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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bruce Bartlett: ‘My Life on the Republican Right And How I Saw It All Go Wrong’

Originally posted at The Brad Blog

We’ve been quite remiss by failing to offer the The BRAD BLOG’s much-sought, yet rarely-bestowed “Intellectually Honest Conservative” award to Bruce Bartlett, Ronald Reagan’s domestic policy advisor and George H.W. Bush’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy.

We were reminded of our delinquency again today upon reviewing his candid assessment of the downfall of modern Republicanism and its central core of pretend conservatism as published in a must-read article in the December, 2012 issue of American Conservative. The confessional includes, among many on-target money quotes, this one: “Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing [in 2012] or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.”

Bartlett begins by detailing his decades-long list of unquestionably rock-solid conservative credentials, all of which have earned him exactly nothing from today’s clueless, brain-addled, incurably propagandized Fox “News” “conservative” crowd. In fact, he has garnered their utter contempt by attempting to tell them the truth over the past decade or so, finding himself tossed “under a bus” along with The BRAD BLOG’s very few other past “Intellectually Honest Conservative” award recipients and dissident, reality-based Republicans such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan.

“To this day,” Bartlett writes, “I don’t think they understand that my motives were to help them avoid the permanent decline that now seems inevitable…”

His entire treatise, entitled “Revenge of the Reality-Based Community: My life on the Republican right — and how I saw it all go wrong,” is very much worth reading. It includes his frank admissions that he was wrong about Keynesian economics, as he learned while researching for a 2007 book initially meant to describe it as a dead economic theory.

“After careful research along these lines, I came to the annoying conclusion that Keynes had been 100 percent right in the 1930s. Previously, I had thought the opposite. But facts were facts and there was no denying my conclusion,” he writes, concluding that George W. Bush’s Great Recession made clear that “We needed Keynesian policies again.”

“Annoyingly,” he says, “I found myself joined at the hip to Paul Krugman, whose analysis was identical to my own. I had previously viewed Krugman as an intellectual enemy and attacked him rather colorfully in an old column that he still remembers.”

“For the record,” he generously offers, “no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.”

He talks candidly about his experience being “banned from Fox News” and fired from a right wing think tank for his various acts of Republican heresy (otherwise known as telling the truth), and that such acts have culminated in “what has been called ‘epistemic closure’ among conservatives — living in their own bubble where nonsensical ideas circulate with no contradiction.”

His “first exposure” to the Republicans’ Fox-fueled jihad of self-defeat, he explains, occurred while working on his 2006 book, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.