Their inability to organize to curb George W. Bush makes me think America would be better off if the Republican Party vanished tomorrow. Rick Perlstein provides another reason:
Campaign for America's Future: The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page says Democrats should be embarrassed...
...because they have no clue about dirty politics.
Writes John Fund: "The general election may be a year and a half away but the Democratic National Committee has already released its opposition research packet on the three leading GOP contenders -- just in time for reporters covering tonight's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in Los Angeles." He seems by the packet - baffled, apparentely, that it focuses merely on their public records. He concludes: "for real, substantive dirt on the Republican candidates, we'll have to depend on the GOP candidates to do their own opposition research."
Allow me to explain. Character assassination, sabotage, and deception and subterfuge are not incidental to conservative politics but central to it. To them, politics without such things doesn't even feel like... politics. Catch them in a relaxed moment, and they freely admit it - with relish....
I argued that any conference that seeks to define what conservatism is, has been, and will be in the future has to confront the conservative obsession with fraud. I pointed out that the modern conservative movement that first massed in 1960 behind Barry Goldwater defined themselves against Republican standard-bearer Richard Nixon's ideological expedience - but that at the very same time the same people who "pioneered this anti-Nixonian movement of principle showed up in the dankest recesses of the Nixon administration. People like Douglas Caddy, of course, the co-founder of the effort to draft Goldwater for vice-president in 1960 and YAF's first president, who was the man the White House called on to represent the Watergate burglars in 1972," and former Young Americans for Freedom president Tom Charles Huston--"who, as the author of the first extra-legal espionage and sabotage plan in the Nixon White House, can fairly be called an architect of Watergate."
I interviewed many of the original organizers of Young Americans for Freedom for my book Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. Here's what I said at [not] "Princeton" [University but at the right-wing "Madison Institute"]:
How did my subjects from the youth conservative movement of the 1960s, the ones that later came to inherit the world, present themselves to the researcher who came calling for stories about how their triumph began? On the one hand, beaming, telling me stories of principle. On the other, sometimes in the same breath, winkingly defining political deviancy down, telling Hustonian tales of antinomial subterfuge. Peeling off opposition bumper stickers with razor blades, jamming Rockefeller phone banks, working to subvert the 1961 National Student Association convention by setting up a dummy "Middle of the Road Caucus."
I explained that this was why Richard Nixon's White House speciically recruited dedicated conservatives to do his dirty work - "good, healthy right-eing exuberants," as he described the likes of Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy. And what do conservatives think of convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy, who cheerfully worked overtime specifically to break the law on the White House's behalf? They made him one of their most popular speakers and radio hosts. The party of law and order indeed....
How did this roomful of "conservative intellectuals," including those beside me on the dais, respond to my agument that Richard Nixon loved conservatives specifically for their willingness to break the law in the service of something they call "freedom"? One of them, another YAF founder, M. Stanton Evans... quipped, "I didn't like Nixon until Watergate." Everyone laughed. Because it was - you know - a "joke."
It was, of course, kidding on the square, as they say: a joke that reveals the jokester's heart. Which is precisely why John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, another leading conservative "intellectual," reminds us, "for real, substantive dirt on the Republican candidates, we'll have to depend on the GOP candidates to do their own opposition research."