Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter With Kansas?”) has a new book on conservatism called “The Wrecking Crew,” which details how conservatives have actually governed in the Bush years. Bottom line: It’s not about incompetence, it’s about ideology. An excerpt:
“Yes, today’s conservatives have disgraced themselves, but they have not strayed from the teaching of their forefathers or the great ideas of their movement. When conservatives appoint the opponents of government agencies to head those government agencies; when they auction their official services to the purveyor of the most lavish ‘golf weekend’; when they mulct millions from groups with business before Congress; when they dynamite the Treasury and sabotage the regulatory process and force government shutdowns — in short, when they treat government with contempt — they are running true to form. They have not done these awful things because they are bad conservatives; they have done them because they are good conservatives, because these unsavory deeds follow naturally from the core doctrines of the conservative tradition. . . .
“Conservatism, as we know it, is a movement that is about greed, about the ‘virtue of selfishness’ when it acts in the marketplace. In right-wing Washington, you can be a man of principle and a boodler at the same time.”