Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall remark on the growing radicalization of people who, in years past, would likely characterize themselves as moderate liberals. Drum diagnosed this phenomena almost a year and a half ago, and I immediately identified myself as part of the "radical center." It's every bit as true today as it was in December of 2004. I think that it would make a story if one was to examine this.

A few days ago, I tried to explain this concept to one of my Republican friends. She's not as conservative as her parents, but definitely on the GOP side of things. She asks me what I think about Bush now (she knows me as a moderate, originally pro-war Democrat). So I go into my stock rant about how Bush sees everything as a political opportunity and doesn't take the war on terror or American security seriously. And her eyes widen.

You sound just like a radical

And I try and explain: No, no. I mean, yes the radicals are upset. But it's the moderate liberals like myself who are downright furious. We feel like we were stabbed in the back, like he took our trust and completely betrayed us. That's what you're seeing here.

She shook her head: I'm sorry David, but you do, you sound just like a radical.

And to an extent, she's right. Saying that "Bush only acts for political gain" is pretty radical. Not as radical as, say "Bush only acts for his oil company buddies" or "Bush only acts to appease the Zionist scum," but still, it's pretty radical. And yet I feel perfectly justified saying it. I loathe President Bush, for a variety of reasons, one of which is radicalizing me at the precise point when I was quite happily tacking toward the center. I like to think of myself as pretty well-spoken and rational. But I can go into a sputtering rage as well as anyone else when confronted with the utter incompetence, disrespect, and apathy toward anything but electing Republicans that this administration displays as a matter of course.

Has anyone seen Dogma?:
Loki: I've heard a rant like this before.
Bartleby: Don't you fu**ing do that to me.
Loki: You sound like the morning star.
Bartleby: You shut your fu**ing mouth!
Loki: You sound like Lucifer! Man, you've fu**ing lost it! You're not talking about going home, Bartleby. You're talking about fu**ing war on God. Well fu** that. I have seen what happens to the proud when they take on The Throne.

I've heard a rant like this before...

UPDATE: Carpetbagger Report also tracks his shift. He says Marshall's post "struck a chord." Well, this passage struck a chord with me:
I can definitely relate. When I started the site, I made a conscious decision to strike a "moderate" tone. The writers I enjoy most - people like Josh and Kevin Drum - can deliver devastating political critiques, but do so in even-tempered, always-fair, always-intellectually-honest ways. It's a style I've tried to emulate, and will continue to do so.

But like Josh, given the political environment, I find it impossible to take a detached, impartial look at the landscape and maintain a stoic temperament.

I, too, founded this blog in that spirit, and have tried to adhere to it. After all, the blog that inspired this one is (was?) written by a Republican. Even though I didn't agree with everything he said, I always had to take it seriously. I wanted to evoke that same respect from all parts of the political spectrum. I was one of those who believed the best in his opponents, because that was my only hope of persuading them. Sometimes, I still have that hope. But my government, I fear, is beyond all reason. And that is at once very depressing and very, very scary.


Disenchanted Dave said...

The Anonymous Liberal also weighed in on the same issue. I thought he made a lot of sense.

With regard to your quasi-GOP friend, I think that's very common. People just won't believe that things are too far out of whack. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and what Bush has been doing is so extraordinary that it's incredibly hard to believe that it's true. Some of the things this administration has actually done (lying about intelligence, authorizing torture) are almost as hard to believe as the things radical nuts accuse them of doing (orchestrating 9/11), and are met with the same kind of skepticism, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

It's long been my statement to describe my own anger - "The Bush Administration radicalized me."

I'm furious with my government, for all the reasons already stated. But more fundamentally, I'm furious at the damage they have done to our national security on all fronts. We are increasingly isolated in the world diplomatically, only four years after an outpouring of symapthy and outrage gave us the global moral high ground to go after the bastards and wipe them out.

Today our enemies globally know far more about the limitations of our military power, which formerly, and rightfully, had a reputation for near-invincibility.

I believe that "emboldens our enemies," not criticism of the policies that led to it.

I'm furious that my government hasn't better played it's historic role as broker in the Middle East, most recently in Lebanon. In the end helping, in my eyes, do the same damage to the Israeli military reputation as we have ours. And both nations are weakened yet again.

Oh, and where the hell is Osama? I'd be far more patient about his capture or killing if I felt my government had pursued his "army" with the the same effort as has been spent on Iraq - where he most certainly isn't.

We'll be paying for these strategic blunders long after Bush is out of office.

And most insulting personally, for my disagreement with this government's policies, it has tried to paint me as a traitor or worse. Well, apparently somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% of Amercans qualify now, so at least I'm in good company!

Mark said...

Just curious. How does the "Bush sees everything as a political opportunity" explanation track with Mr Bush's veto of federal ESCR funding?

David Schraub said...

Currying favor with a very, very angry Evangelical right? (it took me a moment to decipher the acronym, btw).

Sometimes Bush miscalculates the political advantage. And sometimes "political" means making big money contributors happy--not just bumping the polls. But what does not seem to be factoring into his equation is the national interest. That's what I mean by political.

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes Bush miscalculates the political advantage. And sometimes "political" means making big money contributors happy--not just bumping the polls. But what does not seem to be factoring into his equation is the national interest. That's what I mean by political."

Ah, it couldn't be that Bush took a principled stand on the issue.