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November 09, 2008


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Noel Maurer

Somebody's got to keep us up on what the conservatives are thinking.

Me, I'm pretty happy just with the impending reversal of President Bush's four executive orders that banned international family planning groups from counseling women on abortion, federally-funded scientists from conducting embryonic stem cell research, the State of California from regulating carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles, and the federal EPA from doing the same.

Already pretty effectual.

And other than the first of those orders (the one about internat'l family planning), it will be very hard for President Jindal to reverse President Obama's reversals come 2020. Too many interest groups will have coalesced around the new regulations.

Frabjous day.

BTW, it is frightening to hear our pharma regulation guy at HBS (Arthur Daemmerich) talk about the current state of the FDA. Another slow-motion time bomb that we have been lucky enough to defuse /before/ it went off.

Remind your friends, Doug, that merely having a serious government in power will already be much bigger change than people think.

Joshua Treviño

So, these two sentences:

"Obama is a charismatic nonentity, an empty suit. He's never done anything much with his life, and he's not going to start now."

I agree with the first in full. The second, not so much. The new President may turn out to be the finest chief executive since Lincoln, for all I know. My point is that there's no reason, based upon his entire public life, to expect anything close to this. We're not talking about a man forged in the fire of adversity, here; no lonely warrior vindicated by history and a grateful America.

As for a liberal granted respect by a conservative, I gave an interview to Cenk Uygur a few weeks back in which I said nice things about Joe Biden. Because I do respect him, even if I think him frequently wrong. So, there you go.


Tsk. May I, Doug? I do so dislike rhetorical dishonesty.

Joshua Treviño

The self-loathing must be crushing, then.

If you think I'm indulging in it, why wait for Doug's permission to address it?

The New York City Math Teacher

What a prick you are, Tacitus.

I called it six years ago and I call it today: Your side lies about everything. You, personally, lied about the war in Iraq, you lied about your leaders, you lied about torture and Katrina, and I can't believe you don't have a secret smirk of self-regard as you snidely lie about everything else under the sun. The words ground together in your crap factory justified enormous evil and gave cover to enormous incompetence and cronyism. Your side foxes good-faith interrogation with clouds of rhetorical squid ink squirted in bad faith -- an art you, personally, have honed in high dudgeon.

"Fire of adversity" - "lonely warrior vindicated by history and a grateful America" what fatuousness! What exquisite pomposity! Your side - you and your tweedledunce booboisie, bibelbubelmeisesmeisters, and patrician ignoramuses - has lost because you mistake the tactical, instant use of emotionally manipulative language for genuine speech, and you lack even the most minor merest shred of regard for fellow citizens who happen to disagree with your inspired bellicosity and ratiocinated drivel!

Joshua Treviño

Krugman? You read HDTD too?

Doug (not Muir)

Pass the popcorn, please. I might even feed some to the trolls, if folks don't mind.

That One in the empty suit built up a multi-hundred-million-dollar enterprise from nothing in less than two years. Did it while giving public presentations all day every day. To say nothing of taking on the two most powerful machines in national politics and beating them both soundly.

And this is not new. I think he would have dispatched Mike Ditka in one sentence, back in 2004. "Shoulda given the ball to Payton, not Perry." (Link to CNN story from 2004 nixed by the blog.)

Let the conservatives and Republicans keep thinking Obama got lucky. Like Samuel Goldwyn said, "The harder I work, the luckier I get." If the other side thinks Obama is running on good looks and luck, this is going to be a very enjoyable four years, because they are going to keep being made of lose.


And the true colors come out immediately. You see, Joshua -- I will assume a first name basis, as a parent does to a wayward child -- I've relinquished blogging here at HDTD to Doug. Doug has been desperately trying to pull me back in. But I'm far less tolerant than he is. So it presents him with a dilemma.

You know, I often discuss the psychological failings of the fringier Internet personalities with Doug. I won't say whether this includes you, because I respect Doug. But when one of them says things like, "The self-loathing must be crushing, then," you should be aware that we both analyze these statements in terms of things like psychological projection and chronic depression. I don't think it would take much to send you into another depressive fugue.

As for lying, let's not forget that you lie in both the small and the large things. I remember very well how you lied about the Middle Eastern stores on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn after September 11th being anti-patriotic. A small lie, and a stupid lie, since it was easily checked. The lie of a petty bigot with massive contempt for his audience. But similar examples could be multiplied endlessly. I see why you try to scrub your archives regularly.

You see, people don't disrespect you because of your far right activism (which you falsely claim is "conservative" -- Edmund Burke must have surpassed 20K rpm by now). People disrespect you because you're a needy lying thug who pretends to be civil.

And now they can ignore you completely.

Doug M.

Gentlemen -- Carlos, NYCMT -- this skirts the edge of the acceptable. Josh is an old acquaintance; we were, as you both know, co-bloggers for a time. And linking to him was an implicit invitation, which makes him in some sense a guest.

I recognize how sharp your differences are with him. I also know you're both bright enough to express them without overt hostility.

Yes, I know. Nonetheless. Please.

Doug M.


Doug, as you know, I don't see the point in being polite to someone whose Internet career revolves around willful bad faith. As Joshua himself intimated, his self-loathing must be incredibly high. But I'll withdraw.

Doug (not Muir)

So when Digby writes (the post is called "Big Shots" from 8 November):

"A lot of people have compared this to the period in the 1990s leading up to the Okalahoma City bombing. But I actually think it will be substantially worse. For one thing, the conservative movement was at its zenith at that point, filled with confidence and political power. As much as they let their ids run wild, they had a stake in maintaining their own political viability. Today, after their miserable failure at governance they are scattered and confused, with their Big Money Boyz and internationalist intellectuals trying to distance themselves from the rubes and the rubes defiantly asserting their dominance. I don't think the party poohbahs can keep a lid on this, even to the rather weak extent they did a decade ago.

"And this time, instead of a mere womanizing good old boy from Arkansas, we will have a president who these people literally believe is a foreign, barbaric, baby killing, communist, Muslim terrorist. They think the liberals have illegitimately taken over the political system and are literally endangering the country in order to force their foreign philosophy on Real Americans. They believe that violence is always the best way to deal with enemies, lest they live to fight another day. They are hoarding guns. You do the math."

is she completely off base? What kind of responsibility to actual conservatives have? What should people with conservative (I mean semi-movement, politically engaged, not merely dispositionally) friends etc do?

Joshua Treviño

Oh, Doug. They're not bright enough for that at all. The company you keep....

Ignoring me completely is not, apparently, among Carlos's accomplishments. How boring: a vomiting-forth of half-baked psychoanalysis, predicated upon Internet-based grudges from years back. Eh.

Going back to the subject at hand, the other Doug's point is a good one: Obama did indeed do exactly as he says, in building up a huge and successful organization in almost no time. It's the only substantive accomplishment of his public life, but it's a big one. It is also of a piece with the pattern and theme of that life: climbing. I sincerely hope it transitions well to governing.

Bernard Guerrero

Glad to see this worked out well......

Bernard Guerrero


What should people with conservative...friends etc do?

Interventions! Stockpile ammo!

Joshua Treviño

In answer to the other Doug's question, every movement conservative has the same duty as every citizen: a duty toward truth and dissuasion from violence. As is her wont, Digby overstates things by several degrees, because she views conservatism as a cartoonish parody rather than a rational choice of her fellow citizens. That said, she's not wrong to note that there is a danger of violence from the insane fringe, and that this danger goes up with a black President of Muslim descent.

I think the answer, inasmuch as there is an answer, is to avoid stridency and overstatement in pronouncements on the incoming President. That's a negative duty: perhaps a positive duty is to quash falsehoods when you find them. The rumored run on guns prior to the Inauguration might be an example of a place where a conservative leader could step in and assure people that, no, the Second Amendment is not about to be repealed.

I'm not sure there's a good answer here, but there are things that can be done....

Will Baird


What DID you start while I was off with the family, Doug?! Too bad its a sling fest instead ofa discussion. ;)

BTW, so far, doubleplus for Obama's actions. we'll see how it goes.

Jussi Jalonen

Do you read the Elder Edda, Will?

"I saw for Baldr,
the bleeding god,
the son of Odin,
his destiny set:
Famous and fair
in the lofty fields,
Full grown in strength
the mistletoe stood."

That's one possibility. Another one is mentioned in Ezekiel:

"Son of Man, set Thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him."


J. J.

Martin Wisse

To stay polite, I do wonder how people who've spent the last eight years cheerleading a miserable failure, whose achievements before he stole the presidency were a) dodging the War on Vietnam b) being a drunk and c) failing at every business venture his daddy's friends put together for him have any reason to be skeptical of Obama, but maybe that's just me.


Surely it's a Scylla and Charybdis thing. If Obama does something, he becomes a Dangerous Radical Socialist! If he does nothing (and he's not in office yet, so hasn't done anything) he's an Ineffectual Empty Suit.

Jussi Jalonen

Well, Martin Wisse, some other people just might perhaps wonder how and why some people who so often like to describe themselves as "socialists" or "left-wing" were praying for the victory for a person who has openly supported death sentence, who advocates protectionism, who has suggested rattling sabers with a nuclear power and who not only is wedded to the presence of American forces in Europe, but also wants to use the NATO mainly as an instrument to extract more European troops for the quagmire in Afghanistan.

Of course, selling out one's principles in exchange for the possibility to root for the "less worse" alternative is nothing new to those people. Especially when they hail from countries with long collaborationist traditions.


J. J.

Joshua Treviño

Per Martin's comment, it's easy to forget -- for everyone -- that GWB had a fairly successful and well-regarded Governorship of Texas under his belt before his first Presidential run. Which turned out to be utterly un-indicative of his actual Presidency (a puzzle for historians, there), but there it is.

The lesson here, and the caveat for anyone confident that Obama will fail in the Presidency, is that past performance is no guarantee of future performance, etc., etc. That doesn't mean we ignore the past performance; but we do take it for what it is.

Josh (not Trevino)

"Per Martin's comment, it's easy to forget -- for everyone -- that GWB had a fairly successful and well-regarded Governorship of Texas under his belt before his first Presidential run."

"[S]uccessful and well-regarded" by people who didn't know anything about the Texas governorship, maybe. The Lieutenant Governor is the one who has all the power in the Texas executive; the governor's basically a figurehead.

Joshua Treviño

Not sure if you're a Texan or not, Josh; I am. You're right that the Texas governorship is weak compared to that of other states. (So is its legislature, for that matter.) You're wrong to assert that the governor is a mere figurehead -- he's not -- and you're wrong to assert that GWB's governorship was not well-regarded at the time by knowledgeable people.

Again, it proved no template for his Presidency, but it was a good five years of solid executive experience that spoke well of him.


"You may think this is just a Texas brag, but our weak-governor system is a lot weaker than anybody else's. Although the governor does have the power to call out the militia in case of an Indian uprising, by constitutional arrangement, the governor of Texas is actually the fifth most powerful statewide office: behind lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and land commissioner but ahead of agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner." - Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose, Shrub, introduction xii-xiii

The book is pretty prescient about Bush's presidency, as a result of its methods (described at the top of page xii), and the authors are careful in their assessments: "What does emerge from Bush's record is that he has real political skills, and those are not to be despised." (xv) "Bush's second masterstroke has been to straddle the divide between the Christian right and the economic conservatives in the Republican Party, and that is a doozy of a split." (xv) Bush's relationship in Texas with Bob Bullock has interesting parallels with Cheney at the national level. And then there's this bit: "For an upper-class white boy, Bush comes on way too hard-ass--at a guess to make up for *being* an upper-class white boy. But it's also a common Texas male trait. Somebody should probably be worrying about how all this could affect his handling of future encounters with some Saddam Hussein, but that's beyond the scope of this book." (xxii)

And the end of the introduction: "If, at the end of this short book, you find W. Bush's political resume a little light, don't blame us. There's really not much there there. We have been looking for six years." (xxiii)

Doug (not Muir)

That last comment is me; I forgot to add my usual parenthetical when commenting here.

Joshua Treviño

All very interesting -- I've not read that book. (And probably won't, purely for want of time.) Again, yes, it's true that the Texas governor is remarkably weak. It's also true that he has an agenda-setting power, as the putative chief executive, that no one else has. No small thing.

I'm not sure we disagree here, except on whether GWB's governorship counts as meaningful pre-presidential experience. I do, obviously, but then, becoming a governor of any state is more than I expect to accomplish in life, so I'll give the benefit of the doubt to those who do.

Except for poor Lurleen Wallace.

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