Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush Keeps on Ticking

President Bush's decision to nominate Harriet Miers as the next Supreme Court justice proves that neo-conservatism is still the great indestructible philosophy of our time. It was only last month, after all, that in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina and the FEMA disaster the President's philosophy of unabashed cronyism had been revealed, exorciated, and seemingly extinguished. Yet Bush will be Bush, and his single-minded focus is legendary. Hence, Miers, his long-time associate and confidante with no qualifications for the Supreme Court save for her close relationship with the President. Public opinion has never mattered to Bush except insofar as it can be manipulated, and neither do the views of those who oppose him. Now the President's undisguised intention of gathering together all three branches of government under the authority of a single all-powerful partisan executive is meeting with rebellion from within the ranks of his own party. That appears to be just fine with Bush. He has always been more focused on purging the Republican party of its moderate and movement-conservative heretics than in anything happening outside of the party anyway. If Republicans break ranks, that just starts a fight Bush is confident he will win. Like any good authoritarian, Bush loves to test the limits of power, to set traps that divide the loyalists from the realists. This points to one of the least recognized traits of neo-conservatism: it is a party-building movement. Yet this nascent party is not necessarily synonymous with the Republican party, and it may even be hostile to it. The Miers nomination as well as all of the other intra-Republican wars of the past five years (Colin Powell's State Department, George Tenet's CIA, etc.) demonstrate that the goal of neo-conservatism is to overthrow the Republican party from within, to free it from its traditionalisms and loyalty to Constitutional principles such as the separation of powers and its grounding in the liberal traditions of limited government and fiscal conservatism. In other words, the goal of neo-conservatism is to establish a party with the means of opposing the liberal tradition in its broadest and deepest sense - to effectively uproot the bedrock principles of constitutionalism and representative government upon which America was founded. That may seem far-fetched, but if history has anything to teach, it's that tyranny is never implausible.

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