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Monday, February 13, 2012

Paul Krugman: Severe Conservative Syndrome

It's come to this: "tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, GOP fashion accessory":

Severe Conservative Syndrome, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Mitt Romney has a gift for words — self-destructive words. On Friday he did it again, telling the Conservative Political Action Conference that he was a “severely conservative governor.”
As Molly Ball of The Atlantic pointed out, Mr. Romney “described conservatism as if it were a disease.” ... That’s clearly not what Mr. Romney meant to convey. Yet if you look at the race for the GOP presidential nomination, you have to wonder whether it was a Freudian slip. For something has clearly gone very wrong with modern American conservatism.
Start with Rick Santorum ..., best known for 2003 remarks about homosexuality, incest and bestiality. But his strangeness runs deeper than that. ... Mr. Santorum made a point of defending the medieval Crusades against the “American left who hates Christendom”..., he has also declared that climate change is a hoax ... on the part of “the left” to provide “an excuse for more government control of your life.” You may say that such conspiracy-theorizing is hardly unique to Mr. Santorum, but that’s the point: tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, GOP fashion accessory.
Then there’s Ron Paul, who came in a strong second in Maine’s caucuses despite ... the racist (and conspiracy-minded) newsletters published under his name ... and his declarations that both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act were mistakes. ...
Finally, there’s Mr. Romney... The truth, of course, is that he was not a “severely conservative” governor. ... So he can’t run on his record in office. ... Instead, his stump speeches rely almost entirely on fantasies and fabrications designed to appeal to the delusions of the conservative base. ...
How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? ...
My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the GOP has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.
Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control.
The point is that today’s dismal GOP field ... is no accident. Economic conservatives played a cynical game, and now they’re facing the blowback, a party that suffers from “severe” conservatism in the worst way. ...

    Posted by on Monday, February 13, 2012 at 12:51 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (87)


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