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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More support for John Dean's thesis found in John Hinderaker's "big brother"

(1) When President Bush becomes emotional -- as he clearly was at his Press Conference this week when speaking about Iraq -- he sometimes veers off-script and, in the process, ends up acknowledging facts which the administration generally prefers to obscure. At the Press Conference, the President unambiguously admitted during one of his intense, rambling defenses of the Iraq invasion that (a) Saddam had no WMDs at the time we invaded and (b) those non-existent WMDs were "the main reason we went into Iraq."

As Terry Welch astutely documents, the acknowledgment that WMDs is the "main reason" for the invasion contradicts the claims of his most ardent loyalists to justify the war. Additionally, contrast Bush's straightforward admission ("we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't . . .") with the claim made by John Hinderaker as recently as a couple weeks ago ("about the fact that Iraq possessed WMDs, there is no doubt"). Hinderaker was defending those who told a recent Harris Poll that they still believe Iraq had WMDs at the time we invaded. To defend the President's adventure in Iraq, his most loyal supporters insist upon fictions (that WMDs were not the main reason for invading, that Iraq had WMDs) which even the President, at long last, is unwilling to maintain any longer.

(2) This week, Hinderaker was part of a small gathering that toured the Oval Office and heard the President speak. Afterwards, he authored one of the most painfully obsequious posts ever, which is saying a lot, given that Hinderaker is the Bush follower who previously said: "It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another . . ."

His most recent paean to George Bush was appropriately titled "Hail to the Chief," and Hinderaker said that being able to hear President Bush Speak was "an absolutely riveting experience"; that "it may have been the best I've ever seen any politician"; that "up close, [Bush] is a great communicator, in a way that, in my opinion, Ronald Reagan was not"; and that it was "the most inspiring forty minutes I've experienced in politics." He also shared that he is "worried about how President Bush can withstand the Washington snake pit" whose attacks "dwarf[] in both volume and injustice the abuse directed against any prior President."

Most notably by far, Hinderaker also said, with no irony at all, that Bush's "persona is very much that of the big brother." I have never agreed more with any statement. That is exactly the persona which has been created for George Bush, and the fact that it is -- to use Hinderaker's own unbelievably revealing description -- a "big brother" which Hinderaker and so many of his like-minded Bush followers want, need and crave really does explain virtually everything one needs to know about the so-called new "conservatism."

George Bush is the "big brother" which John Hinderaker wants and needs, and for that, he really loves the President. That might be unpleasant to think about, even creepy and rather disturbing, but that dynamic is indispensable in understanding the mindset fueling so much of the Bush movement.

(3) At the risk of beating a dead horse, there is one other point worth making about the Ann Althouse Op-Ed. In the very first sentence, Althouse criticized Judge Taylor for "referring to [Earl Warren] as 'Justice Warren,' not 'Chief Justice Warren,' as if she wanted to spotlight her carelessness." The day before, Althouse created an entire post on her blog with the exclusive purpose of making this same "point" ("How can you forget to call him Chief Justice?").

But Madison Guy points to another Op-Ed written by Althouse in the NYT back in 2005, the purpose of which was to defend the Sam Alito nomination. To do so, Althouse said this: "Yet while Justice Burger remained conservative, Justice Blackmun went on to write the opinion legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade and, eventually, to vote consistently with the liberal justices." As Madison Guy notes: "that would be Chief Justice Warren Burger, right?"

(4) The Daily Mail has a brief profile (and picture) of the two men whom hysterical passengers on a British jet last week demanded be removed because they looked Arab, were speaking a language that sounded like Arabic and were wearing leather jackets. They are both 22 years old and students at Manchester Umist, and one of them said: "'We might be Asian, but we're two ordinary lads who wanted a bit of fun,' Mr Ashraf told the Daily Mirror. 'Just because we're Muslim does not mean we are suicide bombers.'" Someone needs to explain to them that a refusal to equate young Muslim males with suicide bombers is the type of political correctness which endangers us all.

Underscoring how misguided that approach is, the Daily Mail also coincidentally has a profile of would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, which reminds us that Reid "is the son of a white mother and Jamaican father, both non-Muslims who split up when he was two." With the Arab-obsessed security systems urged by Bush followers, Reid and Muslim extremists like him would be able to use their non-Arab faces and Anglo names to sail right through security. But airport security has little to do with the crazed demands for Arab-based profiling at airports.

(5) Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds promoted this "report" from Gateway Pundit which Reynolds describes as taking "a look at the security situation in Iraq." That "report" purports to show -- as always -- that things are improving dramatically and violence is decreasing in Iraq, and that there is "a very different picture of Iraq" than the one painted by the NYT last week (the Post painted an ever grimmer picture).

Gateway Pundit also claims that "the BBC is even reporting the joint operation to improve security in Baghdad is bringing results," except the BBC reports no such thing. It reports only that Bush officials along with their Iraqi government comrades claim that Baghdad is getting safer, not that it actually is. But Bush followers, of course, don't recognize any distinction between claims by the government and reality, which is a significant factor in explaining why things are the way they are in Iraq.

It is just astonishing that Reynolds, even now, continues to promote the claim that things are going well in Iraq, that the security situation is improving (he's been claiming that for three straight years), that the country is becoming more peaceful and stable, etc. etc. Literally only the most blindly loyal reality-deniers are willing to do that. For those interested, this blog astutely chronicles the vapid manipulation and deceit that lies at the heart of Reynolds' political advocacy on a daily basis.

(6) Hinderaker's unnatural reverence for George W. Bush, as well as Reynolds' ongoing insistence that things are great in Baghdad, is the perfect segue for the reminder that on this Sunday, at 5:00 p.m. EST, I will be hosting the FDL Book Club discussion of John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience, which examines the authoritarian attributes of the Bush movement. Dean will participate in Part II of the discussion, to take place the following Sunday (September 3) at the same time.

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