Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Elephant Triumphant

So, the GOP is riding high. It's invincible. Republicans control both houses of Congress, as well as the White House. Seven of nine existing Supremes (Stop! In the name of love!) were nominated by Republican presidents -- six of those by Reagan or Bush the Elder. It's the sort of dominance that was last exhibited by the Democrats back in the 1960s. How'd it happen?

I think we've seen a substantial role reversal -- the political-philosophical equivalent of a "gender reassignment procedure" for the Republicans. Think back to the Democrats in the 1960s. Guns and butter. Cold War anticommunism abroad, pork at home, everybody happy. Kennedy: pay any price, bear any burden ... sounds like Bush the Younger on the Crusade for Worldwide Democracy, doesn't it? Dubya's $700B prescription-drugs-for-seniors giveaway, and his no-child-left-behind federalization of education ... don't those fit pretty well in the context of the War on Poverty and the Great Society? The multiplication of federal bureaucracies (Homeland Security, TSA, the new intelligence czar post): happy days are here again!

Yes, this time the war is in southwest Asia instead of southeast, and the skyrocketing domestic spending has different sets of initials, but those are tiny details. Looking at the big picture, it's clear that Bush II is very well positioned to be the Lyndon Baines Johnson of the early 21st century. And the Grand Old Party has at last vanquished the contemptible Democrats, by the elegant political strategy of simply becoming the Democrats. Devilishly clever, these pachyderms. Their winning strategy might be a little troublesome to those old limited-government, constitutionalist "conservatives." But they're turning out to be an amazingly adaptable crew, and it seems that being on the winning side is wonderfully soothing to sore, bruised principles.

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