Bush has degraded our government and undermined the rule of law; he has led us into strategic disaster and moral squalor.
But the leading contenders for the Republican nomination have given us little reason to believe they would behave differently. Why should they? The principles Mr. Bush has betrayed are principles today’s G.O.P., dominated by movement conservatives, no longer honors. In fact, rank-and-file Republicans continue to approve strongly of Mr. Bush’s policies — and the more un-American the policy, the more they support it.
Now, Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney may have done a few things other Republicans wouldn’t. Their initial domestic surveillance program was apparently so lawless and unconstitutional that even John Ashcroft, approached on his sickbed, refused to go along. For the most part, however, Mr. Bush has done just what his party wants and expects.
But aside from John McCain, who to his credit echoed Gen. Petraeus (and was met with stony silence), the candidates spoke enthusiastically in favor of torture and against the rule of law. Rudy Giuliani endorsed waterboarding. Mitt Romney declared that he wants accused terrorists at Guantanamo, “where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil … My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo.” His remarks were greeted with wild applause.
Is Bush alone in his zeal to topple Islamic regimes?
Well, Mr. Romney offers more of that. “There is a global jihadist effort,” he warned in the second debate. “And they’ve come together as Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda with that intent.”
Most of the candidates remain in the Cheney/McCain/Lieberman delusional fog about conditions in Iraq and the prospects for victory. And they remain disturbingly silent about the stunning incompetence and lawlessness of the Bush/Cheney regime.
What we need to realize is that the infamous “Bush bubble,” the administration’s no-reality zone, extends a long way beyond the White House. Millions of Americans believe that patriotic torturers are keeping us safe, that there’s a vast Islamic axis of evil, that victory in Iraq is just around the corner, that Bush appointees are doing a heckuva job — and that news reports contradicting these beliefs reflect liberal media bias.
And the Republican nomination will go either to someone who shares these beliefs, and would therefore run the country the same way Mr. Bush has, or to a very, very good liar.
Maybe we should elect a Democrat for President next time.
Photo credit to this MSNBC link.