dunce.pngThere is a theory that Bush and the GOP only pretend to be incompetent, that their bungling conceals their true corporate and authoritarian agenda. Their “blunders” have enriched Halliburton and Big Oil, demonstrated the uselessness of the government bureaucracy, and consolidated presidential and (up until 2006) Republican power. I’m a bit skeptical – after all, incompetence is Dubya’s natural habitat. But hey, that just makes him the perfect frontman.

Unfortunately, it’s not just Republicans we have to worry about.

Consider the media, whose laziness and high school shallowness almost always favors Republicans. There’s the uncritical reporting of whatever the Bush administration tells them (*cough Michael Gordon cough*); the manufacture of fake Democratic scandals (helloooo, John Solomon!); the sneering put-downs of Democrats (Modo and RoGiv, I’m looking at you); and the diversionary feeding frenzies over missing-white-woman stories every time Republicans are in trouble.

Surely, if the media’s braindead nastiness was genuine, we would see Republicans on the receiving end of it every once in a while, but it rarely happens. Republican scandals are reported perfunctorily and forgotten as quickly as possible. Remember Jeff Gannon, and the various Hookergates? You’d think the media would love a nice juicy sex scandal, but if it involves Republicans, they just can’t be bothered.

Even more troubling and problematic is the upper right of the Democratic party: the leadership and the Blue Dog/DLC wing. They have inexplicably yielded to Bush again and again, even when his approval rating is in the toilet, even when their capitulation will hurt them electorally. Bankruptcy “reform.” Roberts. Alito. Habeas. Defense reauthorization. FISA. Sometimes they have second thoughts, but always after it’s too late to be undone. I find it harder and harder to believe that this is simple obliviousness; it has to be a deliberate strategy – I just can’t figure out what it is.

I could only come up with two possibilities that look remotely strategic. One is camouflage: If the Connecticut For Lieberman Caucus votes with the Republicans on everything, they can claim it’s all part of a comprehensive centrist package that will start winning elections any day now. But if they only vote with the Republicans on corporate issues, then it becomes too obvious that the DLC is just a trojan horse for the Chamber Of Commerce.

The other is a form of sabotage: The leadership fears that if they stop Bush in 2007, they’ll have nothing to run on in 2008. But if they maximize the Republican disaster, 2008 will be a Democratic landslide. I suppose that could work… but only if no-one noticed their aiding and abetting.

Other, non-strategic possibilities:

1) The leadership and DLC types’ reliance on big-money donors has deafened them to everyone else. Sure, they’re vaguely aware that progressives don’t like giving Dubya more power and less oversight, or lifetime appointments for right-wing ideologues, but they don’t think it’s that big a deal until the shitstorm hits.

2) The Republicans talk to them about death before every vote.

3) They really are that stupid.