Monday, January 12, 2004

Kevin Phillips hack job in RS

Kevin Phillips does a hack job on George W in the latest Rolling Stone. Among other things, he claims that the Bush's are a "dynasty" like the " English Stuarts" or the "French Bourbons" (never mind that George W was democratically elected) and that the Bush's believe that they are "royalty". Phillips also claims that George W has a "I'm-the-Messiah attitude" and that George W believes he has an "almost God-accorded role."

What makes the Bush family so different -- and, in many ways, so dangerous -- is that they've created a dynasty. The second Bush administration is a political restoration, not unlike the English Stuarts in 1660 or the French Bourbons in 1815. In the last election, the Republican Party turned to the eldest son of the Republican who got the boot eight years earlier. That's what this country fought a revolution to get rid of in 1776. Nobody thought that there would be another royal house, with a couple of Georges.


The family has made a big deal of the notion that it is descended from royalty. Burke's Peerage even got involved in the last election, saying that Bush won because he had the most royal ancestry. The Bushes eat this stuff up. They don't need democracy -- they feel entitled by ancestry. For them, the presidency is something that can be won with a Supreme Court decision.


This type of dynasty is antithetical to the American political tradition. The presidency is now subject to inherited views, inherited staff, inherited wars, inherited money, inherited loyalties. I'm not talking about particular policies -- I'm talking about a unique evolution of a corrupting institutional process in American governance.


In moral terms, Reagan wasn't exactly running the Bluenose Express -- he was the first American president to be married to two different Hollywood movie stars. He knew how to put on a good show when he was talking to the religious right, but there wasn't a whole lot they were going to get out of him. And when it came to Bush's father, the religious right thought he was some guy with striped pants who came from these schools where their fathers had been janitors. They didn't relate to him at all.

George W. is another story. He's a guy who's been born again, who believes in a lot of what the religious right does. He's Reagan quadrupled in terms of his holier-than-thou, I'm-the-Messiah attitude. He sort of fell into national politics serving as his father's representative to the religious right in 1986. It was right around the time that he was finding religion himself -- and the time that fundamentalists and evangelicals, having made their big splash with Reagan, were beginning to institutionalize power within the state Republican parties and a national framework. George W. spent enormous amounts of time with these people, and he learned how to walk the walk and talk the talk. He is able to be so strong with the religious right because he got inside their whole setup. He can figure out how much to give them to get them on his side and keep them under control. For the first time in history, the president of the United States is the acknowledged leader of the religious right.


Based on his support among fundamentalists and evangelicals, I would say that a slight majority of the people who voted for him probably believe in Armageddon. After 9/11, that allowed him to think of himself as somebody who has an almost God-accorded role. He sees himself as an anointed leader, and his speeches evoke religious code words: evil, crusade, the ways of Providence, wonder-working power. One biblical scholar who analyzed Bush's speech to the nation on October 7th, 2001, announcing the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, identified a half-dozen veiled borrowings from the Book of Revelation, Isaiah, Matthew and Jeremiah.


History shows that restored dynasties eventually overdo it and tank themselves -- but it usually takes more than four years. The French Bourbons were restored in 1815 and got the heave-ho in 1830. The English Stuarts were restored in 1660 and ejected in 1688. The problem is, the other side gets dismasted by the restoration and can't mount an effective opposition.

Rolling Stone also notes:

But Phillips is no left-wing demagogue. He's not only a lifelong Republican, he's also the guy who literally wrote the book that became the blueprint for the party's dominance of presidential politics. Phillips served as the chief political strategist for Richard Nixon in 1968, and, in The Emerging Republican Majority, he formulated the "Southern Strategy" that helped hand the White House to the GOP for a generation.

It's terrible to see a mind deteriorate so...


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