There may be no better manifestation of the depths to which the Republican Party has fallen, its loudest voices spewing hatred as party leaders cower at their feet of clay, that otherwise sane people find themselves missing George W. Bush.
I do not happen to be one of those people. Historians have been hard at work in assessing the 43rd president's legacy since he returned home to Texas seven years ago, and about the best they can come up with is that he was likable and his frat boy smirk hid a quiet dignity. This is because almost everything Bush did -- or was told to do, as was often the case -- was disastrous, and when Republicans acknowledge that they miss him, it's like saying that a cracked skull is preferable to paralysis.
The wave of Dubya Nostalgia is attributable to three things:
* He's kept his head down, refused to criticize President Obama (at least not directly), and is doing penance through charitable work and by churning out cute paintings of puppies.* He's not Donald Trump.* He never blamed Islam for the 9/11 attacks and rise of Al Qaeda, and by extension ISIS, as do all the candidates in a Trump-driven campaign in which rhetorical excess has drowned out what little substance there was to begin with.
This begs a question that is being whispered by some establishment Republicans: Might Dubya not talk to the candidates -- you know, like man-to-man, or something -- and tell them to wise the eff up if they want their party to have a fighting chance on the national stage?
This is a non-starter.
Beyond the fact that few of the candidates seem capable of listening to reason, there is the reality that the GOP is in such dire straits because of Bush. The guy crashed the economy, failed to prevent 9/11 despite having ample warning, and went to war in the wrong country, which became an incubator for jihadists.
But as awful as all that was, that's not what bugs today's GOP.
The big problem is that Bush is viewed as having betrayed the ultra-conservative cause, which led to the Obama presidency and the demon spawn of the Affordable Care Act, the legitimization of gay marriage and other assaults on common decency, which was the gasoline that ignited the party's hard-right lurch into obstructing instead of leading, scoring purity points with its followers instead of helping govern, and always overplaying its hand.
Besides which, they've figured out -- or rather Trump has led the way in showing -- that they can say just about anything and get away with it, so why should they listen to some has-been puppy painter?
MORE SHOCKING CLINTON EMAILS!!!
I had the misfortune to get a trim on a morning this week when Laura Ingraham was gifting the world with one of her patented rants on Fox News, which is always on at my barber shop. Her subject was the release of the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails from when she was secretary of state, and Ingraham reliably trotted out the usual right-wing talking points: Clinton is a very bad person who lies constantly and hides stuff.
Well . . . well, after arriving back at the shack freshly coiffed, I was anxious to see what Politico, The New York Times and other usual mainstream media suspects had to say about the 7,800-page trove. To my non-surprise, the reports I read bore no resemblance to Ingraham's blast.
Politico was so underwhelmed by the banality of the emails that its lead paragraph read:
"Hillary Clinton is no stranger to freewheeling political analysis, gestures of indulgent flattery and myriad tech woes, as the latest batch of emails released by the State Department shows."
And The Times noted that:
"A trove of Hillary Clinton's emails released by the State Department . . . shows efforts by aides to solicit advice for a concussion she sustained in 2012 and illustrates Mrs. Clinton's personal difficulty with technology."
I've said it before and it bears repeating again: Fox News is a gift that keeps on giving . . . to the Democratic Party.
Fox has created a bubble for conservatives to brainwash themselves into believing that the U.S. is more conservative than it actually is. The consequence is that the GOP has dutifully responded by running radical conservatives representative of the influential network's viewers, not the true state of the electorate. Fox played an important role in Mitt Romney's defeat in 2012 and it will play a role in a Republican defeat next year.
Oh, about that "difficulty with technology" bit:
One email shockingly revealed that on a Sunday afternoon in October 2012, Clinton emailed senior adviser Philippe Reines with the subject line "Stupid question," asking him on what channel she could find Showtime so she could watch the latest episode of Homeland that evening.
"If you have Comcast, it's channel 339 or 340 (one is HD and one isn't) If you don't have Comcast, I can look it up," Reines responded, to which Clinton wrote back, "You won't be surprised to hear I'm not sure."
Who was it who famously said that those who do not remember cable channels are condemned to repeat forgetting them?
Politix Update is an irregular compendium written by veteran journalist Shaun Mullen, for whom the 2016 presidential campaign is his (gasp!) 12th since 1968. Click HERE for an index of previous Politix Updates.
IMAGE FROM DONKEYHOTEY/FLICKR. USED WITH PERMISSION.