Today’s opining on the public discourse.
Can I just mention something? I hate holiday weekends. I’ve just spent the better part of two hours sifting through too many blogs in search of gold nuggets. How’d that go, you ask?
Well, I’m not rich, if that’s what you mean. But I’ve got enough to be comfortable with, and that’s what really matters in the end, eh?
From the department of brilliant Republicon ideas comes advice that’s sure to have every liberal trumpeting its greatness:
The latest “what do we do now?” piece for the Republican Party comes from South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), who outlines his approach in a piece for the Politico today.
There’s some predictable prescriptions — Republicans should, apparently, try sticking to their principles — but this one jumped out at me.
There needs to be a high standard for our franchisees. In other words, I believe Republicans and conservatives must agree on our core principles. St. Augustine called for ‘unity in the essentials, diversity in the nonessentials, and charity in all things,’ and while I believe there should always be a big GOP tent, there must also be a shared agreement on the essentials â€” including expanding liberty, encouraging entrepreneurship and limiting the reach of government in people’s everyday lives.
In this regard, the tent cannot be so big as to include political franchisees who don’t act on the core tenets of conservatism — and as a consequence harm the brand and undermine others’ work on it.
If, in context, that means purging, say, convicted felons from the party ranks, it would clearly be sensible. But I don’t think that’s what Sanford means. If I understand his piece correctly, Sanford wants to see a Republican Party that shed itself of factions that fall short of the “core tenets of conservatism” — as defined, presumably, by Mark Sanford — so as to let voters know exactly what they’d get by way of the party label. What the GOP needs now, in other words, is fewer people.
Absolutely! I agree wholeheartedly, and might I suggest that one of those core principles be that anyone who doesn’t worship Sarah Palin as the future of the party is right out. And hang on to that philosophy for, oh, say, the next thirty years.
Long enough to allow us to clean up the mess you made.
You know, we have a lot to fear from the Cons. They’re trimming the dead wood (their brains), getting back to core principles (i.e., failed ideology), and, ye gods, they’ve got Bill Kristol. And Bill Kristol knows exactly what Bush should do in order to polish up his legacy:
In his new Weekly Standard column, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol lays out a to-do list for President Bush before he leaves office. He urges Bush to deliver speeches “reminding Americans of our successes fighting the war on terror.” Kristol dreams, “Over time, Bush might even get deserved credit for effective conduct of the war on terror.”
After urging Bush to fight the incoming administration’s desire to close Guantanamo, Kristol concludes with this:
One last thing: Bush should consider pardoning–and should at least be vociferously praising–everyone who served in good faith in the war on terror, but whose deeds may now be susceptible to demagogic or politically inspired prosecution by some seeking to score political points. The lawyers can work out if such general or specific preemptive pardons are possible; it may be that the best Bush can or should do is to warn publicly against any such harassment or prosecution. But the idea is this: The CIA agents who waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the NSA officials who listened in on phone calls from Pakistan, should not have to worry about legal bills or public defamation. In fact, Bush might want to give some of these public servants the Medal of Freedom at the same time he bestows the honor on Generals Petraeus and Odierno. They deserve it.
In the Bush era, the Medal of Freedom has come to absurdly represent a reward for those who carried out policy failures at the urging of the Bush administration. By this standard, the implementers of torture and warrantless wiretapping certainly qualify for such a medal.
Oh noes! If Bush follows Kristol’s advice, he’s certain to go from the most reviled to the most revered President in history overnight!11!!1!! Even Think Progress says torturers deserve medals – the logic is inescapable!!11!!1eleventyone!
But really, aren’t we asking for too much? Bush is already working so hard to leave a lasting legacy for our country. Just look what he’s done for edimicashun:
Just as the economic house of cards finally collapsed around George W. Bush and his cronies (and did so a good three months earlier than they’d hoped), the efforts to privatize public schools in order to make them “better” have been increasingly revealed to be less than successful at anything other than weakening education overall while lining the pockets of a fortunate few with our tax monies.
The horror show that is Chris Whittle has seriously damaged the public-school systems of Philadelphia and other American cities, in addition to raiding, with Jeb Bush’s help, the pension funds of Florida’s teachers in order to prop up his Edison Project. (And no, his schools aren’t significantly better than the public schools they’re designed to supplant. In a 2007 RAND study of Philadelphia’s schools, the study’s authors stated that “We find no evidence of differential academic benefits that would support additional expenditures on private managers.” In fact, studies of charter schools nationwide have found that they usually do worse than comparable public schools.) Whittle, who found that he could no longer count on friendly governors turning over their employees’ pension funds to him, has now decided to forsake inner-city students in favor of the wealthy elite; he’s stepped down as Edison’s CEO and his new “Nations School” scheme has a tuition rate similar to Ivy League colleges.
The Bush Administration has just released its final plan to significantly increase logging on 2.6 million acres of public land in western Oregon by clearcutting and reducing protections for salmon-bearing creeks and streams. Rising out of an agreement between the timber industry and the Bush Administration, the Bureau of Land Management’s ‘Western Oregon Plan Revision’ is the gravest threat to Oregon’s ancient forests in years.
The Final Western Oregon Plan Revision (WOPR) will mean the loss of ancient forests from the northern Willamette Valley to southern Oregon’s Siskiyou Mountains.
The Labor Department is racing to complete a new rule, strenuously opposed by President-elect Barack Obama, that would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job.
The rule, which has strong support from business groups, says that in assessing the risk from a particular substance, federal agencies should gather and analyze “industry-by-industry evidence” of employees’ exposure to it during their working lives. The proposal would, in many cases, add a step to the lengthy process of developing standards to protect workers’ health.
Public health officials and labor unions said the rule would delay needed protections for workers, resulting in additional deaths and illnesses.
With the economy tumbling and American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush has promised to cooperate with Mr. Obama to make the transition “as smooth as possible.” But that has not stopped his administration from trying, in its final days, to cement in place a diverse array of new regulations.
And, and, he’s made our guvernmint funkshun all friendly:
George W. Bush’s fascination with “loyalty” is practically legendary. The president considers it the single most important trait a person in public service can have, far exceeding competence and qualification. Bush, for example, picked Dick Cheney because he knew he’d be loyal (Cheney had no presidential ambitions of his own). Loyalty led to high-ranking posts for all kinds of people who had no business taking on their responsibilities — Alberto Gonzales, I’m looking in your direction — but who were rewarded for their personal devotion and fidelity to the man in the Oval Office.
Slate’s Jacob Weisberg had a good piece today explaining that loyalty is not only wildly overrated in presidential politics, but that truly successful presidents know that an obsession with loyalty is a waste of time and energy.
…I doubt Obama will have much trouble with disloyalty in his administration, from Clinton or anyone else, for the same reason it wasn’t a problem in his campaign: He doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it.
Loyalty is a wonderful human quality and a necessary political one. No president would think of moving into the White House without known and trusted advisers such as David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett. At the same time, the recurrent presidential obsession with forms of disloyalty, including leaks, disobedience, and private agendas, is a marker for executive failure. Those presidents who fixated on personal allegiance, such as Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush, tended to perform far worse in office than those, such as Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, who could tolerate strong, independent actors on their teams.
If one “equates disagreement with disloyalty,” he/she necessarily creates an insular bubble where no one is allowed to stray from the party line, and everyone is expected to agree wholeheartedly with the president,regardless of merit. In this sense, Bush’s obsession with loyalty not only helps explain why incompetent, partisan hacks were promoted to critical government posts, it also helps highlight why never paid attention to those whose opinions he should have taken seriously.
See? He’s done a great job – proving why conservative can’t fucking govern. And don’t forget the legacy he’s leaving when it comes to worldwide reputation in toilet, Constitution in tatters, horrifying precedents set for dictators to follow while being able to claim they’re just living up to America’s standards, a failed economy, and dead people everywhere.
Not to mention what he’s done to the English language.
So yes. I’m thrilled to see that some Cons have the idea of making the party even smaller and more parochial than it is now. The last thing I want to see before I’m in my sixties is another Con face beaming from the Oval Office.
I’d like my country to survive until the 22nd century, thanks ever so much.