June 22, 2004


Look Who’s Feuding: Suddenly it’s Republicans (for a change!) who are at one another’s throats over Iraq. There’s even talk of a postelection neocon purge. The sun sets on national greatness conservatism. (Danny Postel, 07.01.04, American Prospect)

These have been, to state the obvious, a rough couple of months for the Republicans. Talk of the administration's "wheels coming off" abounds. Consider these recent developments: In light of the "house of horrors" at Abu Ghraib, neocon stalwart Max Boot calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down. The secretary's "failure to offer his resignation over the Abu Ghraib scandal is sadly typical of the lack of accountability that permeates the U.S. government," Boot thunders in the Los Angeles Times.

# The editors of the National Review, a bedrock of support for the war from day one, call for "An End to Illusion" and urge their readers to "downplay expectations" in Iraq. "The administration," they editorialize, "clearly wasn't ready for the magnitude of the task that rebuilding and occupying Iraq would present."

# Crossfire host Tucker Carlson joins the ever-expanding conservatives-who-have-changed-their-minds-on-Iraq club. "I think it's a total nightmare and disaster," he tells The New York Observer, "and I'm ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it. It's something I'll never do again. Never. I got convinced by a friend of mine who's smarter than I am, and I shouldn't have done that. No. I want things to work out, but I'm enraged by it, actually."

# One vice chairman at the American Conservative Union, Donald Devine, declines to shake hands with the president and does not applaud during George W. Bush's keynote address to the group. A Zogby poll shows that Devine is hardly alone, with one out of five Republicans not committed to voting for Bush, which conservative columnist Robert Novak says "could spell defeat in a closely contested election."

# In response to the rolling thunder of right-wing disaffection with the war, William Kristol tells The New York Times that the neoconservatives have "as much or more in common with the liberal hawks than with traditional conservatives." He fulminates, "If we have to make common cause with the more hawkish liberals and fight the conservatives, that is fine with me … ."

And that's just what's been reported in the press. Republican anxieties and grumblings go considerably deeper...

Shocking, eh? The Buchananites, McCainiacs and Libertarians inside the Beltway still haven't reconciled themselves to the fact that George W. Bush represents the mainstream of American conservatism today and the GOP is his party, not theirs. Seems like the only Republicans who support the President are pretty much all of those who don't work at think tanks and vanity journals.
From: Orrin Judd [mailto:orrin@brothersjudd.zzn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 2004 7:31 AM
To: Danny Postel
Subject: Re: Postel: On the Verge of a Purge--Inside the
Posted it. Do they really charge for their stuff now?

From: "Danny Postel"
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 10:19:07 -0500
To: "'Orrin Judd'"
Subject: RE: Postel: On the Verge of a Purge--Inside the RepublicanCrack-Up
Thanks for the nod, Orrin. They don't charge for most of their stuff,
just select pieces they think might lure people into subscribing.

Alas, as for your comment:

< Beltway still haven't reconciled themselves to the fact that George W.
Bush represents the mainstream of American conservatism today and the
GOP is his party, not theirs. Seems like the only Republicans who
support the President are pretty much all of those who don't work at
think tanks and vanity journals.>>

I'm afraid you've *completely* missed the point of my article! Did you
read this paragraph?

< alliance of conservatives -- realists, libertarians, and paleocons --
opposed to the Iraq War and to the expanding American empire [see
"Realistpolitik," page 11]. But conservative estrangement from the
administration has now spread well beyond that circle, into the ranks of
Republicans who supported the war but have either changed their minds or
grown increasingly weary of the occupation -- and who are concerned that
it could cost Bush the election.>>

In other words, your comment relates to my *previous* article
) but not at all to this one. The people I'm talking about in this
article are *precisely* mainstream Republicans who feel that Buchanan
and the libertarians are out of step with reality; they *supported* the
Iraq war and eventually came to have serious doubts about it (unlike
Buchanan and the libertarians, who opposed it from the get-go). Of
course I can't identify the insiders and strategists I quote in the
article, but I can guarantee you that they are neither Buchananites nor
libertarians; on the contrary, they are as straight-no-chaser Republican
as they come, hard core party loyalists, who want the neocons out
because of the strong possibility that the Iraq war they sold the
president on will cost him the election. Whatever their feelings about
the war, they do not feel it was worth losing the election for it.

Now, you can disagree with these Republicnas. Be my guest. But *that's*
their position, not what you incorrectly attribute to them in your
comment. I hope you'll post a revision to reflect this. Or perhaps this
note. Maybe we can have an exchange about it.

Again, thanks for the post.



No, sorry, I didn't read that--just the portion that was available publicly for free. There you have neo and paleo cons griping. If in the rest of the essay you have Northeastern establishment Republicans complaining about the war that wouldn't be surprising. They opposed Reagan winning the Cold War too. Again though, none of them matter. It's a theocon party and George W. Bush exemplifies it as precisely as Reagan did. There may be mewling at the margins but in the country at large Mr. Bush is supported by Republicans at record levels. The Atlanticists, paleocons, libertarians and neoconservatives are useful--each in their own way, on their pet issues--but W drives the bus.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2004 8:30 AM

Has his support among the base dipped below 90 once during his Presidency?

Posted by: kevin whited at June 22, 2004 8:39 AM

These are all conservatives, right? That means presumably they are immune to worrying about international law and the UN, care not a whit about Euros, understand the threat of radical Islam, aren't shy about force and were realistic enough to know that winning the war and bringing democracy to a Middle Eastern dictatorship was hardly likely to be a straight line affair. They all cheered the President on. So, what is their beef? If this is all about Abu Ghraib let's just admit the whole West is simply too soft and its time is up.

Carlson has revealed himself to be a feckless preppie. I never did like that bow tie.

Posted by: Peter B at June 22, 2004 9:30 AM

The NR quote is out of context. Those other guys are anonymous, including Tucker, who is on TV.

Support Your Local President.

Posted by: Noel at June 22, 2004 9:31 AM

Which just goes to show that while they no longer exert control over the Congress like they used to, the Stupid Party faction of the GOP is still alive and well in other venues. A bunch of guys who love losing because they are convinced that winning is a sure sign that their ideas and ideals are wrong.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 22, 2004 10:38 AM

"...Republicans who supported the war but have ... changed their minds "

B. S.

Sorry, but this describes "Republicans" like Sullivan, who weren't really supporting in the first place, but wanted to play one on TV. Maybe it's a disease that you get when your livelihood is writing or otherwise being on public display---and get tired of being dis-invited to tea parties.

Every real-world Republican I know hasn't changed their mind. They thought that Bush the elder screwed up by not taking out Saddam in 1991----and nothing has occurred that would change their mind.

Posted by: fred at June 22, 2004 1:44 PM

Carlson and Sullivan are disappointing, "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots." Unstintingly supportive during the first few months and leaving when the going gets tough; focusing only on the trees in the WOT. What will it take? If we don't re-elect Bush what will that mean to the Jihadists?

The main stream media has gotten to them all and capitulation to the propaganda will be the end of governance as we have known it. The fourth estate will rule through manipulation.

Posted by: Genecis at June 22, 2004 1:49 PM


Well, all their friends and the folks they hang with are Democrats, so bailing out makes their lives easier.

Posted by: oj at June 22, 2004 2:42 PM

The problem the bailers have is that the more they whine, the more they sound like David Brock.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 22, 2004 3:17 PM

David Brock is a despicable hack. I read his book. I think it reveals less the evils of the GOP than his own shallow nature.

Sullivan is highly successful and likes the GOP economic agenda for his own pocketbook, but the gay marriage agenda reveals where his true priorities lie.

Tucker Carlson has always been a wanker.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at June 22, 2004 8:07 PM

The Bush administration has obviously botched the occupation in certain respects. But it is also true that much has gone right. There is no reason to think the Iraq War is doomed to be a failure, just as there is no reason to assume victory is inevitable.

These people are showing panic. Obstensibly because they only know military history from glib TV movie soundbites. By historical standards, even our situation now is really good. Casualites - over a year since the war began - are low.

The problem is just as Bob Kaplan puts it in his Atlantic Monthly interview this month, Bush hasn't communicated that he knows how to pull off victory, so there is doubt.

I agree with many of OJ's critiques and opinions of the war. If things turn out well (a good chance, but much can still go wrong) then all these people will quickly forget their doubts as if they never had them. If it goes into the toilet, then it's all about them being duped.

Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.

I may not vote for Bush in November, but he's doing the right thing in staying through this. It's the only way to achieve that victory.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at June 22, 2004 8:18 PM

Chris: Victory is a done deal. This is what victory looks like. Enjoy it.

Neither the war or the occupation has been perfect, but perfection is not the standard against which to judge human action. I hope that the army and the administration are doing honest after-action reports (the military is very good at that), but the outcome we've got is very good.

Now, the Iraqis may not be able to achieve democracy, or to hold on to what we are passing on to them. If they can't, I will regret it. but that will be their failure, not ours. In the meantime, we've gotten rid of Saddam, made the regimes in the area think twice about annoying us, and lured a bunch of bad guys to their doom.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 22, 2004 9:08 PM

The one number I trust in the polls is that self identified republicans support President Bush by astoundinly strong numbers, like 92%.

Anyone who is allowed to spout on an alphabet network is by definition not hardore and not trustworthy.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 22, 2004 11:06 PM