What happened to all the reasonable Republicans we considered crazy at the time? by mattsteinglass

Matthew Yglesias » Paulson and Bartlett on Republicans .

Yglesias notes Kevin Drum pointing to Henry Paulson’s comments in Vanity Fair praising Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, and deriding current Republicans as do-nothing ideologues (“It’s not that there’s anything wrong with ideology. I’ve got my ideology and my philosophy. But those that say, ‘I won’t compromise,’ to prove a point, and then ‘I’m going to point a finger afterwards and say, See, I was right … ’ ”) And Bruce Bartlett: “I think the party got seriously on the wrong track during the George W. Bush years, as I explained in my Impostor book. In my opinion, it no longer bears any resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan. I still consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism.”

Liberals love hearing this stuff from Republican apostates. The trend got started with the angry memoirs by John DiIulio and Paul O’Neill early in the George W. Bush years. If only the Bush administration were filled with serious conservatives, liberals thought, like back in the Reagan days, then we could at least have a substantive debate. And liberals recalled that Reagan had raised taxes when confronted with the reality of huge budget deficits of ’84, and that he had bonded with Gorbachev and changed course on the “evil empire” stuff. Liberals never knew how good they had it! But of course back in the actual Reagan era, liberals grew nostalgic for the Nixon years. Nixon had proposed a guaranteed minimum income and national health insurance, had said “we’re all Keynesians now,” had introduced detente with the Russians. He was at least unarguably a smart guy, unlike Reagan, whom liberals considered a genial dunce. And in the Nixon years, liberals had been nostalgic for Eisenhower. At the moment we’re probably a few days away from the first stirrings of liberal nostalgia for the George W. Bush years, when at least Republicans compromised with Ted Kennedy to get No Child Left Behind passed.


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