Never let it be said that the neocons are a single-issue pro-war clique. In addition to hijacking the country into perpetual war, and ever the aboriginal left-wing Democrats, they have also successfully destroyed the GOP, its conservative base, and the pro-life and pro-family movements that propelled the Bush-Cheney ticket to victory in 2000 and 2004. If there remained any doubts before this week, President Bush’s appointment of retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey to succeed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seals the lid on the coffin in which the neocons buried "compassionate conservatism" long ago.
You don’t have to be pro-life to marvel at the breadth and depth of the betrayal that Bush has delivered to his base on the "religious right." Even from a distance, it is as revolting as it is revealing. The palpable cynicism and contempt of Bush now brilliantly shines through, while the neocons chortle all the way to the arms bazaar.
The Washington Post celebrates, and calls retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey a "law-and-order conservative" — but the Post is lying, as usual. In fact, People for the American Way’s Ralph Neas let the cat out of the bag when he said of Mukasey that "he seems like a bona fide conservative Republican, not a right-wing ideologue." Neas, my one-time pal and classmate from Notre Dame, has effectively led the pro-abortion forces in Washington for over twenty years. His seal of approval says it all.
Needless to say, neocon standard-bearer William Kristol was salivating as he breathlessly broke the news, fulfilling my long-standing prediction that Bush and the neocons would betray the evangelicals again and again and again — in fact, as long as the evangelicals would let them. Apparently, all too many evangelicals are gluttons for punishment. Even now a goodly number of them still support Bush because they hope that he will expand the war in the Middle East, bomb Iran now, and bring on Armageddon in their lifetimes so that they can rule with Christ over all the earth (and the rest of us) for a thousand years.
Mr. Mukasey is also a strong supporter of the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani, a longtime pro-abortion Republican who is running for the GOP nomination as the "anti-terrorism" candidate. As for frosting on the cake (as if we needed any), Mukasey is also championed by none other than liberal New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a bane (and banality) to pro-lifers for years. The Mukasey nomination culminates a long and painful chain of betrayals of the religious right by the man who would not be president without them.
But why would he take the job? Why bother? Well, it should be clear by now that Mukasey is well-positioned to serve as Attorney General for the next ten years, if he wants to. After all, he would undoubtedly be acceptable either to President Hillary Rodham Clinton or President Rudy Giuliani. Either way, with Mukasey’s appointment, any lingering hopes of a prolife Supreme Court in our lifetime are dead — as are any chances that the Department of Justice will lift a finger to enforce existing federal laws against internet obscenity, broadcast indecency, and sex trafficking. Such activities are already illegal, but Janet Reno’s Justice Department steadfastly refused to prosecute them in the 1990s. In 2000 and 2004, Bush promised a coalition of pro-family groups (with aggregate members numbering in the tens of millions) that he would enforce those laws. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, his administration just hasn’t quite been able to get around to it yet.
Well, now the bloom is off the rose. Mukasey’s appointment seals the deal that Bush and Cheney made long ago with the neocons to put their pro-war agenda first, last, and always. We have seen the last prolife judge, Supreme Court justice, or initiative coming from the Executive Branch for years to come.
One wonders, does Bush even care? While the embattled president expects to be vindicated by historians of future generations, this latest move clearly vindicates those conservative critics who have long argued that his portrayal as a "good Christian" is a smokescreen to keep the religious right on board while he gaily grows the gargantuan government and launches the country into ever more wars, betraying his campaign promises at every turn.
While Bush worries about his legacy, Cheney and the neocons have firmly taken the helm and, in their dictatorial bent, now feel comfortable enough to jettison the useful idiots who propelled them to power with Bush’s first victory in 2000 and kept the party going in 2004. Jim Baker, Bush 41’s hatchet man, directed the same kind of operation in 1989, removing every possible Reagan supporter from the Executive Branch (with as little grace as he could muster), even though Reagan had virtually bestowed the presidency on the unworthy Bush, gratis. Jim Baker was a major-league scofflaw when it came to Knute Rockne’s cardinal rule: "You don’t spit on a man’s head if you’re standing on his shoulders."
But what now for the Christian right? Well, years ago the Washington Post wrote that the religious right was "poor, undereducated, and easily led." Immediate outrage poured forth. But why? After all, we could also say that the atheist left is rich, overeducated, and firmly in charge, and not an eye would blink. The neocons, the scions of the well-to-do left and the grandchildren of Trotsky, have never thought in terms of limited government. The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God that form and inform true conservatism have no claim on them. They are interested in only one thing, as their heroes Leo Strauss and Machiavelli taught them all too well: power.
Well, now they have it. They got it by lying all the time — and, let us recall, they deflected criticism early on with a good deal of name-calling (do you remember how they squealed "Anti-Semite" at anyone who called them neocons? Now they wear the label proudly), but I’m sure they would assert that they won it fair and square.
It was all too predictable. Well, here is another prediction. The handwriting is on the wall, and it does not bode well for the neocons long term. The neocons are revolutionaries, and they have taken power in a classic dialectical combination of war and subterfuge. But when revolutionaries are secure in their power, they turn on their own. They always do. Who will go first when the time comes? Perhaps they will turn on the hot-tub profligates who financed the neocon rise to power, in the way that their heroes, the French Revolutionaries, turned on the French aristocracy at the end of the XVIII century. In classical Trotskyite fashion, the neocons allowed the profiteers to prosper, while the revolution was still consolidating its gains and getting the funding it needed to do so.
But once that consolidation comes, the die will be cast. And the neocons should go gently into that dark nightmare. They know their Lenin. They’d better re-read it. As Richard Weaver wrote, "Ideas have consequences." And for the neocons, the consequences of their ideas are grim indeed.
"If every bourgeois in town is not hanging from a streetlamp when I arrive, YOU will be hanging there when I leave," Lenin warned his revolutionary commissars whom he put in charge of cleansing the New Russia of its capitalist deadwood.
In revolutionary practice, once the dictatorship is advanced to the proper "correlation of forces" (with adequate deadwood removed), the surviving strongman will inevitably turn on "them that brung’im." First, he will turn on the super-rich, who thought that they were the "masters of the universe." For them there will be show trials and a bullet in the back of the neck in the basement of the Lubayanka. But eventually the time will come when, tired of the neocon prating, puffery, preening, and private agendas, our new Leviathan will deal with the neocons in the same way Stalin dealt with their hero Trotsky: they will get a pickaxe in the head. The Revolution devours its own children.
So long, Weekly Standard. Hello, Robespierre.
And what will become of Bush? Well, we have learned from this Mukasey affair more about the measure of the man. The boastful, brazen taunter who once bellowed at the Iraqis to "Bring’em on," has exited, stage left. It was apparently easy for him to bray about "evil madmen" when Saddam was far away and Bush was high on the swagger factor. But now, the shriveled peacock shrinks from a confrontation with — of all pygmies — none other that Chuck Schumer, known on the Hill as "Chuckie Cheesecake" for his affinity to television cameras. As they say in the halls on the Senate side, Bush has been "Shumed" — major league, big time.
Yes, Bush has shriveled, but he need not worry. The "good Christian" Bush who betrayed the Christian right will never again have a care — after all, he has helped make many people billionaires, and that will not hurt. Just in case, however, he will have a 100-man taxpayer-funded permanent Praetorian Guard to surround him in his cocoon for the rest of his natural life. He will never again have to come into contact with an average person not of his own choosing. As he retires in regal splendor, he will no doubt continue to espouse "democracy" and rule "by the people, of the people, and for the people." He will invite sundry fawning admirers who will assure him that his legacy is intact. Someday, "history" will vindicate him.
Sic semper neoconus.