Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Republicans are Liars and "the media" are Stupid.
Roger Lowenstein writes in the New York Times Book Review: "Five years into the Iraq war, it is hard to remember that George W. Bush once was controversial for something that had nothing to do with terrorism or the Middle East. But in 'The Big Con,' Jonathan Chait reminds us that Bush will also leave an economic legacy, and it is as radical and, he argues, as wrongheaded as anything his administration has managed overseas.
"Chait, a senior editor at The New Republic who writes the magazine's TRB column, argues that a band of ideological zealots succeeded in capturing first the Republican Party and then, by poisoning the political process, Washington itself. Though their true agenda, tax cuts for the rich, was both economically unsound and politically unpopular, Chait writes, Bush and his conservative foot soldiers deceived the public and the press before pushing their policy -- four huge tax cuts in six years, in case you lost count -- on an enfeebled and corrupted Congress. . . .
"Since tax cuts tilted toward the rich were unpopular, George W. Bush and his supporters had to argue that the rich were not in fact the main beneficiaries. Thus, under Bush, dishonesty became 'integral to the Republican economic agenda.' As Chait baldly puts it, 'Lying has become a systematic necessity.' . . .
"Chait is particularly good in describing how the press, wary of seeming partisan, simply reported the claims on each side rather than analyzing them. The problem with this approach, he argues, is that the relationship of the two political parties is no longer symmetric. Democrats do not patrol their ranks for heretics or force them to sign no-tax pledges; liberal think tanks like the Brookings Institution are not devoted to a single view of taxes, as is the conservative Heritage Foundation; and liberal newspapers are far more balanced than, say, Fox News. . . .
"[Splitting the difference] is the approach, he ruefully observes, of most of the Washington press corps, and it is one of the secrets of the Republicans' success. Reporters mechanically grope for the 'middle,' but when one party is veering rightward, the middle is, too."
Here is Chait's first chapter.