Bernstein shakes his head:
Remember, the Bush administration strongly denied anything was going wrong in Iraq—not just for weeks, but years. The “Mission Accomplished” episode is remembered because it was an apt symbol for how the White House acted. Whatever line the White House set, conservatives almost universally followed. You may recall, for example, an extended period in which the emerging insurgency in Iraq was—quite preposterously—compared to largely mythical Nazi “bitter enders.” Right up until the run-up to the 2006 elections (that is, three years into the fiasco), there was virtually no public pressure from Republicans on the White House.
Nor was this dynamic restricted to Iraq. Republicans spent much of 2008 denying the recession that had already begun; that’s how John McCain got into trouble during the presidential campaign by claiming that economic fundamentals were sound.
This blog is one of the few that – after cheer-leading Bush into Iraq – pivoted over time to stringent and bitter criticism. I hope our coverage of the ACA website and effect on the individual market hasn’t pulled any punches either. But the difference is: in criticizing Obama, I’m joined by countless Democratic writers and outlets. When I took on Bush for over-spending at home and over-reaching abroad, I was effectively alone at the start. And over the years, only a handful of apostates joined me, as the right consigned me, and them, to the “raging lefty” category, without addressing our, you know, arguments. That ended with Obama’s election when all the debt Bush piled up could suddenly be blamed on the new guy. It’s as if the Tea Party could not believe in its own principles until a Democrat was in office.
That tells you a lot about the fundamentalist psyche and movement-think in the GOP. The Republicans need to open their minds and construct a conversation about policy and principle – one that is always open to internal criticism. Doubt is a conservative virtue – and the Republicans seem to have forgotten this entirely.