Paul Krugman wrote a really good article yesterday, A Heckuva Job. That’s a reference to George W Bush’s Katrina, which is, of course, Katrina. But Krugman is making a larger point. He’s saying that all these nationally known Republican who have been said to be so great never were. In the case of Bush, the mainstream media allowed him to present himself as a strong and capable leader. Katrina ended that. But the fact was that he was never a strong and capable leader. He was just an idiot who the power elite let be president because they knew that he would cut important regulations and lower their taxes.
I’ve been talking about this for a long time. It really annoys me when people talk about the “deep bench” that the Republicans have for president. This is contrasted with the Democratic bench that is supposedly just Hillary Clinton. The Democratic side of this argument has always been nonsense. First, of course, there is Bernie Sanders who is an exceptional retail politician. The only question I have about him is the label of “socialist,” and I am thinking more and more that it no longer matters. But then there are Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb — all of whom are at least as good and qualified as any of the Republican contenders. They just aren’t as well known, and who cares about that? It’s only due to the fact that the mainstream media will make a superstar out of any Republican who doesn’t sound completely insane.
What’s more, there are dozens of major Democratic candidates who would be running if Hillary Clinton weren’t running. The Democratic Party always has a deep bench because the Democratic Party takes politics and governing seriously. The Republican Party thinks that politics and (especially) governing are a joke — jobs that anyone can do. And that’s the point. The mainstream media has made all these Republican fools into major figures so now it can say, “Look at all the major Republican figures that are running for president!”
Over two years ago, I wrote, Josh Barro Phenomenon. In it, I attacked Barro for justifying Chris Christie’s killing of the New Jersey to New York City ARC tunnel. My point was that Barro was just performing apologetics: he was going to justify what Christie wanted to do regardless. Barro got very angry and wrote that it was the stupidest thing he had read that day. But my point was that politicians can always find a reason to justify what they want to do for other (publicly unpalatable) reasons. Well, now we know that Christie’s decision was a total catastrophe. What does Barro have to say now? Nothing as far as I can find.
The point is that Christie was a great conservative hero for doing something that was clearly wrong. But he was “tough” and he “saving money” and Josh Barro and lots of other reporters were there to cheer him on. What Christie was really doing was killing a much needed public infrastructure project so that he could paper over the hole in his state budget and not raise taxes. But at the time, Josh Barro was there to push the Christie propaganda that it was all about cost-effectiveness.
Krugman’s primary point is that no one in the Republican establishment should complain that many base voters prefer Donald Trump. And that’s exactly right. As I say all the time, where Trump’s policies deviate substantially from the Republican Party, they are better. Trump can’t be called a fool in the context of the Republican presidential nomination, because they are all fools.