Bush Will Be This Century's Herbert Hoover...Unless the Dems Select the Clintons

Herbert Hoover presided over the Great Depression, did nothing, and was invoked by Democrats for 50 years as the "brand" of the Republican Party. It worked.

George W. Bush believes he will be Harry Truman, unappreciated in his own time, but seen to be great as history unfolds. As I wrote in, "I Knew Harry Truman, Harry Truman Was a Friend of Mine, and George W., You Are No Harry Truman" (February 9, 2007), Bush was and remains tragically delusional.

Instead, Bush will be a modern-day Hoover; Katrina will be his "Hoovervilles". He will be invoked by Democrats as the brand of the Republican party for at least 20 years, as the policies he has pursued (militarism yielding terrorism; gaping deficits ceding economic power to China and others; spread-eagling the differential between the wealthy and the poor; and, on and on) cause continuing damage to our country.

Moreover, the Republicans really do not know who they are, as the unnatural, unholy alliance of social conservatism, unregulated free market capitalism and militarist national defense splits asunder. Thus, a disunited, dispirited Republican party is in the offing.

Unless, that is, the Democrats select the Clintons again. Without remotely trying to suggest it is justified, the one unargued truth of American politics is that the Clintons unite Republicans for reasons that range from irrational to psychotic. The notion promoted by Bill Clinton that Hillary's delivering earmarks to upstate New York Republican districts, that resulted in her winning many of those districts, somehow has muted or mollified the anti-Clinton feeling among Republicans is as delusional as George Bush's idea that he will become as revered and respected as Harry Truman.

As Democrats go to the polls over the coming weeks, they might consider this: after all the damage and all the carnage caused by the disastrous policies and arrogant belief system of George W Bush and his cronies, the only saving grace is that he paves the way for a progressive revival, and consider whether they are willing to give that up, as they surely will, if the Clintons are selected to return to the White House.

This is not to say that the Clintons might not be elected. Their electoral skills are prodigious. Nor is it to suggest that they would not pursue more-or-less the same policies as Obama or Edwards. The policy differences among them are small, and exaggerated for campaign purposes. The question, though, is whether Republicans in the Senate (if they, as they are likely to do, hold 41 seats) will be allowed by their base to make any compromise with the Clintons to enable them to show "success".

Moreover, while Obama has the chance -- not the certainty -- of transcending the divisions of the past, and creating a new majority consensus from the detritus of the Republican party, selecting the Clintons is a virtual guarantee of the return and sharpening of those divisions. Again, irrational or even psychotic, but a toxin flows in the blood of the body politic.

It might be satisfying to select the Clintons as an "in-your-face" statement to the radical righties. But, Democrats need to consider whether that feel-good statement compensates for 20 years of a vanquished right-wing that selecting the Clintons will reinvigorate.

With the truly experienced candidates -- Bill Richardson and Joe Biden -- out of the race, and the policy differences among the candidates small, the big issues are authenticity, personal connection, electability and, as this suggests, the impact of the selection of candidates on the overall electorate.

A party that wants to take the only positive contribution of the Bush Presidency, the dissolution of the Republican coalition, and employ that to create a new progressive era, ought to consider carefully before it jettisons that opportunity.