Molly Ball of The Atlantic is a very good political reporter. (For example, about the pipe dream that wrecking the economy will wring the crazee out of the Republican House.) The only advantage I have is that I'm a lot older than she is, and I've seen enough to know that her piece over the weekend about of the Heritage Foundation is a little thin on historical memory. To be sure, ever since Jim DeMint took over, Heritage has been less obviously about "ideas" -- and we'll get to those in a minute -- and more about raw, nihilistic wingnut politics. Ball is right about that. However, I also see in Ball's piece an example of what I believe to be an ahistorical effort at the moment to divorce the current conservative gotterdammerung from the historical continuum that made it inevitable. In short, there is absolutely nothing going on in conservative Washington right now that cannot be traced back to Reaganism, and to the forces behind its rise, of which Heritage was an important part.
im电竞官网-For example, the idea of abandoning reason and empirical evidence in favor of apocryphal anecdotes was central to Ronald Reagan's entire public career. Welfare queens and their Cadillacs. Pollution-causing trees. Iranian moderates. It's not a long jump from those to Sarah Palin's death panels, and the complete failure of the press to challenge the triumph of that mythological universe that was crucial to Reagan's own triumph legitimized that kind of thing in our politics forever.
Moreover, a familiar pattern of Republican vandalism was set during the 1980 Reagan campaign. Aides talked openly of crippling government functions of which they disapproved. They would refuse to fund them. They would cut their staffing. They called this "defunding the Left." (Calling it "starving the beast" came later.) Once in office, they not only did what they said they were going to do, but they came up with another bit of trickeration that has survived to this day. They appointed people who hated the functions of the institutions they were picked to lead. This is how we had James Watt as Secretary Of The Interior. This is how we got Anne Gorsuch at the EPA. (Later, this is how we got Elaine Chao as Secretary of Labor.) As the late Walter Karp wrote at the time:
im电竞官网-"...Revolutionary, indeed, is the power of a President's clerks to dispense multimillion dollar favors in secret, a tyrant's power, nothing less, grossly abused already, as what tyrant's power is not?..."
This is whence come the notion that the government must be chloroformed until we get everything we want, even if we lose elections, and even if what we're destroying might be both helpful and popular. This is its historical pedigree. What Ted Cruz is doing is pure Reaganism, without the sunny disposition and the increasingly befogged rationalizations. Cruz is its predictable evolutionary product. The electoral success of the "ideas" from what Ball argues was the glory days of the Heritage Foundation produced the Tea Party. Ed Feulner made Jim DeMint more than possible. He made him inevitable. Consider the ideas Ball specifically cites as an example of what Heritage used to be.
The result, called Mandate for Leadership, epitomized the intellectual ambition of the then-rising conservative movement. Its 20 volumes, totaling more than 3,000 pages, included such proposals as income-tax cuts, inner-city "enterprise zones," a presidential line-item veto, and a new Air Force bomber.
What goes unmentioned is the fact that every one of these ideas was either bad on its face, or politically futile. "Enterprise zones," beloved of the late Jack Kemp, were doomed in a conservative ascendancy founded so centrally on the flotsam of American white-supremacy and during a time of increasingly unbridled corporate power, which latter happened as a result of Heritage's notion of regulatory reform. "Enterprise zones" became code for developing maquiladoresim电竞官网- in American cities. In addition to being an obvious slouch toward authoritarianism, the presidential line-item veto was so nakedly unconstitutional that It wasn't a policy idea. It was a slogan. And it was Heritage that lathered intellectual respectability onto the economic fairy-tale that was supply-side economics, an "idea" that has done more damage to the American economy than almost any other, and which now is nothing less than Holy Writ to the nihilists in the House who want Paul Ryan's "budget" passed as a condition for the continued operation of the American government. None of this is coincidence.There is a tremendous resistance to the notion of connecting the current Republican dementia to its ultimate source; how many times have we heard how Reagan "wouldn't have a place" in the current Republican party? (The Chris Matthews-led nostalgia for what Digby calls TipnRonnie is a variation on that same theme.) They would know their children when they saw them.