Conservative or Liberal Sets of Views

Josh Marshall wonders why people believe what they believe. He begins with the common tendency among conservatives to deny climate change:

There’s been a lot of recent evidence not only that Republicans disproportionately disbelieve the evidence for man-made global warming but that their skepticism is growing. I think that trend is fairly classed under the general heading of Republican/conservative hostility to science.

He misses a step here. The fundamental problem is not that conservatives desire to oppose science but that they are willing to ignore scientific evidence when it conflicts with their views. If there was a commonly held belief in global warming but the scientists came out against global warming, then conservatives would agree with the scientists.

Conservatives primarily reject the scientific consensus on climate change for two reasons. It is preferable that global warming not be true since it leads to undesirable real world consequences, and conservatives exhibit a strong tendency to ignore facts when they conflict with what they want. Secondly, climate change is a problem which can only be solved with government coordination. As conservatives oppose government action which does not involve invading other countries or torture, it is simpler for them to deny the science than to concede there is a problem which where government coordination is necessary.

Josh extends this to other areas:

Another way of looking at this is that in our politics and society, group association seems to give certain beliefs or policy positions a mutual ‘stickiness’ even if they do not seem to be connected together in any logical or consistent way, or any way that would make sense out of the context of our culture and society.

George Lakoff, among others, has presented arguments as to why conservatives and liberals share a set of views. There are also other people such as myself who do not generally agree with the traditional set of views associated with either party. Prior to 2006, Republicans did a far better job of sticking issues together which did not necessarily need to belong together. They found ways to convince social conservatives to support the goals of fiscal conservatives, and vice versa. Over time this has broken down, contributing to the end of their governing coalition.

It is also not necessarily the case that those who are liberal on social issues or foreign policy will support traditional Democratic issues on the economy and taxes. It was far easier for many to vote Democratic when they were the main opposition to an increasingly extremist Republican Party, but it is harder to keep people with a variety of views united behind a governing party. That is partially why Democratic support is in some ways weaker now than it was before the election.

Report Released on Bush’s Failure To Capture Bin Laden At Tora Bora

I’ve mentioned the failure of the Bush administration to capture bin Laden when they had an excellent chance  at Tora Bora multiple times in the past.  The New York Daily News reports on a Senate report on this failure. John Kerry, who criticized Bush for his mistakes at Tora Bora when running against him in 2004, requested this report:

Osama Bin Laden was within military reach when the Bush administration allowed him to disappear into the mountains of Afghanistan rather than pursue him with a massive military force, a new Senate report says.

The report asserts that the failure to get the terrorist leader when he was at his most vulnerable in December 2001 – three months after the 9/11 attacks – led to today’s reinvigorated insurgency in Afghanistan.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, requested the report, which came as President Obama prepares to send as many as 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Kerry has long argued the Bush administration botched an opportunity to capture the Al Qaeda leader and his top deputies when they were holed up in the forbidding mountainous area of Tora Bora.

The report calls then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks, the top military commander at the time, to the carpet and asserts the U.S. had the means to mount a rapid assault on Bin Laden with several thousand troops.

Instead, fewer than 100 commandoes, working with Afghan militias, tried to capitalize on air strikes and track down the ragged band of terrorists.

That “Kerry was Right” file sure is getting big.

Arguments for Dick Cheney to Run in 2012

Yesterday I mentioned that some are pushing for Dick Cheney to run in 2012. Jon Meacham makes an argument for this in Newsweek:

Why? Because Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people. The best way to settle arguments is by having what we used to call full and frank exchanges about the issues, and then voting. A contest between Dick Cheney and Barack Obama would offer us a bracing referendum on competing visions. One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction. A Cheney victory would mean that America preferred a vigorous unilateralism to President Obama’s unapologetic multilateralism, and vice versa.

Republicans also tend to nominate their obvious leader and in this case there is none. The last Republican vice president would fit this pattern if not for Cheney’s age, unpopularity, and record of being wrong on all the major issues of the last several years.

Meacham makes an additional argument:

A campaign would also give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way. As John McCain pointed out in the fall of 2008, he is not Bush. Nor is Cheney, but the former vice president would make the case for the harder-line elements of the Bush world view. Far from fading away, Cheney has been the voice of the opposition since the inauguration. Wouldn’t it be more productive and even illuminating if he took his arguments out of the realm of punditry and into the arena of electoral politics? Are we more or less secure because of the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? Does the former vice president still believe in a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda? Did the counterterror measures adopted in the aftermath of the attacks go too far? Let’s have the fight and see what the country thinks.

It is true that this is the closest we could have to an election between the Bush and Obama administrations, but that is not a good thing either for the Republicans or for the nation.  Republicans would be foolish to nominate Cheney as it would make it even harder for them to move beyond the disasterous Bush years. Republicans must find a way to do this if  they are to become a viable party again. The Republicans who won races in 2009 did it by moving towards the center, not by embracing the policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney. This would be even worse for the country as repeating the mistakes of the Bush years is something we should never risk again, and there is no doubt that Dick Cheney’s advice is responsible for much that went wrong during that period.