Last week was a good week for Republican looniness. It was notable because it involved two mainstream figures in the party: Liz Cheney and David Stockman. These are not Tea Party idiots nor are they political neophytes. The are respected establishment figures in the party. And they are, apparently, mad as hell and unwilling to take anymore of the pain that goes along with being rich and powerful in America.
I have to admit that I don’t know that much about Liz Cheney. But I’ve read interviews with her and she always seemed pretty reasonable—for a Republican, anyway. And then she wrote her Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal, Republicans, Get Over the 2012 Loss—and Start Fighting Back. It starts with a quote from Ronald Reagan back in 1961. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Those are important words that ought to be heeded.
But as Jonathan Chait points out, Reagan cautioning about the extinction of freedom? He was talking about Medicare. You know conservatives: if we allow Medicare then soon the government will kill all the doctors and we will all starve. Or something. It’s not supposed to make sense; it’s conservatism!
As regular readers know, Obama is a pretty conservative guy. He certainly isn’t a liberal and it is loony to suggest that he is a socialist. But according to Cheney, “President Obama is the most radical man ever to occupy the Oval Office.” I don’t know who she’s writing for. There are other conservative wackos like her, but they already agree. Is her writing really going to allow Republicans to “get over the 2012 loss”? I don’t think so. Maybe she should have titled her article, “Ignore the 2012 Loss—and Start Being Delusional Now.” That would have better reflected the content of her article.
Cheney is not the only one hearkening the way to Conservative Crazy Town. David Stockman provided comic relief for the economically inclined. But unlike Cheney, Stockman is mad at everyone. Of course, this has been the case since 1986 when he wrote The Triumph of Politics. That was when he started ranting that Reagan was abandoning the revolution by not savaging social spending. You see, Stockman was one of the big forces behind supply-side economics. At the time, he made some sense—there was something very wrong with the Reagan administration, but of course, it started with Stockman’s embrace of Supply Side Economics. The more he talks, however, the less sense he makes. In this most recent article he is screaming about the evils of fiat currency and how wonderfully constraining the gold standard is. It’s funny that people always say this, and yet the Great Depression happened under the gold standard. Bqhatevwr!
A well run political movement naturally constrains the crazies—or at least marginalizes them. In the modern Republican Party, the crazies are running the place. As a result, there is no incentive for people like Liz Cheney and David Stockman to control their inner radical. And so you see their craziness slipping into the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. (Of course, compared to the WSJ editorial page, Cheney hardly stands out.)