Bruce Bartlett used to be somebody in the conservative movement. He was part of the Reagan administration, the George H.W. Bush administration, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute. He used to write for the Wall Street Journal and the National Review. He was a solid part of the right wing.
But then something happened: George W. Bush was elected and the Republican Party became drunk with power:
But as the Bush 43 administration progressed, I developed an increasingly uneasy feeling about its direction. Its tax policy was incoherent, and it had an extremely lackadaisical attitude toward spending. In November 2003, I had an intellectual crisis.
I was shocked beyond belief when it turned out that Bush really wanted a massive, budget-busting new entitlement program after all, apparently to buy himself re-election in 2004. He put all the pressure the White House could muster on House Republicans to vote for Medicare Part D and even suppressed internal administration estimates that it would cost far more than Congress believed. After holding the vote open for an unprecedented three hours, with Bush himself awakened in the middle of the night to apply pressure, the House Republican leadership was successful in ramming the legislation through after a few cowardly conservatives switched their votes.
Bartlett found himself watching his political movement suffer a form of dementia and could do nothing to stop it:
They all viewed it [The New York Times] as having as much credibility as Pravda and a similar political philosophy as well. Some were indignant that I would even suspect them of reading a left-wing rag such as the New York Times.
I was flabbergasted. Until that moment I had not realized how closed the right-wing mind had become. Even assuming that my friends’ view of the Times’ philosophy was correct, which it most certainly was not, why would they not want to know what their enemy was thinking? This was my first exposure to what has been called “epistemic closure” among conservatives—living in their own bubble where nonsensical ideas circulate with no contradiction.
Finally, after making too many waves, Bartlett was exiled by the conservative movement and the right wing media machine that has since taken control of the GOP. And then drove right off a cliff. Now, don’t feel too bad for Bartlett, he’s still a conservative and, at heart, intellectually dishonest as demonstrated by his adherence to the myth that the Democratic Party is the party of racists:
The best way to get Republicans to read a book about reaching out for the black vote, I thought, was to detail the Democratic Party’s long history of maltreatment of blacks. After all, the party was based in the South for 100 years after the war, and all of the ugly racism we associate with that region was enacted and enforced by Democratic politicians. I was surprised that such a book didn’t already exist.
I thought knowing the Democratic Party’s pre-1964 history of racism, which is indisputable, would give Republicans a story to tell when they went before black groups to solicit votes. I thought it would also make Republicans more sympathetic to the problems of the black community, many of which are historical in their origins. Analyses by economists and sociologists show that historical racism still holds back African-Americans even though it has diminished radically since the 1960s.
He was doing so well there for a few minutes. Bartlett might not be quite a part of the reality based community as he would like to believe. Claiming the Democratic Party is racist based on its action prior to 1964 is disingenuous at best and delusional at worst. 50 years is a looooong time and the fact that Bartlett does what every other conservative using this worn out “argument” does, specifically, forget to mention what happened AFTER 1964, suggests an ulterior motive to his discussion of “indisputable” history.
As I never get tired of pointing out to people, after 1964, the Democratic Party deloused itself for the most part. The Dixicrats (the southern Democrats) were so disgusted by Johnson (a Democrat) signing the Civil Rights Act that they left the party. They either retired or became Republicans. That’s when Nixon instituted the Southern Strategy, which reshaped the GOP as the party of the white man in explicit opposition to the black man (and, later, Latinos, women, homosexuals, Asians, the poor, the sick, the non-Christian, etc.). And so it’s been for the last 50 years. You know, the 50 years that Bartlett kind of skipped over in his rush to label the Democratic Party as racist.
But aside from this diversion into right wing propaganda, Bartlett has clung stubbornly to the real world; even going so far to embrace Keynesian economics as a remedy for the Great Recession:
After careful research along these lines, I came to the annoying conclusion that Keynes had been 100 percent right in the 1930s. Previously, I had thought the opposite. But facts were facts and there was no denying my conclusion.
“But facts were facts” is absolute heresy to the right these days so it’s easy to see why Bartlett’s not welcome on Fox.
It’s a fascinating read and an absolute confirmation that pretty much everything liberals say about the right going insane is spot on. Take the ten minutes or so to read it carefully and you can hear the death scream of the Republican Party. I have to say, it’s quite lovely.