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Republicans Forget How To Be Competently Evil
They Aren't Mayberry Machiavellis Anymore
It has been nearly 20 years since the Republican Party under George W. Bush sold America and the world a bill of goods about so-called Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and a supposed “connection” between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. The Bush years of the Republican Party, from about 1999-2006, were a full on display of competent evil, from stealing the 2000 election to selling the war in Iraq, smearing John Kerry, and spinning the failure to capture Bin Laden or secure post-Saddam Iraq.
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These were all horrible things for America and the world that killed hundreds of thousands of people, but from a political point of view it was a well-oiled and well executed campaign, aided by the traditional cluelessness and sclerotic response by the Democratic Party and liberalism in general.
We’re a long way from those halcyon days and Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s weak leadership, along with the nonstop dumpster fire at Fox News, the intellectual center of the conservative movement, are great examples of this.
I’ve long looked at leading conservative psychopaths like Bush strategist Karl Rove, Fox News founder Roger Ailes and News Corp sugar daddy Rupert Murdoch for insights into what works for the right, to dissect the inner workings and (most times unsuccessfully) advocate for the left to simply steal what works. But there doesn’t seem to be much of that left anymore.
It isn’t that Republicans can’t win elections. Unfortunately they can. McCarthy is after all the Speaker of the House, and even if he had to sit through days of humiliating votes against him to get there, he’s still in the chair. But there isn’t that efficiency, that hard-edged planning that once had the Bush team labeled as the “Mayberry Machiavellis.”
Both George W. Bush and Donald Trump are among the dumbest people to ever lead a national political party, and certainly two of the least intelligent people to hold the American presidency, but Bush was surrounded by smart, evil people. While he couldn’t make it through a sentence, his team was composed of expert spinners, policy oriented executioners of horrible plans that weakened the economy and polluted the planet. Similarly their congressional allies at the time, led by pedophile Speaker Dennis Hastert and figures like former Majority Leader Tom Delay, worked with ruthless efficiency to keep liberals on their heels.
The Republican Party in the Trump years has a long line of sycophants, each dueling with the others to get in Trump’s good graces and without any kind of real strategy beyond emulating their very stupid boss. At the congressional level this has also manifested in bland and toothless leaders like former Speaker Paul Ryan and the current incarnation of limp Ryanism, Kevin McCarthy. It speaks volumes about the GOP that its lead grand inquisitor in Congress is Rep. Jim Jordan, who is better known for going without a jacket than for his ability to weaponize a congressional hearing.
The party is a mess. They have spent weeks now trying desperately to recover from President Joe Biden’s accurate accusation that they support attacking Social Security and Medicare. They spend more time fuming about each other or trying to elbow their fellow Republicans out of the way in a desperate move to get the cameras focused on them and them alone (Marjorie Taylor Greene vs. Lauren Boebert vs. Ted Cruz vs. Matt Gaetz).
I am by nature wary of these kinds of situations and I never believe they’re going to last. I remember the ruthless efficiency of the right in their attempts to erode the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and I still mourn the lives lost thanks to their work to prop up the murderous policies of George W. Bush.
But things aren’t looking up for Republicans right now. Trump is still their leading strategist — the man who lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton and lucked out via the electoral college, who subsequently had his rear end handed to him by Joe Biden.
Democrats still don’t have the killer instinct. They don’t attack with all the openings the right gives them. The Democrats are still gun shy and afraid to wholly embrace their base. And yet they’re still in a better position (for now) than the right.
Republicans are very bad at being evil right now and we should thank God for that. It won’t last, but it’s a good thing.
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