Sunday, January 13, 2008
i gave you power, i made you buck wild:
Tim Noah, reading Jacob Heilbrunn's book about the neocons, wonders:
The great mystery of George W. Bush’s presidency is why he ever jumped into bed with neoconservatives in the first place. During the presidential primaries in 2000, The Weekly Standard, by then neoconservatism’s pre-eminent publication, had preferred John McCain. Bush had no great fondness for intellectuals, and a disinclination to engage in nation-building. And before 9/11, even Wolfowitz had predicted that the big foreign-policy challenge would not be Iraq, but China. What brought about this unlikely alliance?

This is a mystery? The neocons got power. Bush got a rationale for his militaristic impulses. Then he got high on his own supply and the distinctions between the two blurred. And not just for Bush: the Republicans got a grand narrative that fused the bellicose and the evangelical constituencies within the party, as demonstrated by Bush's second inaugural address, penned not by a neocon but by a right-wing Christian. In two important elections, that narrative contributed mightily to electoral success. Hence the reluctance on the part of the party to abandon the formula, even as the potion starts to wear off on the public. (The rise of John McCain will be an important test case here.) This is perfectly explicable by the old-time-religion of power-hunger.

What's more:
Probably the most significant factor was the presence of Vice President Dick Cheney, who helped Wolfowitz secure his berth with Rumsfeld, which in turn allowed Wolfowitz to install Feith. What transformed Cheney from a mild skeptic about Iraq intervention when he was defense secretary in the early 1990s (one “former colleague” informs Heilbrunn that in those days Cheney was “not in thrall” to Wolfowitz) to the unappeasable hawk he revealed himself to be after 9/11?

There was once a piece in The New Republic by Frank Foer and myself -- we made a good team, once -- that looked back through Cheney's career and found him to be startlingly consistent. A more sympathetic account (to understate matters) from Cheney's biographer, Steve Hayes, came to much the same conclusion. Cheney didn't change, but the opportunities he was presented with did -- from the objective constraints of being in the Congressional minority and then out of step with the Bush I administration to the license to truly be Cheney in the aftermath of 9/11.The press, and most of Washington, has misunderstood Cheney significantly, much as it's misunderstood neoconservatism.

--Spencer Ackerman
Coincidentally, the Amazon link for Hayes's book abridges the title to Cheney America's Powerful Controversial President.
Blogger washerdreyer | 8:03 PM

Yet another great hip-hop reference- Nas. An old one too.
I'm adding a link from my blog to yours- tell me to cease and desist if you mind.
Blogger Editor | 2:37 AM