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2011

I remember well the contention that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between George W Bush and Al Gore. And, indeed, there wasn’t. Both wholeheartedly embraced American military hegemony as a foreign policy and the neoliberal “Washington Consensus” approach to international economic policy. Both emphasized improved education as the key to long-term prosperity, both valorized capitalism as an engine of growth, and neither in any meaningful way challenged the various prevailing economic and social dogmas of the era. And yet looking back in concrete terms, it seems to me that the 2000 election turns out to have been one of the most consequential in American history. That’s because while both Bush and Bill Clinton pursued policies from within the paradigm of the elite American ideological consensus of the post-Cold War era they actually pursued very different policies.

I don’t believe the nomination of Palin is where our system became decadent, nor the Clinton sex scandal. VPs are often chosen for less than scrupulous reason and Clinton just got caught on what something that has and is currently always going on with politicians. I believe that our political system hit its lowest point of decadence during the “Swift Boating” of John Kerry by the Bush campaign. War heroism is something that all sane and rational people honor and respect. Rove’s calculated strategy to attack Kerry’s strength and besmirch his heroic acts in Vietnam crossed a line that should never be crossed, especially by an administration that started two wars and used them and the military as an advantage in every possible way. At that point, I remember thinking to myself that the floodgates have been opened to a new, bottom-feeder level.

One thing they understand very well at Fox, and in the conservative movement more generally, is the political value of shamelessness. As long as you say what you’re saying with conviction, it doesn’t matter how absurd or hypocritical it is. You may not get the majority of the public to agree with you, but you can get a good number. … As a result, conservatives may not win every argument, but they almost never get routed completely.

the signature initiatives of Republican presidents - the Reagan tax cut, the Bush tax cut, the Medicare drug benefit - have all been unfunded deficit-raisers; the signature initiatives of Democratic presidents - the Clinton tax hike, Obamacare - have all been deficit-reducing. (Yes, the stimulus - but that was intended to be temporary, and has in fact proved too temporary; and Bush I’s tax increase was an exception, but the GOP has made it clear that nothing like that will ever happen again.)

2010