Bruce Bartlett, the author of "Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy," is an angry man. At a recent book forum at the Cato Institute, he declared that the Bush administration is "unconscionable," "irresponsible," "vindictive" and "inept."Andrew attempts a defense of the indefensible:
It's no wonder, then, that one commentator wrote of Mr. Bartlett that "if he were a cartoon character, he would probably look like Donald Duck during one of his famous tirades, with steam pouring out of his ears."
Oh, wait. That's not what somebody wrote about Mr. Bartlett. It's what Mr. Bartlett wrote about me in September 2003, when I was saying pretty much what he's saying now.
But then, in times of peril, some of us feel that supporting the president, whoever he is, and hoping he gets things right, are not contemptible impulses.Those impulses may not contemptible, but they are foolish. History teaches us that such impulses allow leaders to lead countries into ruin:
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."Intelligent writers like Andrew should know better. But, it's tough when you spend a whole lifetime building up a opinion-franchise like most pundits do. To quote myself paraphrasing Julian Sanchez:
-- Joseph Goebbels, German Minister of Propaganda, 1933-1945
People who produce political opinion for a living (i.e. "pundits") may start out with the noblest of intentions. But informal social pressures make it increasingly difficult to deviate from the ideology they started out with. Thus over time they turn into partisan/ideological hacks -- defending "their side" not in earnestness but to keep from upsetting sympathizers while protecting the "opinion franchise" they've built up over time.