Updated Friday at noon. See below.
Another unintended consequence of the Bush Leaguers' corrupt, wholly partisan, mendacious, and destructive methods of "running" the country may be the swearing into office down the line of Senator Kevin Tillman.
Senator Tillman will not be a Republican.
I don't know what if any plans for a political career the brother of Pat Tillman may have. Based on admirably he conducted himself during his testimony before Congress this week, though, and given his own war record, the Democrats should be knocking on his door to beg him to run for something soon.
But if Tillman himself doesn't want to go into politics, there is already forming a small army of future Senators Tillman and Congressmen and Congresswomen Tillman, Governors Tillman, State Legislators Tillman, Mayors Tillman, and School Board Members Tillman, among whom there's probably a President of the United States Tillman or two, all of these young politicians Tillman being like Kevin Tillman, intelligent, eloquent, angry veterans of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who will never see their future careers as having anything to do with the Party of the President who sent them off to die for a lie and a swindle, except in opposition to it.
Meanwhile, it's a good bet the Bush Leaguers have robbed the Republican Party of any future Senators David Iglesias.
Honestly, if you were a smart, ambitious, successful, honorable young conservative woman or man with even one socially tolerant bone in your body, would you look at the Republican Party as it currently is, the Party of Bush and Cheney and Rove, the Party of Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Randy Cunningham, and Jack Abramoff, the Party of the Rabid Religious Right and think, Hey, I'm signing right up! These are the guys for me!
I suppose you might if you had a real messianic complex and believed you were the One elected by God or Fate to clean up the Party and save it from itself or if you were a born martyr who wanted to see just how quick it would take for the thugs and thieves running the show to tie your career to a tree and fill it full of arrows, because the people in charge of the Party right now would see you as a threat and they would waste no time in either getting rid of you or corrupting you.
There's no way they would let your honesty and integrity ruin the nifty little racket they've got going.
You are exactly the type Karl Rove has had run out of the Justice Department.
And out of every office in every department in the executive branch whenever he could manage it or have it managed.
The future of the Republican Party is the likes of a Monica Goodling, not you.
It's worth asking how the Party got itself into this woeful condition. Nevermind its having once been the Party of Lincoln. How did the fate of the Party of Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, Everett Dirksen, Howard Baker, and John Chaffee wind up in the hands of Karl Rove?
There's a book to be written exploring the roots of the Party's decline into dishonesty, corruption, and willful ideological self-destructive ignorance in the Republicans' heartless passivity in the face of the Depression and then its Isolationist leanings in the years leading up to World War II. The decline could be traced through the McCarthy years and on into the years of the Civil Rights Movement when many honorable and decent Republicans had to break with too many of their Party's leaders and too much of their base in order to do the right thing.
It would be a good book. Maybe it already is. Anybody know of it? I'd like to read it.
But my short answer right now to how did the party that nominated Dwight Eisenhower for President twice become the Party that nominated George W. Bush twice is that in between it nominated Richard Nixon twice.
The Party of Lincoln became the Party of Nixon.
Now think about this.
Look at all the Baby Boomers and aging Gen Xers running the Party in Washington and ask yourself when they came of political age, when they started down the path that brought them to where they are today?
The Republican Party today is the Nixonian Southern Strategy Party, the Nixonian Bomb Hanoi Party, the Nixonian We Could Get the Money But it Would Be Wrong Party. It is the Post-Watergate Party.
If you were an intelligent, ambitious, honorable young conservative in 1974 would you have looked at the Party Nixon had remade in his image and said, I'm signing up! These are the guys for me!
I'm sure the Party experienced a lull in its recruitment of honorable and decent young men and women and in that lull gangs of Nixonian apologists and die-hards rushed in to grab a seat. By the time Ronald Reagan made it respectable to be a Republican again, the paths to a political career would have been blocked by the young Dick Cheneys, Tom DeLays, George W. Bushes, Lee Atwaters and Karl Roves, who naturally would have given a hand up only to aspiring hypocrites, incompetents, thugs, and thieves like themselves.
In the generation since, those hypocrites, incompetents, thugs, and thieves have recruited others who in their turn recruited still more who did their bit and so on until now it seems almost a miracle that there is any Republican holding a national office who doesn't have a rap sheet.
Like calls to like.
Writing about another of what is becoming an all too routine example of Republican hypocrisy and personal corruption, this one perpetrated by Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, Digby says:
I make the generalization that Republican politicians are crooks. They break laws and do unethical things even when it doesn't benefit them directly --- just because that's the way their system works.
They simply don't believe that the rules apply to rich and powerful people. Read [Sessions'] words once more about that bankruptcy legislation which it more difficult for families without health insurance to recover from massive, obscene medical bills when they had a health crisis. Then look again at the sanctimonious gasbag complaining about business being defrauded, which apparently is only a problem if it isn't one of his rich friends doing it, since he admits under oath that this contributor and his wife were hiding their assets from creditors.
This is just one guy. But those who fail to rein them in, who refuse to distance themselves from this --- particularly the so-called religious right, who also worship big bucks --- are aiding and abetting. The fact is that there are so damned many of the that I don't know why we should avoid making the sweeping generalization that the GOP is basically a racket. It makes sense when you think about it: their swaggering rhetoric that says you're a dupe if you pay taxes and calls government the enemy would naturally draw the kind of political leader who literally believes that the rules don't apply to him.
Digby is coming at the same idea from a slightly different angle, taking into consideration the unfortunately all too American attitude towards wealth, which is that Having Money Makes It OK, an attitude you can't say is undervalued in the Republican Party.
There is another angle to consider too, the authoritarian one, embodied by Rudy Giuliani, that there are people who are born to be in charge and then there's the rest of us who are born to obey, and the people born to be in charge get to set and enforce all the rules and decide which of those rules they themselves will bother to follow.
Whatever angle you come at it, you arrive at the same point: The Republican Party is the party of people who believe they are exempt. The Party is run by people who have taken full advantage of their self-granted exemptions and they will continue to bring into it other people exactly like themselves.
If you are an honorable young conservative who believes the rules ought to apply to everybody, there simply is no place for you in the Republican Party.
Which means a generation from now, if the Party is still around, it will only be worse.
I don't believe it will be around, unless there are plenty of messianic and would-be martyrs among this generation of young Republicans. I just don't think that enough voters will continue to think that white collar criminals need their own major political party.
"After Pat's Birthday," a letter to the nation from Kevin Tillman.
Hat tips to Susie and the gang.
Better late than never update: Back in January, Alex, who comments here under the nickname burritoboy, reviewed Thomas Edsall's Building Red America: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive for Permanent Power on his blog, motion picture, it's called.
Alex calls Building Red America a frustrating book, because of a couple important weaknesses in Edsall's approach, the first being, says Alex, that Edsall has written a book about the American Right that doesn't mention the word "capitalism."
The other big flaw is that Edsall starts looking at the roots of the rise to power of the Right at too late a point in time and begins his book:
by discussing “politics at the top” – i.e. current politics as it looks primarily from elite circles in Washington, DC. This is not a repetition of the too-common criticism of elitism. Rather, my criticism is of the value of Edsall’s particular elitism to understanding this phenomenon. The power of the New Right is not primarily explicable by the New Right’s machinations in the 1990s and 2000s. Those machinations were only made possible by the near-universal popularity of the New Right’s politics on a grassroots level starting in the late 1960s, thirty years before the New Right began it’s latest stage of concretizing its power under the second Bush administration.
Edsall analyzes the effects before analyzing the causes (if he can be said to analyze the causes at all). The primary puzzle is how the middle class in America became radicalized, not how that radicalization was later transformed into political power. It’s comparatively easy to gain political power if a lot of people are already willing (even eager) to vote you into office.