Nixon, at the Core of the Conservative Id

After the Pentagon Papers case before the Supreme Court, President Nixon got on the phone to commiserate with his pal J. Edgar Hoover.  Nixon called the decision “unbelievable,” and “stinking,” called the justices “clowns,” and said “I tell you I hope I outlive the bastards.”  They then discussed the grand conspiracy involving the press and Daniel Ellsberg, providing Nixon with an opportunity to foreshadow the Watergate scandal, and to describe Katherine Graham as “a terrible old bag.”

Conservatives just don’t get the rule of law, do they?  You’re either fer ’em or agin’ ’em, and the rule of law is just one more inconvenient hurdle to be overcome.

Maybe President Bush isn’t much of an outlier in American conservatism.  It’s about identifying enemies, hating them, and never reexamining your reasons for doing what you’re doing, much less what their actual impact is on the real world.  If you challenge your assumptions, the terrorists/liberals/communists will have won.

And in their psychological fragility, they believe that changing their minds in the face of new evidence or experience is an admission of weakness, inviting attacks.

But Vietnam’s fall didn’t validate the domino theory, because democracy and capitalism are better than communism.

And we’re not fighting terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight us here— they’re still trying to hit us here, we’re just creating and training new legions of them over there. Democratic capitalism is quite a bit better than fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, too.

Can’t we have a little faith in the principles we’re built on, such as the rule of law, and stop going off on these amoral tangents that tend to discredit those very principles?

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