The Corner

When The Moose Becomes a Donkey

I just saw Ramesh and Kathryn’s posts re Marshall Wittmann. As one of them noted, longtime readers of the Corner may recall that when we started this thing, Rich and I had quite a bit of fun with Wittmann’s various declarations. Then Wittmann stopped his “moose bleats” and the party was over. It now turns out that he’s back — quite unsurprisingly for some of us — writing for the Democratic Leadership Council. Now for all the ribbing we gave him, I agree with Kathryn and everybody else that Wittmann’s a smart and decent guy. Still, I for one think this piece is argued in bad faith — a tendency which got us poking fun at the Bull Moose to begin with.

Wittmann condemns Bush for overspending on the “corporate welfare state” but he also condemns Bush for not spending enough on the plain old welfare state. Pull the cord on each and every bad thing Bush has allegedly done and there is Karl Rove twirling his mustache behind the curtain. He trots out the “What’s the Matter with Kansas” thesis which says the rank-and-file religious right are amiable dunces who get Christian opiates in exchange for the economic shaft.

Wittmann says that Rove is responsible for the Swift Boat ads. He offers no evidence, save for one attempt at guilt-by-association aimed at his old boss, Ralph Reed and the aforementioned theory of Rove is the Father of All Evil. Well, Rove may in fact be more responsible than the evidence shows, but there’s another culprit who is far more provably guilty for the Swift Boat ads than Rove: John McCain, Wittmann’s saint and mentor. If it weren’t for his campaign finance “reform” we would not have these evil 527s. Oh, wait, 527s aren’t evil. Just 527s which criticize John Kerry are evil. Nevertheless, the evidence is clear: John McCain is more responsible for ‘em than Karl Rove is.

Ramesh’s point about Wittmann’s support of Buchanan raises an interesting point for another day. Wittmann’s not an ideological conservative and probably never was. He’s a rightwing populist, and populists of all stripes always end up being statists when they try to translate their views into a political agenda.

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