Festering Bush-Cheney ‘Infallibility Complex’ Infects GOP

by Robert S. Becker, Ph.D. on May 12, 2009

Party Shrinking From ex-V.P.’s Enhanced Interrogation Politics

What’s the greatest political shocker of the past year? Yes, more stunning, though less significant than President Barack Obama’s election and inauguration – the precipitous, jaw-dropping Republican free fall. Equally shocking: the party has only itself to blame, shooting itself in all its “compassionate conservatism” by aping the Infallibility Complex that doomed the Bush-Cheney presidency. Doctrinal infallibility, coupled to a spirit world, survives in closed religious systems but inevitably breaks apart in the dynamic, pragmatic, political oceans of the visible universe.

Mimicking a failed White House that demonized smarter critics, today’s tainted GOP can’t blame Democrats (or Satan, terrorists or welfare mothers) for self-inflicted destruction. Recall the McCain-Palin strategy whereby sham “mavericks” not only refused to break with Bush or policies, but embraced both, thus assuring ruin. Six months later, without solutions or savvy leaders, the party is fully exposed, moving towards life support. What wizard endorsed abandoning reliable wedge issues (God, gays, and guns) for bragging about hands-on torture or hands-off deregulation?

Marketing can “rebrand” messages, even find new faces, but trends hardly reverse by clinging to the same-old mentality. Less than 25% of independents, the GOP salvation, support Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh yet they, and affable Karl Rove, offer the party’s most visible, harsh “enhanced interrogation” talking points. Will a southern, white, regional faction, enamored of its own purity, become the first major party suicide in 150 years? It’s way too early to declare this GOP kaput, but Bush-Cheney remains the lingering body blow to Republicans at an historic low point.

Obama the Master vs. Menagerie of Misfits

Competing against a charismatic, trusted president is a menagerie of misfits, beyond Cheney, Rove, and the enforcer, Boss Limbaugh. There are unelectable rejects Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and RNC’s Michael Steele, three Congressional stooges (Kantor, Boehner, and McConnell) plus Bobby Jindal, Sarah (and Bristol) Palin, shrill FOX cable shills, and Texas governor Rick Perry. Talk about a “leadership vacuum,” especially with one less bigot, party symbol Joe the Plumber, reportedly jumping ship.

Despite the mounting toll from party personality disorders, no leader challenges Limbaugh, let alone states the obvious: enlarging the tent is impossible if you’re addicted to an unreal, alternative universe. Political infallibility is intellectual fascism where you not only believe your own propaganda, but standardize all the commandments. Does not faith-alone inform every Bush-Cheney quagmire: the Iraqi con job, terrorist recruitment bonanzas (lost wars, torture, rendition, abusive prisons), scorn for the Constitution (civil, human and privacy rights), plus Katrina fiascos? We have a category for earthlings who avow absolute truth, talk only to themselves, and speak for God: mental illness.

The Infallible Empire vs. “Reality-Based” Suckers

Nothing immortalizes this solipsistic Bush-Cheney universe like Ron Suskind’s uncontested account. Early in 2002, a frustrated aide explained the Bush White House’s take on “the reality-based community,” naive reporters assuming:

“Solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality . . . That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an
empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality . . . we’ll act again, creating other
new realities . . . We’re history’s actors . . . [and] all of you will be left to just study what we do.”

Likewise from insider Bruce Bartlett: Bush truly believed he was “on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis.” Right, that infallible gut instinct.

Most amazing to me, despite the oversized handwriting on the wall, today’s leadership falls back on equally noxious inventions: Romney’s bizarre “tea party” rebranding depicts Republicans as “revolutionaries” battling Democratic “monarchists.” One Congressman cried the Republican “insurgency” should imitate the Taliban. Condi Rice proclaims waterboarding legal because, “by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.” Ex-Speaker Gingrich impugns Obama as “McCarthyist” for putting “terrorists on welfare.” Unabated, the idiot stream goes on.

Secession: Infallibility Complex Writ Large

But Texas Governor Perry takes the prize for merging insurrection with absolutism, daring to talk up secession. What better demonstrates a full-fledged personality disorder than invoking the ultimate anti-Americanism, for many domestic terrorism and treason? Hello, instant martial law! Added to reports of militant extremists stockpiling munitions, this is scary subversion, locked in its own smug bubble, holding nothing sacred – not Lincoln, Union nor Civil War.

The demise of one political party, if it happens, hardly threatens national security; new factions, good and bad, fill the power vacuum. But when delusions of moral or political infallibility reinforce other manias, like armed insurrection, that’s a different order of threat. Rightwing Republicans have crossed the line between political infallibility and disruptive demagoguery, if such a line ever existed.

Only this Sunday, McCain joined Cheney (who joined Limbaugh) in rejecting dangerous “moderation,” a word that recalls Barry Goldwater’s notorious hyperbole, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the face of tyranny is no virtue.” For eight years, the Bush-Cheney infallibility complex took this rhetorical flourish literally, equating “extremism” with virtue and moderation with vice. Discredited infallibility surpasses one party’s immoderation, even disintegration, and sets a corrosive personality disorder against civility and democratic stability.

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