Balkinization  

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The End of Reaganism, or, Three Cheers for the Great Destroyer

JB

All of the presidential candidates seem to be picking up Barack Obama's theme of change and portraying themselves as agents of change. If things keep going the way they have been, the 2008 election now looks to be as defining a moment as 1932, 1968 or 1980. (If things keep going, that is. A lot can happen in ten months).

If 2008 turns out to be a pivotal election, defining a new political era, it is important to give credit where credit is due. Two key reasons for the change will be the crackup of the coalition of the dominant party of the era, the Republicans, and the almost complete political failure of George W. Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove. Let me begin with the second reason, and then move to the first.

The Bush/Rove strategy of accentuating divisions along partisan lines was a bold gamble that ultimately failed, because it depended on the Bush presidency being successful. Think of it this way: If Bush does well at his task, then people at the margins gravitate toward the winning side and the Republican coalition slowly expands over time, rejuvenating the party and producing a post-Reagan vision (organized, for example, around the War on Terror and the opportunity society) that extends well into the future. But if Bush does badly, or as it turned out, very badly, the same strategy that encourages increased partisanship and divisiveness will tend to make Americans believe that these features of political life are also the cause of political failure. They will seek both change and a sense of unity. This is precisely what Obama has tapped into, which is why he has been successful so far. Obama, if you will, is what Bush's strategy has produced.

Now add to this the President's remarkable intransigence in the face of his policy failures and his growing unpopularity since 2005. President Bush has never been more sure of himself (at least in public) than he is today, and, with the aid of his Republican allies in Congress, he has been successful in batting back almost everything the Democratic Congress has sought to do. The result makes politics appear even more hopeless than it actually is, and this only spurs on the public's desire for change and for unity. (And this sense of hopelessness, too, is what Obama has made use of in his rhetoric-- by turning it upside down. His message is that there is hope because we are and should be united, not divided.) Bush's intransigence has heightened the problems his policy failures have created, opening a path for someone like Obama, whether on the Democratic or Republican side.

That would not necessarily be such a bad thing for the Republicans. It all depends on what they have to offer as an alternative to Bush. The problem is that Bush has also overseen the cracking of Ronald Reagan's successful coalition of southern former Democrats, white working class ethnics, defense hawks, free market conservatives, and religious conservatives. Reagan could appeal to all of these elements of the party, but Bush's Presidency has been unable to keep all of them happy. Had Bush's war on terror (including the Iraq war) been successful, he might have kept most of the coalition together even though he simultaneously increased the size of government, downplayed coded racial appeals that brought in the South, supported immigration reform, ran up large deficits, and offered only modest and symbolic achievements to religious conservatives. But his policy failures made this impossible.

Bush's failed presidency has left the Republicans scrambling to reconstitute the Reagan coalition. The wide range of different candidates-- from Giuliani to Romney to McCain to Huckabee to Paul-- offer different solutions. We don't yet know how the coalition will be reassembled, and under whose leadership. However, as of the day of the New Hampshire primary, it looks like putting it back together will be a tall order. And although the eventual nominee will try to assume the mantle of Ronald Reagan-- and, equally important, not the mantle of George W. Bush-- the Republican party will have been changed forever by the events of the last eight years.

Although Ronald Reagan will still be regarded with fondness by the Republicans for generations to come, George W. Bush will have effectively destroyed Reaganism. The Republicans will have to start over with a different mix of concerns, agendas and appeals. This is George W. Bush's single greatest achievement. This is one reason, although not the only reason, why he ranks high (or low) among the country's failed presidents-- not only did his policies fail, but he also took the winning coalition that brought him into office down with him.

And that is why, if, like many Americans, you think that change is coming, and you think that this is a good thing, you should tip your hat to George W. Bush and his eventful presidency. For if Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator, George W. Bush is the Great Destroyer of Coalitions.

Comments:

One might be more encouraged, if the Democratic Party seemed ready to assume leadership. Instead, to be honest, 2007 showed ... fractures, with the party unable to take either outright hawkish or confrontational stances (defunding the war, defunding the VP's office, censuring the President for {insert item}) or adhere to decidedly progressive goals (problems passing hate-crimes legislation, employment non-discrimination, S-CHIP, immigration, and more).

Fast forward five months. Bush declares the "end in sight" to Iraqi deployment. Troops are coming home, slowly, but still coming home. Unlike when it occurred, Bush starts visibly to push the U.N. as responsible for 'future reconciliation' in Iraq (they have been, for some time, its just that we've been quiet about it).

Does this change the perception among GOP regulars and independents (esp soccer moms), who are desperate themselves to not have been proved "wrong" about their 2004 vote?
 

Professor Balkin:

You might want to hold your horses on this wishful thinking.

As you note, Mr. Bush is not much of a Reagan conservative. Therefore, wanting change from Mr. Bush is hardly a repudiation of Reagan conservatism.

Political alliances end when elements of those alliances start voting reliably for the other party. For example, the FDR alliance broke down when men, northern ethnics and southern whites defected to the GOP.

However, none of the elements of the Reagan alliance have defected to the Dems. The GOP got tired of Bush back in 2006 and stayed home. The foreign policy hawks, free marketeers and religious conservatives have not been voting Dem and are hardly likely to vote for Mr. Obama, a liberal from Chicago who advocates higher taxes and surrender in the war.

What will be interesting to see is whether Mr. Obama's inspiring, but contentless, rhetoric of hope, unity and change survives the scrutiny of a general election examination of his actual positions.

In the NH GOP debate, Mr. Giuliani provided the argument you are likely to see in the summer and fall:

I do think [Mr. Obama has] embraced change, but change is a concept. Is it change for good or change for bad? Changing and having higher taxes, in my view, would be very bad for our economy. Changing and moving towards socialized medicine would be very bad for our health care system. Changing by a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq without considering the consequences; he voted for giving the enemy a timetable of our retreat in Iraq, unheard of in a time of war.

Mrs. Clinton cannot get away with this kind of substantive contrast because there is no real difference between her positions and those of Mr. Obama. However, you can rest assured that the GOP will do their best to pull back Mr. Obama's rhetorical curtain of hope so the American voters can get a good look at the policies of the man behind the curtain. We will see if the voters like what they see.
 

you can rest assured that the GOP will do their best to pull back Mr. Obama's rhetorical curtain of hope so the American voters can get a good look at the policies of the man behind the curtain

If Rudy is the GOP nominee I think we all know how that's going to go...

Obama: We need to fix healthcare.

Rudy: 9/11

Obama: We need to fix social security.

Rudy: 9/11

Obama: We need to get our troops out of Iraq.

Rudy: 9/11
 

Cogent analysis.

As for pulling back the curtain on Obama . . . well, as Obama said in the debate on Saturday night "we've seen this movie before" . . . the GOP will play the "liberal" card . . . however, this time, i have a feeling that it's going to fall on deaf ears . . .
 

Bart D. is correct that there hasn't yet been a major demographic shift towards Dems as big as the white male shift to the Repubs has been in the post Title VII era. And he's correct that the Repub candidate and Repub machine will try to spin whatever "change" Obama (or other Dem nominee) advocates as Really Scary Stuff.

But the Repubs have deeper problems than the original post suggets. With the exception of tax cuts, they don't have very many widely popular ideas. See Bush's failure at privatizing Social Security. And what has he even tried to accomplish on the domestic front recently? Heck, remember how low Bush's popularity was before the beginning of the Iraq War. Bush was re-elected because of a push on the war issue and some politically useful gay marriage bashing. But those dogs won't hunt in 2008.

The Repub party also lacks credibility. Look at government spending and the deficit (remember to count the cost of the war). Even if you think the surge has had some positive effects, Bush's long record of incomptence in Iraq has eroded the Repub argument that only they can be trusted with war and foreign policy.

Plus, none of the possible Repub nominees seem to excite both "the base" (read "Christian-religious right and/or anti-illegal-immigrant groups") and "the people who actually run the party" (read "business interests").

I'm sure the Repubs will try the "Obama's health care policy is SOCIALIZED MEDICINE" tactic. Still, with health care the way it is today, I'm not sure I would want to be the party of the status quo on that issue.

I'm not saying the Dems win in 2008 for sure. But the Repubs have some serious problems, in both the short and longer terms.
 

jslater:

You are correct that the GOP is not offering new ideas like they did prior to Mr. Bush. They are getting far too reactionary and defensive for my taste.

Instead of offering dramatic tax reform ala Reagan or the FAIR Tax, the GOP is simply saying no new taxes.

Instead of reforming government health care programs by offering choice and responsibility in the form of medical savings accounts or the like, we get defensive warnings against socialized medicine.

Defense is still a potent issue with the base, but the media has buried the Iraq story once our troops started winning.

The GOP appears to be tired and needs new blood.

Obama is definitely new blood. However, you will notice that he is not running a campaign of ideas. Rather, Obama is running on personality and fatigue with the current regime.

In sum, you have a party without new ideas running a reactionary campaign against a party afraid to run on their own ideas because they fear (correctly in my opinion) that the public is not exactly excited about another Mondale moment promising to raise their taxes or a stirring plan to have our military retreat.

Pretty pathetic on both sides.
 

Defense is still a potent issue with the base, but the media has buried the Iraq story once our troops started winning.

You should be happy that the media has stopped talking about the missing WMD and no Al Qaeda connection.
 

I almost hesitate to bring up these issues because they are incendiary and some fool will probably call me a racist. However, they may be key to this race.

1) Immigration is an enormous issue which the politicos are doing there best to ignore because they want the votes of illegal immigrants. However, the citizenry is growing increasingly furious with the inaction on the issue. A GOP candidate can win by riding this issue, but risks permanently alienating the latin vote.

2) Mr. Obama should take the nomination and will be the first serious African American candidate to run for President. While no one will publicly admit this to pollsters, this will be the first test of whether the citizenry is ready to elect an African American.

I expected that the first African American to cross that hurdle would be a conservative who would run contrary to the stereotype that African Americans are monolithically liberal just like Maggie Thatcher won as a tough as nails candidate contrary to the stereotype that women are weepy and soft.

However, Mr. Obama is a liberal activist who, despite his moderate rhetoric, has the most liberal record of a Dem candidate in decades. It will be fascinating if to see if a liberal African American candidate can win a national election.
 

"Change" is an empty vessel devoid of content. From president to president, you can't – as Heraclitus might say – step into the same White House twice. That the word is now a winning formula shows how low our politics have sunk. "New Deal," "Fair Deal," "New Frontier," and "Great Society" each evoked an arc whose trajectory tended to social justice and human dignity. Today we differ on what needs to change, but our ideas could easily be averaged out to plot such a curve. If anything, the differences reflect how high our difficulties are piled, to allude to Lincoln.

The word is "change" because the leading Democrats' proposals aren't substantive or sweeping enough to plot such an arc. Only Edwards comes close, and he is silent on civil liberties, which ironically enough came up last weekend only in the Republican debate, from a candidate whose utopia is Ayn Rand's.

The Republican popular crack-up is just that: a poll number. It won't translate into a new brand of governance unless a Democrat squarely addresses what is on the table, truly at stake. If all public is made to ask is whether it wants to see someone on the TV who doesn't remind it of George W. Bush, too little will change, if we're lucky just enough to postpone disaster for a few years.
Bush is unpalatable, but his policies are Ronald Reagan's, or more accurately Richard Nixon's, the president Bush's mentors think we all overreacted to.

Hillary's problems show a rollback to Bill with a gender change thrown in isn't cutting it. Obama's successes show -- just looking at his skin and his name -- how deep a reassessment is craved. A strong majority knows, or rather feels, there'll be no long-term change unless we renounce far more than Bush.

But what more, and in favor of what else? What banner are we to reunite under other than Monty Python's "something completely different"? To be candid, I don't think our political culture has the wherewithal to come up with an answer or rather to allow its utterance. I pray I'm wrong.
 

1) Immigration is an enormous issue which the politicos are doing there best to ignore because they want the votes of illegal immigrants.

Do you live in a cave? The Republican candidates are talking about little other than illegal immigrants.
 

Obama is the next Reagan just as Bush in the new Carter. A fresh face promising change from an unpopular president bogged down in a problem in Southwest Asia from which he cannot extract himself. Reagan created Reaganism after he was elected for his first term, just as Obama will create Obamaism based on his policy and political ability during his first term.
 

" 1) Immigration is an enormous issue which the politicos are doing there best to ignore because they want the votes of illegal immigrants. "

I was not aware that illegal immigrants were allowed to vote.
 

Bart:

The GOP isn't offering radical privitazation schemes because they are not and will not be popular.

You make some valid points. The Dems are too reticent to push their ideas. I would say that universal health care and a more egalitarian economic order enjoy enough support that Dems should be pushing hard on these as winning issues.

However, your claim that the media is "burying" the fact that we are "winning" in Iraq is, frankly, wrong and a bit whiny. The surge has stopped the bleeding, literally and metaphorically, for a while. But the media has been all over that fact. Moreover, a clear majority of the country believes the war was a mistake and has been handled badly for a long time. And I don't even think Bush knows what "winning," realistically, even means anymore.

Bottom line: the Bush administration, not the media, has destroyed whatever previous advantage the Repubs had with the public's trust on national security issues.
 

For what it's worth I discussed the same thing with a biblical spin over here.
 

landloc said...

BD: 1) Immigration is an enormous issue which the politicos are doing there best to ignore because they want the votes of illegal immigrants. "

I was not aware that illegal immigrants were allowed to vote.


They are not. However, this is what all the hullabaloo over granting illegal immigrants drivers licenses and then checking IDs before allowing folks to vote is about.

In any case, most politicians assume that all the illegal immigrants will be granted amnesty, citizenship and the vote sooner or later. Politicians are at loathe to alienate 12 million new voters.
 

Politicians are at loathe to alienate 12 million new voters.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 12:31 PM


That does not appear to be stopping the Republican candidates from seeing who can sound the toughest about illegal immigration.
 

howardgilbert said...

Obama is the next Reagan just as Bush in the new Carter. A fresh face promising change from an unpopular president bogged down in a problem in Southwest Asia from which he cannot extract himself. Reagan created Reaganism after he was elected for his first term, just as Obama will create Obamaism based on his policy and political ability during his first term.

:::heh:::

I campaigned for Reagan and I can assure you that Obama is no Reagan. Reagan ran a campaign of ideas and spent two terms changing the terms of the debate in this country and much of the world.

Obama is running on personality.

You have to run on and sell your ideas before you can change the minds of the citizenry to adopt those ideas.

Obama does remind me somewhat of Jack Kennedy. Kennedy offered a fresh young face after the Eisenhower years, but no real change to the reigning FDR paradigm. Obama is offering a fresh young face after the Bush years, but is declining to challenge the reigning Reagan paradigm.
 

bartbuster said...

BD: Politicians are at loathe to alienate 12 million new voters.

That does not appear to be stopping the Republican candidates from seeing who can sound the toughest about illegal immigration.


The GOP candidates are walking a tightrope on this issue. You will notice that all the leading candidates welcomed or were at best neutral toward illegal immigrants in past service, but are now trying to finesse that past with their base. There are no fire eating anti-immigration candidates like Tom Tancredo among the leaders.
 

You will notice that all the leading candidates welcomed or were at best neutral toward illegal immigrants in past service, but are now trying to finesse that past with their base.

Only if by "finesse that past" you mean "completely pretend it didn't happen so they can now look as angry as possible".

Which is just about the opposite of what you claim is going on.
 

you should tip your hat to George W. Bush and his eventful presidency.

Well, sure, I guess.

But the reason that the GOP wasn't discredited before was that it wasn't led by a president doing obvious violence to American interests, American credibility, global stability, and the rule of law-- cheered on all along by his party machinery.

It would have been better if the GOP hadn't decided to go insane. Then it wouldn't have required discrediting.

Maybe we'd even still have some respect or some surpluses or have captured Osama bin Laden or something.

Plus, the implosion of a major party and the demise of conservatism as a philosophy are not great things for policy or effective representation.
 

Change may not have the firm grip on the campaign that it at this time might appear. As helpful for the country as the end of reaganism/george w. bush would be, people are more apt to buy into something to look forward to as opposed to dwelling on the disastrous mistakes of the past.

So I'm not so sure that the self-destructive W.bush/reagan era political establishment is a telling wind of direction just yet. I just don't see the democrats being organized well enough to put a compelling vision of the future to bait the hook of the voting public. Just relying on the crash of reagan-bush may not be enough to form the moment needed to foster change.
 

Matt:

For better or worse, the Republican party has not imploded and conservatism as a philosphy is far from any demise. Indeed, I wouldn't bet my house that the Dems will win the Presidency in 2008.

I would give the Dems decent odds, but that's basically because: (i) the Repubs are dealing with an unpopular President; (ii) the President and recent Repub congress have undermined arguments that their party is especially competent at national security (or other aspects of governing); and (iii) they don't have a candidate who can inspire both religious conservatives and the business interests.

That's a formula to lose in 2008, but it's not a harbinger of a major realignment.
 

Far from an example of how the Reagan coalition is breaking up, it appears that New Hampshire and to a lesser extent Iowa are examples of the mischief independents can wreak if allowed to vote in party primaries.
 

jslater: "Conservatism," belief in limited government and suspicion of radical change, is dead. It will rise again someday, but in today's American politics, it is dead. I've never identified as a conservative, but I believe it's always a perspective worth engaging. So its demise is a bad thing.

You are, of course, quite right that the GOP has not imploded. If it did happen, it too would likely be a bad thing.
 

Matt:

It depends on what one thinks "conservatism" is. Few if any people in modern America have ever really believed in "limited government" in a principled way. Folks like government programs that help them, and are often skeptical of those that don't.

And do you really think we are now in an era where people, as a general principle, are not worried about "radical change"? As opposed to what other era, in recent memory?

Finally, if the GOP imploded, it would be replaced by some other party. I'm not convinced that would be a bad thing, but I'm definitely not convinced the GOP is imploding.
 

As I posted over at the Volokh Conspiracy when the folks over there struggled to define Reagan conservatism and whether it was the current governing philosophy, Reagan conservatism is:

1) Lower and flatter marginal tax rates on income and capital gains. None of the Dems are even suggesting returning to the EU style punitive system which existed prior to Reagan. The Clinton increase and the Bush decrease in rates were playing around the margins.

2) Free trade. Clinton largely finished the Reagan free trade project. The Dems occasionally slow down the free trade movement, but have not stopped it and are not talking about adopting protectionism.

3) Modifying government regulations to maximize economic freedom. For example, the government has essentially adopted the Bork view of curbed anti trust law. The Dems do not appear to be interested in trust busting. Also, the Courts are much friendlier to reversing junk science based administrative regulations.

4) Market delivery of government services. This is common on the state and increasingly at the federal level. The otherwise radical left greens have taken to carbon credits like fish to water.

5) Originalism in the Courts. This has become the defacto standard now. Even liberal professors like Jack Balkin are attempting to adopt originalism as their own.

6) A muscular offensive foreign policy which imposed regime change to spread democracy. Even the domestic policy focused Clinton Administration did this in Haiti and Bosnia/Kosovo. However, Vietnam style Dem isolationism is in full bloom again, so this pillar of foreign policy may be challenged.

Reagan's "conservatism" is far closer to classical liberalism than to classical conserservatism. The one pillar of classical conservatism which remains is moral traditionalism. However, Reagan and his successors rarely enacted any laws enforcing traditional moralism, so I would suggest that this is more of an aspirational goal than an element of governance.
 

True enough as to the lack of principled small-government advocates, but the Bush administration has massively increased the debt, including the horribly overexpensive Medicare prescription drug benefit. And you didn't hear many meaningful complaints from the GOP, save for oddball dissenters like Bruce Bartlett and Cato Institute types, until George Bush's approval hung around 30 percent for a year or so.

Launching wars in the Middle East, urging that the executive should be able to detain and torture US citizens without charging them, and the Unaccountable Executive Theory are radical. Once upon a time, conservatives would have opposed them. Not today.

(From that link: "Republicans used to be the guys who put the brakes on this [stuff]. A sad chuckle, a little head shake. "Who's going to pay for this?" they'd say, frowning over national budgets. "Where are the facts? The research?" They'd take out their little red pens and buzzkill our little dreams of nationalized health care or solar-powered windmills or maglev trains, and then go back to banning pornography while secretly screwing around on their wives. But you know what? A lot of times, they were right.")

Thanks for the discussion, jslater.
 

Matt:

Fair points all. I would only add that running up a massive deficit was very much part of "Reaganism." I agree that this wasn't a traditional part of "conservativism," but it's a key part of the Reagan legacy that Bart somehow omits.

Bart:

Love the "Dem isolationism" line. Of course you remember who the real "isolationists" were -- or for that matter, who started and escalated the Vietnam War. And you might also remember who cut and run from Lebanon after 200 marines were killed.

Apart from that, you make some fair poinst about Reagan's effect on economic policy, but it's not clear that will be sustainable. Much of it was cut-taxes-and-spend, which created massive, unsustainable deficits that Clinton had to fix. And now Bush, jr. has gotten us into the same fix using the same policies. And more and more folks are questioning "market solutions" for health care.

Finally, you underestimate the importance of "angry white male" and religious right politics to Reagan's legacy. Sure, Reagan may not have passed a lot of laws on this, but he left a lasting impact on the Republican coalition and how it tries to compete in elections.

Perhaps you left that out because in many ways (gay and lesbian rights, notably but not exclusively), that part of Reagan's legacy is pretty clearly going to be on the losing side of history.
 

jslater:

Well maybe there might be some ideological life in the Grand Old Party after all.

Rudy just put out a pretty nice plan that would get us most of the way back to the simplified tax structure Reagan enacted in 1987. Under the plan, we would go back to three lower tax brackets, the capital gains and corporate tax rates would be reduced to the level prevalent in Europe and Japan, and the AMT would be indexed to inflation just like the annual bills being passed by the Congress have been doing piecemeal.

Not quite a flat tax, but it is an improvement.
 

jslater said...

Love the "Dem isolationism" line. Of course you remember who the real "isolationists" were -- or for that matter, who started and escalated the Vietnam War.

That was the old JFK/Scoop Jackson Dem party. That party died in Vietnam. I believe that Joe Lieberman may be the only known survivor of that party and he had to run as an independent in 2006.

And you might also remember who cut and run from Lebanon after 200 marines were killed.

I do not think that you will be able to convince many people that Reagan was an isolationist.

In any case, we were not at war in Lebanon and we had no real national interests there. 200 Marines were killed in a single terrorist attack because the local commander failed to deploy proper security on a fairly routine temporary deployment.

The military was just pulling out of the "hollow army" period of the 70s. There were many incompetent officers and NCOs who rose through the ranks in the 70s who had to be weeded out during the 80s to get the superb force we have today.

I saw this first hand serving with the 82d Airborne. Our division commander, who was not even a paratrooper before arriving at the division, made an absolute hash of things in Grenada and was quietly removed after that operation.

Apart from that, you make some fair poinst about Reagan's effect on economic policy, but it's not clear that will be sustainable. Much of it was cut-taxes-and-spend, which created massive, unsustainable deficits that Clinton had to fix.

:::chuckle:::

Mr. Clinton inherited a booming economy and a Bush 41 deficit which was much higher than the one Reagan left Bush. If Mr. Clinton simply declined to spend the peace dividend of a shrinking military, he would have balanced the budget in about 2 years.

Instead, Mr. Clinton spend all the dividend plus some and raised tax rates. Mr. Clinton's tax rate increase slowed down economic growth and ended up bringing in half the tax revenues projected. The deficit was expected to stay at about $200 billion for as far as the eye could see until Gingrich got Clinton to sign off on a slowdown on spending.

And now Bush, jr. has gotten us into the same fix using the same policies.

Not really. It is true that Mr. Bush had to ramp up the military after 9/11 as Reagan ramped up in the 80s. However, while Reagan slowed down the growth of domestic spending, Mr. Bush spent like a drunken Dem on domestic initiatives including a massive new drug entitlement.

Finally, you underestimate the importance of "angry white male" and religious right politics to Reagan's legacy. Sure, Reagan may not have passed a lot of laws on this, but he left a lasting impact on the Republican coalition and how it tries to compete in elections.

I do not underestimate the importance of religious conservatives in the GOP. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 because many of them stayed home. However, having religious conservatives in the party does not mean that the GOP is enacting laws to impose their traditional morality on the country. Rather, the GOP has served that constituency mostly by appointing judges who do not legislate new law from the bench which attacks traditional morality.

Perhaps you left that out because in many ways (gay and lesbian rights, notably but not exclusively), that part of Reagan's legacy is pretty clearly going to be on the losing side of history.

Perfect example of what I was just speaking about. The religious conservatives are mostly concerned with stopping judges like the four in Massachusetts who created a right to homosexual marriage out of whole cloth.

As for who is on the losing side of history, you may note the the popular referendum enacted across the nation in reaction to four robes in Massachusetts legislating from the bench, not to mention how most courts have declined to follow suit.
 

Perfect example of what I was just speaking about. The religious conservatives are mostly concerned with stopping judges like the four in Massachusetts who created a right to homosexual marriage out of whole cloth.

They did nothing of the kind. They determined that homosexuals were being discriminated against.
 

As for who is on the losing side of history, you may note the the popular referendum enacted across the nation in reaction to four robes in Massachusetts legislating from the bench, not to mention how most courts have declined to follow suit.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 6:11 PM


Baghdad, "immediate backlash" is not "history". Given the obvious increased acceptance of homosexuals in this country over the last 20 or so years, this is a fight that bigots like you are slowly losing.
 

Good grief, Bart, you were doing better than normal in this thread, but your absurd spin on the Reagan deficit spending (and what Clinton did to fix it), Reagan's cut and run in Lebanon, and gay rights is just flatly wrong.

By the way, you have a "tell" when it appears you know you have a losing argument. It's starting a paragraph ":::chuckle:::" Whenever I've seen you do that, it's a sure sign that you're about to deliver your weakest stuff.

Finally, for the record, I never said the GOP was out of ideas. I just said that they were short of winning ideas, especially on the domestic front, with the exception of tax-cutting. If you think Rudy's tax plan will be your party's salvation, more power to you.

But bottom line, remember, I was the one arguing *against* the idea that Bush had "destroyed Reaganism." I'm sure there's still life in the GOP.
 

Bit of bad news Bart and others, the phase shift to center left, and demise of Reagen's three legged stool,is well on its way. It started two years ago, when the next dauphin to Reagan self destructed in the maccaca incident. Not only did the Center Left sweep Congress, but it captured State Legislatures as well...

Does anybody think that Liberman would be able to win in Connecticut today?
 

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