I voted for George W. Bush. Twice.
I don't like admitting that. But it's true and important. Part of why I have become such a loud left-wing Democrat is that I am hoping we can develop time machine technology, so I can go back and find that Paul Bibeau guy before he starts screwing up. Maybe reading my blog will help him.
Anyway, fifteen years ago I was not only voting for GOP candidates, I actually gave money to the party, and I had a little card from them to carry in my wallet. I was literally a card-carrying Republican.
The story of how I got from there to here is kind of long and weird. It involves trying to join the CIA and discovering I was actually friends with an intelligence analyst who had turned into a bona fide 9/11 whistleblower. I wrote about her trip to Taliban-held Afghanistan here, and I will write about the entire tale in greater detail this week.
But I wanted to start with this: Dick Cheney saved me.
His dishonesty and immorality were so clear that they shook me up and made me reconsider everything I'd taken for granted - not just about the GOP, or about the conservative argument for a "strong defense," but about the nature of US foreign policy itself. The effect was that stark. Those of us who remember the Bush years know that what Cheney said and did, and their results, were undeniably awful on a scale we rarely see.
Cheney lied repeatedly about everything we were doing in the world. No, he didn't make mistakes from bad intelligence. No, he didn't make a lawyer's argument for his side. He lied to us... about the reasons we went to our wars, and about what we did in those wars. Millions of lives were ruined or destroyed as a result.
I bring it all up for two reasons:
The first is that Dick Cheney has just launched a book, and now he's doing the talk show circuit and writing op-eds for the Wall Street Journal. He clearly has a real audience out there. The second is that the GOP is going through a crack-up. Extreme conservatives like Ted Cruz and the people at sites like RedState and The Federalist are attacking the party establishment. And an even nastier and more extreme splinter group of racist Trump supporters are actually attacking the conservatives for not going far enough. The whole movement looks like it's ready to light itself on fire. And I know - I absolutely know - that these two things are related. Dick Cheney was such an obvious fraud and such a hideous warmonger that even very stupid people - like your faithful correspondent - could see it. Guys like me abandoned ship. And the people who remained? They are impervious to evidence and argument. They'd have to be.
I stopped being a Republican because there were just some things too terrible for me to consent to. But as for the rest... The conservative movement today is filled with the kind of people who still take Dick Cheney seriously.
And that explains everything.
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