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An absolutely brilliant, and chilling, and depressing, article. The most frightening point is that "it's a genie that will be very hard to put back in the bottle". Even if Rove winds up behind bars, he's set the precedent that anything that works is "fair game".


This is too good to be left on The Decembrist. Won't you consider cross-posting it at the TMPCafe? It's easily the most thought-provoking idea I've come across in some time, and that includes even your previous insights.



Mark, pure gold!! It absolutely clarifies the reasoning behind this Administration!


Well said. It seems to me that accountability (and accounting in general) to me, relates to matters deemed to have some sort of worth. If the Republican regieme only values two or three things, then that's what the opposition has to hold forfit. Or try to, at least.

Having said that, it is possible that there are things that Republicans hold to be valuable not for any reason they view to be intrinsic but because a state of affairs they value values it.

For instance, you mentioned the importance of a malleable Republican majority in Congress. Well, if a sufficient number of Republican representatives base their plyability upon high presidential approval (in their districts) then Rove, etc. should value said polling for its indirect rather than direct value. No?

Matt Austern

Only if it's a competitive district, and there are damn few of them. In most districts, Republican representatives have a lot more to fear from their party leaders than from their constituents.


Superb post!




Isn't there well understood sociology regarding the requirement for implicit societal customs as well as formal rules for a well run society? I go to the Decembrist to cite that kind of thing for me!

Great post. You hit the nail on the head. The damage has been remarkable, but if we can tarnish everything Bush has ever done, it may be like killing the head vampire, all of his monstrosities will then be easily swept away due to their association with Bush.

I've said it before, but I hope that Bush's grandchild feel the need to hide their relationship to the former President. That would be a good sign that things are improving in America.

Rob W

That's it. In a nutshell. Now, how to beat it? There must be a way. One thing's for sure, when they do go down, it will be in flames, baby.

Larry C.


For half a century, Liberals/Socialists like FDR, JFK, LBJ, and a much longer controlled Liberal Congress ran up incredible deficits, trade deficits, Korea, Vietnam (both losses by the way...Eisenhower ran WWII) and Democrats were perfectly fine turning an independent nation into a dependent welfare entitlement state. They stole elections by buying votes (Kennedy/Nixon)and they were fine with this as well. Why is there so much anxiety in the political community when Republicans have finally caught up to playing politics as Liberals have for so many years? Dems stole, controlled, and screwed up this country for the past 50 years, give the GOP the same opportunity!



Would you like to try again, with something a bit closer to the truth?

Rich Puchalsky

Why should anyone want to put the genie back in the bottle? If the Democrats gain power and do not use every tactic that the Republicans pioneered, they are useless. I for one am going to demand that the Republicans be fully frozen out of everything, using every legal tactic imaginable, if we ever regain any branch of government.


Thank you for the post.


"Consider, for example, that every politician who talks about education invokes the phrase "teacher accountability," which can mean almost anything."

Yes, at one time "teacher accountability" was easy to measure:

1) Can the student read?

2) Can the student write?

3) Can the student compose and solve fundamental math equatons?

4) Can the student recite historical fact?

5) Can the student discuss classical and critically-established literature? 

Fairly simple measurements, actually. What happened?


What student are you talking about? Normally, when we are talking about education policy we are referring to millions of different kids, with different capabilities.

Looking at ju8st your first example, do you really think that there are only two reading levels, 'can' and 'can't'?

I have a request for Mark. Can you please leave something out, or incomplete so that commenting can be something other than trolling or 'Great post!'?

The Goatherder

It seems to me that the only means of achieving some sort of accoutability is to demand it of party members who still do have to face the electorate. Democrats in Congress should start very public petition campaigns to initiate investigative committess, both Congressional and independent, and demand signatures from Republicans. (Investigating Katrina response, no-bid contracts, intelligence failures, Delay's ethics, etc.) This could put immense pressure on the unified Republican front.

It is amazing to me that Bush and his cronies have such a strong sense of entitlement that they simply don't care about public opinion. I think they do believe, however, that if they triumph completely in their ideolical war, they will be well regarded by history. The winners, after all, write the history books.


DIFFERENT ARENA, DIFFERENT ACCOUNTABILITY RULES: The investigation by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald is grinding, grinding, grinding on, and soon indictments will be spelled out. Haven't you noticed that a lot of Republicans have picked up trouble with the law? If you cross a serious law in a serious way, and you have honest guardians of the law, then the rules of accountability change from those which can be swayed by PR thrusts, to a much, much higher plane. Imagine Rove or Cheney (or Bush, if he is an unindicted coconspirator) trying to use pretty little words to escape from a serious charge of conspiracy! Those mills will grind slowly, and exceedingly fine .... and we will see accountability of a different order, exacted at last.


Let me add my compliments for a great post.

I think though, that perspective is useful. The idea that "anything goes" is not new. The examples of Sulla's proscriptions in the latter years of the Roman Republic - the confiscation of opponents' property (and often their execution) - dwarf the activities of the Bushistas.

The key is what generates the "it just isn't done" customs. All too often it comes from experiences that are too painful to risk repeating.

We have some of those experiences coming soon. No plan to deal with the skyrocketing price of oil, an end to economic growth from consumer credit, and the ongoing destruction of the public infrastructure. Not to mention a whole set of probable bad endings for our involvement in Iraq.

Unfortunately, I don't think the visceral rejection of the Bush era will develop until several of those bad experiences occur.


A thoughtful post, yes. But as a fellow Democrat, it still falls flat. Our party sucks because none of its leaders move forward. They simply wish for all this to be over and blindly hope things will change by themselves--the same as you're doing here. Millions of Americans, like me, want our Dem. party leaders and functionaries to LEAD us, not sit and whine. Bush's lack of real leadership is one of his largest flaws. Why aren't Dem. partisans watching and learning? Why are you waiting for things to crash on their own before acting? After all, it will be all to easy for Republicans to pull Democrats down with them when this nation goes to hell in a few years.


The President’s prime-time "Katrina Comeback" address was vintage Bush. Primarily designed to help him, and not the Gulf States, recover from his administration’s disastrous bungling of the Katrina response, Bush’s speech offered to shower money on the devastated South. But in his typical fashion, George W. Bush held no one accountable and shunned independent oversight of the response and the rebuilding. Most of all, the Free Lunch President refused to ask the American people to pay for it.

For the full story, see:

"Bush's Katrina Cop Out"

chris from boca

Mark, if you mean what you say then it is past time for the democrats to begin to highlight the fundamental differences between the two political philosophies that underlay each party. democrats should be pointing out both what they would have done different and how. for instance, the controversy that exists now about the government purchasing mobile homes numbering 200,000 as opposed to utilizing section 8 housing, should be used to show how the deomcrats' support of section 8 is always the better policy and why. educate the people on why conservative social policies have not brought abouyt conservative fiscal policies and ask, WHERE has all the money gone. contrast the espenditures on bombs alone, for instance, with expenditures on meaningful educational initiatives and ask people, do we really want to be dropping bombs half way around the world when we can't afford to repl;ace the roofs of leakking public school buildings right here at home. re visit the reagan cuts to the great society and question why these were made without ever giving them a chance to work. sweep it all up; things related and things not, by tying them back to a defining political phil;osophy.


The main problem is that the Dems are as beholden to the special interest groups as the Repubs. Too much money spent by too few to govern too many.


When the Dems can win on a slogan of: "Had enough?" We'll know the Rovians have been held accountable.

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