It seems that the conservative airbrushers have decided that poor George W. Bush's fantastically successful presidency was derailed by an act of God. Yes, that's right. Until Hurricane Katrina, Bush was headed to Mt Rushmore. It's just so darned unfair.Digby pinpoints another, earlier moment in which Bush and the right's ideology lost its luster for the American public: the circus surrounding Terry Schiavo's case.
That's ridiculous, of course. The fact is that his support, even after 9/11, was never more than an inch deep, despite the media's insistence that he was the second coming of Alexander the Great. There was that little matter of a catastrophic terrorist attack, the looting of Iraq, the missing weapons of mass destruction, Enron and the fact that his allegedly triumphant reelection was another squeaker that relied once more on Republican shennanigans. Those things were in the mix long before Katrina.It was the press, more than anything, that propped him up, calling him an "enormously popular president" long after his numbers had fallen back to earth.
That moment was an important turning point in the conservative movement. The entire country watched as far right radicals like that pulled the strings of the entire Republican party and they saw the entire decadent political establishment become enraptured by radical, pro-life kitsch. If the saga of Patty Hearst and the SLA was the moment when the country decided the New Left had turned into a creepy, surreal sideshow, the sight of those girls with duck tape over their mouths while the crimson faced Sean Hannity shook his fist and shouted about the "culture of death" was the moment for the right.They've been telling the Cons that ever since 2006, but of course Cons are deaf to all but praise of their mighty manliness. They couldn't then and can't now hear what the American public is really saying: that aside from the extreme right fringe, we can't stand them, don't want them in our bedrooms or hospital rooms telling us how to fuck and how to die. We don't want them near our foreign policy, where they've done enough spectacular damage and fed us more lies than we can swallow. We don't want them touching our economy, because all they'll do is pulverize the pieces they've left us to try to glue back together.
Something shifted then and the image of Bush with the bullhorn was finally completely supplanted by the picture of Bush slinking back into town under cover of darkness to sign a law which put the full force of the federal government into a complicated and deeply personal dilemma which millions of average Americans confronted every day. The conservative movement showed its true colors over Terry Schiavo and the country got a clear view of what social conservatism would mean in their own lives. They didn't like what they saw.
Bush failed on his own lack of merits. Katrina was just one more nail in an already tightly-sealed coffin he and the Cons built, polished, and climbed in to all by themselves. Don't blame Katrina for killing an administration that was already dead.
(For those of you needing a bit of Warren bashing, there's a little of that in Digby's masterful post, too. Go have fun.)