Former Washington Post managing editor Robert Kaiser is retiring at age 70, and he’s very cranky about how conservatives have destroyed government and Washington collegiality. This tells you a lot about what kind of liberal edits and massages the Post every day.
Kaiser is moving to New York, and on the front of the Sunday Outlook he described how “Republicans lost their minds” and “Democrats lost their souls.” In essence, both sides are now too conservative for Bob, starting with a debt-limit vote:
On Oct. 16, 162 members of Congress, 144 in the House and 18 in the Senate, voted “no,” votes meant explicitly to drive their government into bankruptcy, when there was a real chance that their view might prevail. Here was an entirely new style of public service, and it turned my stomach.
Those 162 votes reflected the deep hostility felt by the newest version of Republican lawmakers toward the government of their country. It is a cynical and often uninformed hostility, befitting the age we live in. And it has many adherents in a country with an elaborate regulatory and welfare state that many like to pretend we don’t really have, don’t really need and don’t really like — three blatant falsehoods.
Lies and intellectual inventions are now typical of our public life, which made Washington difficult for me. Of course, a politician lying is hardly a shock, but there is a difference between telling untruths (see Nixon, Richard M.) and making stuff up. I liked Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s dictum: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
To Kaiser, a gargantuan federal government is so positive that public love for it is a “fact.” Few conservatives deny we have an “elaborate regulatory and welfare state,” so who is inventing reality in this assessment? Notice that Kaiser was managing editor mostly in the Clinton years, and yet he still defies lying as Nixonian, not Clintonian.
The Clintons were not blamed for lying, corruption, and taking a rhetorical blowtorch to their enemies. The Clintons didn’t show a disregard for facts, as in “We’ll lie relentlessly until the Monica dress DNA sample comes in.” No, collegiality was destroyed unilaterally by GOP leaders like Newt Gingrich:
Gingrich was the most effective and most destructive political figure I encountered in five decades covering Washington. He invented the partisan warfare that has produced today’s gridlock. He encouraged the disregard for facts that has defiled our public life. He believed, fiercely, that the end justified the means. The end he sought was a Republican House, and he had no qualms about how it was achieved or maintained. He and his successor as lead enforcer, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, helped destroy collegiality in Washington.
Dear Mr. Kaiser: You are making Mr. Moynihan’s point. Your history makes up its own facts. It’s every bit as partisan and un-collegial as anything you allege. He complains that conservatives call Obama a socialist dictator, and yet he compares post-9/11 Washington to a communist dictatorship:
"The barriers and security checks everywhere felt more like the Moscow where I lived 40 years ago as a foreign correspondent than my home town."
Like any other liberal fulminating a series of cliches, Kaiser bemoans how the moderate, play-along Republicans when he was young – when he freely admitted Reaganites came to combat "the liberal forces...had dominated the ’60s and ’70s" – have devolved into an unbearable resistance to "government," constantly equated with liberalism:
Now the anti-government right wing dominates the GOP. Vigilantes from the Club for Growth and Heritage Action campaign to eliminate every Republican in Congress who toys with moderation or considers collaborating with Democrats. The vigilantes’ key allies are members of “the base,” the party activists who make up perhaps 10 to 15 percent of the country’s population but can control the Republican nominating process. The base consists principally of white evangelical Christians who, the pollsters tell us, fear that their America is disappearing. Of course they are right; it has probably disappeared already. Their America would not have elected a black president.
There's no more tired cliche than the conservatives being horrified at a black president, as if they would have never voted for Herman Cain. Kaiser should actually talk to a conservative on the phone and get...a....clue. Oh, Kaiser had hopes for Obama, but the lying haters on the right ruined it for him:
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 provided an intriguing jolt to the culture of political Washington, but surprisingly quickly, his arrival confirmed how dysfunctional that culture had become. The election of 2010 made things worse, empowering the anti-government faction represented by the tea party. After 2010, and despite Obama’s reelection, Washington was victimized by the politics of lying, hating and avoiding the country’s huge problems. That’s when I began to realize that it might be time for me to leave.
Please go, Mr. Kaiser, and take your fanciful notion that you're the civil nonpartisan in this exchange with you.