Thursday, July 14, 2005

Moments of Clarity

From Publius at Legal Fiction:

I’m a big believer in “moments of clarity” – isolated points in time in which life slows down and a brief window opens temporarily that reveals some broader truth. [...]

...the Rove controversy – or more precisely, the pro-Rove Republican counter-offensive – has given me a different sort of moment of clarity. This single story reveals a much broader truth about the modern Republican Party. It also reaffirms why I think the party has become so fundamentally flawed – and why I choose not to be a part of it. I mean, I offer reasons all the time about why I think the Republicans are wrong. But the pro-Rove counter-offensive reveals a far deeper truth about the depths of the intellectual decline of the modern Republican Party. Of course, the Rove story doesn’t necessarily show that liberals or progressives or Democrats are right about everything (or anything), but it does show how the once-intellectually-proud and independent-minded conservative movement has descended into mindless lockstep loyalty on any issue regardless of the merits. In a way, it’s sad. And in another way, it’s profoundly disturbing.

First things first. What Rove did was indefensible – and that’s not even a controversial point. It was a political attack that harmed national security, and was deeply unethical, if not illegal or even traitorous (our 41st President’s words, not mine). [...]

But even putting that aside, the subsequent statements during the investigation – from the White House podium no less – were equally indefensible. It’s as obvious as could be. Rove and others did a very bad thing and then lied about it. I get tired of the whole “If this had been a [member of opposite party], there would be hell to pay.” But that’s clearly true here. If Sid Blumenthal had outed a WMD CIA operative in wartime and Joe Lockhart got up and lied straight-faced to the American public about it, there would have been hell to pay - and rightly so.

But the reaction on the Republican side is not contrition or introspection, it’s willful denial of the obvious. There are no Holy Joes condemning Clinton – there are no retreats from Durbin statements. There is blind, lockstep loyalty about an indefensible act. And the kicker – ok, one of the many kickers – is that not only does everyone know the act was indefensible, they also know that the counteroffensive talking points are out-and-out lies. As Billmon said, this is Richard Clarke all over again, except that it’s one thousand times less defensible.

You would think that during wartime we could get one – just one – Republican Senator to criticize the action. Maybe one of the much ballyhooed moderates who like the talk, but aren’t big on the walk.

I don’t know - I just don’t understand it. Democrats don’t this. Liberals don’t do it either. They fall over themselves to be disloyal to fellow Democrats, especially when you turn up the heat. Republicans seem to do the opposite - the hotter things get, the more fiercely they fall in line behind the talking point no matter how obviously ridiculous they may be. I mean, for God’s sake, Karl Rove should be celebrated as a whistle-blower? Is this self-aware?

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