(Via @jeffemanuel) As many people have noted, the Left’s favorite rhetorical game in the whole wide world is the classic These new Republicans are awful, unlike all the good Republicans that we used to have. It’s popular mostly because it’s easily – in fact, continually – adapted to the contemporary era, and nobody in its target audience seems to really notice that they quietly switch out devil figures as the situation demands. Well, almost nobody: there’s always the fringe dupes who made the mistake of actually believing the agitprop, to the point where their identity and sense of self-worth is inextricably tied up in hating one, specific Republican. Fortunately for the Democrats, those poor unfortunates generally shrivel up into irrelevancy – and, thirty years later, shouting through battery-operated megaphones for the benefit of local news stations.
But enough with the charming tableau. The point is that it’s now George W Bush’s turn to be rehabilitated, now that the Left has a Republican House to demonize, and time is not being wasted. The first real effort along those lines will apparently appear in the Sunday Opinion section of the Washington Post (which is nice rhetorical real estate to get, frankly), and it’s called “5 myths about George W. Bush.” He’s apparently not a illiterate cowboy, he really did mean it about compassionate conservatism (and liked minorities!) and really didn’t mean it about nation-building, did not let Cheney run the country from behind the scenes, and didn’t destroy conservatism for a generation.
Now, I know that a bunch of people are going to read the previous paragraph and grumble at the sight of the phrase “compassionate conservatism” (because they read it – not necessarily unfairly – as “stealth liberalism”), but that’s not actually the point. The point is that, like every other Republican president preceding him, George W Bush is now going to have his record and narrative tweaked until it becomes acceptably liberal enough to permit using him to attack current Republicans. This is noteworthy for two reasons:
- It’s going to infuriate a whole slew of liberals, progressives, and other bitter-clingers.
- The trade-off for this sort of thing is that since they can’t rewrite people like Reagan or Bush into full-bore liberals, they have to incorporate some of those people’s core beliefs into the new narrative. In Reagans’s case, the ones that got brought in were the inherent value of middle-class tax cuts and the inherent evil of the Soviet Union. In George HW Bush’s case, it was the necessity of liberating Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. In GWB’s case, it’ll probably be the obvious need for some kind of GWOT. This also infuriates a whole slew of liberals, progressives, and other bitter-clingers.
The process will, of course, be accelerated when we put a Republican President in office – which will either be two or six years from now, and the odds are slightly improving that it’ll be the former – but I expect that we’re going to see a lot more rehabilitation work going on in the next three months. The Republican party is very unnervingly (to Democrats, at least) acting quite soberly about Tuesday’s election results…
Moe Lane (crosspost)