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Tuesday, October 26, 2004


republican civil war

walter olsen is editor at overlawyered, a site dedicated to observing and agitating for reform with respect to the many malicious abuses of our civil litigation system which serve to erode the traditional american culture of personal responsibility. as you might imagine, these folks are generally conservative, and see themselves as representative of middle america.

so it's news, then, that olsen cannot support bush's re-election.

this despite the fact that kerry's understudy is a personal-injury and medical-malpractice attorney (with regards to whom they are rightly skeptical). the notion that edwards -- who is financially supported by personal-injury law firms -- will meaningfully reform the system that enriched him and enriches his supporters is fantastic. (to credit olsen's integrity, he advocates a libertarian protest vote.)

but it speaks with immeasurable gravity that olsen, who was an advisor for the 2000 bush/cheney campaign, is so disappointed in what has become of the bush presidency. he joins what must be millions of erstwhile republicans.

suskind's article of last week quoted characteristic "libertarian-republican" bruce bartlett at some length:

Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.

''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . . "
between unprovoked and mismanaged foreign wars, truly massive entitlement-program spending increases, and cultural policy shaped by a personal relationship with god that some warily see as a messianic mental illness, there are certainly several reasons for unease in the republican ranks among both libertarians and traditional conservatives, who feel their party co-opted at the highest level by a small cadre of trotskyite neoconservatives.

whether or not that will provoke a great schism in the GOP, i suspect only time will tell. but it sure is a long way from the 2000 campaign trail, when bush was marketed as "compassionate" and a "uniter" who could cross the aisle -- the man has proved so divisive that he is fractionating his own party and is considered nothing less than an enemy of the people by half the nation.

on the flip side, brian doherty at reason examines pat buchanan's antagonstic endorsement of bush/cheney as a reason why a republican catharsis is (sadly) not on its way.

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Consider the following: many of the things Bush has been saying and doing indicate an increasing psychological balance, one aspect of which is what you have described. What if he truely does go off the deep end in his second term? The White House is not the Woodrow Wilson White House, and Laura Bush could never govern as did Mrs. Wilson. In this situation, it will be Cheney who will assume the presidency (or simply become overt about it). We have spent little time thinking of what this sinister man could do to us over the next 3-4 years.

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