Saturday, December 6, 2008

Once again, Larison is dead-on:

Looking at both policy and personnel in the new administration, the cynical Russian (or American) would have to work overtime lately to see where exactly significant change is in the offing.... Perhaps the Kremlin actually admires the ability to engage in such a theatrical display to promote the illusion of dramatic political shifts while not changing anything fundamental. It is something of an art form, I grant you, and we have been practicing it much longer than they have, and it is not hard to see why a political establishment would want to learn how to imitate it....

Even so, consider how debased and broken-down our standards must be that we consider it some kind of vindication of popular government that the two clans that have held executive power for the last twenty years did not happen to have a blood relative on either presidential ticket. Then we would remember that this was to some extent an accident on the Democratic side (had Clinton made any serious effort in the caucus states in early February, the “story line” above would have been almost entirely vindicated), and it was true on the Republican side perhaps only because of the unusual degree of incompetence shown by the current office-holder. Had Bush not been judged an utter failure as early as late 2006, how many of us really think that his brother would have stayed out of the presidential race? Except for his brother’s ruined reputation, how many think he would not have been seriously considered for a VP slot? Remember that a majority of the GOP still approves of George W. Bush even now--imagine what his approval rating among Republicans would have been had he not been quite as disastrous as he was! Does anyone believe that, between his establishment ties and governing record, Jeb Bush could not have won the nomination, had it not been for the great incompetence of his brother? For that matter, does anyone think that a relative outsider such as Obama would have stood a chance of winning the nomination of his party had it not been for the calamitous Bush Era and the complicity of so many leading Democrats in its calamities? Consider how fully this administration had to fail and how deeply unpopular Bush himself had to become to render the Russian “story line” invalid where it might have otherwise been all too accurate, and then tell me that there is not something rotten in our politics.

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