Maybe it’s Time to Start Getting Scared

Maybe it’s Time to Start Getting Scared

I”m not one of those people who likes to be alarmist and call Republicans “fascists” and other such things. Unlike some of my friends, I don”t think that they have any secret plans to annul the Bill of Rights and destroy democracy as we know it. That kind of alarmism doesn”t get us anywhere. Or at least that”s what I thought until I started reading about Rudy Giuliani.

There”s a big debate on whether or not Islamist parties, like the Muslim Brotherhood, are normatively committed to democracy and the rule of law. It”s a valid question. However, it seems to me that a much more relevant question, at least for Americans, is whether today”s Republican party is normatively committed to democracy. I”m genuinely afraid after hearing this audio of Guiliani going berserk on a caller to his radio show. Then I read Michael Wolff”s cogent, persuasive case that Guiliani is all of the following: unstable, insane, charismatic, depressive, able to speak without notes, susceptible to mood swings, an incorrible philanderer, doesn”t talk to his kids, has an ambivalent relationship to truth and reality, has ties to the mob, and is in perpetual need of 24-hour attention, like a little kid on Ritalin. Then I read this:

There was Rudy”s extra-legal plan to set aside the 2001 mayoral election (after his term limit had been reached, so he couldn”t run again) and, by legislative acclamation (thwarted only at the last minute), extend his term.

So, yes, he”s an autocrat living in a democracy. Would he still be an autocrat if he was President? Um, yes. But Rudy”s Rudy, right? And then I stumble upon this Victor Davis Hanson quote, via Andrew. Andrew got pretty worked up, but after a I read the paragraph in question, I couldn”t figure out what the big deal was. So I read it again more carefully:

All these Democrats now, for three or four years, have not just opposed George Bush, and not just opposed neoconservative idealism, but they”ve demonized it to such a degree that they”ve almost made Bush the equivalent of the enemy. And Bush has a lot of supporters in and out of the military. So now they think that they”re elected, people like yourself and I are going to jump back up and say you know what? They”re the president, we”re going to support them at every opportunity. We probably will, but there’s going to be a lot of us who won”t, because they”re going to say they nitpicked, they were counterproductive, they wanted the people in Iraq fighting us to win. It”s almost as if you burn down the house, and then you want to reoccupy it, or if you destroy the system of bipartisan dialogue, and then suddenly when you”re president, you say let”s restore bipartisan dialogue. But they”ve so demonized people on the conservative side of the aisle, that it”s going to be very hard for them to create unity.

And then I thought to myself: wait, a second, And Bush has a lot of supporters in and out of the military. Can someone tell me what this means, cause it sounds pretty scary? Look, I”m going to give VDH the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn”t mean anything by this. But how much longer before some prominent conservative stops being PC, comes out with it, and proclaims their support for a military-coup style intervention in the event the Democrats win 2008? And, yes, maybe I”m getting worked up, but this is exactly the kind of thing that Turkish secularists say, when faced with the prospect that the Islamist-leaning AK Party will win the Presidency (to go along with their legislative majority).

Shadi Hamid